Friday, May 19, 2006

Denmark free rider in asylum policy

The conservative government in Denmark has passed the strictest anti-immigration laws of any European government. That is a begging-thy-neighbour policy. The European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE) writes on its homepage:

At the Tampere European Council of 1999, the EU declared its intention to establish a Common European Asylum System based on the full and inclusive application of the Geneva Convention. ECRE welcomed this approach but was concerned that, as the details of the system were elaborated, there would be pressure to adopt standards at the lowest common denominator.
Protocols to the Treaty state that the UK, Ireland and Denmark can opt out of participating in these measures.

When Denmark can stay outside the common asylum policy of the EU, it is due to the fact that at first Danish voters rejected the union treaty (Maastricht treaty) at a referendum in 1992. After negotiating four opt-outs (common currency, union citizenship, defence, and asylum) to the treaty, there was a new referendum in 1993, and this time it was passed by the voters.

This opt-out has made it possible for Denmark to become a "free-rider" in asylum affairs. Asylum seekers have become aware of Denmark being a restrictive ("xenophobic") country. It is then understandable that they avoid Denmark when they seek asylum in a European country. In practice most of them go to Sweden, skipping Denmark, or they apply for asylum in Norway or Germany. This means in practice that Denmark can save a lot on the public purse for processing asylum applications, giving asylum seekers boarding and lodging, and integrating "difficult" people. It may be good for Danish tax payers, but it is not so good for the solidarity between nations.

However, Denmark has lately experienced an increasing labour shortage, especially for technical, computer, and economic specialists, and skilled workers. So the country has wanted to open up to more immigration, but not to any kind of immigration. By means of a recently adopted selective "green card" arrangement, according to which such specialists can get work and residence permits, the country can participate in the still more intensified international head-hunting that is part of the intensifying economic race under globalisation. These people are welcome in Denmark, whereas for example the kind of boat-refugees that land on the Spanish coasts on the Canary islands and the southern coast of the Spanish mainland are perhaps not so welcome.

But luckily for Denmark, this involuntary immigration is not Denmark's problem - and expense. Denmark has got the asylum opt-out from the treaty. As the EU is intensifying its cooperation in the asylum field, and some kind of problem-sharing will be agreed upon among EU member countries, "difficult" asylum seekers may become "everybody's problem", - but not Denmark's problem.

This is the kind of strange paradoxes that the conservative Danish government's cooperation with the xenophobic Danish People's Party (DPP) is leading to.


Blogger Sophia said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

12:55 PM  
Blogger Sophia said...


This post is really inetresting !
I think european countries are trying to follow Danemark's lead in many fiels and specially in immigration. Recently, Sarkozy in France was trying to implement what they call qualified immigration but he is encountering resistance. Qualified immigration is highly discriminatory. I consider also that qualified immigration is the reverse of 'regular immigration' whereby other countries or the country of origin spend on qualified workers and the host country profits from this without having to spend. Qualified immigration should be balanced with a host country offering equal number of entries for qualified workers and non qualified asylum seekers and spending some money on these non qualified workers because it didn't have to spend on the others. It is a matter of balance and justice.

12:57 PM  
Anonymous Cosmic Duck said...


It's a kind of brain drain, where you take the brains out of poor countries, without offering compensation of any kind. They have all the expenses educating them, and the country of destination reap all the profits.

8:43 PM  

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