A note from Denmark’s Ministry of Taxation (Skatteministeriet) shows the significant increase in loans to citizens of other EU member states, according to report by Politiken.
The numbers are becoming more critical for Denmark, which is now owed 782 million kroner (105 million euros) by EU citizens, according to the report.
Denmark’s tax authority Skat is unable to demand the help of authorities in other countries in securing repayments, and is therefore unable to send repayment notices unless the students’ foreign address is already known.
A total of 10,200 citizens of other EU countries owe Denmark repayments for the state student loan (SU-lån), a loan offered under special conditions to registered students in Denmark.
Several parties in Denmark’s parliament are now calling for action over the issue, writes Politiken.
“It is clear to everyone that we can’t get the money back, and there is no way of getting it unless people are stupid enough to pay voluntarily,” Kenneth Kristensen Berth, a spokesperson for the nationalist Danish People’s Party, told the newspaper.
Denmark is obliged to offer the loan to students who are citizens of other EU countries, provided they have lived in Denmark for five or more years or work at least 10 to 12 hours per week.
An a letter sent to the European Commission, tax minister Karsten Lauritzen and education minister Søren Pind have expressed their concerns and asked the commission to present a proposal to tackle the problem.
Tax spokesperson Louise Schack Elholm of the governing Venstre (Liberal) party told Politiken that she does not believe an emergency law should be introduced.
“An emergency law is something used against terror attacks, or when we have to go to war, and I think it would be diluting its use to apply it over the issue of SU debts,” she said.
The Council of Danish Students (Danske Studerendes Fællesråd, DSF) said that it hoped that studying opportunities in Denmark would retain equality regardless of nationality.
“Students that pay the same in rent and the same price for breakfast should naturally also have the opportunity to borrow money. It does not make sense to deny students a viable budget,” DSF chairperson Sana Mahin Doost told Politiken.