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IMMIGRATION

Population of people with non-Danish ethnic backgrounds to exceed 800,000 by 2060: report

Official agency Statistics Denmark has estimated that the number of people it defines as ‘immigrants or descendants of immigrants’ will increase to 867,258 by 2060.

Population of people with non-Danish ethnic backgrounds to exceed 800,000 by 2060: report
Asylum seekers in Denmark in 2016. Photo: Henning Bagger/Scanpix 2016

The current number of 'non-Western immigrants or descendants' is 493,468.

Newspapers Berlingske and Jyllands-Posten both reported the Statistics Denmark (DST) figures on Wednesday.

People of foreign heritage are categorized by DST into two groups: ‘immigrants’ and ‘descendants’ of immigrants (‘efterkommere’ in Danish).

An ‘immigrant’ was born outside of Denmark, while a ‘descendant' was born in Denmark to parents who are not Danish citizens.

A person is considered to have Danish heritage if she or he was born in Denmark and has at least one parent who is a Danish citizen.

According to the DST projection, immigrants and descendants in 2060 will account for 13.1 percent of the population, as compared to the 8.5 percent today. 

Mads Fuglede, spokesperson on immigration with the governing Liberal (Venstre) party, said that this estimation emphasizes the need for a tighter programme on immigration. 

“It is very important that we control our refugee flow into Denmark,” Fuglede told Ritzau.

“It is less problematic when people come and work than when they come and are not willing to integrate and or do not have the skills needed for the Danish labour market,” he added. 

Social Democratic immigration spokesperson Mattias Tesfaye, expressed a similar opinion. Tesfaye noted that over the last 10 years, over 100,000 residency permits have been granted to refugees and relatives granted family reunification. 

“Many (asylum seekers) are unskilled and in need of psychologists, which are already in short supply,” Tesfaye said.

“(Denmark) can cope with this for a year or two, but it has now been ten years in a row, and that’s too much” he told Berlingske

Researchers have warned that the rising number of non-Western immigrants could negatively impact the Danish welfare system if integration does not improve, according to Jyllands-Posten’s report.

“The funding of our welfare system is built on the premise that the majority of the population is working,” Jan Rose Skaksen, head of research with the Rockwool Foundation, an independent research organization, told the newspaper.

“But if they are not (working), they do not contribute, and some may prove an expense in the form of benefits,” Skaksen added.

55 percent of male and 46 percent of female non-Western immigrants are employed, according to latest figures, while 74 and 77 percent of ethnic Danish men and women are employed. 

Steen Nielsen, deputy director with the Confederation of Danish Industry, said that high numbers of immigrants should be considered an opportunity.

“Many new jobs are being created and there is a demand for a growing workforce, which is why it is an ideal time to improve integration,” Nielsen told Jyllands-Posten.

READ ALSO: Here's where Denmark's foreign residents live and where they come from

POLITICS

How the EU aims to reform border-free Schengen area

European countries agreed on Thursday to push towards a long-stalled reform of the bloc's migration system, urging tighter control of external borders and better burden-sharing when it comes to asylum-seekers.

How the EU aims to reform border-free Schengen area
European interior ministers met in the northern French city of tourcoing, where president Emmanuel Macron gave a speech. Photo: Yoat Valat/AFP

The EU home affairs commissioner Ylva Johansson, speaking after a meeting of European interior ministers, said she welcomed what she saw as new momentum on the issue.

In a reflection of the deep-rooted divisions on the issue, France’s Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin – whose country holds the rotating EU presidency – said the process would be “gradual”, and welcomed what he said was unanimous backing.

EU countries backed a proposal from French President Emmanuel Macron to create a council guiding policy in the Schengen area, the passport-free zone used by most EU countries and some affiliated nations such as Switzerland and Norway.

Schengen council

Speaking before the meeting, Macron said the “Schengen Council” would evaluate how the area was working but would also take joint decisions and facilitate coordination in times of crisis.

“This council can become the face of a strong, protective Europe that is comfortable with controlling its borders and therefore its destiny,” he said.

The first meeting is scheduled to take place on March 3rd in Brussels.

A statement released after the meeting said: “On this occasion, they will establish a set of indicators allowing for real time evaluation of the situation at our borders, and, with an aim to be able to respond to any difficulty, will continue their discussions on implementing new tools for solidarity at the external borders.”

Step by step

The statement also confirmed EU countries agreed to take a step-by-step approach on plans for reforming the EU’s asylum rules.

“The ministers also discussed the issues of asylum and immigration,” it read.

“They expressed their support for the phased approach, step by step, put forward by the French Presidency to make headway on these complex negotiations.

“On this basis, the Council will work over the coming weeks to define a first step of the reform of the European immigration and asylum system, which will fully respect the balance between the requirements of responsibility and solidarity.”

A planned overhaul of EU migration policy has so far foundered on the refusal of countries such as the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia to accept a sharing out of asylum-seekers across the bloc.

That forces countries on the EU’s outer southern rim – Italy, Greece, Malta and Spain – to take responsibility for handling irregular migrants, many of whom are intent on making their way to Europe’s wealthier northern nations.

France is pushing for member states to commit to reinforcing the EU’s external borders by recording the details of every foreign arrival and improving vetting procedures.

It also wants recalcitrant EU countries to financially help out the ones on the frontline of migration flows if they do not take in asylum-seekers themselves.

Johansson was critical of the fact that, last year, “45,000 irregular arrivals” were not entered into the common Eurodac database containing the fingerprints of migrants and asylum-seekers.

Earlier, German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser suggested her country, France and others could form a “coalition of the willing” to take in asylum-seekers even if no bloc-wide agreement was struck to share them across member states.

She noted that Macron spoke of a dozen countries in that grouping, but added that was probably “very optimistic”.

Luxembourg’s foreign minister, Jean Asselborn, hailed what he said was “a less negative atmosphere” in Thursday’s meeting compared to previous talks.

But he cautioned that “we cannot let a few countries do their EU duty… while others look away”.

France is now working on reconciling positions with the aim of presenting propositions at a March 3rd meeting on European affairs.

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