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Today in Denmark: A round-up of the latest news on Monday

Find out what's going on in Denmark today with The Local's short roundup of the news in less than five minutes.

Today in Denmark: A round-up of the latest news on Monday
People march through Copenhagen on Saturday in protest against Denmark's decision to send Syrian refugees back to Damascus. Photo: Michael Barrett

Neighbouring countries want answers over spying report 

A major espionage story which broke over the weekend is dominating headlines in Denmark this morning.

Danish intelligence helped the United States to spy on top politicians in Europe, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, from 2012 to 2014 Danish and European media reported on Sunday.

Broadcaster DR said the US National Security Agency (NSA) had eavesdropped on Danish internet cables to spy on top politicians and high-ranking officials in Germany, Sweden, Norway and France.

The Norwegian and Swedish defence ministers last night demanded an explanation from the Danish government and former German opposition leader Peer Steinbrück called the issue a “scandal”.

It is so far unclear whether Denmark authorised the US to use its surveillance system to spy on its neighbours.

We’ll have more detail in a report this morning.

Syrians and Danes protest against plans to return refugees

Thousands of people gathered in Copenhagen on Saturday to protest against the government’s plan to send a number of Syrian refugees back to Damascus. It is not the first such protest against the plan.

Denmark has so far withdrawn the asylum status of dozens of Syrians and is reviewing hundreds more, having deemed that Damascus is safe enough to return to on some cases. No other country in Europe has taken the position that anywhere in Syria is safe for the return of refugees.

I attended Saturday’s demonstration, which was conducted peacefully and attended by a large number of Syrians and Danes. Denmark’s current coronavirus assembly restrictions do not apply to pre-approved demonstrations.

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New public welfare system to be presented 

The government presented a string of new proposals in various areas last week, including higher education and public sports facilities. Today the employment minister Peter Hummelgaard will present recommendations for an update to the welfare support (kontanthjælp) system, the basic welfare safety net for people who are not in employment.

The proposal will be based on the recommendations of a commission, which has said any changes should be “expense-neutral”, DR reports.

Controversy over minks rumbles on

Work recently began to dig up millions of minks, culled late last year due to concerns over the spread of a mutated coronavirus in the animals. The animal remains will now be incinerated.

The mink issue has caused endless headaches for the government, which in January agreed a gigantic compensation package for breeders who have seen their farms shuttered over the matter.

Foods minister Rasmus Prehn previously said that the minks were buried due to a lack of capacity at incineration facilities. But a report by DR questioned whether this was indeed the case, suggesting the culled animals should never have been buried at all.

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TODAY IN DENMARK

Today in Denmark: A roundup of the news on Tuesday

Energy prices heading skywards again, why undelivered letters jeopardised Britons' residency in Denmark, and increasing use of the 'morning-after pill' are among the top news stories in Denmark on Tuesday.

Today in Denmark: A roundup of the news on Tuesday

Electricity prices in Denmark skyrocket (again) 

After a respite, the price of electricity jumps back to about 5 kroner per kilowatt-hour during periods of high demand starting Tuesday, broadcaster DR reports. 

The recent wintery weather has driven Danes to their radiator dials just as the wind has died down, leaving wind farms idle. “So we have to buy our energy in Germany at a much higher price, because gas prices” dictate the price of energy in Germany more, says Jack Michael Kristensen, functional manager at Andel Energy, a top Danish energy provider. 

The situation is exacerbated because Norwegian and Swedish hydropower facilities are currently underperforming, a Saxobank analyst tells DR. 

Experts say we should expect the high prices to continue through at least December and perhaps into January. 

READ MORE: ‘Semi off-grid’: Readers’ tips for coping with expensive energy bills in Denmark 

‘Scores’ of Britons in Denmark may not have received key Brexit letter 

Many British citizens who moved to Denmark in 2020 — the last year they were eligible for EU ‘free movement’ before Brexit — never received key documents from the Danish government instructing them to update their residency status. Now, they face deportation if they missed the December 31st, 2021 deadline. 

“It does seem unreasonable that a government agency is seemingly putting the responsibility on the resident to know of any changes that need to be made to government records, especially when SIRI [the Danish Agency for Recruitment and Integration, ed.] has not contacted those who they are now seemingly penalising for applying late,” one affected reader told The Local Denmark. 

READ MORE: Scores of Britons in Denmark may not have received Brexit residency letter

Use of ‘regret’ pills on the rise in Denmark

Emergency contraception pills, commonly called the ‘morning-after’ pill or Plan B, had a record-breaking year in Denmark in 2021 — and health advocates say it’s a sign Danes are being more, not less, responsible with contraception, according to broadcaster DR. 

About 136,000 doses of the morning-after pill (fortrydelsespiller in Danish, literally ‘regret’ or ‘withdrawal’ pill) were sold in 2021, up significantly from 107,000 in 2016. The jump was sharpest in Zealand, where sales leapt 44 percent. 

While the morning-after pill shouldn’t be used as a first-choice contraception method, Annemette Wildfang Lykkebo, chairman of the Danish Society for Obstetrics and Gynecology, sees the increase as a positive. 

“It is not irresponsible. It is rather responsible, because you act conscientiously and avoid a pregnancy,” she told DR. 

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