Danish immigration minister Tesfaye switches jobs in government reshuffle

Minister for Immigration and Integration Mattias Tesfaye was on Monday named as the new Justice Minister in Denmark in a government reshuffle.

New Danish immigration minister Kaare Dybvad Bek (L) takes over from Mattias Tesfaye
New Danish immigration minister Kaare Dybvad Bek (L) takes over from Mattias Tesfaye on May 2nd 2022. Photo: Martin Sylvest/Ritzau Scanpix

Three ministerial portfolios changed hands on Monday following the unexpected resignation on Sunday of the erstwhile Minister of Justice Nick Hækkerup.

In the headline move, Tesfaye was given Hækkerup’s job at the Ministry of Justice by Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen.

Kaare Dybvad Bek, who was Interior and Housing Minister, moves over to take Tesfaye’s job as immigration minister. Bek is meanwhile replaced at the housing ministry by political spokesperson Christian Rabjerg Madsen.

The movements following Hækkerup’s surpise announcement on Sunday that he was quitting his post at the Ministry of Justice, perhaps the most high-profile position in the Danish government after the Prime Minister, to become chairperson at the Danish Brewers’ Association (Bryggeriforeningen).

Tesfaye has occupied the post of immigration minister since 2019, when he took over from Inger Støjberg as government changed hands following the Social Democrats’ general election.

Despite coming from the opposite side of the political aisle to Støjberg, he sought to cultivate for himself his predecessor’s image as a hardliner against immigration and pursued strict policies on asylum and refugees.

READ ALSO: Minister praises ‘low’ number of Denmark asylum applications in 2021

He was at the forefront of Denmark’s pursuit of an offshore asylum centre in Rwanda, a plan criticised by the UN and rights groups, and was criticised at the EU parliament over Denmark’s policy of repatriating some of its Syrian refugees from the Damascus area.

His stance on asylum softened markedly following the Russian invasion of Ukraine as he pushed through a new law to assist displaced Ukrainians arriving in Denmark.

He faces a number of new challenges in his new job at the Ministry of Justice, including a high-profile case centred around leaks at intelligence service Forsvarets Efterretningstjeneste (FE), in which the former intelligence chief Lars Findsen and former defence minister Claus Hjort Frederiksen have both been accused of leaking sensitive information.

READ ALSO: Denmark frees ex-spy boss accused of leaks

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KEY POINTS: What is in Denmark’s 2023 budget proposal?

Denmark’s coalition government presented on Thursday a new budget proposal in which it said it was “stepping on the brakes” on state spending.

KEY POINTS: What is in Denmark’s 2023 budget proposal?

Danish budgets are usually tabled and eventually adopted during the autumn, but last year’s election disrupted the normal timetable.

The proposed budget, given the title “A Responsible Way Forward” (En ansvarlig vej frem) was presented by ministers from the three coalition parties on Thursday: Finance Minister Nicolai Wammen, acting Defence Minister Troels Lund Poulsen and Culture Minister Jakob Engel-Schmidt.

A cautious economic approach to spending is needed given global circumstances including the war in Ukraine, inflation and last year’s energy crisis, Wammen said.

“Even though a lot of things look good when we look at the Danish economy, that doesn’t change where we are. Uncertain times,” he said.

Engel-Schmidt added that some might describe the proposed budget as “boring”, given that it “doesn’t bring a shower of presents”.

Key points from the proposed budget are outlined below. The proposal will go into negotiations with other parties in parliament before being voted through in its final form.

Inflation assistance to lower income groups 

Last year saw the highest inflation rate for 40 years in Denmark, and the effects will still be felt in 2023 even if the inflation percentages themselves are less severe.

Although the government wants to “step on the brakes”, it has still set aside 2.4 billion kroner for financial assistance to people vulnerable to rising prices.

Some 1.1 billion kroner will be spent on 5,000 kroner “cheques” for elderly persons who receive social welfare. People who have high medicine costs and students who receive subsidies because they must provide for others, such as single parents (SU-forsørgertillæg) are also among groups to be assisted with the inflation spending.

READ ALSO: Danish government agrees inflation package for vulnerable families 

‘Acute plan’ for hospitals

An agreement with regional health authorities on an “acute” spending plan to address the most serious challenges faced by the health services has already been agreed, providing 2 billion kroner by the end of 2024.

The agreement was announced by the government along with regional and municipal officials in February.

READ ALSO: What exactly is wrong with the Danish health system?

‘Lower than ever’ reserve fund

A so-called “negotiation reserve” (forhandlingsreserve), a pool of money in the budget that can be allocated at a later date based on agreements between parties, has been significantly cut to 200 million kroner.

A 2023 budget proposal from August last year, which was not adopted due to the election, had the fund at 600 million kroner. The reserve has been as high as 1.5 billion kroner in the past, according to broadcaster DR’s report on Thursday’s proposal.

The previous, single-party Social Democratic government was reported to favour mental health services and the elderly as areas which could benefit from the fund in 2023.

The lower amount is partly due to the shorter timescale of this year’s budget. The 2024 budget will be proposed and passed in late 2023 under the regular timetable.

“There are still things we can prioritise but we are asking you to take responsibility to get Denmark through while inflation is still a major challenge,” Wammen said.

Spending on courts system

Some 32.2 million kroner has been put aside to specifically target a reduction in waiting times for court dates, DR writes. The money is part of a larger amount, 185 million kroner, to be spent on the courts.

Denmark’s courts system has in recent years seen a rising number of criminal cases and lengthy processing times.

Broadband internet to get boost in rural spending

The “broadband fund” or bredbåndspulje will get an additional 100 million kroner to improve coverage in areas that still have patchy connection.

Another 100 million kroner will go into the landsbypulje or “Village Fund”, giving rural municipalities funding for demolition or renovation of deteriorated buildings.


A majority in parliament has already voted in favour of a seven-billion kroner fund in 2023 to help Ukraine defend itself against the Russian invasion.

The fund will be spent on Danish military, civilian and commercial assistance to Ukraine.

Part of the spending is funded by Denmark’s international development budget, while over 5 billion comes from spending an increased portion of the national GDP on the 2023 budget.

READ ALSO: Denmark announces seven-billion kroner Ukraine fund