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TODAY IN DENMARK

Today in Denmark: A roundup of the news on Wednesday

Defence minister to discuss Nord Stream explosions with Nato, parliament to look at working environments at churches, and other news stories in Denmark on Wednesday.

Today in Denmark: A roundup of the news on Wednesday
Do Danish pharmacies need more competition? File photo: Signe Goldmann/Ritzau Scanpix

Defence minister to discuss Nord Stream pipeline leaks with Nato

Three leaks in Baltic Sea gas pipelines connecting Russia and Europe were detected yesterday, including two in the Danish economic zone of the waters.

Footage and photos released by the Danish military showed the surface of the Baltic frothing dramatically, while Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said the leakages were due to “deliberate acts” and “not an accident”.

Defence Minister Morten Bødskov is scheduled to meet with Nato’s General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg in Brussels today, where the incident will be discussed.

Social Liberals still want early election

The Social Liberal (Radikale Venstre) party earlier this year demanded PM Frederiksen call an early election. The demand was issued in response to the conclusions of an inquiry into the government’s 2020 mink scandal, which resulted in Frederiksen receiving a rebuke.

READ ALSO: How likely is Denmark to have a general election ahead of schedule?

The centre-left party, a parliamentary ally of the governing Social Democrats, yesterday said it is sticking to the demand despite a raised alert level in Denmark after this week’s explosions and leakages at the Nord Stream gas pipes.

“This happened in international waters. It is not an attack on Denmark,” Social Liberal leader Sofie Carsten Nielsen said in an Instagram post yesterday evening.

Church ministry to address working environment issues at places of worship

An open parliamentary committee will today address the issue of working environment problems at the Church of Denmark (Folkekirken), broadcaster DR reports.

The committee follows the broadcaster’s reports of bullying, harassment and physical intimidation at a number of churches in Denmark.

Medicine costs too much in Denmark, watchdog says

The price of medicine in Denmark is too high and should be remedied by increasing the number of pharmacies and reducing costs through competition, according to watchdog agency Konkurrencerådet.

The agency also wants medicine to be more accessible for online purchase, newspaper Jyllands-Posten writes. Currently, regulation in the sector limits competition, it said.

The Danish Pharmacists’ Society (Apotekerforeningen) disagrees with the criticism, saying Danish medicine prices are not higher than those in other European countries and that prices have not been pushed up by inflation.

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TODAY IN DENMARK

Today in Denmark: A roundup of the news on Friday

Falling unemployment, the Danish government refusing to accept debt payments from citizens, and plans for a fully swimmable Copenhagen harbour are among the top news stories in Denmark on Friday.

Today in Denmark: A roundup of the news on Friday

Danish government returns debt payments from 138,000 people 

Having a debt to the Danish public sector on your books can have serious financial consequences, including jeopardizing your eligibility to secure a mortgage. But from January to October 2022, 138,000 Danes trying to square their debts with the government were refused due to confusion about whether the Danish Debt Collection Agency actually has the right to receive it, newspaper Berlingske reports.

Data from the agency indicate the number of debts considered “not ready for recovery” has leapt 1.5 million this year alone. Half of those debts are connected to Danish tax agency, Skat. 

According to Berlingske, the issues with ‘unpayable’ debts arose in 2015 when EFI, the IT system Skat used to collect debt, was shuttered. 

Based on the scale of the problem, the government will have to consider cancelling some of the debts, Peter Bjerre Mortensen, professor of public administration at Aarhus University, tells Berlingske. 

“They need to swallow some very big camels and/or simplify some legislation or forgive some debts, because right now it seems that things are still going the wrong way,” Mortensen says. 

READ MORE: ‘Topskat’: What is Denmark’s high income tax bracket? 

Politicians push for ‘fully swimmable’ Copenhagen harbour 

Currently, swimming in Copenhagen’s harbours is only allowed at 11 designated bathing zones — though that doesn’t deter the estimated 200,000 people who take a dip elsewhere in the harbour yearly, risking fines. Now, Copenhagen mayor Sophie Hæstorp Andersen and other local politicians hope to flip the system on its head, making the vast majority of the harbour swimmable with a few ‘no-go’ zones. 

City officials plan to mark certain areas — for instance, near wastewater outlets or sailboat traffic — with ‘no swimming’ signs. 

READ MORE: Why the shocking cold of winter bathing is a Nordic favourite 

Unemployment continues to fall in Denmark 

October marked another record-breaking low for unemployment in Denmark, according to data from the Danish Agency for Labour Market and Recruitment and the Danish Chamber of Commerce. 

Just 11,519 full-time workers were experiencing ‘long-term unemployment’ (meaning they had been unemployed for at least 80 percent of the previous year) in October. That’s down from 12,400 in September, which was the lowest figure in 26 years, according to newswire Ritzau. 

In March 2020, there were 22,000 long-term unemployment benefit recipients, which spiked to 40,000 in April 2021. 

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