Danish deputy PM yet to set date for return from sick leave

Denmark’s Deputy Prime Minister and leader of the Liberal Party Jakob Ellemann-Jensen, who is also the defence minister, says he expects to return to parliament following a spell of sick leave but has not set a date.

Danish deputy PM yet to set date for return from sick leave
Danish deputy PM Jakob Ellemann-Jensen is yet to return to work after being signed off with stress in February. Photo: Ida Marie Odgaard/Ritzau Scanpix

Ellemann-Jensen, who is currently on sick leave due to stress, posted an update on his situation on Facebook on Thursday.

“It’s going well with my health. I’m in good hands and I look forward to having a daily routine at Christiansborg [parliament, ed.] and in the defence ministry,” he wrote.

The Liberal leader has been signed off with stress since February 6th after being briefly admitted to hospital last week for nausea, just after returning from a visit to Ukraine.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: What are the rules for taking sick leave in Denmark?

In the Facebook statement, he did not give a set date for his return but said he must be “ready” to resume his work.

“Because I know that you can be neither minister not party leader on half-power,” he said.

Economy Minister Troels Lund Poulsen has filled in for Ellemann-Jensen as acting defence minister during his absence. The Liberals said on Thursday that deputy leader Stephanie Lose will now take on Poulsen’s duties as acting Economy Minister.

That is a sign that Ellemann-Jensen will be away for an extended period, according to political commentator Hans Engell.

“This is serious because it is not expected that Ellemann will come back quickly. This will take a long time. But there’s a need for the Liberals to have a set structure in their government roles and that Troels Lund can concentrate on defence,” Engell said.

Ellemann-Jensen has led the Liberal party since late 2019. The party is traditionally the second largest in the Danish parliament and senior member of the ‘blue bloc’ alliance of conservative parties.

It suffered a poor result in the 2022 election with its 13 percent share of the vote representing 10 points less than its vote share in 2019. Ellemann-Jensen subsequently took the party into coalition government with two other parties including erstwhile rivals the Social Democrats.

The Liberal leader is the latest in a number of Danish politicians who have been forced to take time off due to stress in recent times.

They include Liberal Alliance leader Alex Vanopslagh as well as Jacob Mark (Socialist People’s Party) and Ida Auken (Social Democrats).

“We have an obligation to listen to what they say because no one should get sick from going to work,” the speaker of parliament, Søren Gade, said in earlier comments to news wire Ritzau.

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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