Fear of slack migration rules holds back Denmark on foreign labour: Deputy PM

Ritzau/The Local
Ritzau/The Local - [email protected]
Fear of slack migration rules holds back Denmark on foreign labour: Deputy PM
Danish deputy PM Jacob Ellemann Jensen during the Chamber of Commerce annual event, where he called for a change on political attitudes towards foreign labour. Photo: Liselotte Sabroe/Ritzau Scanpix

Denmark’s deputy prime minister and economy minister Jakob Ellemann-Jensen says a fear of being seen as weak on immigration is preventing parliament from taking measures to recruit much-needed labour from abroad.


The comments were given by Ellemann-Jensen at a Danish Chamber of Commerce event on Wednesday and reported by news wire Ritzau.

“Since the 2000s, successive governments have tightened the [immigration] rules,” Ellemann-Jensen said.

“But we have ended up in a situation where we are afraid of making sensible and necessary decisions that would ensure international labour for fear of being called ‘a slackener’,” he said.

The topic of international labour was a key them at the Chamber of Commerce event.

Supporters of hiring international labour say it is needed to support Denmark’s demographic changes and active economic growth.


“The labour shortage is a real challenge for Denmark. We must be able to do something about it without fear of being called a ‘slackener’ [of immigration rules, ed.],” Ellemann-Jensen said.

The Moderate party, which like Ellemann-Jensen’s Liberals are a partner in the coalition government, have expressed support for increasing labour from abroad.

At the Moderate summer political meeting, party leader Lars Løkke Rasmussen, also the foreign minister, said Denmark should consider agreements with countries in Africa over labour recruitment. Rasmussen named Kenya as a potential partner for such an agreement.

He also said Danish businesses should be allowed to freely hire international staff, provided they comply with trade union agreements.

CEO of the Chamber of Commerce, Brian Mikkelsen, suggested on Wednesday that 50,000 workers should be recruited from abroad, including from Africa.

The senior party in the coalition, the Social Democrats, has so far responded without enthusiasm to both the Moderate proposals and Mikkelsen’s suggestion.

“I think we have different perspectives. The Moderates were honest about this being their input to the debate but the government policy agreement is also very clear about our politics. That is a strict, responsible and consistent immigration policy, and that is what our approach is,” employment minister Ane Halsboe-Jørgensen of the Social Democrats told newspaper Berlingske.


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