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Why is Denmark not part of EU's new job scheme for non-EU workers?

Michael Barrett
Michael Barrett - [email protected]
Why is Denmark not part of EU's new job scheme for non-EU workers?
Denmark is not part of a planned EU jobs scheme. Photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix

An EU Talent Pool platform, in which non-EU nationals can register their profiles and find jobs across the union’s member states, has moved a step closer to reality but Denmark will not be involved in the scheme.


At a meeting of the Justice and Home Affairs Council in Luxembourg, the EU Council, which includes representatives of each of the 27 member states, agreed a joint position on the proposal, referred to as "Tinder for jobs" by EU Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson. 

The Council will now begin negotiating with the European Parliament to agree on the final legislative text on the proposal, which is part of the EU's broader skills and talent mobility package. 

What's the scheme?

The Talent Pool will be a voluntary platform, to which EU member states can sign up, and where jobseekers from outside the EU will be able to look for jobs and employers within the EU will be able to list job vacancies.  

The Talent Parterships will be tailor-made agreements with countries outside the EU, which will help encourage those countries' citizens to come to EU countries to work or study, with training provided within the non-EU country to prepare workers for EU jobs. 

"This will not replace anything but it will be an additional tool to make recruitment from outside the EU easier," Johannes Kleis, a press officer at the European Council, recently told The Local. "It should help to overcome some barriers that employers might find if they look for staff outside the EU, and this portal will be an easier entry point for third country jobseekers." 


Why isn’t Denmark part of it?

“Denmark is not taking part in the adoption of this Regulation and is not bound by it or subject to its application,” the formal proposal for the EU Talent Pool states.

The opt-outs obtained by Denmark under the EU’s Protocol 22 allow the Nordic nation to do this, the proposal notes.

It also notes that Ireland has a similar opt-out, but unlike Denmark has notified the EU of its wish to take part.

Denmark has a longstanding labour shortage and campaigns by business organisations for the government to remedy this by allowing more international labour are almost as longstanding.

An analysis from the Confederation of Danish Industry (Dansk Industri, DI) earlier this year stated that, between 2013 and 2023, the number of foreign nationals working full-time in paid employment in Denmark increased from 147,000 to 309,000.

As such, increasing employment in Denmark in recent years is due in no small part to international labour, and the high rate of international employment, couple with a continued low unemployment rate, underline the need for workers from abroad, DI argued as it released the analysis. However, a large proportion of this international labour is sourced from within the EU.

READ ALSO: Foreign workers in Denmark 'create 300 billion kroner of value'


Is there any likelihood of this changing?

The coalition government does not be ready to make huge changes on non-EU labour, although DI has spoken in favour of it.

“A simple and effective measure would be to also allow foreigners from outside of the EU to come here if they have a job offer in line with collective bargaining agreements. That would make an immediate difference,”  DI’s deputy director Steen Nielsen said in connection with its analysis on the number of foreigner on the labour market.

Denmark’s salary and other labour standards are set by its collective bargaining system.

The business representative underlined that such workers should not be allowed to stay in Denmark if their work circumstances ceased.

Last autumn, Employment Minister Ane Halsboe-Jørgensen said that talk of seeking agreements with non-EU countries on the area, as well as easing existing rules, was not in line with the immigration policy followed by the Social Democrats.

Social Democratic policies on labour and immigration are closely related, she said in an interview.

“I think they are related when you start talking about, for example, 50,000 [people] from Kenya. Then we certainly must look not only at what it what do for the place of work those people are taken into, but very much also what it would do to society as a whole,” she said, citing a figure given by the Danish Chamber of Commerce in a September 2023 proposal for raising Denmark's international workforce.

Since then, the government has agreed a deal allowing non-EU labour in a specific sector where it considers needs most urgent –health and social care – but this is being done through national legislation and not an EU scheme.


Comments (1)

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Luigi V 2024/06/22 09:06
Denmark was wise to opt out of this program. Though it seems beneficial, like many EU initiatives, it paves the way for mandates from unelected EU bureaucrats. It’s easy to imagine the EU enforcing quotas based on ethnicity, sexual orientation, and other factors, regardless of qualifications. Many member states find the EU to be an expanding, often divisive bureaucracy encroaching on their sovereignty. Denmark can enhance job seeker quality from outside the EU and Nordics on its own terms.

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