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IMMIGRATION

New Danish government could relax family reunification rules

Denmark’s incoming government could break with years of strict immigration laws by easing family reunification rules.

New Danish government could relax family reunification rules
Denmark's strict family reunification rules could be eased by the new government. Photo: Photo by Tanaphong Toochinda on Unsplash

According to the platform for the new government, which was presented on Wednesday, family reunification rules could be eased.

Rules for family reunification have often been criticised by Denmark’s national media, with a long series of individual cases reported, highlighting the harsh impact of the rules on the lives of individual couples.

Ostensibly intended to restrict immigration from Middle Eastern countries, the rules also frequently impact the ability of non-EU nationals from other parts of the world, and even Danes themselves, to establish a family life in Denmark.

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Specifically, the new government wants to change language criteria applied in family reunification cases.

It also wants to halve the so-called “bank guarantee” (bankgaranti), a requirement which demands couples deposit a large sum of money with municipalities while the foreign partner is granted residence under family reunification rules.

It is currently unclear how an adjustment of the language rules will take form, with discussions only having a general nature so far.

The Social Democrats, Liberals and Moderates on Wednesday presented their joint platform for going into coalition government together after weeks of talks.

The current family reunification rules have been in place since 2018, when they were passed by the centre-right government led by Lars Løkke Rasmussen, who is now set to return to government as the leader of the Moderate party.

READ ALSO: What are the new family reunification rules for parents of Danish children?

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FAMILY

Copenhagen forest kindergartens get delay on closure decision

A plan to close or downsize 33 municipal childcare institutions in Copenhagen including a number of famed forest kindergartens has been put on hold after the decision was blocked by a member of the city council.

Copenhagen forest kindergartens get delay on closure decision

A decision to close or downsize 33 kindergartens and creches in Copenhagen was stopped from moving forward during a committee meeting at Copenhagen Municipality on Wednesday.

The Alternative Party, which has an elected councillor on the committee, used its right to push the decision from the closed committee meeting to the full City Council [Danish: borgerrepræsentation], where discussions between the parties on the proposed closures can be followed publicly.

“This matter screams of a lack of transparency. It’s hard to clearly see why the 33 institutions have been selected. We now think there’s a need for more openness and a better process and we are therefore taking the matter to the City Council,” Alternative’s councillor Emil Sloth Andersen said in a statement reported by the Ritzau newswire.

Sloth Andersen said over 1,000 comments had been received from parents during the proposal’s public hearing phase, expressing opposition to the plan and criticising it for failing to take into account the individual quality of the institutions slated for closure.

Although the final decision over the closures can be taken by Social Democratic lord mayor Sophie Hæstorp Andersen, Alternative’s wish is for a more “public, democratic and transparent” discussion on the cuts, according to Sloth Andersen.

As previously reported by The Local, some 33 institutions across the capital face either complete closure or a reduction in their capacity in a cost-cutting exercise in response to what the municipality says is a decline in demand for places. This is related to a drop in the number of young children who live in the city.

At risk from the cutbacks are a number of so-called udflytterinstitutioner, literally “excursion institutions” but probably better known as forest kindergartens.

These kindergartens, which revolve around a daily routine in which small children spend the majority or entirety of their time outside, including during winter, have gained the attention of international media in years past and been praised for their potential benefits to children.

Financial considerations “play a role” in determining which institutions will be closed, Copenhagen Municipality has previously said.

READ ALSO: Copenhagen’s famous forest kindergartens under threat from municipal closures

In a separate statement issued on Wednesday afternoon, the Copenhagen Municipality Children and Youth Committee [Børne- og Ungdomsudvalget] confirmed that the plan had been held up.

In the statement, the chairperson of the committee, Jakob Næsager of the Conservative Party, said he was “upset” about the outcome and accused Alternative of failing to take responsibility.

“I actually don’t understand why Alternative has chosen to put children, parents and staff in a position of uncertainty,” he said.

“We have 3,000 fewer children in the city than there were only four years ago, so of course we have to make downwards adjustments,” he said.

Elisabetta Taschini, whose eldest child attends the Jacob Holms Minde daycare in southern district Amager, said she was “among the many who have expressed their concern and sent proposals to the committee in the last weeks”.

Jacob Holms Minde is among the institutions which faces downsizing, including the closure of its forest group.

“Now, we wait and hope that the City Council will decide to keep all the forest kindergartens open, acknowledging the great pedagogical offer that they represent,” Taschini told The Local.

There is currently no firm date for discussion of the proposal in the City Council, the municipality said in the statement.

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