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What did Danish PM Frederiksen say in New Year speech?

Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen on Sunday gave the traditional New Year’s Day speech, sent by the government leader from official residence Marienborg on January 1st.

What did Danish PM Frederiksen say in New Year speech?
Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen during her January 1st, 2023 speech. Photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix

In the speech, Frederiksen said that a plan to scrap a public holiday was still a policy of the new government, despite its apparent unpopularity.

The government has stated that it wants to raise 4.5 billion kroner for additional spending on defence. To this end, it wants an extra working day to be added to the year, and therefore suggests that a public holiday be abolished.

In the New Year speech, Frederiksen did not mention a specific public holiday, but the springtime Great Prayer Day is thought to be the most likely day off to be cut.

“I can sense that the proposal is not supported by everyone,” Frederiksen said in the speech.

“But hand on heart. We can’t overcome war in Europe, the climate crisis and domestic challenges if we are not – every one of us – prepared to do more,” she said.

“We are entering a year of economic uncertainty. Also, unfortunately, with a risk of increasing unemployment,” she said near the beginning of the speech.

READ ALSO: Unemployment down in Denmark but analysts predict more without work

She made a number of references to defence – the area the government says it will use a scrapped public holiday to invest in.

“Europe must be stronger on its own. And Denmark must contribute more to NATO. We must push forward investments in our defence and security. That way, we will be up to the two percent [of GDP, contribution to NATO, ed.] that is needed and which we have promised our allies,” she said.

“The will demand something from all of us. That’s why the government has proposed we abolish a public holiday,” she said.

READ ALSO: How can Denmark earn money by abolishing a public holiday?

The New Year speech was Frederiksen’s fourth as prime minister. The traditional speeches are usually recorded at the official residence of the head of government, Marienborg, just before the end of December and broadcast on January 1st.

Topics tackled by prime ministers during the annual speeches are often domestically focused and can outline core issues on which the government plans to focus in the coming year.

The Covid-19 pandemic was the dominant topic in 2021. Last year, Frederiksen began the speech by stating that she would “not primarily talk about coronavirus”, but did thank members of the public who had been vaccinated and received boosters, along with healthcare sector and test centre staff.

In her first speech as PM in 2020, Frederiksen talked about society’s responsibilities towards underprivileged children, choosing to sideline the dominant political topic of the preceding year, climate change.

She mentioned national security and the war in Ukraine as she continued the focus on defence and shared contributions in 2023.

“Denmark continues our steadfast and loyal support for Ukraine. At the same time, we must also be prepared to face significantly sharpened threats at home,” she said.

“In Europe we tend to imagine that trade and growth will almost automatically lead to peaceful coexistence. We disarmed while others built up,” she said.

“And in a number of areas, we have made ourselves dependent on others. We are now seeing that we were too naïve. That we are on the threshold of a new era. Which will be hard,” she said.

READ ALSO: ‘There’s not enough gas in the world’: Can Europe keep the heating on this winter?

The government, formed in December, has announced a number of policies which could impact foreigners in 2023. These include potential changes to family reunification and work permit rules.

These elements of the new government platform were not directly mentioned by Frederiksen in the January 1st speech.

She stated that the new government’s “political solutions” would reflect its make-up as a coalition of both left and right-leaning parties and mentioned social welfare and climate as areas on which the government would focus.

Denmark’s Queen Margrethe also gives a traditional speech at the turn of the year. The monarch’s speech is broadcast live at 6pm on New Year’s Eve and watching it is a popular element of New Year celebrations.

In her speech on Saturday, the Queen addressed a rift that has emerged in the royal family following her decision to strip four of her grandchildren of their titles, along with more traditional topics relating to ethical and cultural issues as well as the need for solidarity in society.

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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