DPA, August 6, 2008
Denmark seems set for a heated debate over its immigration rules and obligations as a member of the European Union, after a recent EU ruling on free movement of people in the 27-nation bloc. The ramifications of the ruling by the European Court of Justice, based on a case from Ireland, continued Wednesday to echo in Denmark.
Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen was quoted by the Politiken newspaper as saying that there was a need to clarify that Danish citizens “have the same rights as all other EU citizens” and that he would consult with other EU countries that also oppose the ruling.
“I have a political responsibility to ensure that a firm and fair policy on immigration is upheld,” the premier said.
Rasmussen has headed a minority government consisting of his Liberal Party and junior partner, the Conservatives, since 2001.
The government has relied on support from the Danish People’s Party that has strongly influenced tighter immigration policies.
“It has to be stated that Denmark determines its immigration policies,” Pia Kjaersgaard, leader of the EU sceptical Danish People’s Party, told the Jyllands-Posten newspaper.
One controversial principle includes that Danish citizens are not allowed to bring a foreign spouse into the country unless both partners were aged 24 or more.
The Luxembourg-based court ruling July 25 said that anyone with legal residence in the EU should be able to live in any member state with their spouse and children, suggesting that the Danish principle may come under question.
The Danish People’s Party has now signalled it wants a say over EU matters, indicating a tougher ride for Rasmussen.
The premier has so far sought deals on EU issues—most recently on the Lisbon Treaty—with the opposition Social Democrats, Social Liberals and Socialist People’s Party.
In a separate development, Kjaersgaard, 61, was Wednesday taken to hospital after she complained that she felt unwell.