The public sector needs to shrink, Danes have to get back to work and young people need opportunities for education and jobs. Those are some of the conclusions reached in the government’s 2020 plan.
Prime Minister Helle Thorning Schmidt (Socialdemokraterne), Foreign Minister Vily Søvndal (Socialistisk Folkeparti) and Economy Minister Margrethe Vestager (Radikale ) unveiled the S-R-SF government’s long-awaited plan at a joint press conference on Tuesday morning.
"We believe it is possible to maintain the welfare state, but only if more Danes can find work,” said Thorning-Schmidt.
The blueprint calls for finding 180,000 new jobs by 2020 and a public/private plan to get young people back into the workforce.
The prime minister said the money to create new partnerships between businesses, schools and the government would come via savings realised by streamlining the public sector, cutting defence and trimming public initiatives like flex and retirement plans.
The plan calls for private sector economic growth of 2.25 percent per year until 2020.
Education and greater opportunity for young people were also major lynchpins of the 2020 plan.
Søvndal said that Denmark risks losing an entire generation to unemployment and a lack of opportunity.
“We are convinced that young people will work and want to contribute to society. They just need a chance," said Søvndal.
The plan calls for 60 percent of students to receive continuing education. Currently only 54 percent receive further education. The plan also calls on businesses to create opportunities and apprenticeships for students and new graduates.
While the plan calls for 2.25 percent growth in the private sector, public growth would only be 0.8 percent annually.
Frank Aaen of Enhedslisten released a statement that indicated strongly that the government would need to make some serious changes in the plan before it could count on his party’s support.
"Wage earners, the unemployed and people with disabilities are footing the bill, while wealthy Danes can count on tax cuts," Aaen said. “This was probably not what the voters expected when they elected a social democratic government.”
Aaen was especially concerned that the planned 0.8 increase in public sector growth is essentially the same amount that Venstre had included in its budget proposal.
During last year’s campaign, the S-R-SF coalition promised 1.4 percent growth in the public sector.
Thorning-Schmidt said that tough times require tough measures.
"The whole world has been through a severe crisis that has also seriously affected Denmark,” said the prime minister. “Even getting to 0.8 percent requires tough decisions.”
The prime minister declined to say when the government would start negotiations with its partners and parliament on the 2020 plan, but acknowledged that the S-R-SF coalition is a minority government and that it would need help getting the 2020 plan approved.
The entirety of the government's 2020 plan can be read here (in Danish).