Allow me to start by saying that my vision for Copenhagen is crystal clear: an open and tolerant city. A city that’s big enough for everyone, and a city whose residents, regardless of where they come from, are able to live a good and rewarding life.
Unfortunately, I’m forced to admit that many foreigners have a different opinion of life in Copenhagen. That’s something I, as lord mayor, would like to see changed.
We’ve already done a number of things in order to make foreigners feel more welcome: we’ve established International Citizen Service Centres where expats can get help settling in and get a hand with their paperwork. Once a year, we invite new foreign residents to City Hall for a welcome reception. We’re also working hard to communicate more in English, as well as to accommodate more international school students, including through the establishment of a European school that students can attend free of charge.
It’s in our interest to do a better job. Diversity – whether cultural or educational – makes the city a more vibrant and varied place. And for companies, diversity is an asset that they can use to stimulate growth.
Copenhagen, however, isn’t the only city out there that recognises the benefit of attracting foreigners. The competition to attract the best and the brightest is tough, and in order to make sure that foreigners continue to choose us, we’ve launched a programme aimed at making the city an even more attractive place for foreigners to live.
A total of 38 million kroner has been set aside for the Copenhagen Talent Bridge, a three-year programme established to create initiatives that will make it easier for foreigners to settle down in Copenhagen.
Among the ideas already in the works are assistance for small and medium-sized companies that want to hire foreign workers and professional networking events for foreign employees and their families.
I’m convinced that by working together with companies, state agencies and the people of Copenhagen themselves, the City Council can make Copenhagen a place where everyone who lives here can feel at home.
The author is the lord mayor of Copenhagen.