Change is coming, but improvement will have to wait, PM warns

Adapting to new economic realities will help the nation secure growth in the long term, Thorning-Schmidt says during New Year’s address

In a New Year’s address that focused heavily on the economy, PM Helle Thorning-Schmidt told Danes this evening that the road to recovery is going to be “long and arduous”.

“We need to be ready for a new era that requires us to make changes. An era that requires us to find new ways of doing things in the public sector, and one that requires our companies to survive in the face of tough competition.”

But although Thorning-Schmidt, holding her second New Year’s Day address as prime minister, and one that conveyed a similar tone as her first, predicted the tough times would last for “many years to come”, she said improvements would be visible in 2013.

“We can expect things to slowly improve in the new year. Not by a lot, but improvement none the less.”

Tax reform, renewable energy and education were three of the ways the PM said Denmark could pull itself through the difficult economic period, but Thorning-Schmidt also drew a parallel with the challenges the country faced during the oil crises of the 1970s. 

“In Denmark, it resulted in new ideas and forward-thinking decisions. Today, Denmark is a leader in energy efficiency, and we create lots of environmentally related jobs. We Danes turn change into opportunity.”

Thorning-Schmidt, who broke with tradition and held the annual address in her office, not her official residence, highlighted education as one of the keys to the country’s economic future.

“I say this to all young Danes: get an education. Not for your parents’ sake. Not for my sake, but for your own sake. The most important thing isn’t what you study, as long as you study something.

Pledging to make the current generation of young Danes “the best educated in Danish history” as a way to help secure the country’s economic future, she also reminded young people that they also have a responsibility to complete their education. 

“We’ve set up our system such that people who pay taxes pay for your education. We find this sensible, and we do it willingly, but we also expect that you live up to your end of the bargain. You need to finish your studies faster. We need you.”

Read the full address (currently in Danish only. An official English translation is typically available shortly after the address.)