Political concern over rising number of EU citizens on Danish dole

The number of foreigners getting unemployment in Denmark is rising, and no-one in parliament is pleased much about that

More than 7,000 EU citizens received cash benefits in Denmark last year after rule changes came into effect making union citizens living in other member states eligible for public assistance after only 10 weeks of work.

Official statistics show one in seven foreign kontanthjælp recipients has been in  Denmark for less than one year, and that their number is growing.

“The numbers tell me that the current rules are wrong,” Dansk Folkeparti leader Kristian Thulesen Dahl said. “It is unacceptable that someone can come to Denmark and qualify for assistance after working for such a short time.” 

Parliament's options are limited, however, since EU rules require that member states treat each other's citizens equally.

A two-way street
Ellen Trane Nørby, a spokesperson for opposition party Venstre and a leading candidate in this spring's EU parliamentary elections, said the government should take the issue up with the EU, but “doubted it had the political will to put it on the agenda”.

Mette Reissmann, a spokesperson for the PM's Socialdemokraterne, emphasised that the rights to welfare benefits went both ways, and that Danes working abroad have similar rights.

“In that way we are all equal,” she said.

The employment minister, Mette Frederiksen (Socialdemokraterne), said the government is monitoring the developments.

“It is important that unemployment benefits in Denmark are based on the correct principles,” she said. “Abuse is unacceptable. Foreigners should not come here to get benefits, but because they have a proper job.”




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