New year, new rules

The start of 2014 saw new politicians and local governments take office, but also saw some new rules. 

Among laws that were passed in parliament last year and took effect on January 1, a reform of the unemployment benefit kontanthjælp and a new freedom of information law (offentlighedslov) were the most controversial. Here's an overview of what the new laws.

The kontanthjælp reform
The first day of 2014 was the day when the kontanthjælp reform, a revision of the least generous unemployment benefit system, took effect.

All parties in parliament, with the exception of far-left party Enhedslisten, passed a law in the spring that spells lower payments and more stringent demands for unemployed people.

One of the central points of the reform is that everybody under the age of 30 will receive substantially less in unemployment benefits in order to encourage them to take a job or enrol in an education.  

They will now receive an education support of 5,753 kroner a month, which is comparable to the student education programme SU, meaning that around 17,000 young people will now live on half of what they received last year.

READ MORE: Kontanthjælp reform: The central points

Couples living together who are both over the age of 25 also receive 'mutual provider duties'. This means that the partner in a relationship who receives benefits will no longer receive them if his or her partner earns more than 23,500 kroner a month. If they have children, that monthly limit is raised to 30,400 kroner. 

The freedom of information law
The new freedom of information law, offentlighedsloven, outlines which government documents the public can access.

It reduces the number of governmental documents that can be accessed by members of the public who want insight into the work of politicians.

While the law modernises the existing freedom of information law and increases openness in some areas of government, like state-owned companies, city councils and regions, it has been criticised for ending access to documents that are passed between ministers and civil servants.

READ MORE: Freedom of information law passes; opponents pledge recall vote

Media and politicians have been concerned that the law may decrease Denmark's democratic transparency.

A petition against the law has accumulated over 85,000 signatures, making it Denmark’s most popular online petition ever. And on December 30, up to 1,500 protestors brandishing torches gathered outside Christiansborg to protest against the law.

READ MORE: Demonstration against freedom of information act draws hundreds

Despite being completely or partially owned by the state, 58 companies are granted exemptions from the law to protect their competitive positions. The companies that will be shielded to the public’s eye include rail service DSB Øresund, national lottery Danske Spil and bridge service Brobizz.

In three years, the freedom of information act will be evaluated and debated in parliament.

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