National Round-Up: Make your mind up then!

Denmark hailed as best country in the world just days after slipping down equality rankings

It wouldn’t be normal if Denmark didn’t top some surveys and flunk a few others.

Tak Janteloven!
First off, Denmark has the best quality of life in Europe, according to a survey by US website Far & Wide that assessed 44 countries.

The survey pulled no punches, ranking Britain and its drab food in 40th position, one place below Moldova.

Denmark, it concluded, had a lot to thank Janteloven for, as it instilled a sense of community over personal success.

Acclaimed capital
The plaudits continued with HomeToGo ranking Copenhagen as the third most forward-looking city in Europe, behind only Zurich and Stockholm.

Its survey was based on three key parameters – technology, internet connectivity and sustainability – and assessed the 100 most populous cities in Europe.

While CNN has put Copenhagen on its ‘Top 20 places to visit in 2020’ list.

Equality evener
But it wasn’t all roses, as Denmark has slipped to 14th in the WFS’s annual equality report.

Its placement looks even worse given that the top four places are taken by Nordic neighbours Iceland, Norway, Finland and Sweden.

Good things don’t always come in 12s
January 1 didn’t just usher in a new decade, immense hangovers and countless doomed New Year resolutions.

Loads of new laws also came into effect as the clock struck midnight and millions of kroner’s worth of fireworks rose and burst into the skies over Copenhagen.

New rules for the unemployed, pensions, trucks and plastic bags were among the new laws.

Here are the 12 laws most likely to impact your life in 2020.

Less pressure on jobless
To avoid losing their benefits, the unemployed no longer need to search for jobs every week (at a minimum) if they are within six weeks of starting a new job or a flexjob, going on parental leave, taking early retirement, or receiving flex benefits or a pension. Overall, there will be less communication with the municipality.

Help for families
A temporary benefit of 550-700 kroner for every child under the age of 14 will help tackle child poverty until the Benefits Commission releases its recommendations and a new system is introduced. The benefit will help families impacted by the unemployment benefit ceiling or the integration benefit. The benefit is expected to help about 27,900 kids from 14,300 families.

Pensions for worn-out
A pension initiative allows individuals who have been worn-out by a long working life to apply for early retirement if they have six years or less to go until they reach pension age. The person must have worked full-time for a total of 20-25 years and be deemed only able to work 15 hours a week.

More detainment powers
The authorities have more cause to make forceful detainments – particularly concerning citizens with dementia or who have mental disabilities. For instance, a municipality no longer needs to pre-approve the short-term detainment of a citizen in situations relating to hygiene.

Controls on absenteeism
New nationwide rules are in place that aim to streamline the registration of absenteeism in schools in the form of a tick every morning for the younger classes and two ticks for older students, as those in grades 7-10 will also be registered according to their attendance of the last class of the day. Exceeding absenteeism limits can lead to parents losing their child benefits.

Workplace accident review
Employees who suffer accidents at work will have an easier time having their mishap approved as a work-related accident – but only accidents that occur after 1 January 2020.

Public income pension
People who receive public income (such as kontanthjælp, dagpenge or early retirement) now get an obligatory pension initiative that can be paid out upon retirement. The state-sponsored contribution is at 0.3 percent in 2020 and increases every year to 3.3 percent in 2030.

Trucker freedom
As of January 1 the speed limit for trucks, trailers and campers has increased from 70 to 80 km/hour outside densely populated areas and on motorways.

Trucker penalties
Truck companies and drivers face stiffer penalties for owning or operating unroadworthy vehicles: up from 1,000-3,000 to 5,000-10,000 kroner.

Scrapping cars online
Car owners who seek to have their cars scrapped will have to do so without leaving a paper trail because the process has been completely digitalized.

Cheaper nuts
The price of nuts in supermarkets should decrease to reflect that the nut tax has been abolished. For instance, a bag that cost about 29 kroner in 2018 will cost about 23 kroner in 2020.

Plastic bag hike
As part of the government’s aim to reduce plastic consumption, plastic bag prices will increase from three to four kroner, while the price of disposable plastic cutlery will rise by about 30 percent.

Citizenship after decade?
A people’s petition wants to grant citizenship to anyone who has lived for ten years in Denmark. Its author Inge Christoffersen asserts that non-Danish tax-payers are “prevented from having democratic influence and the security of citizenship”. Submitted on January 6, the petition needs the signatures of 50,000 citizens by July 4 in order to be submitted to Parliament.

December 31 heartbreak
Last year shared the title as the wettest ever recorded in Denmark. Its total figure of 905.2 mm tied the 905 mm set in 1999 – back when decimals were not used in calculations. Had the final figure reached 905.5 mm, it would have been rounded up to a record 906 – the highest since records began in 1874.

Ragnarök obsession
Denmark’s exoplanet has been named Surt after a giant-sized Norse deity prophesised to engulf the world in flames as part of Ragnarök. And its nearest star has appropriately been called Muspelheim, Surt’s kingdom of fire. The public chose the names from 830 suggestions. The International Astronomical Union confirmed the names in December during its 100th anniversary celebrations.

New alternative sought
Uffe Elbæk, the founder of Alternativet, is stepping down as party leader on February 1. He will continue as an MP. Elbæk, who founded Alternativet in 2013, has recently faced allegations that he permitted sexual harassment and inappropriate behaviour within his party.

Most underrated city
Vejle has been named the country’s most underrated city by Lonely Planet. In related news, Skagen, Sæby and surprise entry Haderslev are the nation’s most popular resorts, according to Dansk Kyst- og Naturturisme, and CNN has published a glowing piece commending Denmark’s castles, which bizarrely included the Ermitage hunting lodge in Dyrehaven.

Rural taxi dearth
The transport minister, Benny Engelbrecht, has promised he will this year arrest the declining number of taxis in rural areas – a situation most blame on the new Taxi Law introduced in 2018. In other transport news, a train link that travelled between Lolland and Fehmarn via ferry, made its last voyage on December 14, bringing to an end 147 years of service.

Stamp of approval
A collection of five stamps will this year mark Queen Margrethe II’s 80th birthday. The motifs will mark out five key moments in the Danish queen’s life. During the reign of the monarch, whose birthday is on April 16, no less than 158 stamps have been issued bearing her likeness.

Mormor abandons kids
A 54-year-old woman from Afghanistan was arrested after two infants aged approximately 12 and 30 months, who are believed to be her grandchildren, were abandoned on the streets of Aarhus. It is believed the parents of the children, who have been taken into care, are not in Denmark and arrived here without them.

Laughing gas popularity
A Sundhedsstyrelsen study reveals that 17 percent of young men at business schools have tried nitrous oxide cartridges – the so-called laughing gas. The problem is greatest in the Capital Region, where every fourth young man has tried nitrous oxide.

Tighter net
The Ministry of Environment and Food has started electronically monitoring fishing vessels in adherence with 2020 North Sea fishing quotas. The surveillance will extend a tighter net over which species are being caught and the exact size of the fish. However, the Danish Fisheries Association believes the cameras cast “unnecessary suspicion” on the fishermen.

Pipe bomb in garden
A leading member of the far-right party Frit Danmark has been sentenced to seven years in prison for crimes that included making a pipe bomb in his front garden, which he claimed was self-defence against potential terrorists from the nearby Odense neighbourhood of Vollsmose, possessing a functioning World War II machine gun, violence and threats.

Lithium ignorance
A Danwatch and Amnesty International investigation reveals that none of the major bus operators in the capital, Aarhus or Roskilde know where the lithium used by their electric buses comes from – a mineral commonly derived from Chilean and Congolese mines that use child labour.

Rise in arms offences
The number of violations of the Arms Act has increased by 82.5 percent according to Danmarks Statistik: from 7,700 cases in 2008 to 15,300 cases in 2018.

owever, the number of criminal law notifications fell by 7.4 percent from 548,000 to 508,000. In other crime news, East Jutland Police recently found 40 kilos of cocaine in a Hamburg-bound container at the port of Aarhus.

Psychiatric breakouts
There have been 106 escapes from psychiatric wards in the past two years, but there was no danger of beating the record set in 2016 when there were 73 escapes.

Avoids sing-sing
The 29-year-old American woman found guilty of illegally performing for seven choirs without the necessary work permit has escaped prison. Instead, the Malmö resident and former Det Kongelige Danske Musikkonservatorium student has been fined 15,000 kroner and given a suspended sentence of ten days. Her employers received fines ranging from 4,000 to 48,000 kroner.

Not securely locked
Investigators have concluded that a trailer on the freight train that collided with a passenger service on the Great Belt Bridge rail accident in strong winds on 2 January 2019, which killed eight people, was not properly locked. Additionally, the report determined that improper maintenance was to blame. Stricter guidelines are expected in the wake of the accident.

Cost of ceremony
Mattias Tesfaye, the immigration and integration minister, has revealed that citizenship costs each new Dane 3,800 kroner – up from 1,200 kroner in 2018 – and that 600 kroner is spent on the ceremony itself, which includes shaking the hand of a senior municipal official. His party Socialdemokratiet backed the new measures that became law in January 2019.