Your weekly recap of Danish politics and society – Week 16

Curious about what’s going on in Danish society? Worry no more! Each week we bring you the main political events, debates, decisions and issues in a neat package of short news stories.

by Ella Navarro and Elizabeth Waind

Sunday Breaking News

Cyber attack from Russia: The Danish defence system was hacked by Russia. The hack entered the employee database, accessing emails from 2015 and 2016. “It is related to intelligence services and/or key elements of the Russian regime. It is an eternal struggle to keep them away,” said Defence Minister Claus Hjort Frederiksen to Berlingske. The Danish Centre for Cyber Security explained that the hackers gained access to non-classified information. However, it could still affect Denmark’s security. The hackers, known as ATP 28 and sometimes called ‘Fancy Bear’, go all the way up to President Vladimir Putin’s board and are similar to the leading hackers who accessed the Democratic email accounts in the US last year. “What’s going on is very controlled. These are no small hackers who would just do it for the sake of sport. It’s a very critical situation,” says Frederisken.

Political Moves

Danish state to take over the gas network: This means that the gas received by Danish consumers will now remain in state and not private hands, with the sale of energy not being exposed to competition between private and public companies. The network will be put under state company Energinet.dk, and it is expected that the government will take around 1 billion DKK from the trade. The change follows news in March that the four companies Energi Fyn, Eniig, SE and SEAS-NVE were ready to come together and buy the whole gas distribution from Energinet.dk, HMN Naturgas and Nature Energy for billions, creating a new Danish gas monopoly.

Denmark in the World

Denmark criticised for restricting religious freedom: According to four international surveys, Denmark was named as a country in which religious freedom is under increasing pressure. This has been defined by a number of policies and issues within Denmark, including: the persecution of Christians in asylum centres; pressure on the right to circumcision; and harassment of religious minorities. According to a report released this month by the American Research Center Pew, religious freedom in Denmark has been significantly curtailed from 2007 to 2015. This puts Denmark in the bottom fourth for religious freedom in Europe.

Denmark seeks to strengthen ties with Austria, Ireland and the Netherlands as EU allies: Britain has been one of Denmark’s closest EU allies, so as a result of Brexit the Danish government is seeking to strengthen its alliance with Austria, Ireland and the Netherlands. On Tuesday Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussens was visited in Copenhagen by Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern; the two met to discuss the EU and Brexit. On Friday Løkke also met with the leaders of Ireland and the Netherlands, expressing the need for unity following Brexit. “Our countries are potentially among those which will be most affected by the Brexit,” said Løkke in a joint press conference. “We need to reduce the damages of Brexit as much as possible and build a new working relationship.” Denmark, Ireland and The Netherlands were all heavily dependent on trade with Britain.

In the Media

Number of poor in Denmark has more than doubled since 2002: This is according to new figures released by Statistics Denmark, part of new analysis from the Labour Movement. The number of Danes considered poor increased from 18,650 in 2002 to 44,141 in 2015. From 2014 to 2015 the number increased by 10%. According to Labour Movement Analysis Manager Jonas Schytz Juul, lower benefits for welfare recipients and foreigners as introduced by the Liberal government in the early 00s are responsible for the increase. According to the figures, a ‘poor’ person is defined as someone who earns less than 50% of median income (median income = the income which exactly half of the population earns more than) in three consecutive years and has savings of less than 100,000 DKK (not including students).

Uber withdraws from Denmark: At 12:00 on Tuesday, Uber shut down in Denmark after more than two years of protests from rival firms and politicians. After a new law was introduced setting mandatory fare metres, the app-based taxi company announced its withdrawal from the country back in March. Now, taxi drivers look for new apps for work, of which several are emerging.

5,000 protesters join March for Science in Copenhagen: Protests took place in cities around the world yesterday to support the importance of scientific evidence in making political decisions. Protesters carried signs with the slogans, ‘Make science great again’, ‘Go fact-yourself’ and ‘Do you remember polio? No? Thanks, vaccine’. Renowned Danish DNA researcher Eske Willerslev says, “People have lost respect for the specialist and scientist.”

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Think about it

Last week new data showed that, in 2014, refugees and immigrants cost the Danish government a total of 28 billion DKK, deemed “too much money” by the Danish Ministry of Finance. This week it emerged that, based on figures from the Danish Immigration Service, in the first three months of 2017 the proportion of asylum seekers granted asylum in Denmark dropped significantly. In 2014-2016, 72-85% of asylum seekers were granted asylum in Denmark. In January-March this year, only 38% of applications were approved.

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