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Denmark to take 1,000 refugees, offers aid

DANISH NEWS - Hard line softened by Danish government, rescinding its previous zero refugees policy line

In a move to soften its poor reputation abroad the Danish government has offered to take in an extra 1,000 refugees and contribute EUR 100m this year and next to the refugee crisis, mostly to the EU border agency Frontex. This is according to Seven59.dk and other media.

Announcing the offer ahead of Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen’s visit to Brussels Thursday, integration minister Inger Støjberg said at a press conference that Europe is faced with an ‘extraordinary situation’ but stressed that Denmark, because of its justice opt-out, won’t participate in the EU’s quota distribution programme.

She told journalists: “It is the government’s clear position that Denmark should not be part of any mandatory quota system where it is decided from Brussels how many asylum seekers we should take in Denmark. We do already take a significant co-responsibility and treat asylum seekers very fairly.”

‘Values with realism’

20,000 asylum seekers are expected to arrive in Denmark this year, nearly 50 per cent up over last year’s figure of 14,000, but still far less than Sweden which registered just over 80,000 refugees last year and expects the same number this year.

The government, backed by the anti-immigrant Danish People’s Party (DPP), has adopted stricter laws on immigration than many other EU countries since coming to power three months ago, including cuts in social benefits for new arrivals and strict rules regarding family reunification.

“What’s important for the government is that we take on the responsibility to make our contribution in Europe to finding a solution that balances safeguarding our humanitarian values with realism that ensures Europe can still be Europe, ” Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen said.

Welcomed by EU

Of the EUR 100m pledged on Thursday, two-thirds will be given to safeguard the EU’s borders and the remainder to help countries neighbouring Syria that are taking the brunt of the refugee crisis, the PM said.

EU President Donald Tusk warmly welcomed the government’s offer to accept a further 1,000 refugees. During talks in Brussels he tweeted a picture of himself alongside the Danish PM.

“Good talks with Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen on migration and much more. I welcome Denmark’s readiness to accept more refugees,” he tweeted.

Danish EU Commissioner Margrethe Vestager echoed the message in a similar tweet: “I welcome the step to help more refugees.”

Story on DR here (in Danish) and here.

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