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Denmark: Government's integration action plan

The Danish government has just launched the Integration Action Plan 2020, describing the most important initiatives of last year and some future plans for this year. The publication is not an evaluation but rather an update.

Introduction

Emphasis in the introduction to the publication is on an individual's decision to become a part of Danish society, and on making an effort, with the main goal outlined as becoming self-supporting and embracing Danish culture and values. The state continues its efforts against negative social control of women in families from a minority background and 'parallel societies', which happens when too many ethnic minorities are living in the same housing projects, keeping up cultural patterns from their home countries.

  • The Minister of Integration has recently introduced a new category for use in statistics, labelling a certain group of countries the MENAPT countries (read more here). From within this group a growing number of individuals have become self-supporting, but still fall behind Danes (especially women).
  • A new analysis shows that refugees have a weaker connection to the labour market than others.
  • Migrants and descendants from MENAPT countries have less education than people of Danish origin, but the gap is decreasing slowly.
  • Non-Western migrants and descendants experience a lack of freedom when it comes to choosing their own partners, however this has been decreasing since 2012.

Content

The three main focus points in integration efforts have been:

  • Work or activity 37h per week and learning the Danish language, abolishing user fees for Danish courses, and expanding the group eligible for IGU (basic education for refugees).
    - Full-time job or job training including Danish language training is mandatory.
    - Fees introduced a few years ago for participation in language courses by foreigners holding a work or study permit will be abolished again.
    - The new IGU initiative has been a success, but the number of people with a contract has decreased as a result of fewer arrivals. Therefore, the offer will be extended from only newcomers to refugees and family members with up to 10 years' residency.

  • Efforts to reduce parallel societies (e.g. the so-called Ghetto Plan): better distribution of ethnic minority students at gymnasiums, more efforts for children and young people in socially vulnerable areas, strengthening police work and strengthening collaboration with sports clubs and associations.
    - In 2019, a temporary political deal was made to ensure a more even distribution of students among gymnasiums. The percentage of students from an ethnic minority background and/or parents with a low income varies too much today, says the publication. Local councils are now allowed to make a more even distribution of students, and this deal will be extended as a long-term effort.
    - The goal is that no housing projects will meet the 'ghetto criteria' by 2030. A special focus is on children, making sure they grow up in more mixed environments, socially, economically and culturally.
    - The 'Ghetto Plan' includes:
    1) Changing the balance between residents in areas on the 'ghetto list' by removals, renovations and privatisations.
    2) Mandatory day care for children from the age of one, including cultural education, language tests from first grade, a maximum of 30 percent of children being from 'ghetto areas' in any institution.
    3) Enforced police efforts in 'ghetto areas', including zones where crimes will be punished harder, as well as increased punishments for domestic violence etc.
    - The project Get2sport will be continued, offering children in 'ghetto areas' easier access to local sports activities.

  • Reducing and preventing negative social control and anti-democratic values and norms: new law proposal against receiving economic support from certain donors.
    - The government finds it important that all girls and women experience the same freedom in Denmark, regardless of their ethnic background. Forced marriages, refusals of divorces and religious marriages of under-age girls are not acceptable. The government wants to increase the use of expulsion in such cases, make it harder to obtain family reunification for parents who have participated in such things and increase the demands for Danish language tests for religious preachers in Denmark.
    - A national team against radicalism and honour-related conflict was established in 2018, and this will be extended with a further focus on negative social control from 2021.
    - A new law proposal was presented in November 2020, making it harder to receive donations from anti-democratic donors abroad. A list of such donors will be launched, reviewed every four years.

Find out  more.