Transformation of asylum and integration policy in Denmark

23.11.11

Category: Asylum, Denmark, Opinion and debate

The general election in Denmark in September marked a change of government and the introduction of major reforms of asylum and integration policies. The Danish Refugee Council welcomes the initiatives while at the same time advocating for further improvements in some areas of legislation and practice.

The guiding principle of the coalition agreement presented by the new government is a better balance between rights and obligations based on integration rather than exclusion. At the same time respect for international conventions is underlined and the procedural safeguards of the asylum system is amplified.

“We have called for a change in rhetoric as well as legislation and practice for years. The first we expected - the second we hoped for – we received both,” says Andreas Kamm Secretary General of the Danish Refugee Council.

The new governmental initiatives includes improved social benefits for migrants and refugees, easier access to family reunification, permanent residence and citizenship and the right of asylum seekers to settle and work outside of asylum centres after a period of six months. At the same time the Refugees Appeal Board will be expanded to include representatives from the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Danish Refugee Council in order to ensure expert legal and international insight and thereby well founded decisions.

“During the last decade the legislation has been undergoing constant chages leading to the deterioration of rights and increasing demands and obligations on asylum seekers, refugees and migrants – I believe the changes introduced will lead to better protection of rights and at the same time have a positive impact on the process of integration for refugees, asylum seekers and migrants,” says Andreas kamm.

The number of refugees resettled in Denmark remains unchanged at 500 a year. However their integration potential will no longer be part of the evaluation. The criteria for obtaining asylum in Denmark remains unchanged as well, but the legal advising and the evaluation of asylum cases is improved.

“Overall we are very positive regarding the reform of policies. Never the less the requirements for obtaining citizenship and permanent residency is still an area of concern, a problematic accrual principle on pensions for refugees remains an issue and we believe the number of resettlements should be increased to the level of our neighbouring Scandinavian countries. Those are some of the issues relevant in our dialogue with the new Danish Government,” says Andreas Kamm.  

 
 
quotes

We have called for a change in rhetoric as well as legislation and practice for years. The first we expected - the second we hoped for – we received both.

Andreas Kamm Secretary General of the Danish Refugee Council