Once upon a time there was a small country in northern Europe that was proud of – and esteemed for – its liberal, humanitarian attitudes, which served as a model for others. That country was Denmark. Now the Danish are making headlines with their xenophobic policies and Europe’s harshest immigration regulations, which are a mockery of liberal broadmindedness. They are setting an example again, only the ones applauding them nowadays are from the other end of the political spectrum. “The decisions we are making now will soon serve as a yardstick for other countries too,” boast Danish rightwingers, and past experience shows that may well be true.
Calls to check the influx of “non-Western” foreigners are spreading like wildfire across Europe. And Denmark is spearheading the crusade. The government had already outdone all the others by requiring that spouses from outside the EU be at least 24 years old before even applying for family reunification in Denmark. In future, they will also have to have a certain number of “points” to qualify for admission.
Translated from the German by Eric Rosencrantz
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A fairytale goes wrong
Following the Danish immigration department’s introduction of stricter rules on family reunification, Jyllands-Posten reminds its readers of the Hans Christian Andersen fairytale Clumsy Hans: “Who did the princess choose for a husband? One of the two well-schooled brothers? The first had a lot of knowledge and knew the Latin dictionary and three years’ of the city’s newspaper by heart. The second, who had excellent professional qualifications, knew how to embroider a harness and could also discuss affairs of state. The third brother, Clumsy Hans, had no qualifications or recommendations, but he was the one to conquer the heart of the princess and obtain half of the kingdom. The moral of the story: human beings come first and love has no time for factitious knowledge. It is the revenge of the people against the elite.” But today, “how would the princess manage if she wanted Clumsy Hans to live with her in Europe?”
The daily points out that the European directive on the issuing of residence permits, forbids any “discrimination on the basis of sex, race, colour, ethnic or social origin, genetic characteristics, language, religion or beliefs, political or other opinions, membership of a national minority, fortune, birth, disabilities, age or sexual orientation.” And that is not all, because as Jyllands-Posten explains “several decisions of the European Court of Justice have adopted a broad interpretation of these rules” and “the EU has recently announced its intention to add more weight to the principle of family reunification in the processing of asylum applications.”