Denmark has announced its refusal to participate in the EU asylum seeker resettlement plan. Rejecting the proposed distribution of 160,000 refugees, the government declared that with the Danish opt-out on EU asylum policy, there is “simply no reason” for it to participate.
Denmark’s Minister for Immigration, Integration and Housing, Inger Støjberg, has formally confirmed what had already been flagged up earlier in the week, saying it should come as no dramatic surprise, reports The Local. Denmark will not take part in proposals put forward by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker during his annual State of the Union address.
Denmark, alongside Ireland and the UK, currently enjoys an exemption from EU Justice and Home Affairs policies.
“We will not take part in the 160,000 asylum seekers that shall be distributed. We won’t do it because we have an opt-out and because we are already taking in a great deal now,” Støjberg told Danish newspaper, Berlingske.
Denmark processed over 15,000 requests for asylum requests in 2014. According to Eurostat, the Directorate-General of the European Commission which provides statistical information to EU institutions, in relation to its population size it was the fifth-biggest recipient in the EU, ahead even of Germany.
Speaking to Jyllands-Posten, Støjberg said she ses “simply no reason” to take some of the EU quota as Denmark already takes “a very large portion.”
Worryingly for those nations relying on their opt outs, the Ministry for Immigration, Integration and Housing has warned Denmark could risk exclusion from the Dublin Regulation on asylum seekers if it rejects Juncker’s plan. In force in various forms since 1990, the Dublin Regulation sets out how to identify the EU Member State responsible for assessing an application for asylum. In basic terms it obliges refugees to make their case in the first country they reach when entering the EU, and then to register there if the asylum application is successful.
Støjberg attempted to calm such concerns, saying that although the Dublin Regulation would be at risk she does not believe Juncker’s plan will be approved in its current form. She explained: “I think it would be the first time in Europe’s history that such a major proposal would be implemented in its entirety.”
The Local reports experts warning if Denmark does not go along with the EU plan and is excluded from the operation of the Dublin Regulation, it risks becoming a prime destination for asylum seekers and human traffickers because it would no longer have the option of sending asylum applicants back to another member state.