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Danish report Danish report
by Euro Reporter
2011-01-18 08:25:27
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No student grants for foreigners, parties propose

Non-Danes studying in Denmark will no longer qualify for the SU student grant, according to a proposal put forth by the PM’s Liberal Party and supported by the Danish People’s Party. In November, the Liberal Party announced that the budget shortfall meant the country could no longer afford to offer non-Danes the stipend and would seek to bar them from receiving it. The party will now make the proposal a part of its election platform.

Under the current rules, certain groups of foreign citizens can receive SU. Among them are EU citizens who have lived and worked in Denmark for two years. Last year, the state spent 318 million kroner on grants for 7,115 non-Danes. The cost of student grants for foreign nationals has more than doubled over the past 10 years, according to a summary from the agency that manages the programme.

“We’re talking about students who come to Denmark to study and are only here for a relatively short period of time,” MP Sophie Løhde, told the Newpaq news agency. “I don’t think it’s our job to pay the world’s highest student grants to those students. It should be the responsibility of the country the student comes from.” The Danish People’s Party has also come out in support of the proposal. The party, according to education spokesperson, MP Marlene Harpsøe, favours permitting foreign students to study at Danish schools, but she said it was “nuts” to pay them to take seats from Danish students.


Danish PM sued over Lisbon Treaty

The Danish Supreme Court on Tuesday (11 January) ruled admissible a complaint filed by 28 citizens who are trying to sue Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen for having adopted the Lisbon Treaty without a referendum. In a surprising ruling, the country's top constitutional judges allowed the plaintiffs to pursue their case against Mr Rasmussen for breach of the constitution. The Supreme Court found that the 28 plaintiffs have a "requisite legal interest in having their claims verified." The group of professors, actors, writers and euro-sceptic politicians mounting the constitutional challenge argues that the Lisbon Treaty does indeed hand over parts of national sovereignty to Brussels and therefore a referendum should have taken place.

It is unclear what would happen if they win. The plaintiffs have far-fetched hopes it could lead to the undoing of the treaty itself, but in any case the PM would not face any personal repercussions. The constitutional challenge is not a first: in 1996, a similar case was brought to the court by a group of citizens claiming the Maastricht Treaty was in breach of the Danish constitution. The government tried to block the case, but it was accepted by the Supreme Court. The plaintiffs, however, lost the case in the end, but won certain amendments similar to the German Constitutional Court. "It is unlikely that the Supreme Court will find the whole treaty in breach of the Danish Constitution, but just like in the German case, they will probably ask for some provisions in the way it's implemented," Danish MEP Soren Bo Sondergaard from the People's Movement against the EU told this website.

The pending case may however complicate the ratification of a further treaty change, concerning the establishment of a permanent EU bailout mechanism, the Danish MEP speculates. It could also block efforts by the current government to hold a referendum on scrapping the Danish opt-outs from the EU treaties: on accession to the eurozone, on participation in the common defence policy and on justice and home affairs co-operation. "Nothing will happen to the politicians," Mr Sondergaard noted, "as we don't have a tradition of prosecuting politicians for their votes."


Danish justice minister chosen as new leader of smaller partner in coalition government

Danish Justice Minister Lars Barfoed has been selected as the new leader of the government coalition's junior party. Barfoed says he will continue the line of his predecessor, Foreign Minister Lene Espersen, who resigned following months of plunging opinion polls.

Barfoed was chosen Friday by the Conservative Party group in Parliament after Economic and Business Minister Brian Mikkelsen pulled out of the race for the party job.

A recent poll showed support for the Conservatives down at 5 per cent, less than half of the support the party scored in the 2007 parliament elections. Denmark will hold elections by mid-November. The 53-year-old Barfoed was elected to Parliament in 2001, and has previously been transportation and food minister.

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