Immigration, child allowance and EU regulations – a classic cocktail of Danish scepticism?

Summary There is widespread concern over non-Danish EU citizens’ access to child allowance payments in Denmark, but it is a myth that it reflects an overall scepticism of the EU. This is evident from an overview of Danish attitudes towards welfare benefits and the EU in general. There is no evidence to suggest that EU membership has become an unpopular concept among the Danes.
On the other hand, the heated debate in the Danish Parliament at Christiansborg Palace indicates that the traditional truce in Danish EU policy has come under threat. This could lead to a political normalisation of EU issues away from the dividing lines we know from domestic policy. And this is in fact necessary if we really want to break away from the “yes/no” debate and get closer to the type of EU Danes want to be part of.

Main conclusion
  • Even though many Danes are against issuing family allowance payments to non-Danish EU citizens, it is a myth that there is a growing scepticism of the EU in general among the Danish public.
  • But the debate on the EU and the Danish welfare system challenges Danes’ reluctance to succumb to outside pressure, and the debate is unlikely to vanish from the political agenda by itself. A significant shift in attitudes towards the EU cannot be ruled out in the future if increasing migration puts even more pressure on the Danish welfare system.
  • The disputes between the traditionally pro-EU parties at Christiansborg reveal the difficulties in dealing with the EU’s detachment from domestic policy. The historic truce in EU policy may be one of the reasons why the Danish EU debate is locked into an artificial “yes/no” schism.

A shorter version of the memo was brought in the danish newspaper Politiken on the 14. april. 2014.

Read the entire memo here (in Danish)

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