Denmark Geopolitics

By | December 18, 2021

The Kingdom of Denmark is a parliamentary monarchy whose territory includes, in addition to the Jutland peninsula, a considerable number of islands in the Baltic and North Seas, known as the ‘Danish archipelago’. The country is at the head of the United Kingdom of Denmark, which includes the Faroe Islands and Greenland, over which Copenhagen exercises its sovereignty, although they enjoy wide autonomy and have their own laws. The Faroe Islands and Greenland, in fact, are not part of the European Union (EU), although Denmark joined in 1973. However, Denmark’s participation in the European integration process has traditionally been characterized by an evident reluctance to sell sovereign prerogatives of the state. The first country to have submitted the adoption of the Maastricht Treaty to a referendum – rejected in 1992 and then approved in 1993 -, Denmark benefits from four relevant ‘exclusion clauses’ from EU policy concerning Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), the Common Security and Defense Policy (ESDP), police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters and citizenship of the Union, while the Schengen Agreement was the subject of only partial adoption. The Nordic dimension has traditionally been a key element in Danish foreign policy. Together with Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, the country is part of the Nordic Council, an interparliamentary body established after the end of the Second World War, of which Copenhagen is the headquarters. A tool for defining cooperation agreements and common foreign policy objectives, in recent years the Council has greatly downsized its activities, as a result of the fact that many of its functions have over time come to overlap with those of the European Union and the Economic Area European (See). Danish sovereignty over Greenland also makes the country a leading player in the Arctic chessboard. It’s about aa very significant opportunity both for the region’s still unexplored energy potential and because, as a result of global warming, the Arctic Sea could become navigable and this would offer a strategic communication hub for the countries of the North. Furthermore, Denmark claims sovereignty over some undersea ridges of the North Pole and is therefore involved in territorial disputes with Canada and Russia. However, Greenland’s independence aspirations represent a significant unknown factor in defining a clear political strategy.

Population, society and rights

With a population of just over five and a half million residents, 90% of whom live in urban centers, Denmark has experienced intense immigration in recent years, which has led the government to tighten legislation on the matter. In particular, severe restrictions have been introduced for family reunification, the reception of asylum seekers and the granting of visas to religious leaders. The school system Danish is among the best in the world. Spending on education reaches 8.7% of GDP, one of the highest figures in Europe. In particular, state investments are aimed at improving the competitiveness of universities and research institutes in order to attract an increasing number of foreign students. Science, technology and engineering are the most advanced research fields. Denmark has a long tradition of guaranteeing and protecting civil and political rights. The defense of freedom of the press and expression was also at the center of the controversy over the publication of the satirical cartoons on Muhammad in 2005, which triggered a series of diplomatic incidents for Copenhagen. Finally, Denmark also boasts the lowest perceived corruption rate in the world.

Economy and energy

Denmark was among the first European countries to enter an economic recession following the international crisis. In the last period, however, the economy has shown signs of recovery. After four consecutive years of contraction, in 2013 the GDP returned to growth, albeit to a limited extent (0.1%). The crisis has not dented Denmark’s reputation as an attractive destination for investors. The World Bank’s Doing Business Index confirms it in fifth place in the world ranking of countries in which it is easier to make investments.

There is great debate over whether the country will join the European Banking Union, which will be operational from 2016. The Danish financial sector has been under severe stress from the international crisis, which is why the country’s central bank has is in favor of entry into the Banking Union.

Peculiarity of Denmark is the remuneration policy: Copenhagen is one of the cities with the highest level of income in the world. Corresponding to a decline in productivity of around 9% recorded between 2006 and 2010, the increase in wages reached 3.8% in the private sector and 5% in the public sector during 2009. Copenhagen is also among the most expensive cities in Europe and the seventh in the world.

Since 1997, the United Kingdom of Denmark has boasted energy self-sufficiency: the presence of gas and oil fields in the North Sea makes it possible to meet the national energy needs and to export gas to the Netherlands, Germany and Sweden. Investments in renewables, a sector in constant growth, also increased. The energy sector is administered in a mixed way. The state-owned company Energinet Denmark has held control of the gas and electricity distribution network since 2005, while production and sales are managed by private industries.

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Defense and security

Abandoning the bicentennial policy of neutrality, Denmark was among the founding countries of NATO in 1949. In recent years, Copenhagen has actively supported the progressive transformation of the Alliance into a cooperation mechanism projected on the Eurasian chessboard.

Denmark is also one of the major supporters of the US commitment in the fight against terrorism: in 2003 the Danish government was among the first to join the Iraqi Freedom operation. Denmark then actively took part in the International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) mission in Afghanistan; also important is the support for the Kosovo Force (Kfor) missions in Kosovo and the United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (Unmiss) in South Sudan. Finally, since August 2010, Denmark has participated in NATO’s Ocean Shield naval mission, conducted off the Horn of Africa. For Denmark defense and foreign policy, please check

The solid strategic understanding between the United States and Denmark was one of the reasons for the White House’s support for the appointment of former Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen as NATO Secretary General, in August 2009, until October 1, 2014.

In 2014, Copenhagen actively participated in the European response to the Ukrainian crisis, approving successive rounds of sanctions against Russia and leading a team of OSCE inspectors in Ukraine in March.

Is Greenland preparing for independence?

Formally autonomous from Denmark since June 2009, Greenland has set 2021 as the hypothetical year of independence. In October 2013 the island took an important step towards greater independence from Copenhagen: the local parliament approved the historic decision to drop the ban – imposed by Denmark – on the extraction of uranium and rare earths, raw materials of which the territory of the island would be very rich, and thus open the doors to foreign investments. The decision was interpreted by analysts as the expression of a more decisive desire for independence from the motherland, which still holds control over foreign and security policy decisions and which, above all, grants substantial economic subsidies, thus helping to perpetuate the situation. of dependence of the island.

A restrictive migration policy

In recent years, the Danish government has gradually tightened up immigration legislation. In 2010, the liberal-democratic executive led by Lars Løkke Rasmussen introduced a points system whereby residence permits and family reunification are granted. Within this system, points are awarded based on various parameters, such as the level of education and the languages ​​spoken. These requirements are in addition to those previously introduced, such as financial independence or adherence to the values ​​of Danish society. The latest data available are those relating to 2012: in that year Denmark issued 55,982 residence permits, most of which to citizens from Poland, Romania, the United States, Germany and India. On the other hand, 6184 asylum requests were accepted, most of which came from Somalia, Syria, Afghanistan, Serbia and Iran. As regards family reunification, however, the permits granted in 2012 were 3,170. In recent years, Denmark has attracted the attention of international organizations that have raised controversy over Danish rules because they are very restrictive and, in the opinion of the critics, do not oppose. only to the European Union standards but also to the elementary standards of protection of human rights. Behind the recent squeeze on immigration seems to be the advance of the right-wing populist Danish People’s Party (DPP), led by Pia Kjaersgaard. The minority government led by Lars Løkke Rasmussen accepted, in 2010, to transform the anti-immigration proposals of the DPP into law in exchange for its external parliamentary support for the approval of the financial statements. Even in the last elections, in September 2011, the DPP, obtaining 12.3% of the votes, proved to be the tip of the balance in the formation of the coalition government led by Helle Thorning-Schmidt.

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