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DENMARK

EU grants Swedes child support in Denmark

Southern Swedes who cross the Öresund Bridge as part of their daily commute to work in Denmark are set to finally benefit from Danish child support, after the EU intervened to settle an ongoing dispute between the Scandinavian neighbours.

EU grants Swedes child support in Denmark

Since 2012, foreign workers have campaigned to get full child benefits which were denied to them by the Danish government. However, the EU has now granted retroactive repayments to the 1,900 people who were affected by the lingering stand-off, reported news agency Öresund Direct on Tuesday.

The system was introduced by the previous Danish government in an attempt to prevent welfare fraud. Any Swedish or other foreign worker who took a job in Denmark was denied child support for the first six months of being on leave, and would only be entitled to the financial support after two years in their job.

Thousands of workers cross the bridge from the southern Skåne region to Denmark on a daily basis. Danish salaries are typically higher. Since the Öresund Bridge opened in the year 2000, the number of foreign workers living in Sweden – which has more generous immigration policies – taking up employment in Denmark has increased dramatically.

“I know people who have turned down jobs in Denmark as they had many children and decided it wasn’t worth it,” said Bengt-Olle Andersson, Öresund region expert and Swedish Social Insurance Agency (Försäkringskassan) employee in Malmö.

The European Commission urged Denmark to change the rules after successive EU rulings went up against the domestic law making child care payment inaccesible to foreign workers. An EU regulation from 2004 states that a worker who qualifies for child support in an EU country is also entitled to it across the rest of the European Union.

The Danish Tax Department has now announced that they are changing their policy and the 1,900 people who haven’t received full child allowance will be paid any outstanding dues. They will be notified where to turn to access the money after the summer.

“This is very positive,” added Andersson.

Patrick Reilly

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DENMARK

Swedish politician condemns Denmark’s ‘shit sandwich’ sewage plan

Copenhagen's water utility has been asked to postpone a plan to dump 290,000 cubic meters of untreated raw sewage into the Øresund Strait in the face of outrage from citizens and politicians in both Sweden and Denmark.

Swedish politician condemns Denmark's 'shit sandwich' sewage plan
Swimmers taking part in the Øresund Challenge back in 2011. Photo: Dennis Lehmann/Ritzau Scanpix
After a meeting on Monday afternoon, Ninna Hedeager Olsen, Copenhagen's environmental mayor, said she had asked civil servants to ask Hofor postpone the release until the autumn. 
 
“There has been an opportunity for Hofor to postpone the test work they will be doing until October,” she told state broadcaster DR. “That is why I have asked the administration to demand it.” 
 
Politicians in both Denmark and Sweden were up in arms on Sunday when details of the plan became known, forcing the utility to first postpone the release by 24 hours, and now postpone it further. 
 
Niels Paarup-Petersen, a member of parliament for Sweden's Centre Party, told The Local that the plan was just the latest in a long list of insults Denmark had thrown at its Scandinavian neighbour. 
 
“We’ve been served shit sandwich after shit sandwich over the last couple of years, but we've never been served so much shit in one go as this,” he said.  
 
Jacob Næsager, a city politician with Denmark's Conservative party, said that it was astonishing that the plan had been approved. 
 
 
“Many people want to swim in the Øresund, and I think it is extremely disgusting that people literally have to swim in other people's shit,” he said. 
 
Finn Rudaizky, a city politician for the Danish People's Party on the city's environment committee, called the plan “completely crazy”.
 
After Olsen announced the decision to postpone the plan, Morten Østergaard leader of Denmark's Social Liberal party congratulated those who had spotted it and launched a protest. 
 
“Good God, that was hanging by a thread, but hats off for the action,” he said. “'Shit good', as Niels Paarup from our sister party wrote.” 

Paarup-Petersen told The Local that he recognised that the utility had to empty the sewer to allow construction to go ahead at Svanemølleholmen in Nordhavn.
 
But he said there was no need to dump so much sewage in one go right at the start of the summer swimming season.  
 
 
“They can spread it out over a longer period, they can do it in a better season when people won't be swimming and there might be better currents,” he said. “It would also be possible to plan it a bit better so it will be released over more days.” 
 
He said he planned to work together with the Danish Social Liberal party to put in place greater environmental protections around the Øresund. 
 
“In the long term we have to find solutions, because there are solutions that can mean that the Øresund no longer needs to be a sewer,” he said. 
 
In a memo to the mayor issued on Monday, city civil servants said that they could not withdraw the permit issued to Hofor, as it had been drawn up in accordance with the correct procedures. 
 
Hedeager Olsen said she would now launch ask a team of  external experts in law and the environment to investigate why the city's civil servants believed it was right to authorise the discharge. 
 
“When the administration today concludes in a note that they believe the case management has been correct, and at the same time you hear environmental professors and others say that it is not, it is important to get the case investigated at a fundamental level,” she told DR. 
 
 
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