Brussels, 23 May 2002
Representatives of the European Network Against Racism (ENAR), a network of about 600 non-governmental organisations combating racism in the EU, met with the Danish Minister for Refugee, Immigration and Integration Affairs and Minister for European Affairs, Mr. Bertel Haarder, on 22 May in Copenhagen, to discuss the new Danish legislation concerning asylum, immigration and family reunion policies, and the implementation in Denmark of the EU Directive on racial discrimination.
In a few weeks’ time Denmark will take over the EU Presidency. Latest developments on immigration policies in Denmark after the national elections and the change of government in November 2001 have caused concern in the European NGO community fighting racism.
During the constructive meeting with Minister Haarder, ENAR voiced its concern about the increasingly difficult situation of immigrants in Denmark, the minimum age of 24 years for being able to marry, the abolishing of a de facto status for refugees and about the harsh tone in public and political debates.
Minister Haarder explained his government’s position on issues like integration of immigrants in the labour market and opening up the private sector to the ethnic work force. He said he did not wish to focus on one’s culture or religion but on one’s usefulness, and that his desire was that ethnic youth should only marry out of love and not necessarily from their parents’ homelands. On the subject of Denmark respecting EU Directives, he assured ENAR that his government would abide by the EU decisions even if it meant changing Danish laws. He asked for ENAR’s help in comparing relevant legislation in EU countries.
ENAR informed Minister Haarder that it is necessary to exchange information and views on the upcoming Danish presidency in order to establish a positive and timely dialogue with civil society. ENAR will support the Danish Ministry to access expertise of other EU countries that have already taken positive measures to increase the recruitment of ethnic minorities in public services like the police force.
A constructive commitment was made by Minister Haarder to address a public conference on immigration and antidiscrimination issues which will be held in conjunction with ENAR’s Annual European Assembly in Copenhagen in November 2002, during the Danish Presidency.
The Chair of ENAR, Bashy Quraishy welcomed Minister Haarder’s promises and explained the importance of ENAR’s work and role as an advisory body to EU institutions. ENAR not only denounces racist mechanisms and behaviour in single EU member countries, but it is also very mindful of the anti-immigrant tone many politicians and media use.
“NGOs will take this task seriously and will speak up on all necessary occasions to make sure that human rights standards are respected all over the European Union” - said Mr Quraishy.
For further comments, ENAR can be reached at:
Phone/Fax: 45 38 88 19 77
Mobile: 45 40 15 47 71
István Ertl, ENAR Information Officer
43 rue de la Charité
Phone: 32 (0)2 229 35 71
fax: 32 (0)2 229 35 75