Government platform 2001

Growth, welfare – renewal


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Preface

The Danish society needs renewal.

We need to think along new lines. The solutions of the preceding century cannot be used to tackle the challenges of the future. We must put individuals before systems. We must have the courage and ability to commit ourselves to achieving visible, measurable results.

We must safeguard, strengthen and increase our welfare. We must create new growth and dynamics in society for the benefit of all citizens. It must be worthwhile for people to have a job. There must be more room for efforts to help those who are most vulnerable. There must be room for everyone.

The new Liberal-Conservative Government has trust in individual citizens. We will respect the free choice of individuals and make sure that all Danish citizens will be given greater rights to make decisions concerning their own lives – while still being accountable to the community and for the most vulnerable groups in society.

The Government will give each individual Danish citizen the right to choose between public and private solutions.

The Government will strengthen hospitals, care for the elderly and assistance to the weakest members of our society.

The welfare society is under great pressure at present. This calls for increased growth in society. It is also necessary to ensure that everybody who is able to work gets a job. These are two very important challenges that the new Liberal-Conservative Government will solve through better conditions for the business community and through ensuring better integration of immigrants.

Danes pay the highest taxes in the world. The Government will freeze taxes from the beginning. This tax freeze bodes for new times. The goal is to reduce the tax on work. The Government will work to find the means to fund this initiative. First we will introduce a tax freeze – then lower tax on work.

Denmark is an open and wealthy country. We must continue to stay that way. However, we must have the courage to question conventional solutions, structures and organisations. We live in a new century, a new millennium. Only through development and reform can we strengthen and maintain the current high standards in Danish society.

The Liberal-Conservative Government will have the courage to guarantee that the solutions of the past do not become a reason for complacency in the future.

Thus the Government will immediately carry out a thorough restructuring of ministries to ensure that innovation will not be curbed by old systems. 

For this reason, the two Government parties present a comprehensive platform for the new Government.

The new Government will invite and motivate everyone to take part in the work to create growth, welfare and renewal in Danish society.


New goals

The Government will set new goals for Denmark’s development in the twenty-first century. We will carry out reforms that provide greater scope for private enterprise. The enterprise of individuals is and should be the driving force behind the development of our society. To maintain and develop our welfare society, our economy must be sound, which can only be ensured by providing the best possible framework for private initiative.

The increasing internationalisation of economy, culture and communications will present us with new challenges in the years to come. The Government will carry out economic and social reforms that will enable Denmark to meet such challenges. We need reforms that will boost the competitiveness of Danish companies, bring about more flexible structures and make it easier for the business community, the public sector and the labour market to adapt to new situations, and we need reforms that will modernise and develop our infrastructure, stimulate private enterprise, promote a culture of individual initiative, and generally reward those who go the extra mile.

The Government will implement an IT action plan whose aim is to turn Denmark into a network society in which families, companies and institutions have access to the Internet. It is crucial that everybody has an opportunity to learn how to use information technology and to do so with confidence. An important element in the action plan will therefore be to increase efforts in the field of education and training so that all citizens will be able to learn to use the new technology. We will issue an action plan entitled ‘IT for everybody’ concerning these initiatives.

Change and development must go hand in hand with safety and social security. The Government will formulate new goals for development in our welfare society of the future. The principle governing our welfare society must be that resourceful people help less resourceful people who are unable to manage on their own. We will strengthen efforts to help the most vulnerable groups in society through our reform programme entitled ‘Our common responsibility’. This programme focuses on additional services to be provided by public authorities as well as on increased involvement of NGOs in social work, the objective being to enhance the quality of life of the most vulnerable groups in society.

In future, our common responsibility for a number of welfare services must be combined with the personal freedom to choose between various options. The Government will implement a range of reforms under the heading of ‘Welfare and Free Choice’, allowing citizens to choose between various public and private solutions in a number of service areas.

The Government will take an active stance in its environmental policy so as to ensure that future generations will have a clean environment. Denmark must be at the forefront as regards pollution reduction. We wish to achieve these ambitious environmental goals in the most cost-efficient way. Danish environmental policy must be pursued on the background of realistic international cooperation to reduce pollution in areas where the benefits of our initiatives are optimal.

In order to make our environmental efforts more efficient and effective, we will establish an independent Institute of Environmental Appraisal. The job of this institute will be to create an overview of current and long-term environmental factors, to assess the effectiveness of various environmental initiatives, and to communicate information to the general public.


Foreign policy with a clear profile

The Government will pursue an active and engaged policy concerning Europe, security and development aid. We want to influence the surrounding world, which will in any event have an impact on us. Many issues can only be solved through common efforts and even closer international cooperation. The world has become smaller and it constantly presents us with new challenges. The tragic events of 11 September 2001 are only the latest and most dramatic example of this fact.

In Europe we are part of the ongoing process of developing European cooperation, shaping it into a form that became possible as a result of the dramatic changes that took place in the late 1980s and the 1990s. The goal is to create a unified, undivided Europe. Consequently the enlargement of the European Union and the enlargement of NATO are very crucial issues these years. Denmark must spearhead and encourage the enlargement process. It is a question of security and stability. It is also a question of economic wealth and welfare. Not only for the countries in Central and Eastern Europe but also for Denmark.

The enlargement of the EU and NATO takes place in a world that is constantly changing in many respects. Denmark’s relations with the United States are in this respect extremely important. We must also contribute to ensuring that Russia finds its rightful place in the new order, including in relation to NATO. Finally Denmark must continue to be a world leader in terms of development aid to other parts of the world and in terms of the promotion of human rights and democracy.


Europe

We will be facing several major challenges in the years to come as regards our policy on European relations.

Our most important task in that connection will be our EU presidency in the second half of 2002. For a period of six months Denmark will be at the head of the European Union. We must ensure even closer and better cooperation towards our goals. We must find common solutions to the issues discussed. And we must represent the European Union in the rest of the world. The Government will attach top priority to this work.

A main issue during the Danish presidency will be the enlargement of the European Union. It will be our goal to conclude negotiations with up to ten new member states. That will be no easy task. Both applicant countries and existing members states must be willing to compromise. The Government will do its utmost to ensure that this historical project will succeed in Copenhagen in December 2002.

Other areas will also be important during the Danish presidency. We must continue the joint efforts to combat terrorism. We must initiate negotiations concerning CAP reforms. We must formulate a new fisheries policy. We must develop the single market, not least with respect to financial services. We must finish the work already started in relation to tax reform. We must improve food safety and consumer policy. We must add new elements to EU environmental policy. And we must continue the reform of the EU institutions.

In an international perspective, the key events will be the World Summit on Sustainable Development in South Africa and the meeting with Asian countries in Copenhagen. The Government will work to establish a fruitful partnership to the benefit of all parties involved, thus reinforcing the world alliance created after the events on 11 September 2001. We will also contribute to further development of relations with countries and groups of countries outside the European Union. Transatlantic relations are particularly important. In the field of common foreign and security policy, we will work to ensure maximum unity in the EU’s position in relation to the rest of the world, including the Middle East and the Balkan area.

We look forward to working with the European Parliament, the European Commission and the other EU member states on these issues. In compliance with standard practice, the Government will present its programme at the start of the Danish presidency.

Another important issue in the years to come will be the debate on Europe’s future and the intergovernmental conference in 2004. The debate presents a dual challenge: to ensure that the EU will have the instruments needed to carry out common tasks, and to ensure further development of the Community acquis and the EU institutions in a direction that is in line with citizens’ wishes.

The Government wants a stronger but slimmer European Union. The European Union must be better at carrying out truly transnational tasks and at doing so more efficiently, for example in the fields of common foreign and security policy, policies on refugees, the combat of international crime, international financial and economic issues, the single market and the environment.However, the European Union must also be better at letting individual member states tackle issues which are best tackled at the national level. The European Union should only formulate detailed regulations in areas where they are absolutely necessary. Consequently we need to clarify competencies in the European Unions. The preparation of a catalogue of competencies may be one way to achieve this objective.

We also want increased clarity as regards the Community acquis. The EU must be based on the values and fundamental rights shared by the member states. The treaties on which EU cooperation is based must be simplified and better organised with a view to ensuring ease of overview and understanding. In addition, there must be maximum openness about the work of the EU – not least as far as legislation is concerned.

Finally, the Government wants to strengthen democracy in the European Union. The European Parliament has a key role in this respect. The potential for increased involvement of national parliaments should be investigated, for example in matters relating to the principle of subsidiarity.  We would like increased use of majority decisions in the Council. The Commission should maintain its right of initiative, and the Community method should be maintained as well.

We are well aware of the fact the developments in the areas covered by the Danish opt-outs are progressing rapidly. We will monitor these developments closely. It is the opinion of the Government that the Danish opt-outs are contrary to Denmark’s best interests. We also think it is extremely important that Danish EU policy in these areas is supported by the Danish population. If Denmark is to opt in, we must do so on the basis of a new referendum.


Security policy

Danish security policy is firmly rooted in Denmark’s membership of NATO and the European Union. The Government will work actively in both organisations and will prioritise increased cooperation between them. We think it is important that the UN, particularly the Security Council, plays a key role in the solution of conflicts in the world. Consequently the process of reforming the UN and the UN’s role in the fight against terrorism must continue and should be strengthened.

NATO is the key forum for security cooperation between Europe and the United States. This cooperation is based on a principle of solidarity and commitment, and NATO is therefore also a forum for peace and security in our part of the world. We will work to ensure that NATO continues security policy integration in Europe, partly through an ambitious decision on enlargement at the NATO summit in Prague in November 2002, where the three Baltic States will be invited to become members of NATO, partly through the establishment of a true security policy partnership between NATO and Russia. We will thus prioritise continued development of mutually committing cooperation between the countries around the Baltic Sea both bilaterally and within the framework of European and transatlantic structures of cooperation.

Transatlantic relations between Europe and the United States are based on shared values and shared interests, and it is important to maintain and develop them. It is the opinion of the Government that reinforced cooperation between NATO and the European Union will contribute to ensuring continuous US security commitment in Europe. This may require increased and logical division of work between NATO and the European Union in matters relating to crisis management Special national interests in the EU or NATO must not curb such a process, and could make it difficult for Denmark to contribute fully to European crisis management.

We think it is important that Denmark contributes considerably to international crisis management and peacekeeping operations such as those carried out by NATO in the Balkans and to missions carried out under the auspices of the United Nations or the OSCE. Denmark must recognise its responsibility and keep a high profile in such efforts.

Denmark will show complete solidarity in the fight against international terrorism and will be willing to make a real contribution, including a military contribution. We will also contribute to increased efforts to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

The Government will support negotiations between the USA and Russia concerning a new framework for international peace and strategic stability, which will imply a considerable reduction of the number of nuclear warheads. We will consider US plans concerning missile defence and possible use of the Thule radar in this context and will regularly involve the Greenland Home Rule Government in discussions of this issue.


Development policy

Over the next 25 years the world’s population will grow by two billion people, mainly in developing countries. This presents a major challenge, which – combined with the goal of reducing the proportion of the world’s population living in extreme poverty by 50% by 2015 as set out at the UN Millennium Summit in 2000 – calls for a huge concerted effort by all nations in the world.

Each developing country must formulate strategies to combat poverty through sustainable economic growth and to free the huge potential of their populations. The challenge will be to create a growth-oriented economic climate that will be able to attract foreign investment and new technology, while at the same time increasing investment in human resources, education and health, and promoting citizens’ active participation in political life.

The Government finds it of decisive importance that the new round of WTO negotiations, as decided at the ministerial conference in Doha, focuses on development. The developing countries must become active players in the new round so as to ensure that the outcome of the negotiations reflects the interests of the developing countries and the necessity of integrating the poorest countries – not least in Africa – in the global economy. Denmark will actively contribute to achieve this together with partners in the European Union.

In the poorest countries of the world, development aid plays a crucial role, since it enables these countries to make critical investments in education and health, build up their infrastructure and support the development of the private sector. The Government will maintain the long-standing objective of Danish development aid: To promote sustainable development through pro-poor economic growth. Together with other bilateral and multilateral donors, Denmark will work actively to support our programme countries in developing effective, long-term national strategies for combating poverty.

The willingness of each country to assume responsibility for their own development as expressed in such strategies should also include respect for human rights and democracy. The Government realizes that no absolute demands can be made in relation to the poor countries with which Denmark cooperates and that lack of resources and capacity implies that it will often take a long time to achieve major improvements in these areas. However, together with its partners in the European Union, Denmark will require commitment from its partners concerning good governance as well as a willingness to promote respect for human rights and democracy in the development cooperation. The Government will establish a special Human Rights Unit in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to strengthen our activities within this field.

For many years, Denmark – together with Norway, Sweden and the Netherlands – has been among the countries providing the highest level of development aid, in relative terms. Denmark will continue to do so. However, there is a need to review Danish development aid, not least in the light of the global changes following the attacks on 11 September, so as to continuously ensure optimum efficiency in this area as well.

Consequently, the Government will conduct a review both Danish development aid and Danish environmental aid to developing countries as part of the preparation of the 2002 national budget. Further, the Government will reduce grants allocated for development aid and environmental aid to developing countries by a total sum of DKK 1.5 billion as compared with the budget proposed by the former government. The specifications of this reduction will be presented in the Government’s proposal for the 2002 national budget to be presented at a later stage.

By international standards, Denmark will remain among the world leaders in terms of development aid, with contributions that by far exceed the UN objective of 0.7% of GDP. At the same time, Denmark will work actively to encourage the many other countries, including EU member states, which contribute less than 0.7% to increase their aid. This will be a key point for the Government at the UN Conference on Financing for Development in March 2002 and the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg in September 2002.


The unity of the Danish Realm based on mutual respect

The Government wants to maintain the Unity of the Danish Realm as a community of three equal partners: the Faroe Islands, Greenland and Denmark. We want to modernise the home rule systems in Greenland and on the Faroe Islands through a constructive collaboration with Greenland and the Faroe Islands.

We shall continue the ongoing negotiations with the Faroese government concerning the future position of the Faroe Islands either inside or outside the unity of the Realm. In our opinion the future of the Faroe Islands should be decided by the Faroese people. Should the Faroese express a wish to leave the unity of the Realm to become independent, the Government shall be willing to conduct negotiations to find solutions satisfactory to both parties. A precondition for this will be that Danish block grants to the Faroe Islands are phased out concurrently with the transfer of powers to Faroese authorities.


Sound economy

The Government will pursue its economic policy with a firm hand: our aim is to create as many workplaces in the private sector as possible, to reduce the public debt and to lower taxes. We need a long-term economic policy that provides stability and security sufficient to allow citizens and the business community to function.

There are four cornerstones in the Government’s economic policy:

1.       The fixed exchange rate policy will continue. The krone will continue to be bound to the euro within the current narrow margin, and Denmark’s economic policy will continue to take that fact into account.

2.       Fiscal and budgetary policy will be organised with a view to ensuring a reduction of the public debt and interest expenditure towards 2010.

3.       There must be a robust surplus on the balance of payments, so that the foreign debt can be eliminated as quickly as possible.

4.       Inflation and interest rates must be kept at low levels.

The Government will pursue a stringent expenditure policy. Management of state finances will be through a payroll ceiling and a ceiling on operations and construction expenditure. The expenditure limitations will be fixed in the current budgets. This presupposes that expenses are contained within a fixed framework so that additional expenditure in one area is offset by a reduction in expenditure in another area. In connection with presenting the current Budgets the Government will also present a target framework for the following three years’ expenditure.

In our annual financial agreements with the local and regional authorities our goal is to keep local government expenses stable. The Government will adhere to the principle that local authorities will receive financial compensation if we or the Folketing inflict additional expenditure upon regional and local authorities or cause their tax revenue to fall.

Before Christmas the Government will take up political negotiations with the parties represented in the Folketing concerning a new Budget for 2002. The Budget for 2002 must reflect our Government platform in key respects. Our platform will be fully implemented over the course of the years the estimate covers. 

The new Budget for 2002 will be submitted in January and adopted in February.

As soon as possible after the Folketing opens, an interim finance act will be proposed to secure funding of the necessary parts of the Budget until a new Finance Act for 2002 is passed.

The new Budget will contain the degree of fiscal austerity necessary to secure our goals for Denmark’s economy described in ‘A sustainable future: Denmark 2010’.


Investment in the future of Denmark

Public-sector investment must help create a better framework for an expansion of private-sector production and thus better possibilities of financing the welfare state of the future. The Government will present an investment plan for 2002-2010.

We will especially consider important investments that will

  •  bring Denmark to the forefront as a modern IT and knowledge society.

  •  ensure a more efficient public sector.

  • create a better infrastructure i.e. public works, buildings and roads.

  • bring about a higher level of quality in public service.

We will invest in new road and railway construction in accordance with the political agreement of 24 January 2001 made by the Social Democratic Party, the Social-Liberal Party, the Conservative Party, the Centre Democrats, the Christian People’s Party and the Liberal Party. It is the intention of this Government to obtain the financial basis for additional investment in roads and public transport, also with a view to enabling more efficient traffic in the Greater Copenhagen area.

We will work together with the German government towards a decision on whether to establish a fixed link over the Femern Belt.


More competition and better service

With a view to ensuring consumers better service at lower prices, the Government will modernise and liberalise the infrastructure and a number of utility companies.

The Government will liberalise the Danish electricity and natural gas market to increase efficiency in energy production, reduce consumer prices and business sector costs and ensure that energy is produced where it puts the least load on the environment. Bills will be introduced to reduce the distortion of competition between energy producers.

We will prepare the privatisation of natural gas utility DONG.

Liberalisation of the railways sector will continue.

Postal services will be liberalised. We will prepare the privatisation of PostDanmark.

Every year, the Government will review and evaluate the State’s shareholdings with a view to possible sale. Any proceed will be used to reduce public debt.


First a tax freeze, then lower tax on work

We will stop the rise in direct and indirect taxes. The proposals for tax rises in the billions of kroner that the previous government included in its budget for 2002 will be removed. The Government will introduce a tax freeze, whose starting point is that we will increase no direct or indirect tax. This tax freeze does not, however, mean that we will not perform a necessary restructuring of our tax system. If there are compelling reasons to introduce a new tax or raise an existing one, the revenue resulting from this rise will go uncut towards reducing another indirect or direct tax. We will apply this same principle if it becomes desirable, for environmental reasons, to introduce a new environmental tax or raise an existing one. If Denmark is forced to lower a tax as a result of EU decisions or international agreements, we may compensate for this reduction by increasing other direct or indirect taxes. Such changes will be required to leave the net revenue from taxes unchanged.

The last part of the so-called ‘Whitsun Package of taxes is already law and will be effected in 2002. This will mean a number of changes in direct and indirect taxes. Changes in taxes already adopted will fall outside the tax freeze. This also applies to the agreements for the year 2002 which the previous government has already made with local authorities.

We will stop the rise in property value tax. The ceiling is the amount that the individual property owner pays in property value tax for the year 2002. Regardless of subsequent changes in the public land assessment, the property value tax for each individual property owner will not rise above that ceiling. Special transition rules will be laid down for properties not evaluated at 1 January 2002.

We believe it is important that the framework for local government finances is agreed upon with the local authorities involved. At the same time, it is crucial that the tax freeze also be extended to include municipalities and counties. For this reason, we will ensure that any changes in local and county taxation do not alter the aggregate level of taxation. We will also ensure that individual municipalities can make necessary adjustments with regard to their finances as a whole. In this connection, the Government will give special consideration to the municipalities that are in a difficult position.

It is our goal to reduce taxation in Denmark. It must pay to work and make an extra effort. The limited supply of labour is one of the major obstacles to continued growth and progress in Denmark’s economy. An improved supply of available manpower is a prerequisite for a continued high level of welfare. Tax on work has a decisive influence on the supply of manpower available. Thus we will prepare an economic policy that provides us with the necessary latitude to reduce the tax on work.

Prerequisite for tax cuts, however, is a sustained reduction in the public debt. Our goal is to halve the public debt by 2010. The Government will effect targeted reductions in direct and indirect taxes, on the condition that other public expenditure is maintained at its current level so that the requisite pace of debt reduction is maintained.

If the Government obtain the necessary latitude for action, we will present a proposal for the reduction of tax on earned income, to be effective starting 1 January 2004.

As of 1 January 2004, the so-called ‘24 hour rule’ will be repealed, and travellers to Denmark will be allowed to pass our borders without limits on the numbers of goods they bring with them. To prevent a rise in cross-border trade, the Government will present a bill providing for reductions in a number of taxes on spirits, tobacco and other typical cross-border trade articles, these tax rates to be reduced over a number of years, starting in 2003.


Better health care

A good public hospital sector offering free treatment to all citizens must be the absolute cornerstone of all health care services. The hospitals will be given added resources earmarked for investment in equipment and payment of overtime etc. with at view to reducing waiting lists. Patients will be given a statutory right to choose freely among hospitals. This right will be introduced gradually. The Government will give citizens a true guarantee that all diseases will be treated within a predetermined period of time. If the public health care system is unable to comply with the treatment guarantee, patients will be entitled to treatment in a private hospital in Denmark or abroad. The Government will establish a fast-track committee to present proposals concerning the changes of structures, agreements, education and training programmes, etc that are necessary to optimise the use of resources and ensure permanent reduction of waiting lists in the health care sector. The committee will present its proposals within a period of 100 days.

The Government will set aside a total sum of DKK 1.5 billion for a targeted effort to increase the treatment capacity of the Danish health care system through increased activity. This sum will be pooled in a central fund from which individual regional authorities can obtain funding on the basis of demographic data. The funds will be paid out as and when the regional authorities document genuine increases in their activities in excess of the current level and the level laid down in agreements made with the Association of County Councils. We will ensure that hospital departments and practising specialists who make an extra effort to reduce waiting lists will be rewarded financially when funds are appropriated.

As of 1 July 2002 patients will have a free choice if the public hospital system has been unable to offer examination and treatment within two months (the money follows the patient). Deviation from this principle will only be possible in very rare cases when a medical assessment shows that the patient’s condition will not worsen if he or she has to wait longer.

It will be up to patients to decide where they receive treatment. A precondition for such a free choice is that the patients have been examined and referred to treatment. It will be possible to receive treatment at public hospitals, private hospitals or hospitals abroad if necessary.

Treatment of diseases shall remain free of charge. Citizens should not pay for treatment, irrespective of whether treatment takes place at a public hospital or at a private treatment centre which has a special agreement with the public authorities.

Whenever patients are treated, for example at private hospitals or by specialists in private practice, it is important that the treatment complies with general requirements concerning such treatment. Consequently a precondition for the free-choice system is that private treatment facilities sign an agreement with the regional authorities, for example through the National Health Service. The agreement must specify quality requirements including the legal status of individuals in the case of incorrect treatment, and it must be clear that treatment shall be free of charge for the patient. When  a patient chooses or is offered treatment at a private treatment facility which has signed an agreement with the Health Service, he or she will thus be certain that the treatment will take place on exactly the same conditions as treatment at a public hospital.

The Government will increase the intake of medical students at universities.

In order to alleviate the acute shortage of qualified doctors, the Government will relax restrictions on the issue of authorisations to foreign nationals with a medical degree.

The Government will increase access to treatment in other countries whenever further treatment is not available at a Danish hospital.

Furthermore a proposal will be tabled concerning a lift of taxation on treatment of employees paid for by employers and the Government will propose that local authorities be entitled to offer full or partial payment of  treatment.

The Government will set up an advisory committee to prepare proposals for concrete continuous reforms of the hospital sector in order to reduce waiting lists, for example through increased productivity achieved by means of performance-related appropriations.

Basically, it is possible to promote public health and prevent disease by providing an adequate framework that will ensure good living conditions in the form of healthy food, health and safety at work and high-quality housing.

Some diseases are caused by improved living conditions and changed lifestyles. The health costs related to obesity, smoking and lack of physical exercise are beginning to manifest themselves. An increasing number of people have cardiovascular diseases, allergies, Type 2 diabetes and osteoporosis. A common feature of these diseases is that they may affect a very large proportion of the Danish population. The Government will therefore implement a number of strategy plans concerning these diseases. Research is necessary to test alternative therapies and treatments and to provide documentation of their effect. A separate sum will be set aside for such research.


Better care of the elderly

The Government want better care for elderly people who need help and assistance.

We want to give elderly people and their families better tools to ensure high quality in eldercare. We want to bring an end to the local authority monopoly on care for dependent elderly people and replace it by free choice. The right to choose freely is one of the most important elements in our quest to introduce new lines of thinking in the eldercare currently provided. Elderly people should be entitled to decide where they want to live, who they want to help them and how they want the help to be provided.

All elderly people who have been referred to a place in a nursing home or some other residential sheltered home must be given the right freely to choose the nursing home or sheltered home where they want to live. The free choice must also apply if the nursing home or care home chosen by an elderly person is located outside the municipality where the elderly person is resident. Elderly people’s choice of care facility should no longer be determined by family considerations or religious considerations.

The right freely to choose sheltered housing or a residential care facility no matter where it is located will of course be accompanied by a right to bring along one’s spouse. In future, married and cohabitant couples will be treated as couples, not individuals, when their requirements are assessed. 

All elderly people who have been granted home help – both practical help and personal care  – should be entitled to choose whether their home help should be a person employed by the local authority, a private individual or an employee of a private firm. A precondition for the free-choice scheme is that agreements are made between private firms and local authorities. These agreements must specify quality requirements, including the legal status of individuals in the event of cancellation of home help. The free choice must also apply to meals delivered to elderly people in their homes.

The home help scheme must be more flexible. Elderly people’s right to determine the type of home help they have should be increased considerably. We want to grant elderly people a specific number of home help hours and leave it to each individual elderly person to agree with his or her home help how the hours should be used.

Elderly people must be compensated if the home help does not show up as agreed. And local authorities should be punished if home help is not provided as agreed. In addition local authorities should be required to offer replacement home help within a reasonable period of time. It must be up to the elderly people in question to decide whether the replacement home help service should be supplied by the local authority or others. 

In connection with the introduction of free choice and flexible home help we will set aside a sum of DKK 0.5 billion for general improvement of eldercare.

Local authorities will be allowed to decide whether home nursing services should be supplied by the local authorities or another care supplier. This means that local authorities will be able to enter into agreements with independent institutions, in which home nursing services are included.


Freedom for families with children

The Government will introduce a new and better family policy based on the actual needs and requirements of families. It will make it easier for families to combine working life and family life. We will introduce twelve-months parental leave at the full rate of unemployment benefits and we will improve conditions governing part-time work.

A flexible twelve-months parental leave scheme will make it easier for parents to use and ‘save’ leave so as to use it in a way that is compatible with their plans concerning family life and work. An allowance corresponding to the maximum rate of unemployment benefits will be paid throughout the twelve-month period.

The principle governing the scheme proposed is that the parents of a newborn child will be granted 52 weeks’ leave. It will then be up to the parents to split the leave between them and to decide when they want to take leave. The period of leave must be exhausted before the child reaches the age of nine. 

As of 1 January 2002 all parents of newborn children will be entitled to twelve months’ flexible leave. Consequently the right to child care leave will lapse as per 1 January 2002 for all parents of newborn children and be replaced by the new flexible leave scheme.

As of 1 January 2002 parents of children born before 1 January 2002 will be entitled to use the current child care scheme in accordance with the existing rules. This means that parents of children born before 1 January 2002 will maintain their right to child care leave in a period of up to nine years.

We want to introduce better opportunities for working part-time.

Many current collective agreements include a ban on part-time work. The Government will ensure that restrictions in the right to work part-time are eliminated from collective agreements. 

In addition we will table proposals that will give each individual local authority the right to offer financial support to families that choose to look after their children themselves.


Our common responsibility

Both for human and economic reasons it is important to ensure that no citizen is left to cope on his or her own in difficult situations. People with the ability and will to work should not be put on hold as passive recipients of transfer payments but should be offered speedy and effective help to enter or re-enter the job market. The Government will suggest modernisation of the activation system to ensure that all recipients of cash benefits whose sole problem is unemployment will get a job or enrol in an education or training programme.

The Government will implement the reform of anticipatory pension that was agreed by a number of parliamentary parties on 8 December 2000. We wish to create a maximum number of scaled-down jobs and jobs on special flexible terms (flexijobs) in the private sector to ensure that incapacity pension is not granted to people who are able to work.

We want to extend the common responsibility for the most vulnerable groups in society. Additional resources will be set aside to help the homeless, the mentally ill and people with disabilities and to prevent drug and alcohol abuse.

Resolving social problems is not just a matter of public grants and systems. The Government will therefore involve voluntary charitable organisations in the performance of a number of social services.

We will establish a Social Council to monitor social efforts aimed at the most vulnerable groups in society, to present proposals for improved initiatives in relation to vulnerable groups and for greater involvement of civic society in social work, and to prepare annual reports on the status of the most vulnerable groups. The Council will include representatives of private organisations and institutions involved in social work.

We will prepare an action programme for concerted efforts aimed at the most vulnerable groups in Denmark.


A new policy on asylum and migration

The Government regards it very necessary to limit the current influx of aliens coming to Denmark. This will lead to the necessary calm and secure that the necessary resources are made available for a far better integration of aliens already residing in Denmark. They must learn Danish and have jobs in order to be helped out of the social security system.

The Government desires a consistent and fair policy on asylum and migration. On the one side, there is a need for the policy on asylum and migration to be tightened in order to counter fraudulent asylum claims, smuggling of persons, crime, and abuse of welfare benefits. However, we also need to be more favourably disposed towards the aliens who want to work and make a positive contribution to the Danish society. The vast majority of immigrants has a strong desire to be integrated into the Danish society.

With a view to tightening the Danish Aliens Act, the Government will propose the following:

·       That the concept of ‘refugee’ is brought into conformity with international conventions so that Denmark fulfils its obligations under these conventions but does not grant asylum to thousands of others who do not meet the requirements of the conventions.

·       That a refugee’s application for permission to travel to his or her home country on holiday triggers a review of the basis upon which he or she was granted asylum, based on the assumption that the person can return without being subjected to persecution.

·       That a permanent residence permit is granted to aliens only after seven years of legal residence in Denmark.

·       That the conditions for family reunification are tightened so that reunification takes place in the country to which the affiliation as a whole is strongest.

·       That asylum seekers who conceal their identity, disappear during the processing of their asylum application or in any other way delay the processing of their asylum application are expelled.

·       That the different indices of fingerprints are better integrated.

·       That the policy towards criminal aliens is tightened through faster case processing and immediate expulsion and through an increased access to detention and to search of premises and persons.

·       That expulsion of legally residing aliens who have been convicted of a crime will be made more readily available.

·       That developing countries who refuse to readmit own nationals who have been expelled from or refused entry to Denmark will be deprived of aid from Denmark.

·       That a number of administrative procedures are tightened with a view to shortening the time it takes to process cases.

To improve the integration of aliens, the Government will propose measures that stop automatic access to cash benefits. Instead a system involving the principle of acquisition periods will be proposed. In future a precondition for receiving cash benefits will be that the applicant has lived in Denmark for a minimum of seven years. Applicants who have not lived in Denmark for at least seven years may in certain cases receive financial support from the municipality in which they live after an individual assessment of each case. This qualification principle will apply to both Danes and foreign citizens.

The inclusion of aliens in the labour market is an important element of improved integration of aliens in Danish society. The Government will propose a programme of action for better integration of immigrants called ‘Immigrants at work’.

The work to improve the Danish-language skills of aliens will be intensified. The mandatory service of mother-tongue instruction will be discontinued. Reductions will be made in the introductory or cash benefits provided to aliens if they fail to attend language instruction without a reasonable excuse. Regulations which prevent municipalities from setting up local language centres must be removed.

The Government will set the stage for greater openness when it comes to recognition of aliens’ educational qualifications, and barriers that prevent aliens from inclusion in the Danish labour market must be removed.

The Government will also make it easier for qualified aliens to obtain employment in Denmark. We will propose that aliens who can present an employment contract with a Danish company or institution and can document that they have at their disposal a suitable place to live shall be eligible for a work and residence permit.

We will prepare a combined package of measures to make the Aliens Act tighter and to improve integration efforts.

We will discuss this package with local authority representatives.

On the basis of these discussions, the Government will submit to the Danish Folketing the measures it proposes by 1 March 2002 and invite all the parties represented in the Danish Folketing to negotiations regarding these measures.


Tighter rules for granting Danish citizenship

The Government wishes to tighten the rules for granting Danish citizenship.

It is the view of the Government that Danish citizenship must be earned. There must be greater emphasis on the language skills of applicants. It should be a requirement that applicants are able to speak and read Danish so that they can manage in Danish society. It is a very basic requirement if a person, as an immigrant, wishes to support him- or herself.

The Government will tighten the requirements which must be met by persons with a criminal record so that it will be more difficult for them to be obtain Danish citizenship. Persons who have committed crimes of an especially serious nature must not be eligible for Danish citizenship.


The right to vote for expatriate Danes

Today, there is a high degree of arbitrariness as to whether Danes living abroad for a period of time and locally employed by an enterprise are permitted to vote in Danish elections. For examples, people employed in another country for a period of time under a local contract are not entitled to vote in Danish elections. On the other hand, people who are expatriate workers for a company in Denmark or hired directly by a local branch are always granted the right to vote.

We find that this is an expression of unwarranted discrimination. It has become increasingly normal for companies to hire their employees under local contracts, and it has become increasingly normal in recent years for people to work abroad to improve their qualifications. It is important that Denmark takes this development into account.

The Government wish to change the law so that it is not the conditions of employment but rather a person’s actual connection with Denmark that determines whether the person is permitted to vote in Danish elections. Any Danish citizens who work abroad for a period of twelve years with the intention of returning to Denmark must be permitted to retain their right to vote in Danish elections during the time they may spend abroad. In this way, unnecessary bureaucratic complications in connection with applications for retaining the right to vote will be avoided.


Tougher on crime

We want to step up the action against violence and juvenile crime. This calls for tougher preventive action in a partnership between homes, schools, local organisations and the police. The Government will present an action plan called ‘Stop violence’ involving a wide range of measures to prevent all forms of juvenile crime, including special sanctions for young people under the age of 15.

Offences against persons are far more serious than offences involving money. An assault on another human being – whether in the form of violence or rape – is an offence against the very foundation of our society: respect for the individual. Violence in any shape or form is therefore wholly unacceptable. 

We will therefore crack down hard on violent criminals and sex offenders – even harder than we do today. The courts must be sent a signal that they should make better use of maximum penalties. Today, financial offences carry much more severe sentences than do offences against persons. We need to redress the balance by increasing the penalties for violence and rape. We will do that by increasing a number of maximum penalties so that the Folketing sends a clear message to the courts that current sentencing practice is too lenient:

·       The maximum penalty for rape will be increased from 6 to 8 years of imprisonment – and from 10 to 12 years of imprisonment in the case of violent rape.

·       The maximum penalty for manslaughter will be increased from 4 to 8 years of imprisonment.

·       The maximum penalty for common assault will be increased from 18 months to 3 years of imprisonment.

·       The maximum penalty for assault of a particularly heinous, brutal or dangerous nature will be increased from 4 to 6 years of imprisonment.

·       The maximum penalty for assault of a particularly heinous, brutal or dangerous nature in particularly aggravating circumstances will be increased from 8 to 10 years of imprisonment.

·       The maximum penalty for trafficking in illegal immigrants will be increased from 4 to 8 years of imprisonment.

The Government wants imprisonment in Denmark to be effective. We will therefore step up action against drugs in prisons and tighten the rules on furlough, including making it a criminal offence to escape from custody.

We will table motions for better witness protection in connection with serious organised crime.

War criminals and others on ‘tolerated’ residence permits must be investigated by the police. They will be placed in the closed section of the Danish refugee camp Sandholmlejren – or in another suitable location – until a decision has been reached on prosecution.

The Government will appoint a committee to prepare a bill to reform the Danish Criminal Code. The reform must aim at a general modernisation of maximum penalties, so that the penalties for various offences reflect to a greater extent a contemporary understanding of criminal justice. The Government is of the opinion that offences against persons – such as violence and rape – must carry sentences at least as severe as offences against property. The committee is to submit a report by 1July 2002.


Increased legal protection

We want to improve our citizens’ legal protection. Increasing regulation has led to public authorities demanding more and more information. In far too many cases, the authorities have been given access to private homes and properties without a warrant. This is putting the individual citizen’s legal protection and constitutional freedoms at risk.

We want to limit coercive measures against citizens and to introduce codes of conduct for the administrative authorities. The rules must correspond to the codes of conduct laid down in the Danish Administration of Justice Act for the courts, the police and the prosecution service.

We will therefore appoint a legal protection commission to prepare proposals for legislative changes to improve our citizens’ legal protection. The commission is to submit its report by 1January 2003. In order to generate greater public interest in and debate about the legal protection of citizens, the Government will submit annual legal protection reports to the Folketing.

Many taxpayers give up the idea of challenging the tax authorities in the courts because of the personal financial and psychological cost of doing so and the time such cases take. Even when the courts find for the taxpayer, there is a great risk of the costs exceeding the tax refunded.

As a means of bolstering the legal protection of taxpayers, we will therefore table proposals concerning full cover of the costs of expert assistance in tax cases won by the individual taxpayer.


A healthy environment

The Government will pursue an active environment policy to ensure a clean environment for future generations. Denmark must continue to live up to the commitments set out in international environmental agreements. It is our aim for Denmark to be among the industrialised countries that take the lead in pollution reduction.

The ambitious environmental objectives must be achieved in the economically most effective way. The Government will develop an environment policy that combines a clear responsibility for our surroundings with realistic international cooperation to reduce pollution where return on investments are highest.

The Government will establish an Institute of Environmental Appraisal, working through research at high international level, to create an overview of the current and long-term environmental situation both in Denmark and globally, assess the effectiveness of environmental initiatives, and disseminate this knowledge and insight to the general public and political decision-makers.

With a view to getting the most environment for our money, we will prepare a report on ‘green market economy’, analysing the possibilities of applying market-oriented tools in practice to promote a better environment.

In order to ensure clean groundwater, emissions of nitrogen and phosphorous must be continuously reduced, the use of pesticides must be minimised, and hazardous landfill sites must be cleaned up.

The Government will invite the Folketing parties to negotiations concerning an Aquatic Environment Plan III to replace the existing Aquatic Environment Plan II, which expires at the end of 2002.

The local authorities’ work to renovate leaking sewers must be intensified to prevent the resulting harmful effects on nature.

Increased monitoring of oil spills in Danish waters will be initiated.

The Government will strengthen the international environmental action. The possibilities for so-called ‘joint implementation’ must be utilised to ensure that CO2 reductions abroad paid for with Danish money are included in Denmark’s CO2 accounts and fulfilment of our international CO2 obligations. The Government will work towards environmental taxes being agreed at international level. The first step should be the introduction of common minimum rates for environmental taxes in the EU.

We must ensure healthful, high-quality food, partly through a long-term strategy to improve animal welfare, clearer guidelines for the work of local authority food control units, and clearer, more user-friendly product labelling.


A good working environment

The Government will ensure a good working environment by involving and utilising all available knowledge that can prevent attrition and physical and psychological strain so that far more people can enjoy a long and good working life.

We will summon the social partners to discuss action to improve the working environment. For example, we want to find, in co-operation with the social partners, a more appropriate way of promoting a good working environment than the current tax and certification scheme. We attach importance to improving the efficiency of action on health and safety at work and to prioritising it so that the most serious problems are tackled first.

The Government will table proposals for an occupational injury reform with a view, among other things, to shorten the currently protracted case administration.

The present working environment system is characterised by rigid rules, central control and red tape. The working environment must be improved through dialogue and cooperation between employees, employers, the two sides of industry, and the Government. The key words must be mutual trust and respect and legal protection for employees and management.

In future, undertakings with nine or fewer employees will only be required to have a safety organisation and to implement written workplace assessments if the workplace presents a particular risk.

The working environment is not good enough in quite a number of areas within the public sector, particularly in the social and health sector. The working environment in the public sector must be improved.

The Government will support research in the field of safety and health at work.


Growth in trade and industry

In order to ensure funding for the welfare society of the future, private sector production must grow. We will therefore pursue a business policy that improves the competitiveness of companies through the targeted reduction of taxes and administrative burdens, etc. Framework conditions need to be improved over a broad front, ranging from conditions for entrepreneurs, through modern depreciation rules, to reduction of tax in connection with succession. The proposals will be partially financed by reducing grants to trade and industry.

We will pursue a dynamic enterprise promotion policy, making it more attractive to start up and run a business. We will table proposals aimed at making it possible for prospective entrepreneurs to save up to establish a business. We will also present an action plan, entitled ‘More entrepreneurs’ containing a broad range of initiatives aimed at encouraging business start-ups and improving opportunities.

Agricultural subsidies must be gradually phased out. The coming reform of the Common Agricultural Policy will entail, among other things, a reduction of agricultural subsidies. On the other hand, it will be necessary to reduce the domestic costs of Danish farmers. We will therefore propose that the 2001 and 2002 ceiling of 12/1000 on local authority land tax on land used for agricultural production maintained in 2003. The taxation of land used for agricultural production will be phased out as agricultural subsidies are reduced.

The Government wishes to promote a broader ownership of Danish trade and industry. To this end it will, for example, stimulate the development of new forms of employee remuneration. Against that backdrop, the Government will simplify and reduce the taxation of employee shares and share options with a view to motivating employees and strengthening innovative undertakings.

In order to reduce the administrative burden on trade and industry, compulsory consultation in the test panels of the Ministry of Trade and Industry will be introduced for all bills from the Minister for Labour, the Minister for Social Affairs, the Minister for Housing and Urban Affairs, the Minister for Trade and Industry, the Minister for the Environment, the Minister for Food, Agriculture and Fisheries, the Minister for Taxation, and the Minister for Transport.

The Government will reduce and simplify the requirements concerning reporting to public authorities. A number of competencies will be changed, for example permits for development, new building, etc., in rural zones will be transferred from county authorities to local authorities. The Government will also make the rules concerning utilisation of buildings in open countryside more flexible.


Denmark as an IT nation

As a result of globalisation and internationalisation, high technology is becoming an increasingly important competitive parameter. The country best able to exploit new technology will do best in international competition. Effective use of information technology will form the basis of increased efficiency, new products and better services for citizens. In the years to come, information technology (IT) will be a crucial precondition for economic growth and consequently for wealth in Denmark.

The Danish IT industry has achieved a strong position internationally. A large and steadily increasing share of Danish exports stems from IT and related business areas. By strengthening general use of IT in Denmark, we will also strengthen the chances Danish businesses have to develop a sound domestic market and recruit manpower with the appropriate IT qualifications.

The development of Denmark into a network society must first and foremost be based on private enterprise and governed by market forces. The Government will stimulate this development by removing a number of existing barriers to the increased use of new technology, and we will further cooperation between public authorities and private enterprises in this field.

For Denmark to become an IT nation, IT technology must be broadly available to the entire population. We must provide computer access to as many citizens as possible. We will do so by implementing a modernised scheme on home PCs and dismantling all barriers to fast and up-to-date Internet access so that a maximum number of citizens will be able to use this medium.

We must ensure that our electronic infrastructure gives all Danish citizens access to broadband connections. Currently it seems possible to leave it to the market to expand the network to cover the entire nation. The Government will further this expansion by establishing a public sector with a clear focus on information technology. All citizens will be given a digital signature, the purpose being to facilitate communication between citizens and public authorities.

We will work to ensure minimum regulation of communication via the Internet. Internet communication will not be subject to more restrictive regulation than other media, and the citizens' right of free communication must be protected.

Information technology will be a focus area in the educational system. Initially, we will ensure that all students in the seventh year of primary and lower secondary education have access to a computer. An IT certificate will be introduced for all school students and more Internet-based educational material will be developed for use in the teaching of for example Danish and mathematics.

It goes without saying that it is crucial to acquire new knowledge in a knowledge-based economy. We must therefore strengthen research in the Danish business sector. The Government will present proposals for legislation that will make it more attractive for Danish businesses to invest in research and development.

Private research cannot stand alone, but must be supplemented by public front-line research. The Government will ensure that publicly managed research is carried out in close collaboration with the business community, for example by increasing the number of business researchers and including external members in the executive boards of universities, including representatives of the business community. Universities should be independent, operating within a pre-defined framework in accordance with development contracts. Such contracts should include incentives for increased cooperation with the business community.

The Government want greater coherence between teaching, research and innovation. For this purpose a comprehensive study will be carried out to examine the role of sector research, the aim being to transfer funds from sector research to free research. It is also extremely important that Denmark is able to attract top young Danish and international researchers.

We will also eliminate all unnecessary barriers preventing Danish citizens from contributing to the international sharing of knowledge through stays in other countries, irrespective of whether they do so to work or enrol in study programmes or the like.


Bringing more people into work

We must bring more people into employment and reduce the number of people receiving transfer payments. To ensure growth and welfare in the future, we must increase the workforce. The regulation of the labour market can contribute actively to achieving this goal.

It must pay to work. We will work to ensure that an increasing number of people go from passively receiving benefits to active participation in the labour market. We will also work to ensure that young people finish their studies faster. People already in the labour market must be motivated to work more and to continue to work throughout a long life.

The Government will table proposals to ensure better results of the active labour market policy. Activation measures for the unemployed must be improved. We want to weed out pointless activation requirements. The unemployed must be activated in offers which will enable them to obtain a foothold on the labour market. We will work to increase the number of people in private job training programmes, and all activation measures must be aimed at specific unsubsidised jobs on the labour market.

The Government will propose free job placement services for the purpose of creating more competing employment services. Our reform will create financial incentives for all parties involved so that it will be worthwhile to find jobs for as many unemployed persons as possible. We will propose performance-related pay for those involved in activation programmes. Job placement and job counselling services will be subject to result-based contracts in which the success rate determines payment. Performance-related pay will be introduced in local authorities and in the Public Employment Service. Assessment and checking of the unemployed persons’ duty to be available for work will be transferred from the union-based unemployment insurance funds to a public authority.

The Government wants more young people in employment or in education and training programmes. We will follow up on the success of the special Youth Scheme which applies to young people under the age of 25, and we would like to extend this scheme to include also young people aged 25 to 29.

We want to give unemployed young people the opportunity to choose between a public or private sector job offer with pay in accordance with collective agreements or participation in an education or training programme with an allowance corresponding to that of other students or trainees. The young people must be given this offer when they have been unemployed for six months. If they have family responsibilities, their local authority will provide supplementary cash benefits.

We will also submit an action plan called “More people into work” which will include additional initiatives to increase the workforce.


Freedom on the labour market

As soon as possible, the Government will set up a committee for the purpose of ensuring that membership of a specific trade union or other association will not be a prerequisite for exercising a trade or profession – neither for employees nor enterprises.

To promote flexibility and mobility in the labour market, it must be possible to establish cross-sectoral unemployment insurance funds. This will improve the possibilities for giving unemployed members offers in sectors outside their previous field of work. The Government will therefore abolish the prohibition against cross-sectoral unemployment insurance funds and will table proposals concerning the establishment of a national public cross-sectoral unemployment insurance fund. This fund will be a non-profit institution whose operating costs will be financed by administration charges paid by its members. It must accept all individuals who meet standard requirements for membership of an unemployment insurance fund.

The Government will reduce the powers of the Danish National Working Environment Authority in relation to work performed in private households.

We will present proposals concerning exemptions from the regulations on rest periods and rest days for people who work at home. Employees should be allowed to work at home at any time they want to. If the Government imposes restrictions in this area, it reduces the chances of families with children to reconcile family and working life.

We want to give employers and employees a statutory right to agree freely on part-time employment; this will improve the freedom of the individual.

The special pension contribution (SP) will be changed so that funds will be added to individual accounts according to the same principles as those applying to temporary pension. We will also propose that individuals be granted greater freedom to invest and manage pension savings.


Top quality education

Continuing and further education is part of many people’s lives. In our society education is of great importance. Therefore, the Government will ensure an educational system of high quality.

Openness and transparency are important elements in achieving a high quality educational system. Information about educational programs and levels of achievement must be available to all citizens. Through openness we will ensure that knowledge about high performance schools becomes widespread.

The quality and academic level of educational programs should be strengthened. The Government plans to invite the political parties supporting the agreement on primary and secondary lower level education to discuss how to improve the academic level in the Danish schools.

The success of the future labour market is dependent on a high level performance in the Danish schools. The schools should be flexible and be of high academic level as well as being concerned with the needs of the future. The Government wishes to support these demands by increasing Danish and Mathematics lessons by 1 hour weekly in 1st through 3rd grade. Furthermore, the academic level in history should be strengthened and lessons in foreign languages begin at a younger age. Academic requirements for each grade will be specified through mandatory curricula in all subjects.

Our educational system should also challenge the most diligent pupils and students. The teaching should be based on the skills of the individual student.

The Government wishes to strengthen natural sciences and mathematics throughout the educational system. Knowledge-intensive Danish enterprises are experiencing difficulties in recruiting competent employees.

Learning and speaking Danish is a prerequisite for successfully integrating immigrants. The Government wants to ensure as many children as possible possess basic skills in Danish before starting school.

The Government will present an action plan “Improved Education” (Bedre uddannelser) in order to improve the academic level in youth education, further and higher education and adult and continuing education.


Simplification and deregulation

We must bring an end to the abundance of rules and regulations. A targeted effort to simplify public sector administration is necessary. The public sector must be simpler, more open and more attentive to citizens and companies.

It is also necessary to simplify and reduce regulation of the private sector.

A Rule Simplification Unit will be set up under the Ministry of Finance. The job of this unit will be to clean up in old rules and regulations and ensure that new rules and regulations do not entail excessive burdens on companies and citizens. Existing rules and administrative regulations must be simplified and the implications of new rules must be thoroughly assessed.

All orders, circulars and other administrative instruments issued by ministries must state a date on which they will cease to apply.

The Government will introduce a programme for the simplification and modernisation of the public sector. The program will include:

·       A public sector based on citizens’ free choice

·       An open, simple and attentive public sector

·       A modern public sector with an optimum use of resources


Less red tape: fewer councils, boards, earmarked funds and subsidies

The Government will work to ensure clear political prioritisation of public fund allocation. We will reduce red tape and administrative procedures and spend the money saved on better welfare. By combining or closing down institutions and by reducing or removing public grants we can release considerable resources for better welfare.

The number of councils, boards and earmarked funds has increased by almost 250 per cent since 1980, and  state subsidies have grown considerably as well.

Today, several councils, boards and pools are either superfluous or overlap each other in purpose and function. It would increase efficiency to place them in relevant ministries or agencies.

The Government will therefore implement a thorough examination of all councils, boards, earmarked funds and subsidies with a view to closing down superfluous institutions and eliminating superfluous earmarked funds, and we will join institutions where appropriate.


Balanced development in Denmark

The Government will ensure good and equal living conditions for all Danish citizens, regardless of where they live in Denmark. We want to make all areas in the country attractive for development and residence so as to maintain a geographical spread of both population and economic activity throughout the country. We will work to ensure that long-term regional development reduces inequality in services, employment and economic conditions in the various Danish regions.

We will monitor regional development to be able to strengthen regional considerations in government initiatives that may have an impact on regional policy. The government will assess the implications of all relevant initiatives to facilitate improved overall evaluation of the effects on regional development.

At the same time, the Government will assess the necessity of implementing mitigating initiatives in connection with measures that may have a negative impact on regional policy.

The Government will issue annual reports on the progress of regional development in Denmark.


Review of the Planning Act

Denmark is a beautiful country with numerous lovely areas of natural beauty and a healthy environment. We want to keep it this way.

However, the Government will work to ensure that citizens have more influence on development in their local area. We must create more space both for people and the natural environment. Danish environmental policy must regain its support in the population.

The Government will suggest a revision of the Planning Act with the aim of ensuring its validity in future contexts. We will table a number of proposals, including a proposal for decentralisation of the planning authority.

We will make it easier to utilise superfluous agricultural holdings. Companies situated in the open country must be able to extend and convert their buildings. Today many companies are unable to extend their facilities because they are located in an open countryside area.


Greater variation in housing

The Government wants to ensure a good balance in the housing market. Families should have a real choice between owner-occupied housing and rented housing making it important that both owners, and tenants with a relatively high degree of certainty will know their future housing costs.

Certain parts of Denmark are characterised by a shortage of good and flexible rental housing. The Government will continue the construction of subsidised housing. In addition, we will work to increase the construction of private rental housing, for example by making it easier for pension funds to build and rent out housing units, including housing units for elderly people and housing units for young people in cities with many institutions of education.

As part of the Government’s long-term investment programme, additional funds will be set aside for the construction of housing for young people in major cities with many institutions of education and additional housing for elderly people. Furthermore, we will reduce taxation on rooms offered for rent in private homes.

The Government will propose a reform that makes it possible for residents in subsidised housing to buy their home either as an owner-occupied home or under a multi-ownership scheme. Mixed housing types generally ensures broad variation in the composition of residents in an area. In addition, housing areas with mixed housing-ownership types are generally well-functioning and characterised by stability. We will therefore work to ensure a mix of ownership types in areas where subsidised housing is predominant. A special committee will be established to prepare this reform. It must conclude its work by 1 January 2003 at the latest.


Art and culture

The Government’s cultural policy will focus on broad-mindedness, diversity and community.

We will work to provide a good framework for art and culture. Danish citizens should have access to a diverse, varied selection of cultural facilities. Our cultural policy must ensure that all citizens have equal access to our Danish cultural heritage and to displays of examples of the most recent trends in modern pictorial art, literature, music, film, drama, etc.

We want to preserve our Danish cultural heritage, i.e. historical works of art as well as listed buildings and buildings worth protecting. Wherever possible, the multitude of pictures, radio and television programmes in the possession of public authorities and institutions should be digitised.

The Government want to improve conditions for creative artists, though not by providing bigger grants to them. Instead we will work to stimulate demand for art and thus the purchasing of works of art.

Art in workplaces may contribute to increased well-being and a better working environment. We will therefore table a proposal to the effect that companies should be entitled to deduct art purchases in their accounts on a line with investments in machinery and buildings.

The Government will table proposals concerning tax equalisation of highly fluctuating incomes and will also exempt a number of scholarships and bursaries from tax.

In order to ensure independence, quality and innovation, we want to ensure regular replacement of the members of committees set up by the Danish Arts Foundation and other boards and foundations granting sums for cultural activities. To stimulate visionary thinking and innovation we will also propose inclusion of a foreign national in committees, councils and boards.

Technological development, globalisation and increasing wealth have created a new, much broader basis for art and culture. The international success achieved by Danish musicians, authors and filmmakers in recent years has sown the seeds for a growth market. The Government will provide optimum conditions for cultural export.


Better conditions for sports

Through support for the activities carried out by sports organisations and the voluntary work carried out in sports associations, the Government will promote association-based sports activities, given that the associations’ principles of democracy, voluntary work and community are essential in Danish society in general. We will eliminate administrative obstacles in order to ease the administrative burdens on associations, for example by changing the current rules on VAT payment.

We will strengthen Danish elite athletes’ opportunities to achieve results internationally. Through ethically and socially responsible development of elite sport, the elite sport organisation Team Denmark must be provided with the means to ensure optimum conditions for Danish elite athletes – in close consultation with voluntary sports organisations.

In order to improve public health we will focus on the health aspects of  sport. We will in particular work to strengthen association-based sports activities and sports activities in the educational system, especially in primary and lower secondary education.


Media freedom

Independent media are an indispensable element of a democratic society. Freedom of speech and freedom of information are at the root of any system of representative government.

We will formulate a media policy that is based on the freedom of information and speech, diversity and versatility. This policy will apply to current printed and electronic media as well as to any new media created by new technology.

The Government will work to ensure that citizens’ media needs and requirements are met. A precondition for this is genuine choices among media of the same type and between different types of media.

Daily newspapers are particularly important to promote democratic debate. There must be several daily newspapers that develop concurrent with the availability of new technological opportunities. The Government will seek to continue the current rules concerning VAT on newspapers and magazines, postal distribution and the finance institute for daily newspapers Dagbladenes Finansieringsinstitut.

We want to have several media in the electronic media sector. There must be genuine, equal competition in the field of news and information dissemination and the field of public debate, both of which are essential in a democratic society. We also want radio and television stations to develop concurrently with technological advancement.


Road safety

The Government want to improve road safety. We will do so through the extended use of speed displays and police patrolling in dangerous spots. Today, too much focus is on automatic speed checks on relatively safe by-pass roads. This has no real effect on road safety. Instead, automatic speed checks must focus on ‘black spots’, i.e. spots with an especially high rate of traffic accidents, and dangerous road sections.

In particular, we want to improve road safety in areas where children and senior citizens pass frequently, and we want to make a special effort to remove these ‘black spots’ from Danish road maps.

New driving licenses for first-time holders will be issued for a trial period of three years. If a holder of a new driving license commits serious traffic violations (e.g. drunk driving, overtaking where prohibited or driving far above the speed limit) within the three-year period, his or her license will be withdrawn.

The Government wants much more severe punishment of those who drive under the influence of alcohol.

We will increase the speed limit on motorways for ordinary cars and motorcycles to 130 km/hour. Danish motorways are designed in such a way that traffic can continue safely at a significantly higher speed than the current limit of 110 km/hour. In connection with increased speed limits, the police must intensify their monitoring for serious traffic violations on motorways, and fines for speeding on motorways will be higher.


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