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Vol. 14 ISSUE 29 22 - 28 July 2011
When is green not ‘green’? Frederiksberg Council rejects electric car charging stands over their colour News
As enhanced border controls continue to come under scrutiny, what do visiting tourists think? 6
Denmark could be without a single citizen with Down’s syndrom by 2030, but the trend raises ethical questions In & out
The Danish News in English
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Pack your bags and move to the city By Peter Stanners
By Jennifer Buley
Young Danes are leaving their home towns and flocking to Copenhagen in record numbers
All five banks that underwent examination are judged secure enough to withstand recession
he rural exodus is hardly a new phenomenon. Cities have always attracted the ambitious, attractive and entrepreneurial – all searching for opportunity, education and excitement. But a recent study by Statistics Denmark has revealed that the magnetism of the big city has increased greatly in recent years. Whereas in 2006 Copenhagen experienced a net increase of 5,644 people aged 20 to 30, in 2010 the capital city saw the age group grow by 8,541. The Copenhagen Post spoke to three young Danes to discover what motivated them to leave their homes and family comforts to risk it all in the big city – and to learn whether provincial life is really that uninspiring. Twenty-six-year-old Morten Bonde is originally from Sakskøbing on the southern island of Lolland. After moving to nearby Nykøbing Falster to complete high school, he made the move to Copenhagen when he was 21. “Sakskøbing is a small city, so you have to choose what you want to do. You can either join
Nation’s banks pass stress test
as manual labourers or in one of the local factories. “I can’t imagine going back unless I’m 60 and I need to be closer to nature,” Bonde said. “But in that case I would definitely just move to the outskirts of Copenhagen.” Just like Bonde, 23-yearold student Simone Kyed from the Jutland town of Silkeborg
he European Banking Authority (EBA) announced on Friday that all the Danish banks that took its 2011 stress test – Danske Bank, Jyske Bank, Sydbank, Nykredit Bank and Nordea – are well-positioned to weather significant losses or a potential economic downturn. “From the headlines people were getting the message that Denmark was about to go bankrupt at any second,” Jyske Bank financial analyst Christian Hede told Berlingske newspaper’s financial news site Business.dk. “But the test shows that the Danish banks end up at the very top. Even if it didn’t come as a surprise to those who know something about it, there were still others who said, ‘Whoa, hold it. Isn’t it worse?’” A key requirement for the EBA’s stress test was that the banks have at least five percent equity capital set aside to cover potential losses. According to Jyske Bank its equity capital is 12.5 percent. Danske Bank calculates that its equity capital
The City continues on page 6
Banks continues on page 5
Peter Stanners Morten Bonde, a 26-year-old from Sakskøbing, said his move to Copenhagen was “an issue of creativity”
the soccer team or local moped gang or you have to move to the bigger city to get some more action,” he explained. “It was a static environment. I’ve known since I was 16 that it wasn’t my kind of place and then it was just about getting high school done so I could move. I don’t have any friends down there anymore.” An aspiring photographer and graphic designer, he realised he would have to leave the
provincial town in order to realise his ambitions. “My decision to move was an issue of creativity. People in Sakskøbing were just satisfied with their lives – they had partners at an early age and stayed down there. I needed a bigger platform to evolve and it had to be Copenhagen,” he said, adding that most of his friends from primary school who stayed in Sakskøbing ended up taking on work
Crisis pushes euro vote off political agenda Supporters say referendum now would be “risky”
ith increasing concern about the health of the euro, any decision about whether Denmark should adopt the common currency has been postponed for at least a year, reports Jyllands-Posten newspaper. Supporters of the euro in both the government and the opposition agree that eliminating all three special EU exemptions, including the one allowing Denmark to retain the krone, remains the right thing to do. But how and when a vote would take place remains a matter political conviction. The opposition, if it gains
power in this autumn’s general election, would consider a referendum on the euro exemptions, while allowing the country to remain on the sidelines of EU justice and defence policies. But a vote on the euro would likely not occur during their first term. The Socialist People’s Party (SF), which would form an opposition government together with the Social Democrats, said the current problems with the euro only reinforced their overall resistance to it. “We don’t believe in the idea in the first place,” said party leader Villy Søvndal. “It’s a good thing for Denmark that right now we enjoy the best of both worlds – we are involved in
economic cooperation, but we don’t use the euro.” The Social Liberals agreed that a vote now was “a risky undertaking”, but maintained that at some point it would be best if Denmark eliminated all three opt-outs. “But they don’t need to be eliminated all at once,” Soc Lib EU spokesperson Lone Dybkjær said. “It’s most important to get rid of the justice and defence opt-outs.” Even though some economists have argued that Denmark right now is safest outside the eurozone, representatives from the Liberal-Conservative government say the economic arguments are still in favour of the euro. “We should be a part, even
though the timing might be wrong,” said Liberal EU spokesperson Flemming Møller. He suggested that if the government hangs on to power, a referendum on all three opt-outs would be held as early as late 2012, after Denmark hands over the EU presidency which it will hold in the first half of 2012. Among the country’s other euro-sceptic parties – the Danish People’s Party (DF) and the RedGreen Alliance – the euro’s crisis has cemented their resistance. Morten Messerschmidt, a member of the European Parliament for the DF, described the euro as “fighting for its survival”, and said any vote – now or in the future – would be “masochistic”. (KM)
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The Copenhagen post July 22 - 28
Grey charging stands vetoed by Frederiksberg By Peter Stanners Electric car company says it is uneconomical to change the colour of charging stands for specific councils
rederiksberg Council has vetoed electric car charging stands by the company Better Place for being the wrong colour. Customers of electric cars that use the Better Place charging system also purchase a personal charging stand for their car. But the mass-produced grey and blue charging stands violate Frederiksberg Council’s aesthetic policy that dictates outdoor equipment must be the colour green in order to be installed on the street. Jan E. Jørgensen, chairman of Frederiksberg’s technical and environment committee, told Urban newspaper it was up to Better Place to adhere to the aesthetic regulations. “We set these demands on city infrastructure, regardless of whether they are bicycle stands or charging stands, in order to avoid that the city becomes one big mess of colours,” he said. “Better Place won’t offer customers green charging stands because, according to them, it is not economical. They want
us to look like silly bureaucrats. But we are very excited about electric cars. They just have to follow the same guidelines as everyone else.” According to Better Place, Frederiksberg is the only council to object to the charging stands. And despite a special dispensation of three stands placed outside Forum during fashion week, the council refuses to back down on private stands for residents placed in public. “Putting the colour of a charging station over a clean city environment, with less noise and particle pollution, is beyond me,” Claus Melvej from Better Place told The Copenhagen Post, adding it was a question of economy. “It is not possible for us to accommodate their demand. Our charging stands are produced for an international roll-out,” Melvej said. “Delivering charging stands in 98 different colours would not make the solution an affordable one and could impede the transition toward sustainable methods of transportation. That’s hardly in anyone’s interest.” Better Place is an American company that provides the charging system for electric cars, such as the Renault Fluence ZE which is currently the only car available in Denmark compatible with the system.
Better Place ‘Green’ but not green: Frederiksberg doesn’t like the colour of the Better Place electric car chargers
Putting the colour of a charging station over a clean city environment, with less noise and particle pollution, is beyond me
While customers can charge the car overnight by plugging into their personal charging stand, journeys that
exceed the 160-kilometre range of the car are routed via battery swap stations that can install a fresh battery in the car in under
five minutes. Customers subscribe to a monthly payment scheme for the system, with electricity sourced – as much as possible – from renewable resources. Denmark was chosen by the company to be a proving ground for the system, with Europe’s first battery swap station opening in Gladsaxe this June and another 19 stations planned to open across the country over the next year.
City’s biking industry rakes in 1.3 billion a year By Justin Cremer Being the “city of cyclists” has its economic benefits
hat Copenhagen is a city crazy for bicycles has long been established. The city sports roughly 350 kilometres of bicycle lanes and paths, and nearly 40 percent of the population go about their daily commute on two wheels. But beyond the health and environmental benefits of Copenhagen’s two-wheeled love lies an economic boon for the city. Copenhagen Council has calculated that the local cycling industry turns over 1.3 billion kroner a year. To put it in cycling-friendly terms, Politiken newspaper estimates that the annual gains are equivalent to the cost of 65,000 Christiania cargo bikes. According to the report, there are 309 registered workplaces in Greater Copenhagen that either sell or repair bicycles. These businesses account for 650 full-time jobs and a combined revenue of 1.3 billion kroner. Copenhagen Council also looked at a number of various factors including safety, comfort, transport time, tourism and branding to calculate a cost-benefit analysis of cycling. When all the factors were calculated together, the council estimated
that society earns 1.22 kroner for every biked kilometre, in comparison to 0.69 kroner for every kilometre driven in a car. “We have a very unique approach to bicycles here in Copenhagen and it is a pleasant surprise that it has such a big effect on the city’s business community,” deputy mayor for Copenhagen’s technical and environmental committee, told Politiken. In addition to the economic figures, the annual report from Copenhagen Council reports that 96 percent of all schoolchildren in Copenhagen have a bicycle and that roughly 55 percent of them bike to school regularly, either by themselves or accompanied by a parent. The study also revealed that more than one in every seven families with small children hit the streets in cargo bikes – which have become, perhaps more than anything, a global symbol of the city’s biking culture. American expat Will Kearnis, whose company Boxcycles exports Christiania bicycles to the United States, says that convincing his American customers of the economic advantages of switching to a bike can be a tough sell, especially given the significant purchase price of the bike. “I think a huge part of Copenhagen’s success is that people understand that switching from a car to a bike can save a lot of
Colourbox All those bikes combine to have a significant economic impact
money, time, and grief,” Kearnis told The Copenhagen Post. “Yes, the bikes cost a lot up front, but within the first year this is forgotten. Savings come from all angles – no car loan, no parking, less maintenance, less or no insurance, and, of course, no gas.” “A huge part of my mission and current role as a sort-of ambassador of the Copenhagen bike culture to the US is show-
ing all of the benefits of the bike because some people, unfortunately, will never listen to the economic benefits - they will always see the price tag that they can’t afford,” he added. The cargo bikes are a particular hit at bike rental locations. Henrik Mortensen, co-founder of Baisikeli - a Copenhagen bike rental company that uses the profits from its rentals to finance
the collection and shipment of used bicycles to Africa - told Politiken that tourists jump at the chance to cycle through Copenhagen on a Christiania bike. “It’s like a revelation for them - the idea of a family being able to transport themselves around town that way,” he said. “It gives them an initial ‘wowexperience’ that has to be experienced first-hand.”
The Copenhagen post July 22 - 28
Will controls keep Germans away? And earlier this month, a rather tongue-in-cheek article entitled ‘20 reasons why we don’t want to travel to Denmark anyway’ by Der Westen, a German online news site, made the social media rounds, listing reasons for Germans to stay away ranging from “the completely uncute Little Mermaid is not really worth the journey” to “the glorious days of Danish porn were long ago” and “we already have Danes ourselves”. But while this verbal tit for tat plays out in the media, what do Germans themselves really think? While reports surfaced as early as May of German tourists canceling their summer house reservations, are average German citizens really willing to cancel their summer plans in order to make a political statement? At Copenhagen’s central train station, The Copenhagen Post encountered mixed reactions from German tourists. “We absolutely embrace the Danish initiative,” Herbert Jesch of Dresden said. “Europe is facing difficult times; I really wished border controls between Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic would be reinstalled. I would never go to Poland instead of Denmark!” Nicole Lührs, a German living in Stockholm, was on her way to Germany for vacation. Hearing about Jahn’s boycott
By Eva Korte Tourists at central station have mixed reactions to new border controls
W Scanpix Belinda Pyke of the European Commission and Erling Andersen of Skat after last week’s spot checks
Spot-checked: European officials to keep eye on nation’s borders By Jennifer Buley Delegation unconvinced that Denmark has sufficient grounds for ‘permanent border control’
n an ironic twist, Denmark’s choice to increase its border controls and spot checks on vehicles entering the country has made Denmark itself the target for increased surveillance and spot checks by the European Commission. Following an unsatisfactory two-day inspection visit last week the commission announced in a press statement on Monday that Denmark will now be placed under a “strict monitoring system” to ensure that the new border controls do not violate EU regulations guaranteeing the right to free movement. The first phase of Denmark’s ‘permanent border control’ agreement came into effect on July 5 with the addition of 50 new border customs agents. The agreement has come under harsh criticism from a number of groups, including the European Commission, which is concerned that it undermines the Schengen Agreement and the free movement of people and goods within the EU member countries. No “sufficient justifications”
On July 14, the European Commission sent a delegation of eight officials to Denmark to meet with Danish tax and customs authorities about details such as the frequency of checks, the type of equipment the new customs agents would use and the motivation behind inspection stops. Afterwards, the delegation visited two border crossings: the Øresund Bridge crossing between Copenhagen and Malmö, Sweden, and the border crossing to Germany at Frøslev.
They were unable to get sufficient justifications from the Danish side for the intensification of the controls at the internal borders
At the time of the pre-scheduled inspections, no Danish customs inspectors were present, underscoring the Danish authorities’ claims that agents would not be a permanent presence. But Belinda Pyke, who led the visiting delegation, downplayed the absence of the agents. “We chose to come on a day that suited the authorities. We understand that they have a control system that isn’t publicised, and we don’t want to make these kinds of checks artificially,” Pyke told the press during the team’s 19-minute visit to the Øresund Bridge. “We don’t need to make a circus out of it. We just want to understand how the system works.” In a press statement on Monday, Cecilia Malmström, the European Commissioner for home affairs, said that many serious questions remained after the delegation’s visit. “In a first assessment the experts reported that they were unable to get sufficient justifications from the Danish side for the intensification of the controls at the internal borders,” Malmström said. Most seriously, Malmström contended, the Danish authorities were unable to convince the EU delegation of sufficient grounds for the new border controls. The Schengen Agreement allows for temporarily increased border controls in response to specific or unusual threats, but does not allow for generalized or ‘permanent’ border controls between EU countries. “According to the experts,
the risk assessment required to justify the controls was not sufficient and there were no clear instructions to border control officers on how to carry out controls,” Malmström wrote. “It is incumbent on Denmark to demonstrate factually that the gravity of the situation justifies putting in place controls which might affect the exercise of free movement of goods, services and persons at the internal borders with Germany and Sweden.”
ith the furor surrounding Denmark’s strengthened border controls, it’s probably safe to say that political relations with our southern neighbour aren’t ideal. Earlier this month, Jürg-Uwe Hahn, justice minister for the German state of Hessen, challenged his countrymen to boycott Denmark this summer. “At a time when Denmark, just before the summer holiday season, is bringing back border controls, I am urging [Germans] to change their plans and go to Austria or Poland instead,” Hahn told Bild, Germany’s largest newspaper. In response, Ellen Trane Nørby, a member of the ruling Liberal party from southern Jutland, told German newspaper Die Zeit that Germany should not cast stones when it comes to border policy. “If you criticize our plans, you should probably take a look at your own border control system and reduce it by a tenth,” she said, adding that Denmark was now paying the price for being too trustworthy in joining the Schengen Agreement.
Not everything in the EU is good. Still the restriction as well as the boycott may have overshot the mark. proposal for the first time, she only smiled benignly. “Living in Sweden, I really have no opinion about a boycott,” she said. Lukasz Kryszynski, a 65-year-old pensioner from Hamburg said he fully understood Denmark’s fears. “Not everything in the EU is good. Still the restriction as well as the boycott may have overshot the mark.” Janina Fuge, a PhD student at the University of Hamburg, had just stepped off the train from Hamburg when The Copenhagen Post caught up with her. The 33-year-old said that the Danish border agreement was a setback for the countries’ relations and a hindrance to tourism. “To avoid hassle caused by border controls, I decided to come by train and not by car,” she said.
Border controls in three acts
A clean energy future: way how we can lead the
National team disappoints in Oslo
The second phase of the new border control is set to begin in 2012, with an additional 48 customs agents and new customs plazas, including permanent physical structures, lanes for funnelling traffic and video surveillance. Phase three will see the buildings taken into use in 2014. “The result of the mission makes it even more necessary to establish a reinforced dialogue with the Danish authorities and to put in place a strict monitoring system based on regular information from the Danish authorities, not excluding further visits if necessary,” Malmström said. Denmark’s foreign affairs minister Lene Espersen said that Denmark would do its best to answer the European Commission’s questions. “We are in an ongoing discussion with the commission right now,” Espersen said. “The most important thing is that we answer their questions, so that we can put our neighbours and the commission at ease.”
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The Copenhagen post July 22 - 28
Think it’s expensive here? Try Angola By Justin Cremer
Copenhagen no longer among the world’s top ten when it comes to expensive cities for expats
espite the sticker shock brought on by the price tags of everything from homes and cars to a bottle of soda, Copenhagen has fallen out of the top ten most expensive cities for expatriates. According to a recently-released cost of living survey by consulting firm Mercer, Copenhagen has gone from number ten to number 17 on the list of the most expensive cities in the world for expats. Mercer’s study suggests that, rather than despairing about prices here, foreigners should be grateful that they don’t find themselves in Luanda, Angola. The sub-Saharan African city was ranked the world’s most expensive for the second straight year. Only three cities in Continental Europe were included in the top ten – Moscow at number four, Geneva at number five and Zurich at number seven. Oslo ranked two spots higher than Copenhagen at number 15, while Stockholm landed at number 39. “In most western European cities the cost of living for expatriates has remained relatively stable over the last 12 months,” Nathalie Constantin-Métral, a senior researcher at Mercer, said in a statement. “However, many of the region’s cities have still dropped in the ranking. In large part, this is because all cities are compared to New York and price increases there have been more significant than in most European cities.”
Safety board: No phones in cars
Colourbox While you might not know it if you shop on Strøget, there are 16 cities more expensive than Copenhagen
The survey looked at 214 cities across five continents and measured the comparative costs of over 200 items in each location. The figures, which are taken from the period of March 2010 to March 2011, are based on the strength of the local currency against the US dollar and price movements as compared to those in New York City. During the March to March period, the Danish kroner fluctuated only slightly against the dollar. In March 2010, $1 corresponded to 5.49 kroner while in March 2011 the same dollar was only worth 5.34 kroner, according to xe.com. As recently as
five years ago, an American living in Denmark would be able to get 6.2 kroner out of their dollar. For American expats and tourists, the weakening of the dollar can be felt from purchases big to small. The average home in Copenhagen sells for around 30,000 kroner per square meter. At today’s conversion rate of 5.28 kroner to the dollar, that corresponds to approximately $5,682 per square meter. Meanwhile, in the American city of Las Vegas, Nevada – which has a metro population of 1.95 million, similar to Copenhagen’s metro population of 1.92 million – the average price
of a home per square meter is $4,433. At the more immediate level, a spot check at the Kort & Godt convenience store at the Taastrup train station revealed the price of a half liter of Coca-Cola to be 18 kroner, or $3.41 at the current exchange rate. American expatriates would be accustomed to purchasing the same product for roughly $1.75 stateside. So while the estimated 40,000 expats currently living in Copenhagen can take solace in the fact that it has fallen out of the top ten, most would likely agree that prices here remain high enough.
Factfile | The 10 Most Expensive challenge government to Cities for Expatriates
charge alleged dangerous
1. Luanda, Angola (pictured) ‘stateless’ residents 2. Tokyo, Japan 3. N’djamena, Chad 4. Moscow, Russia 5. Geneva, Switzerland 6. Osaka, Japan 7. Zurich, Switzerland 8. Singapore, Singapore 9. Hong Kong, Hong Kong 10. Sao Paulo, Brazil … 17. Copenhagen
rivers on Danish roads text message, email and surf the internet so frequently that the Accident Investigation Board (AIB), has made an appeal to parliament to change current law and forbid drivers from using smart phones while behind the wheel. Although current law states that use of a handheld mobile phone is illegal while driving, AIB maintains that the ban should also extend to so-called ‘hands-free’ car kits, in which the phones are placed in a holder within the vehicle. “We see that drivers sit with their new smartphones while driving and use them like a laptop computer and thus look away from traffic,” AIB’s chairman Sven Krarup Nielsen said in a press statement. “We will come to see a dramatic rise in the amount of accidents where mobile phone use is involved if we don’t get motorists to change their behaviour.” While there have been no Danish studies on the extent to which mobile phones cause accidents due to the country’s strict rules regarding access to mobile data, a US study revealed in January that 28 percent of all American traffic accidents occur when people talk on their mobile phones or send text messages. As part of their recommendation, AIB would also like to see laws relaxed to give authorities more access to telecommunications data. Lars Barfoed, the justice minister, said he will investigate whether there is a need for additional rules regarding the use of mobile phones in traffic. (JC)
Home workplaces off limits to cameras, union says Opinion: Correct decision to reject Homecare assistant’s firing renews debate about whether residents can set up hidden video cameras
he head of one of the country’s largest unions is criticising the use of hidden video cameras in homes after a second home care assistant in as many months was caught on tape last week allegedly stealing money from her elderly charge. Dennis Kristensen, head of the FOA union, which primarily represents public sector employees, said the practice of videotaping homecare workers is illegal because privacy laws require workers to be informed if their workplace is being monitored. Even though the home care assistants work in private homes, the Justice Ministry and the Data Protection Agency have both established that they fall under rules covering other workplaces when it comes to video surveillance.
That interpretation of the law, however, has come under fire after experts said it was never intended to apply to private homes. The most recent case involves 26-year-old Milka Andersen, of the Jutland town of Struer, who was fired from her job last month after a video camera set up by the grandson of an 89-year-old woman showed Andersen removing money from a purse. Andersen explained, however, that the woman had asked her to take the money from her wallet. The woman, however, denies this, and prior to removing the money, Andersen is shown looking into an adjacent room, which her accusers say is a sign of her guilt. The video camera was set up, according to the grandson, after money was allegedly discovered missing from the woman’s wallet. In addition to challenging the use of a hidden camera,
Kristensen also called the firing unlawful, since Struer Council was unable to prove she had stolen the money. In its letter dismissing Andersen, the council wrote only that the official reason she was being fired was because she had violated rules requiring a witness to be present when homecare workers handle residents’ money. However, it also added she was being dismissed because she had “apparently” stolen the money, and that she would be rehired if she was proven innocent. Kristensen accepted that Andersen did break the regulation, but pointed out that such guidelines could be difficult to follow for homecare assistants, who normally work alone. “We recommend that our members refuse and if they absolutely need to get the money, to call someone who can serve as their witness,” he told public broadcaster DR. (KM)
India’s diplomatic assurance By Tue Magnussen
t was a relief to see that the public prosecutor, after a decision first at the municipal level and then in the high court, has dropped its order to extradite Niels Holck to India. The decision last Thursday means that Denmark will not hand over Holck to be tried in India. This decision is both correct and important. A unanimous panel of five judges in the Eastern High Court ruled on June 30 that Holck may not be handed over to India, rejecting, as did the Hillerød Municipal Court, the ‘diplomatic assurances’, made by India, that the Danish government believed would prevent Holck from being tortured or mistreated while incarcerated in India. The Hillerød Municipal Court ruled last November that “there is a real and existing risk that Niels Holck, if he is extra-
dited to India for trial, will be subjected to conditions and treatment that would be in violation of the Extradition Act [which deals with the threat of torture]”. It was a relief that the Eastern High Court appears to have heard the warnings of Danish and international human rights organisations that ‘diplomatic assurances’ are “too vague”, that “India has no system or body that can carry out inspections independent of the Indian authorities”, and that “Indian states have considerable problems living up to internationally recognised standards”. The decision by the public prosecutor is a significant victory for human rights organisations that have urged the Danish government to stand up to the pressure being put on it by India. But it is also a last minute decision that allowed Denmark to preserve its international reputation as a leader in the fight
against torture. For decades Denmark has played a key role in international efforts to prevent torture and it has earned a reputation for these efforts. This case should never even have become an issue. There should be no doubt that Denmark neither extradites nor deports individuals to countries where they risk being tortured. Denmark must reiterate its unqualified support for the total ban on torture and reject the use of ‘diplomatic assurances’. They offer no real security, and it is impossible to ensure that independent monitors will be granted access to prisoners who have been extradited. Parliament and the government should, once and for all, reject the use of ‘diplomatic assurances’ by countries that practice torture. The author is a member of the board of the Danish Helsinki Committee for Human Rights
The Copenhagen post July 22 - 28
Turning garbage into gas By Jennifer Buley Innovative Danish bioscience – and one forwardlooking city council – converting rubbish into both biofuel and business
he Jutland city of Fredericia has joined with the Dong Energy company to be the launch community for a new, environmentally-friendly waste management system that turns household rubbish and wastewater into biofuel. Through the new partnership, Fredericia Council will be the first community in the nation to turn its waste into a storable and portable biofuel that can eventually be used to run city busses and generators and provide heat for homes. “Our goal is to change the management of wastewater and household rubbish from a costly problem into a valuable resource for local energy production,” Fredericia’s mayor Thomas Banke told Jyllands-Posten newspaper. “Rubbish will be turned into gas, which will be sold and become an asset for the council’s budget.” The venture is based on a new bio-refining process called REnescience developed by Dong Energy with researchers from national universities, the Amagerforbrænding waste incineration facility, and the biotech company Novozymes, among others. Household rubbish and wastewater are spun and heated up to temperatures of 80-90 degrees Celsius in a cylindrical drum; enzymes that digest the organic components are added and after 15-20 hours a brown burn-
able biofuel is left over. According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the non-organic waste – plastics, metals and glass, for example – that are not digested by the enzymes can then be separated from the biofuel, allowing for further recycling. At Amagerforbrænding, where the technique underwent testing, approximately 800 kilos of waste per hour were treated and turned into biogas using existing equipment. Future dedicated REnescience plants will be able to process ten times as much waste and may also be able to convert the waste into ethanol and methanol in addition to biogas. Today Fredericia Council is already creating 1.2 million cubic meters of biogas through an older refining technique. But through the new REnescience enzyme-based process, the city’s biogas output is expected to double. Preben Birr-Pedersen, the project leader for the new public-private collaboration between Fredericia and Dong Energy told Jyllands-Posten “the gains are going to be huge environmentally.” “As soon as September, we will be the first in Denmark to put biogas back into the natural gas network where it can be saved up and used when it is most needed,” Birr-Pedersen said. “When it comes to the transportation sector, it’s going to be worth a lot. We expect that the added biogas
Danske Bank and four others passed the test “with flying colours”
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production, which can be turned into combustable fuel, will increasingly be a green alternative and could even replace diesel.” Mayor Banke says that while the environment is the biggest winner, Fredericia’s residents will also profit through lower waste management bills and potential jobs. “One of the consequences, in the long run, will probably be lower prices for waste management. It’s cheaper, in any case, than garbage incineration,” Banke said, adding that “the really big winner is the environment and future Danish workplaces. We cannot count on having the same workplaces in ten years that we have today. We therefore have to think new and innovate.” Banke added that he hoped Fredericia would inspire other
Queen’s Greenland arrival catches hosts off-guard Danish Royals arrive sooner – and leave later – than expected
cities to adopt the new technology and create biofuel and jobs of their own. “We can only encourage other councils to go the same way,” he said. “It’s important for the environment and it’s important for maintaining our standard of living.”
BRITISH CHAMBER OF OF BRITISH CHAMBER COMMERCE INDENMARK DENMARK COMMERCE Cloud Computing This “on the way home” event features presentations from two Danish-founded companies, Tradeshift and e-conomic, that have embraced “cloud technologies” and are offering their Software as a Service (SaaS). This event will give you the chance to learn: • •
How e-conomic’s strategy has put them on a strong course to become the biggest accounting system for small businesses in Denmark. How the emergence of Cloud technologies allowed the founders of Tradeshift to start a high growth company in the middle of the financial crisis and how their new disruptive business model lets them offer their services at a fraction of the price of traditional e-invoicing & supply chain management software.
is a social network for business that allows anyone to exchange invoices for free. Tradeshift was founded 18 months ago and now employs nearly 50 people with 18 different nationalities. The company has been funded by PayPal and Notion Capital and offers large enterprises the ability to connect to their entire supply chain with electronic invoicing. Customers include TDC, COOP, Stark, DSV and the National Health Service in England.
ueen Margrethe and Prince Henrik arrived too early and stayed too long on their summer visit to Greenland, joked Greenland’s prime minister Kuupik Kleist. In a speech on Saturday to celebrate the crown couple’s summer visit to Greenland, Kleist poked fun at Queen Margrethe and Prince Henrik for arriving in the town of Uummannaq before they were expected and before their hosts were finished preparing their official welcome. Kleist then teased that the Danish royals overstayed, reports Sermitsiaq, Greenland’s national newspaper. “Instead of a quick inspection, they stayed for three days,” Kleist said. On Sunday, the crown couple attended mass at the town
A new bio-refining process will turn household waste into biofuels
will be 13 percent at the end of 2012, up three percent since the end of 2010. Danske Bank was one of just two European banks that actually saw its share price rise following the EBA’s announcement of the test results. The other was the National Bank of Greece, reported Business.dk. Nevertheless, despite the good news for the Danish banks, some financial analysts, including ratings agency Standard & Poors, claimed that the EBA’s stress test is too lenient to be meaningful. Danske Bank’s CFO Henrik Ramlau-Hansen also suggested as much. “There was never any doubt that we would pass it with flying colours, because our own stress tests are much harder,” Ramlau-Hansen told public broadcaster DR.
In addition to the equity capital calculations, national regulators ran simulations of what would happen to their countries’ banks in the case of another recession, in which growth falls by more than four percent below current EU forecasts. The stress test did not, however, take into account the impact on the European economies and the euro should Greece default on its debts – a scenario that many analysts say is likely. Denmark’s currency, the Danish krone, is pegged to the euro. In total, eight of the 90 European banks that took the stress test – five Spanish, two Greek, and one Austrian – failed. Germany’s Helaba bank withdrew from the test before the results were finalized to avoid an imminent failing score. Another 16 banks that barely passed the test are now challenged with increasing their emergency capital reserves to bolster their financial strength.
is one of the fastest growing online accounting systems and was one of the first companies to succeed with Software as a Service. e-conomic is a web-based innovative accounting system that exploits the opportunities of the Internet for easy-to-use, flexible and secure accounting solutions. e-conomic constantly endeavours to develop, improve and adapt the application to match technological development as well as the individual client’s needs – regardless of the size and industry of the business.
Scanpix Queen Margrethe and Prince Henrik greet the crowd in Aasiaat
church in Nuuk, Greenland’s capital and largest city, with a population of approximately 18,000. After church they were given an update on the situation in Greenland by Kleist and visited Nuuk City Hall. Monday the queen and prince enjoyed an unattended day alone – and their hosts were
off the hook. But Tuesday, the royals’ tour resumed in Paamiut, where they inaugurated a new city park, had coffee with town citizens, and opened an art exhibition. Queen Margrethe and Prince Henrik’s 14-day cruise ends in south Greenland on July 24. (JB)
Programme 16:00 Registration 16:30 Cloud technologies and social media – changing the way we do business 16:50 Building the world’s largest business network – e-invoicing and more with Tradeshift 17:10 From e-invoicing to online accounting – lowering barriers for SMEs with e-conomic 17.30 Panel Discussion Location: Tradeshift, Nørregade 36B, 3rd floor, 1165 Copenhagen K Directions: 50 meters from Nørreport Station on the left side of Nørregade. Look for the neon sign for Sømods Bolcher (famous Candy factory appointed by the Royal Court) Parking: Use the parking garage at Israels Plads You can sign up via the website, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 31 18 75 58. This event is free of charge for members / 125 DKK inc MOMS for Nonmembers. • official media partner
The Copenhagen post July 22 - 28
Down’s syndrome dwindling
By Jennifer Buley
moved to Copenhagen to seek new opportunities – albeit at quite a younger age. “I moved to a boarding school in Birkerød when I was 13 because my mom thought it would be good for me to move away,” she said. “Silkeborg has a small town mentality and it was really easy to get caught up in bad company. There were just a lot of people being bored together, just smoking weed and being mean to each other - people putting each other in roles that are hard to get out of.” Kyed said she felt relieved when she moved away and that even though she initially moved to a boarding school, she found people to be far more accepting in the capital. “It was easier for me to be me,” Kyed explained. “I had already visited my big sisters in Copenhagen and I met people through them and found out I wasn’t judged the same way as I was back home.” After a year at the boarding school, a 15-year-old Kyed moved to Istedgade in central Copenhagen. For her, the capital offers the opportunity to live her life without judgement. “In Copenhagen there’s more room for being yourself. In Silkeborg you could meet people where the farthest they’d gone was Aarhus. Of course there are Copenhageners who have never really left the city. But they get to meet different types of people than people in Silkeborg do. I think it’s about exploring the world and getting different opinions. If you’re with the same people all the time its hard to get new input.” But not all young Danes find living in provincial Denmark inconvenient or isolating. Marta Julia Johansen, originally from Frederiksberg, followed her mother to the island of Bornholm when she was 17. “Bornholm was such a big contrast to Copenhagen in the way people’s relationships were to each other,” she said. “You spend so much time together on Bornholm which is different than in Copenhagen. We used nature and the environment much more - we were just much more connected.”
Foetal screenings have resulted in fewer born with the birth defect, but trend raises ethical questions
f current health policies and trends continue, Denmark could be a country without a single citizen with Down’s syndrome in the not too distant future. Since 2004, the government has offered all pregnant women free prenatal screenings to determine if the foetus is afflicted with Down’s syndrome – a birth defect caused by an extra 21st chromosome which results in mild-to-moderate learning disabilities, visual and hearing impairments, and particular facial characteristics. In 2004, when the free and widespread screenings were introduced, 61 babies with Down’s syndrome were born in Denmark. The following year, the number was reduced by more than half. In each successive year, the number continued to drop by an average annual rate of around 13 percent. The reason for the steady decline is that most of the foetuses that test positive for the defect are aborted. A medical review from 2002 of elective abortions in the UK and the US found that around 92 percent of all foe-
Vanellus Foto / Wikimedia Commons The number of children born in Denmark with Down’s sydrome has fallen dramatically since the introduction of free prenatal screening in 2004
tuses diagnosed with Down’s syndrome were aborted. In Denmark, medical experts estimate the rate of abortions to be even higher. If the current trend continues, it is predicted that the last Down’s syndrome baby in Denmark could be born in 2030. But not everyone thinks that’s a good thing. “We should not have an ethnic cleansing type of situation, which this resembles,” Ulla Brendstrup, whose child has Down’s syndrome, told Berlingske newspaper. “They
If you need to pass a costbenefit analysis in order to be born, then we have created a border control at the cervix
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are going after one specific handicap. What’s next? Will it be children with diabetes who will be rejected?” Niels Uldbjerg, professor of gynaecology and obstetrics at the University of Aarhus, agrees that an ethical problem exists. From the medical perspective, he sees successful screenings and the reduction of babies born with birth defects as a “tremendously great accomplishment”. “But if you ask me as a person, then I would say that I like that there are people among us who are different,” Uldbjerg added. Grete Fält-Hansen, who is co-chairman for the National Association for Down Syndrome in Denmark (ADS), sympathises with families who decide to abort when they learn that the foetus has the birth defect, but wonders where our increasing ability to choose our children is taking us. “There are many other things that produce handicaps, and if you need to pass a costbenefit analysis in order to be born, then we have created a border control at the cervix,” Fält-Hansen said. Lillian Bondo, who is chairman for the Danish Association of Midwives, thinks we, as a culture, have already approached the slippery slope. “We know that within just a few years, presumably through a blood test from the pregnant woman, will be able to get a very detailed account of everything the parents might want to know about the child – and also about certain possible diseases,” Bondo told Berlingske. “If the couple learns in this way that there is a good chance that the child will develop a chronic disease, is that then a good reason to abort?” “I don’t have the definitive answer,” Bondo continued. “But I would like to get as many people as possible talking about where society should draw the line. I don’t want a society where we reject people over trivialities.”
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In Copenhagen there’s more room for being yourself
While she said the opportunities available on a small island were different, the lifestyle was more steady and predictable. After moving back to Copenhagen for some time as a 21-year-old, she eventually chose to move to Randers and then Kolding on Jutland to study graphic design. “Out in the country you don’t do anything except work on what you’re doing. You have the internet and that’s all you need.” But despite deliberately choosing to study at Kolding School of Design, in a town of less than 60,000 inhabitants, she still yearned to be in Copenhagen. “It wasn’t so easy to live there and for the first two years I wanted to go back to Copenhagen. But after three years I realized it was good. I was at the school all the time so I was working hard.” Now 27, Johansen is currently living in Copenhagen and about to start a Masters degree at the Danish Design School. After spending so much time outside the city, she is happy to be back and start building up a network. But the countryside still beckons. “If I had a job that I could do from home it would be OK to leave Copenhagen. I would think that once I’m safe with my network and job opportunities then I could leave it behind and let them come to me - when you’re good they will come to you. But you need to work your ass off first.” While Jutland can attract young Danes with interesting schools – such as the European Film College in Ebeltoft or Kolding School of Design – the creative, social and career opportunities in Copenhagen are hard to beat. The question is whether we are watching a tipping point as more people watch their friends leave and want to follow, and if so, one can only wonder what the future holds for provincial Denmark.
One in five knows a cocaine user
new Epinion study for public broadcaster DR revealed that 21 percent of respondants know somebody who has taken cocaine. Seventy-nine percent said they did not know anyone who used the drug – or were unsure of whether or not their family members, friends or colleagues used cocaine. That one-fifth of all Danes know that someone in their circle takes cocaine comes as no surprise to doctor and addiction specialist Henrik Rindom from Hvidovre Hospital. The drug has not only caught on among
young people, its use is widespread among older generations and all social classes, he said. “It’s found in every level of society. From the CEO, the lawyer and the doctor, down to the tradesman, the student, the drug dealer in Vesterbro, and the prostitute,” Rindom told DR news. “I have met all kinds who are hooked on cocaine.” Recently, the artistic director of the Royal Danish Ballet, as well as numbers of dancers in the ballet corps, were accused of cocaine abuse by anonymous co-workers. (JB)
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