The Copenhagen Post - July 27-August 2

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27 July - 2 August 2012 | Vol 15 Issue 30


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Germany’s circumcision ruling has breathed new life into Denmark’s on-going debate about the practice



Final whistle Fans in Brøndby won’t have Per Bjerregaard to kick around any more, after the club’s founding father bows to pressure and resigns



Green is the colour of futility For many skilled migrants, the green card scheme isn’t what they believed it was cracked up to be

Not all weather forecasts are created equal, a Swedish study claims. Apples and oranges, reply last ranked Danes


Union accused of bullying restaurant owner RAY WEAVER


Tastes of the season This week, our quarterly lifestyle guide prepares our palates for a bountiful harvest


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Decision to sign collective bargaining agreement with independent union unleashes blockade of Vejle restaurant


O RUBBISH removal, no ads in the local newspaper and picketers at the entrance to his restaurant. That is what Amin Skov, the owner of Restaurant Vejlegården, has endured since he decided in November to sign a collective bargaining agreement with the independent trade union Krifa, instead of traditional trade union 3F. The management of 3F, which organises unskilled labourers, reacted with a blockade against the popular eatery in March and the battle has continued since.

Poul Erik Christensen, president of 3F, defended the tactics critics have likened to the methods used by the Mafia. “The owner did not want to pay the wages he had agreed to under our deal,” Christensen told the press. “He decided instead to make a deal with Krifa. My role as a union leader is to make sure that our members have decent wages and working conditions.” Christensen said the methods 3F is using are legal and defined in an agreement between labour confederation LO and employers’ confederation, Dansk Arbejdsgiverforening. That agreement allows unions to organise strikes against businesses that do not sign collective bargaining agreements. The bone of contention in the struggle is not that Restaurant Vejlegården is unwilling to sign a collective bargaining agreement. It has. Just not with 3F. Skov chose instead to

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reach an agreement with Krifa, which is not a member of LO, but is instead one of a number of independent unions that typically offer lower dues to members and which have been draining members from LO unions in recent years. Critics have asked 3F why employers do not have the right to sign collective bargaining agreements with the union of their choice. “The employer wants free choice, but our members are the ones who wind up paying for his choice,” said Christensen. “When people are unemployed and receiving benefits, they could wind up getting assigned to work at this restaurant. If we do not have an agreement guaranteeing decent pay, our members could be assigned jobs with 10 or 20 percent lower wages.” Members of the opposition have joined in criticising strong-arm tactics

employed by a group Inger Støjborg (Venstre), the former employment minister, simply described as “bullies”. Christensen was undeterred by the name-calling. “I am surprised that there are so many who are apparently unaware of the rules in Denmark,” he said. “We are well within our rights.” The restaurant, however, is not the only business that has found itself dragged into the conflict. The local newspaper, Vejle Amts Folkeblad, was forced to drop advertisements for the restaurant after members of a printer’s union that supports 3F said they would refuse to print the paper if it ran them. That situation seems to be on its way to being resolved, with both the paper and Skov saying the advertisements would be back soon.

Union continues on page 4

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Week in review

The Copenhagen Post

27 July - 2 August 2012 scanpix/Morten Stricker

Scouting Jamboree

THE WEEK’S MOST READ STORIES AT CPHPOST.DK Dual citizenship ban likely to be overturned Fasting in the land of the midnight sun Record number of marriages with foreigners Possible circumcision ban sparks religious backlash Asylum seekers flying to Denmark

FROM OUR ARCHIVES TEN YEARS AGO. Prince Joachim and his wife, Princess Alexandra, welcome their second child, a bouncy baby boy. FIVE YEARS AGO. Thousands of Danish Harry Potter fans join in the Mugglemania, as bookstores open at 12:01 am to begin selling the seventh and final book. ONE YEAR AGO. PM Lars Løkke Rasmussen calls on Danes to join Norway and Sweden in a minute of silence at noon for the victims of Anders Behring Breivik.

Scouts taking part in the massive scouting Jamboree in Holstebro work together building a tower of rope and wood. Some 35,000 children, young adults and adults from around the world have gathered in western Denmark for a full week of activities.

haviour by dog owners, not the breed of dog, is the problem and suggest requiring an ownership course instead. Henry Fuchs of Rottweilerklubben, an owners’ group, supported the proposal and higher fines for owners of aggressive dogs. Rottweilers are not one of the banned breeds.

Denmark’s only English-language newspaper Since 1998, The Copenhagen Post has been Denmark’s leading source for news in English. As the voice of the international community, we provide coverage for the thousands of foreigners making their home in Denmark. Additionally, our English language medium helps to bring Denmark’s top stories to a global audience. In addition to publishing the only regularly printed English-language newspaper in the country, we provide up-to-date news on our website and deliver news to national and international organisations. The Copenhagen Post is also a leading provider of non-news services to the private and public sectors, offering writing, translation, editing, production and delivery services.

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Hot swinger

Things are looking up for golfer Thorbjørn Olesen after his top 10 finish at the British Open. His strong showing guarantees the young prodigy a place in next year’s British Open and has catapulted him 13 places up the world rankings to 99th place, putting him in golf ’s top 100 for the first time in his career. Oles-

President and Publisher Ejvind Sandal Chief Executive Jesper Nymark Editor-in-Chief Kevin McGwin Managing Editor Ben Hamilton News Editor Justin Cremer Journalists Peter Stanners, Ray Weaver & Christian Wenande

en shot an even par 280 over the four days to finish in joint ninth position, tied with established players like Vijay Singh, Ian Poulter and Geoff Ogilvy; and only seven shots adrift of the South African winner, Ernie Els. Thomas Bjørn finished in a tie for 25th in the Open and is still Denmark’s top golfer.

Editorial offices: Slagtehusgade 4 – 6 DK 1715 Copenhagen V Telephone: 3336 3300 Fax: 3393 1313 News Desk 3336 4243 The CPH Post welcomes outside articles and letters to the editor. Letters and comments can be left on our website or at:

scanpix/Bax Lindhardt

Two years after a ban was put in place to keep aggressive dog breeds out of the country, the number of reported dog bites has not decreased. Figures show that the number of people being bitten last year actually showed a slight increase compared with the years before the ban. Critics say that lax be-

scanpix/GLYN KIRK


Dog licence

CORRECTION: Local Bastille Day celebrations where held on Saturday, July 14, not July 15. Toutes nos excuses.

Make beer, not war

The recurring dispute over Hans Island is back in the news, and this time a Canadian liquor store owner is hoping to succeed where diplomacy has failed in the 40-year border tiff. Jim Pettinger, of Edmonton, has invited PM Helle ThorningSchmidt and Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper to his

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store for a bottle of his Hans Across the Water beer, brewed in collaboration with Danish brewery Ugly Duck Brewing Company. The brew that Pettinger is confident will help open lines of discussion between Ottawa and Copenhagen contains 10 percent alcohol and is sold in 1.5 litre bottles.

Layout and design Justin Cremer Aviaja Bebe Nielsen Logo by Rasmus Koch

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The Copenhagen Post


Ray Weaver Proposal’s main supporter waivers, but PM’s party won’t drop levy until a way to replace the billion kroner the tax was forecast to bring in can be found


t is looking increasingly likely that the tax on sugar and some products containing sugar, due to come into effect on 1 January 2013, will be dropped when parliament gets back to work following the summer holiday. Businesses have railed against the tax since it was first proposed as a way to encourage people to eat less sugar, while at the same time generating an extra 1.3 billion kroner in revenue. Although coalition member Radikale was originally one of the sugar tax’s main proponents, it now says the idea should be “buried”.

The apparent Radikale backtrack is sweet music to food producers and kids of all ages alike

Thor Möger Pedersen (Socialistisk Folkeparti), to take the matter up with the government, later this summer, and to look for alternatives for the funds that will be lost by dropping the tax. Those funds, though, have already been included in coming economic forecasts, and until

“For us, the idea wasn’t just to bring in a billion kroner from producers and consumers, we also wanted it to have a positive effect on health,” Radikale spokesperson Nadeem Farooq said. “It does not seem that the right model can be found.” He will ask the tax minister,

income to replace them can be just a few of the many types of found, the tax is staying put, ac- sugars found in processed food. It cording to representatives from would have been administratively Socialdemokraterne, the prime unwieldy to assess individually minister’s party. the type and amount of sugar in Politiken newspaper reported thousands of products available to that the government is having consumers. trouble finding Since a an effective way workable model to implement could not be the tax. found, the sugar One propostax appears to al suggested that The missing funds must be dead, openthe tax be placed ing the door for on a product’s come from people with a new political total weight. Un- high incomes to help battle about how der that scenario, to get the missa large container ease the tax burden ing funds back of yoghurt may created by the budget into the budget. have wound up Although costing much Enhedslisten more than a cake filled with supported the government’s cream, effectively defeating any budget, it has never been onboard health benefits the tax was sup- with the sugar tax, feeling that it posed to create. was a levy that would hit low inAnother option on the table come people the hardest. was to simply tax sugar itself. The “We are entirely ready to requestion then became, what kind move the sugar tax,” Per Clausen of sugar? Fructose, corn, beet are (Enhedslisten) said. “The missing

Possible circumcision ban sparks religious backlash Union Voices calling for Denmark to follow Germany’s lead cite the health risks and sexual problems caused by the practice


anish Muslims and Jews are concerned that Denmark may ban male circumcision after a German court last week decided that the practice amounts to violence against male children and should not be performed until boys are old enough to decide on their own whether to have the operation performed. “The ritual is very important to Islam,” Imam Abdul Wahid Pedersen told Jyllands-Posten newspaper. “It is not mandatory, but it is a very strong tradition. A ban would be taken very seriously.” In Judaism, boys must be circumcised when they are eight days old, and leaders of the Jewish community in Denmark see the proposal as a rejection of their culture.

“A ban on circumcision is equivalent to saying to those that have practiced Judaism in Denmark for 400 years that they may as well leave,” rabbi Bent Lexner told Kristeligt Dagblad newspaper. Lexner said he has circumcised about 1,000 boys and that none of them have experienced complications. New figures from Patientforsikringen, a patient insurance group, revealed however that between 1996 and 2012 there were 65 claims of injuries related to male circumcision. Even though the surgery is not complicated, Jørgen Thorup, a professor of paediatric surgery at Rigshospitalet, said it still carries some significant risks. “The most common complications are bleeding, infection and excessive cutting,” Thorup told Jyllands-Posten.“In the most serious cases, the boys lose part of their penis.” Parliament is divided on the question, with most parties calling for a debate of the health,

continued from front page


ray weaver

Thou shalt not circumcise?

social and legal consequences of a ban before any decisions are made. “We advocate a ban on circumcision,” Jørgen Arbo-Bæhr (Enhedslisten), said. “People should decide for themselves whether or not they want to be circumcised.” Imam Pedersen said that even though the debate about circumcision comes up every few years only to die down again relatively quickly, he expected the German court decision to give new impetus to calls for a ban. In the midst of the religious

debate surrounding the practice, a new study found that circumcision can have a negative effect on the estimated five percent of Danish men who are circumcised. According to a study released by the Statens Serum Institut, these men may have difficulty achieving orgasm and satisfying their partners. Morten Frisch, who led the study, said it also showed that women who had sex with circumcised men reported greater problems with pain during intercourse.

The paper started looking for other printers when it became clear that it stood to lose as much as 300,000 kroner per week in lost revenue from not only the restaurant’s missing advertisement, but also those of other advertisers who pulled out in support of Skov. “We looked for other printers in Denmark, but the problem is it has to be one who is not a member of an employers’ organisation,” said Alex Petersen, the paper’s managing director. “Otherwise, they could find themselves caught up in a lawsuit.” Petersen said finding a foreign printer remained an option, and warned that 3F’s strike could very well force Danish jobs out of the country. Hans Nicolaisen, a restaurant owner in near-by Horsens, called 3F’s methods “grotesque” and was shocked that they were legal. “They try to force me to be part of their agreements,” said Nicolaisen. “Most of the restau-

27 July - 2 August 2012 funds must come from people with high incomes to help ease the tax burden created by the budget.” The proposal to tax sugars came after parliament last year implemented what was reputed to be the world’s first tax on saturated fats in foods and the message that the sugar tax was on the way out was celebrated by businesses, which had estimated it would cost 1,000 jobs. “This is positive news,” Jens Klarskov, from Dansk Industri, the nation’s largest business advocacy group, said. “We have had enough ‘fun’ dealing with last year’s fat tax.” Claus Bøgelund Nielsen, from DSK, a grocer’s association, said the government and Enhedslisten deserved praise for rethinking the tax. “It is great that they listened to good advice and solid evidence, rather than sticking to a really bad idea,” Nielsen said. Nielsen added that Germany and Sweden would have been the only winners had the tax been implemented, as more would choose to go to those countries to shop. rants here do not want to work with 3F. They do not care if we close up, as long as their demands are met.” During the time that Skov’s advertisements were blocked from the local paper, Nicolaisen posted them on his restaurant’s Facebook page. He also posted a letter that Skov received from the Arbejdesmarkedsstyrelsen, the state labour authority, saying his advertisements for employees would have to be dropped from publicly funded job boards until the conflict with 3F was resolved. The law does not allow restaurants that are being blockaded to advertise for help. “How horrible is it that the state that we pay taxes to can legally refuse to help a business find employees simply because a random organisation decides to blockade them,” said Nicolaisen. Business at Restaurant Vejlegården has actually improved during the conflict, as town residents and visitors alike rally around Skov. “Many people have heard about us in the media, and they are curious,” Skov told “Bookings are up 15 percent.”

Online this week Parking fines are big business

Cartoons and drawings depicting paedophilia do not encourage people to commit child sex offences in real life, a report concludes. The report, carried out by Sexologisk Klinik, which is a part of Rigshospitalet, was ordered by the former justice minister, Lars Barfod (Konservative), after the Socialdemokraterne, then in opposition, demanded a ban on drawings and animations of children being sexually abused. At the time, the current social affairs minister, Karen Hækkerup (Socialdemokraterne), argued that drawn representations of paedophilia could act as a stepping stone to actual child abuse. The subsequent Sexologisk Klinik report could

A majority in parliament say they are prepared to support a bill allowing dual citizenship, due to be presented by the Justice Ministry later this year. Dual citizenship is already permitted in certain situations, but Denmark is one of just seven EU countries not permitting all citizens to claim citizenship in another country, if they qualify. Margrethe Vestagaer, leader of the Radikale party, called it “a gift” that foreigners would be allowed to retain their original citizenship and be afforded “full access to the country they will contribute to and where their children would grow up”. The change would also allow Danes living abroad to retain their citizenship. In 2008, some 17,000 Danes living abroad signed a pe-

The country’s two largest privately operated parking companies, Europark and Q-Park, combined to rake in nearly 500 million kroner last year. That is 53.5 million kroner more than the year before and translates to a 12 percent increase in profits. The combined earnings of the two parking giants puts them in the same league as Parkering København, the city’s municipal parking control, which is the country’s top parking earner and last year stuck tickets worth just over 530 million kroner in fines on motorist’s windscreens.

not support Hækkerup’s claims. Jacob Mchangama, director of legal affairs at the liberal think tank Cepos, welcomed the verdict. “It’s gratifying that we now have documentation that as far as we are aware there is no connection between animated child pornography and actual crimes,” Mchangama told Information.


Dual citizenship ban likely to be overturned


Report: cartoon child porn not dangerous

tition urging parliament to change the law. Over half of voters, according to a Gallup/Berlingske poll, said they were against allowing dual citizenship. One of the primary arguments against was that it would dilute the definition what it meant to be Danish.

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4 news Coalition member turns sour on sugar tax



27 July - 2 August 2012



Final whistle blows for a football icon


Chris Anker Sorensen celebrates his combativity prize on the podium

Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank to build on Tour success

Brøndby icon Per Bjerregaard shocked Danish football when he bowed out as the club’s boss after half a century of service

CHRISTIAN WENANDE The club’s stock has risen and financial backers are looking to fill the void in the wake of Per Bjerregaard’s exit


ER BJERREGAARD shocked the Danish football establishment on Saturday when he stepped down as managing director of Brøndby after nearly 50 years with the club. “I have chosen to step down from the Brøndbyernes IF Fodbold A/S board of directors effective immediately. Over the course of the past several years there has been much drama and unrest in the media concerning myths and rumours associated with me,” Bjerregaard, 66, wrote on Brøndby’s website. “This has had an unfortunate effect in Brøndby and the club needs a calm environment to work during these trying times.” Under Bjerregaard’s leadership, Brøndby had been an assembly line for Danish talent for decades, fostering the like of the

Laudrup brothers, Daniel Agger and Euro 2012 hero Michael Krohn-Dehli. The club itself amassed six league titles, three cup wins, and a UEFA Cup semi-final appearance in 1991, the best European result in Danish football history. The Brøndby legend helped found the club in 1964, and after taking over the reigns as managing director in 1973, the club subsequently rose from the fourth division to the top league in under a decade. In 1986, Bjerregaard made Brøndby the first Scandinavian team to become a professional club and only a year later Brøndby became the second football team in the world to become listed on the stock exchange. “He has deserved praise for everything he has done for Danish football and Brøndby,” Per Nielsen, a team standout from 1993 to 2008, told Ekstrabladet newspaper. “He can have a clean conscience when he walks around the stadium, looking at the facilities he has helped create and thinking about the many great players he has found and shaped.” But the former driving force

of Danish professional football has run into a series of problems in recent years, culminating in last year’s ninth place finish in the Superliga it once dominated. Arch rivals FC Copenhagen have replaced them at the helm of the sport in Denmark and financial problems have seen Brøndby’s

He can have a clean conscience when he walks around the stadium, looking at the facilities he has helped create and thinking about the many great players he has found and shaped many talents move elsewhere in search of better salaries. Six players on Denmark’s Euro 2012 team started their careers in Brøndby, but only one remains. And Bjerregaard has scared off many potential financial

backers with his hands-on approach, leading critics to call his management style obsolete and unsuited to running a modern day football club. As the club’s performance on the pitch worsened, fans began to turn their dissatisfaction toward Bjerregaard, vehemently voicing their desire to see him out. With Brøndby starting this season at the bottom of the Superliga with zero points after two games, Bjerregaard finally decided that he’d had enough. Yet while curtain has fallen on the Bjerregaard era, the future of Brøndby is still alive, kicking and brimming with potential. The club still produces the most talents in Denmark and financial backers are already circling the club now that Bjerregaard has left. One reaction, albeit perhaps a knee-jerk one, to his abdication is the 43 percent rise in stock value of the club in only two days. Sten Lerche, the new managing director, certainly has a lot of work to do and tremendous shoes to fill, but he should find that the path to resurgence lies in the direction set by his predecessor.

CHRISTIAN WENANDE Alberto Contador’s return will greatly improve the team as they prepare for the Vuelta a España, the final major race of the year


HE TOP Danish cycling team missed out on winning a Tour de France stage this year, but the race was still a success, says owner Bjarne Riis. The three week race got under way in spectular fashion for Team Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank as Michael Mørkøv rode in breakaways on an unprecedented three consecutive days. However, it was Chris Anker Sørensen’s spirited third place in the quest for the polka-dotted mountain jersey and recognition as the aggressive rider of the Tour that helped endorse a team that was predicted to perform poorly in this year’s Tour. And Sørensen, who it was announced will not need an operation to mend the fingers he nearly severed when they got caught in his cycle wheel, be-

lieves that the team’s chances for success in the upcoming Vuelta a España are even greater with Alberto Contador’s return from a drug suspension. “Now I’ve been to the doctor and it’s great that I don’t need an operation, because then I would have missed the Vuelta,” Sørensen told Ekstra Bladet newspaper. “I just need to wait and if my hand heals quickly then I have time to train and be ready to ride for Contador. I want to ride because I think we have a good chance to win.” The Olympic Games in London, which Sørensen will struggle to make, is sandwiched in between the Tour and the Vuelta, and that gives the Danish team ample time to upgrade their squad for next season. And they need success sooner rather than later, because they’re ranked 18 and last in the World Tour Rankings with only 88 points, barely half of the 173 points that Team FDJ have in 17 place. The Vuelta a España starts on August 18 and runs through September 9.

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27 July - 2 August 2012



Only a quarter of migrants in Denmark on a green card work in jobs that use their education and experience – what went wrong?

Most of the people who came to Denmark through the green card scheme are well educated and have master’s degrees and work experience but are still facing huge difficulties.” Mazumder’s case is far from unique. Many migrants arriving in Denmark with green cards have turned to part-time, unskilled work as they struggle to find positions in their own fields. The figures for green card holders are disquieting. According to a 2010 study by consulting firm Rambøll, only 28 percent of the 5,829 people that had been granted green cards were working in their fields, while 43 percent were doing unskilled work.


T’S HARD TO imagine, but only a few years ago Denmark’s economy was booming and unemployment was at record low levels. The problem then wasn’t so much creating jobs for people, but finding suitably qualified people to take the jobs that were offered. To tackle this, the previous government established the green card scheme in 2008, which allowed non-EU nationals who fulfilled certain educational and work experience requirements to come here to find work. The thought was that these well-educated and experienced foreigners would provide a pool of workers to fill the gaps in the job market. Except they didn’t. “I thought obviously there would be something for me because they are advertising for highly skilled people,” Faruk Mazumder from Bangladesh said. “That was my expectation.” After two years in Denmark, Mazumder has yet to find a fulltime job in IT, a field in which he holds a master’s degree from Linköping University in Sweden. “The situation is tough and it is quite difficult to find jobs.

High hopes and poor results Mia Mortensen handed in her master’s thesis in international development at Roskilde University this spring. Her focus was the green card scheme and her conclusion was also unflattering. “When it was introduced, the politicians thought the green card scheme would produce a bank of highly skilled workers that could easily and quickly join the labour market,” Mortensen said. “The politicians think that the people with green cards are highly skilled and have a lot of experience. But it turns out they are only well educated, and are not the specialists that Denmark needs.”

To obtain a green card, applicants have to amass 100 points based on their education level and language skills. Once they’ve tallied up the points and handed over a 6,100 kroner fee, they are then granted the right to spend three years in Denmark looking for work. According to Mortensen, the screening process ought to be far more robust, including personal interviews with candidates to better assess whether they are suitable for the Danish job market. She points to the many people from countries in central and southern Asia, such as India and Pakistan, that may have had the qualifications on paper, but often failed to impress employers because of poor Danish skills. Culture shock could be a key reason why so many migrants experience problems integrating into the Danish job market. Saji Nair, from Malaysia, came to Denmark in September 2007 on a scholarship for graduate studies in corporate communications at Aarhus University. She was subsequently granted a green card and has now worked in Jyske Bank’s marketing and communications department for the past two-anda-half years. “I think it’s so much easier for people who have been students here than it is for people coming here fresh,” she said. “I think it’s mostly because you can get used to the culture after spending one or two years here and socialising with friends from university.” Nair explained that while she found the transition into Danish culture easy, she met people that had a much harder time integrating. Mortensen also criticised the government’s lack of support for green card holders, especially those with non-western backgrounds. “Often when politicians talk about integration they say it is the

responsibility of the companies that hire the people,” Mortensen said. “It’s true the big companies do offer such schemes, but there are now many people with green cards without jobs in Denmark, so the politicians need to recognise that it’s partly their responsibility. They come from far away and we need to help them integrate both socially and into the job market.” The Danish Green Card Association (DGCA), which is made up of green card holders, echoed these concerns in a draft report on the problems its members face. The group intends to send the report to the government later this summer. “Most of the jobs advertised here are in Danish and there is no one to tell you that you need to have a specially formatted CV,” the report states. “Surprisingly, there are few jobs for non-westerners who do not have a professional level of Danish.” Despite the difficulties adjusting to a new life in Denmark,

The politicians think that the people with green cards are highly skilled and have a lot of experience. But it turns out they are only well educated, and are not the specialists that Denmark needs many are still able to make it work after arriving with a green card. Jen Andersen moved to Denmark last March after obtaining a green card. By May she had secured a job at A.P. Moller Maersk.


Green card a red light for ambitious

Faruk Mazumder has yet to find any permanent work since arriving in Denm

“I got quite lucky finding a job,” Andersen, an American, said. “I am highly qualified but I think my high level of English helped.” Andersen is aware of the problems that many green card holders face and thinks the government needs to do more to help them integrate. Fellow American, Amy Clotworthy, explained how she felt her green card had “opened a lot of doors”, but added that other card holders she met felt overwhelmed by bu-

reaucracy and the lack of government support. “No one ‘official’ ever helped me with anything – I had to find the answers on my own,” Clotworthy said. “There don’t seem to be any resources or guidance available to ‘highly skilled foreigners’ once they’re here in the country, so everything always feels like guesswork.” More guidance is key The lack of contact between

Foreign students in line for cards Radikale MP is encouraging the government to extend the length of time a non-EU student can remain in Denmark and look for work from six months to three years


OREIGN STUDENTS completing three years of university study should automatically be granted green cards to allow them to stay and work in Denmark, coalition partner Radikale has proposed. Students from non-EU countries are currently only given six months to find work in Denmark after completing their education before being told to return home, despite many of them having received grants subsidised by the Danish state – green cards would give them a minimum of three years to find work. “Talented foreigners are being turfed out of Denmark even though they could make the country richer by staying and working after they finish their education,” Farooq told Berlingske newspaper. “Our businesses need to have the best possible opportunities for recruiting good employees.” The green card scheme was introduced in 2008 as way to open up Denmark to foreign-

ers who could fill jobs that require high levels of skill and education, and was supported by the coalition government parties at the time, Venstre and Konservative, along with Dansk Folkeparti (DF) and Radikale. All parties need to approve changes to the scheme, though DF looks unlikely to support it, as they fear granting foreign students the right to work in Denmark will only make it harder for Danish university graduates to find jobs at a time when they are experiencing record unemployment. “The Radikale’s proposal is hopeless,” Martin Henriksen, DF’s immigration spokesperson, told Berlingske. “We would only agree to discuss granting other groups access to the Danish job market if the other parties can convince us that we are lacking workers and that we also close loopholes in the scheme and put limits in place for those that do not contribute.”

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27 July - 2 August 2012


False promises from agencies and campaigns promoting the Danish job market lead to disappointment among some green card holders


immigrants The grass is not always greener B

businesses and green card holders once they enter the country is a real problem according to Ole Steen Olsen, the head of labour market policy for Dansk Erhverv, a business advocacy group. “We think the green card is good because it allows highly educated people to come and seek a job out of their own will,” Olsen said. “But there’s often no meeting point between Danish firms and foreigners. The authorities should give more advice to foreigners on how to seek work and what to do, as well as informing companies about the opportunity to recruit foreign people.” Olsen added that green card holders may have been caught out because the global crisis reduced the demand for highly skilled workers. According to Olsen, the number of foreign workers employed in Denmark dropped from 24,000 in 2007 to 18,000 in 2011. Given the changing demands in the labour market, Claus Aastrup Seidelin, labour market specialist at Dansk Industri, another business advocacy group, argued that the green card scheme needs an overhaul. Seidelin added, however, that stopping the scheme entirely would be counter-productive. “Of course the crisis had an impact on the labour market in general but there are still areas which have a very large lack of labour, areas such as engineering, IT specialists, medical pro-

fessionals. We still need to attract these people, or there will be an even bigger shortage when the crisis is over.” Employment minister Mette Frederiksen (Socialdemokraterne), could not be reached for comment for this article, though her party has announced that the green card scheme will face an overhaul in the autumn. The changes may limit the number of people entering the country without a chance of finding a relevant job. But according to Mortensen’s calculations, there are still about 2,100 green card holders that have not found work in their field. If there is a silver-lining, it is that green card holders seem to be happy about living in Denmark. While 71 percent of green card holders polled in 2010 were not in work related to their education and experience, only 7.1 percent reported being unhappy about living here, and 88.7 percent wanted to stay in Denmark after their green card expires. For non-western immigrants, Denmark’s economic and political stability is clearly attractive. For the government, the popularity of Denmark and the green card poses a challenge. How do you retool a programme that has proven successful at drawing in skilled and talented individuals, yet leaves them with little prospect of achieving their potential once they get here?

Less than a third of migrants in Denmark with green cards end up working in that field

government started the green card scheme while also actively promoting Denmark as a good place to work. “The fight to attract and keep researchers and other highly educated specialists is a particular challenge for Denmark,” an Ocotober 2007 government report, ‘Denmark – A good place to work’, stated. “People with high education levels can easily and quickly move to other countries with lower taxes and easier languages.” As part of its strategy, the government pledged to spend nine million kroner between 2007 and 2010 to aggressively promote “Denmark as an exciting place to work with the opportunity for personal and professional development,” according to a similar report, ‘Action plan for an active global marketing strategy for Denmark’. Burdened by the effects of the economic crisis, the government slashed its spending on global advertising campaigns to

1.3 million kroner for 2011, and further reduced that amount to 1.2 million kroner for 2012. This drop, according to experts, likely reflects the rising unemployment rate and impacts of the economic crisis felt during the past five years. But according to Mia Mortensen – author of a recent master’s thesis at Roskilde University about the green card scheme – the damage was already done. “The former government has a responsibility because they started the strategy to attract highly skilled people to Denmark by spending millions branding the labour market in developing countries,” Mortensen said. “This strategy was stopped in 2010, probably because of the financial crisis ,but there were still three years when a lot of money was spent on these initiatives.” Mortensen added that the majority of green card applicants found out about the scheme through word of mouth. News

that the Danish job market had changed did not immediately filter through, especially because the primary source of news about the green card scheme, the Immigration Service’s website,, did not clearly convey how unfavourable the job market had become after the crisis. The number of green cards granted in 2011 dropped to 1,395 from 3,060. The fall is most likely a response to the worsening job market, but the scheme remained in place, and to many of the green card holders Mortensen spoke with, they felt this indicated a continued need for foreign workers. “They argue that the existence of the scheme must justify that there is a need for them.” This has not been the experience of many who made the journey. Nazir has nine years experience with quality control and assurance in the dairy industry. After 13 months in Denmark, he is still looking for a job in his field.


mark on a green card two years ago

ASHARAT NAZIR thought lodging his green card application through an agency would make his life easier. That was, until the company mysteriously closed its doors and Nazir’s agent skipped the country, leaving behind a pile of applications in limbo. “I was too disappointed. I made so many calls to them, I called them every day, but I got no response,” he said. Nazir, from Pakistan, is one of the 1.3 percent of the approximate 6,000 green card holders who used an agency to process their application, according to a 2010 study by consultancy firm Rambøll. These agencies market Denmark as a desirable place to work and charge a fee to help acquiring a green card to get there. Having paid an initial 1,925 kroner fee to the agency, Pak Australian Diligence, Nazir was slated to pay a further 5,130 kroner once the application process was complete. His down payment disappeared when the company folded and Nazir had to contact the Immigration Service to ensure any correspondence went straight to him, and not to his agent. Agencies like Pak Australian Diligence charge exorbitant fees to fill in an application that 76.8 percent of applicants found easy enough to do on their own, according to the Rambøll study. Another agency,, with offices in both New Delhi and London, charges about 15,200 kroner to process green card applications. UK-based Imperial Visas asks applicants to cough up 15,700 kroner to cover legal fees, letter writing and time spent liaising with Danish authorities, an employee told The Copenhagen Post. That employee said the existence of the green card scheme served as proof enough that Denmark needed highly educated foreigners of any background. “That’s why they opened the green card – for migration to happen,” he said, adding that the UK had recently closed a similar programme because its job shortage had been filled. “Denmark is open for highly educated people, but once it is filled, they will close the programme.” Many of the green card holders The Copenhagen Post spoke with echoed this thought – why have a scheme if there is no work to be found? (See main story.) The fact is that there was a point when the government feared that Danish companies would struggle to fill positions that required highly skilled workers. As a result the previous

Mia Mortensen, who wrote her thesis on the green card scheme, argues more needs to be done to integrate green card holders into the job market



27 July - 2 August 2012

Where the streets have talking signs




FRANCISCO PEREZ Video featuring device that pronounces tongue twister names goes viral, stunning the foreign design students who created it


Wonder which forecast he saw?

Weather forecasters caught up in a storm of criticism LYDIA DEICHMANN

Bad weather has everyone talking about the forecast a little more than normal this summer, but DMI says it’s better than a Swedish study would lead you to believe


EEN LEFT OUT in the rain by weather forecasts in Denmark so far this summer? Don’t blame the meteorologists at national weather service DMI. They say that despite coming in last place in a recent ranking by a Swedish newspaper, they are just as good as other Nordic weather services. Dagens Nyheter compared DMI and four other Nordic weather websites, together with, and concluded that the Danes were correct only 36 percent of the time. That put them below the group average (46 percent) and well behind the competition’s winner, SMHI of Sweden (56 percent). The competition involved comparing the six services’ forecasts for 19 Swedish cities over a 40-day period, and, according to Niels Hansen, a DMI spokesperson, doing it that way essentially compared apples and oranges, and not the accuracy of the forecasts. “What it did was to assign numbers to our weather symbols and then compared them with the same symbol the other services use,” Hansen said. The problem, according to Hansen, is that different symbols mean different things in different countries. While an icon of a sun obviously means it will be sunny, what about a symbol with a sun, a cloud and two rain drops? In Denmark that means ‘sun and

light rain’, but what DMI considers ‘light rain’ isn’t necessarily the same as what Norway’s YR does. When Dagens Nyheter tried to assess whether the forecasts were correct, it compared them wtih its own symbol for the weather on the given day, which may have been different from the one the weather services used. “That gave them different results from what they should have come up with,” Hansen said, adding that DMI does its own comparison of how accurate it is compared with the Swedish and Norwegian weather services. “Our rate in June was extremely good,” he said. “We are absolutely sure we are just as good.” According to DMI itself, when it comes to Danish weather, its accuracy in 2011 was 95 percent, which is a ten percent improvement since 2001, although Hansen did point out that some years are easier than others to forecast. He explained that what’s really wrong this year isn’t the forecasting, it’s the weather itself. With the worst start to the summer in 25 years, people are looking for a scapegoat. “They can’t do anything about it and you can’t blame the weather,” he said. Instead, they blame the forecast – and the forecaster. But while DMI said its predictions are accurate, theme parks are especially annoyed with meteorologists’ performance this summer. For them, a wrong weather forecast isn’t just a case of bringing an umbrella and having it turn out to be sunny. It’s a matter of money. “When they predict bad weather you can really feel the effect it has on the numbers of guests we get,” Søren Kragelund, the president of FFD, the national

association of theme parks, said. “The media wants more drama because they want a good story. Everyone wants to read about the weather, especially if it’s dramatic. But the weather forecasters are the ones who come up with the story.” Spooked possibly by an increasing number of torrential downpours in recent years, meteorologists and the media this year have been quick to warn of possible torrential rain a few times during the summer. Most of those downpours never materialised, and that has had an effect both on how much people trust forecasts, as well as on tourism, especially when it has to do with outdoor activities, Jens Zimmer Christensen, the chairman of Horesta, the national interest organisation for the hospitality industry, explained. “Naturally, bad weather can mean that people who are staying in summer houses and camping grounds are less likely to return or recommend it if the weather has disappointed them,” he said. But even though he too noted that weather forecasts competed against each other for the most viewers, he recognised that meteorology is not an exact science. “Our weather is changing and there are unusual patterns all over the world, which makes it even more difficult to be accurate. People should bear that in mind before they criticise weather forecasters too much.” Following the study, DMI asked Dagens Nyheter to disclose its data with an explanation of how the assessment took place, so that it can see if its meteorologists can improve their forecasts.

ÅDHUSSTRÆDE? Møntergade? Rosenborggade? If these street names seem unpronounceable to you, fear no more. Two foreign design students have come up with a device that will make them speak themselves loud and clear. In what was originally a short-deadline school project, Momo Miyazaki, 22, and Andrew Spitz, 30, of the Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design, produced a video that has gone viral all over Copenhagen and abroad. The video shows the pair as they design and build a device that pronounces complicated street names, making it easier for non-Danish speakers to grasp. The devices, consisting of a speaker linked to a luminous panel placed above the street name, spells out the name syllable by syllable, as delighted bystanders stand in awe. As the sound is relayed to the speaker, the panel highlights the syllable being pronounced. The video, branded ‘WTPh? – What the Phonics’ – and

What you see is not always what you end up hearing in Danish

available on Vimeo, has been watched no less than 24,000 times since it was first uploaded last Sunday. It was even mentioned in The Economist. Both Miyazaki, an American, and Spitz, from France, were surprised by the success of their final product. “We are still kind of dumbstruck by the success of the video,” Myazaki said. “It’s surprising how a simple idea with such a simple execution can become popular so quickly”, said Spitz. “It shows that people are to keen to interact with their own city.” The pair’s project called for them to “make an intervention to improve the quality of life in Copenhagen through design”, according to Miyazaki. The idea for the signs came about as they were brainstorming for their project at a café, recalled Spitz, when suddenly, they looked at

a street name, and laughed at their inability to pronounce it. “Since our studies are really intense,” Miyazaki explained, “we haven’t had time to learn Danish, so we get embarrassed to have to ask for things in English all the time.” Since the video was shot, however, the pair have removed the devices from the three streets where they had placed them, all located in the area around the Strøget walking street, in central Copenhagen. “It was only a five-day project”, explained Spitz, “we didn’t think of waterproofing [the devices], we didn’t think of the legal aspects, so we couldn’t make it permanent. But who knows? Maybe the city is interested.” Many tourists might find it a precious tool when facing the arduous task of having to ask for directions.

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A plan for all seasons BY DITTEMARIA SØNDERGAARD


HATE TO ADMIT it here, but I’m not looking forward to autumn – at all! I’m a sun/warmth-aholic. And sitting outside, soaking up the heat, in the middle of summer makes me feel quite ambivalent about writing a column about the joys of autumn. Luckily, this column focuses on one of my great big passions – FOOD – and, more specifically, seasonal fruits and greens. So let’s take a look at the abundance of flavours you can enjoy while the days are getting shorter and colder. Summery September This month is often a transition to true autumn. The weather can be really beautiful and summery in September. And several of the late-summer fruits and vegetables are still in season, so you can keep the sensation of summer in your meals and minds. For veg, enjoy some green beans, rocket salad and courgettes. And for fruits, buy tomatoes, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries. See – still lots of summer feelings in those! In addition to different sorts of cabbage and early root veggies, September is great for cucumbers, baby leaves, celery, fennel, spring onions, onions, corn, pak choy, rhubarb, radishes and spinach. You can also get cauliflower, celeriac, broccoli, pumpkins, Brussels sprouts, carrots, potatoes, parsnips, parsley root, leeks and beetroot.


An autumnal cornucopia The real bounty of the autumn season begins in October – look out for kale, kohlrabi, turnips and black radishes. You can continue to buy cucumbers, baby leaves, celery, fennel, spring onions, onions, corn, pak choy, rhubarb, radishes, spinach and raspberries. In November, kale continues along with kohlrabi and black radishes.

Fruitful pickings Apples, plums and pears are ripe for the picking throughout the autumn months. We have many different varieties of these fruits, here in Denmark, and some of them come into season before others. If I had several pages for this column, I could write an entire list of the types and seasons. But ask your local greengrocer or see if you can find a ‘pickyour-own’ farmstead to gather your own.

I must give a shout-out to a very specific type of apple, the most wonderful you’ll ever find. Drum roll, please, for the Rød Ingrid Marie. I admit that my love for this particular apple is probably influenced by an idyllic childhood memory as my grandfather had the most AMAZING apple tree in his garden. Excellent for climbing and sitting on whilst munching on the freshly-picked apples. So, in my mind, nothing has ever been able to beat this specific crispy apple, and I believe it’s the most flavourful one you can find. Try it – I promise you won’t be disappointed. However, if the apple is not crispy and juicy when you take your first bite, then it isn’t fresh and the expeHalmtorvet 19 • The Bosch building • DK-1700 Copenhagen V rience will be absolutely nowhere Tlf: +45 33 31 20 00 • •

Natural health and detox specialist guiding and motivating you to create optimal, lasting health. tel: 50 19 76 06

Halmtorvet 19 • The Bosch building • DK-1700 Copenhagen V 19 • The Bosch building • DK-1700 Copenhagen V Tlf: +45 33 31 20Halmtorvet 00 • • Tlf: +45 33 31 20 00 • •

During the early autumn months, I find root veggies super-delicious and tasty. There’s so many ways to cook them: you can bake them, use them in a mash, fry them for a slightly healthier alternative to chips, or make a warm creamy soup. But after a while, it’s just not interesting to me any longer. That’s when I have to get creative! I might grate some root veggies and use them in a home-baked bread. At BioMio, we make a pesto with kale. We make a dip out of beetroot. We bake rhubarb and use it in a goat-cheese salad. To me, using the same veggies in so many different ways helps to brighten up the increasingly colder and darker autumn days. The season to forage So get out there and forage for all the wonderful veggies and fruits of autumn. Take the opportunity to go organic and recharge on vitamins and minerals before winter sets in. Until next time, bon appétit!

Food Sport Next week

Garden Health



BioMio is Denmark´s largest 100% organic restaurant. Flavoured with love, passion & purpose

For four weeks at a time, four times a year, our aim is to give you all the seasonal lifestyle advice you need to thrive in the areas of gardening, health, food and sport. When should you plant your petunias, when does the birch pollen season normally start, which week do the homegrown strawberries take over the supermarket, and which outdoor sports can you play in the snow? All the answers are here in ‘A plan for all seasons’.

Experimenting with veg

The aristocratic apple

Naturopathic Nutritionist & Reflexologist

A self-confessed “food passionist and organic geek since forever”, is the assistant manager at BioMio, Copenhagen’s best known and biggest organic eatery. Founded in 2009 , and located on the always interesting Halmtorvet just outside the vibrant Kødbyen, its finger is on the pulse of what Copenhageners want on their plates: seasonal fare straight from the source with nothing in between.

near as good as it should be. In that case, I withdraw my promise and suggest you get another. But don’t miss out on eating a fresh Rød Ingrid Marie.

New in November are chicory and Jerusalem artichokes. Throughout the autumn months, you can find cauliflower, celeriac, broccoli, different sorts of cabbage, pumpkins, Brussels sprouts, carrot, potato, parsnip, parsley root, leek and beetroot.

Caroline Cain

27 July - 2 August 2012

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