Association

Danish trade unions, employers’ organisations and the Danish government are opposing plans from the European Commission to impose an EU-wide minimum wage. The European Commission is considering introducing rules to ensure that all countries in the European Union have a minimum wage that is at least 60% of the country’s median income. The aim of this regulation is to address wage inequality in the region. In Denmark, as in other Nordic countries, (minimum) wages are traditionally agreed upon between social partners through collective bargaining. Wages in Denmark also tend to be significantly higher than in other European countries.

Social partners fear that European rules proposed for regulating wages will undermine this system and sideline workers’ and employers’ unions. However, European Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights, Nicolas Schmit has assured the Nordic Member States of the European Union that any measures taken at the European level will fully respect national traditions of wage setting and the Nordic model. In response to this proposal, Peter Hummelgaard, Denmark’s Minister of Employment, said “We will read the forthcoming proposal carefully, as the devil is in the detail and I am still worried that our model could be undermined.” The President of the Danish Confederation of Trade Unions, Lizette Risgaard, echoed these concerns, stating that she “fears that a statutory minimum wage can weaken the effectiveness of the Danish model.”

Expression

The freedom of expression in Denmark has faced pressure from outside. In response to the rapidly spreading Corona virus (COVID-19), the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten printed a cartoon, created by Niels Bo Bojesen, which shows the Chinese flag with the five golden stars replaced by the virus. The Chinese embassy in Denmark considers this ‘an insult to China’ and has demanded that both the cartoonist and the newspaper publicly apologise to the Chinese people.

“Without any sympathy and empathy, it has crossed the bottom line of civilised society and the ethical boundary of free speech and offends human conscience. We express our strong indignation and demand that Jyllands-Posten and Niels Bo Bojesen reproach themselves for their mistake and publicly apologise to the Chinese people.”

Jyllands-Posten chief editor Jacob Nybroe has made it clear that he does not intend to do so:

"We cannot apologise for something we don't think is wrong. We have no intention of being demeaning or to mock, nor do we think that the drawing does.”

This sentiment was widely supported by Danish citizens and politicians, including the Prime Minister, Mette Frederiksen, who reminded China that “we have freedom of expression in Denmark - also to draw".

This isn’t the first time that the Danish newspaper has faced criticism. In 2005, it published a series of cartoons under the headline “The Face of Muhammad" which outraged the Muslim community.