Rasmussen defends Danish immigration rules against EU law

28.08.08 @ 09:32

  1. By Lucia Kubosova

Danish leader Anders Fogh Rasmussen has said Copenhagen will not change the country's strict limits on migrants.

  • Some 100 African migrants within two days are feared to have died on their way to Europe (Photo: mlp.org.mt)

"Denmark's immigration policy is not going to change; the voters need to know that the law holds,'' Mr Rasmussen told voters in a speech on Tuesday night (26 August) in his constituency of Greve, Bloomberg reported.

He was reacting to a debate sparked in his country by a recent verdict by the EU's top court in Luxembourg that struck down Irish restrictions on the residency of foreign spouses of EU citizens. The Irish restrictions were similar to rules that are applied in Denmark.

Mr Rasmussen argued that his government would press EU institutions and other member states to prevent any changes to the Danish immigration legislation as a result of the court's ruling.

"We're trying to change the set of rules inside the EU so that we can get things as we want them,'' Mr Rasmussen added.

The differences between Danish law and EU rules mainly involve the ban for citizens under 24 years old to bring their non-EU spouses into the country - viewed as a way to prevent Danish Muslims from bringing their partners through arranged marriage.

Similarly, such mixed couples who have lived in other EU member states are not allowed to come and live in Denmark, a practice in breach of the bloc's freedom of movement principle.

The Danish parliament's ombudsman earlier in the summer announced an investigation into whether the Danish Immigration Service had misinformed individuals inquiring about regulations on the settling of foreign spouses in Denmark.

France as the current holder of EU's six-month rotating presidency is planning to push for a detailed debate on the common immigration rules for the 27-strong union, with a ministerial session on the issue expected in October.

More deaths at sea south of Malta

Paris is pressing for a so-called European Pact on Immigration and Asylum - an agreement setting out common EU guidelines for how to handle increasing numbers of migrants wanting to make their home in Europe.

In many cases, immigrants' struggle to plant their feet on the European soil has had terrible consequences: more than 70 individuals from Sudan and Eritrea, including a child and four pregnant women, are feared to have died in the waters south of Malta, the country's authorities reported on Thursday (28 August).

Earlier this week, a group of migrants detained at the southern Spanish port of Malaga spoke of having thrown overboard the bodies of 25 of their companions as their overcrowded boat drifted for days in the Mediterranean, according to media reports.