Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the country would keep immigration limits that contradict the free movement of labor enshrined in the European Union's founding treaty.
``Denmark's immigration policy is not going to change; the voters need to know that the law holds,'' Rasmussen told voters in a speech last night in his constituency of Greve. ``We're going to the EU to change the rules.''
Rasmussen faces an uphill battle. The European Court of Justice struck down an attempt by Ireland on July 25 to keep its stricter immigration standards, stating EU rules override national laws.
There's a lot going on in this story:
Denmark is trying to stem an inflow that saw the number of non-western immigrants jump 50 percent to 177,5000 between 1990 and 2000.
Danish law forbids citizens under 24 from bringing non-EU spouses into the country in a bid to prevent Danish Muslims from bringing in young brides through arranged marriages. Until now, the government hasn't even allowed those couples into the country after they have lived in other EU states - something that conflicts with EU law.
Twenty-two year-old Per Christensen has been trapped by the new regulations. He was told two years ago that he couldn't reside in Denmark with his American wife, even though he was working in London at the time.
When Per asked if European law on freedom of movement applied in his case, Danish officials told him it didn't. "I feel cheated, misguided and I feel that we have been dealing with some shady people," he said. "It makes me feel like I wasted two years of my life playing this immigration game."
Denmark has misinformed thousands of applicants like Christensen, Copenhagen-based Marriage Without Borders chairman Bolette Kornum said.
`The political feeling is that Denmark has been pushed around by EU courts too often,'' said Hjalte Rasmussen, a professor at Copenhagen University who specializes in EU law.
And the EU's (seemingly endless) ability to take politicians by surprise...
"We've agreed to free movement of labor in the EU but not the consequences of this principle,'' Integration Minister Birth Roenn Hornbech said in a July 29 TV2 interview. "When we passed our immigration law in 2002, no one imagined that the EU would go as far as it has."
That statement -"We agreed to the principle but not the consequences" - pretty much sums up the whole history of the EU.
Do we really think that Denmark will overturn this ruling? We doubt it somehow.