Denmark plans to tighten the conditions for citizenship, after a deal struck between the government and three opposition parties. The country already has one of the most restrictive immigration policies in Europe.
The Danish government announced on Tuesday that it is tightening the conditions for naturalization, excluding people who have been convicted of crimes. The new rules follow an agreement reached between the Social Democrat government of Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen and three right-wing opposition parties.
"Obtaining Danish citizenship is a great declaration of faith from Danish society, according to the parties to the deal. They are therefore in agreement that it is necessary to raise the bar for who can become a Danish citizen," the migration ministry said in a statement.
In future, applicants for Danish citizenship will have to show that they have had no criminal convictions and that they have been employed for at least three-and-a-half of the last four years.
The agreement also puts a strong emphasis on "Danish values." Citizenship tests, which have been used since 2015, will now include five questions on these values.
"We want to be absolutely sure that those who receive Danish citizenship, with all the rights that go with it, are well integrated into Danish society and have also embraced it – including Danish values," the migration minister, Mathias Tesfaye, told the public broadcaster DR. Danish values included freedom of speech and equality, he said.
The Liberal (Venstre) Party's Morten Dahlen tweeted that there was "strong agreement" on the new rules.
According to Statistics Denmark, 11% of Denmark's 5.8 million inhabitants are of foreign origin – either born abroad or with parents born abroad. Of those, 58% are citizens of a country classified as "non-Western," the AFP news agency reports. In 2020, of the approximately 7,000 people who became Danes, more than half were Europeans.
In March, the Danish government announced plans to swap controversial laws on "ghettos" that affect marginalized neighborhoods for tighter measures targeting "non-Western" residents. The move led to concerns expressed by human rights groups about discrimination against the country's non-European ethnic communities.
Denmark is also the only European country to revoke the residency permits of Syrian refugees, having declared that Syria is a safe country for return.