Copenhagen has halted talks with Rwanda over its controversial asylum plan as it calls for Europe-wide support in establishing a migrant reception center outside of the EU where it can transfer people applying for asylum.
Denmark has said it wants people seeking asylum in the country to be transferred to reception centers outside the European Union (EU) while their requests are being processed.
Migration and Integration Minister Kaare Dybvad said on Wednesday (January 25) that Denmark wants to collaborate with other EU countries to transfer asylum seekers to centers outside the bloc.
Dybvad added that Copenhagen has suspended talks with Rwanda as it seeks EU support.
"We are not holding any negotiations at the moment about the establishment of a Danish reception center in Rwanda," Dybvad told Danish daily Altinget.
"This is a new government. We still have the same ambition, but we have a different process," he said.
In September 2022, Denmark signed a deal with Rwanda to push for establishing an asylum center outside of the EU to decrease the number of people seeking refuge. The two countries had announced a "joint ambition" to work together on asylum issues and set up a system to transfer asylum seekers to Rwanda from Denmark.
Copenhagen calls for EU support
The new government's program is now calling for the establishment of a reception center outside Europe "in cooperation with the EU or a number of other countries".
The Social Democrats have typically rejected any European collaboration, criticizing Brussels for its slow pace.
"While the wider approach also makes sense to us, (Denmark's change of heart) is precisely because there has been movement on the issue among many European countries," Dybvad said.
"There are many now pushing for a stricter asylum policy in Europe", he said.
Denmark's 'zero refugee' policy
Denmark's new coalition government brings together a left-right political alliance between the Moderates, the Social Democrats and the Liberals.
Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen headed the previous one-party left wing government, which was widely criticized for its harsh immigration policy, especially regarding the Rwanda asylum plan – now also adopted by the UK.
Frederiksen has pursued a "zero refugee" policy since coming to power in 2019 (with the exception of Ukrainian refugees since Russia's February 2022 invasion).
Denmark has particularly come under fire for its handling of Syrian asylum seekers. In 2020, Denmark became the only country in Europe to withdraw residency permits from Syrians from Damascus, saying that the situation there was now safe enough for them to return.
EU interior ministers are expected to meet in Stockholm this week to discuss asylum reform and how to quicken the process of deporting undocumented migrants to their country of origin if their asylum applications are rejected.