I just found this article surfing Google Scholar. I think it’s interesting. The author is Liav Orgad, and the name of the paper is “Illiberal Liberalism Cultural Restrictions on Migration and Access to Citizenship in Europe” THE AMERICAN JOURNAL OF COMPARATIVE LAW, 2009, Vol. 58. pp. 79-83

The Danish Exceptionalism
In May 2007, Denmark introduced its own citizenship test (indfødsretsprøve). Every applicant who requests Danish citizenship has to correctly answer twenty-eight out of forty multiple-choice questions within an hour. A wide range of topics are addressed. The applicant has to be familiar with Danish history from the Viking era, royal families, sports, literature, poetry, and art. The applicant
should know that during the twelfth century, Saxo Grammaticus wrote Gesta Danorum, which is an essential source of Danish history; that the story of The Ugly Duckling was written by Hans Christian Andersen; that Jørn Utzon is a Danish architect who designed the Sydney Opera House; that Vilhelm Hammershøi is aDanish painter; that Niels Bohr is a Danish scientist who won a Nobel Prize in Physics; that Denmark won the European Football Championship in 1992; and that Erik Balling is the director of the film The Olsen Gang. Other questions focus on constitutional issues, such as abortion, equality or free speech.

Passing the test is only one step on the road to citizenship. The applicant is required to renounce other citizenships, if requested, to declare loyalty to the Danish state, to pass a test proving a high level of proficiency in the Danish language, to have resided in Denmark for nine years without interruption, and to be selfsupporting for at least one year prior to the application. These requirements apply to family members and refugees alike. They come in addition to another set of requirements needed for admission. One of the admission criteria is the “housing requirement.” Under this clause, a Danish citizen seeking family reunion must demonstrate that he or she owns a dwelling place—renting is not sufficient—of a“reasonable size”—that is, “no more than two occupants per room” that “must have an area of at least twenty square meters per occupant.” Admission is also subject to the “24-year age requirement.” Under this rule, both spouses have to be above the age of twenty-four years; this condition, it is alleged, is part of the efforts to prevent forced marriages. A more controversial criterion is the “attachment requirement.” Under this provision, both spouses must demonstrate that their aggregate attachments to Denmark are stronger than their aggregate attachments to any foreign nation. But even all these requirements are not sufficient. Before naturalization, the applicant has to sign a Declaration of Awareness of the terms, and provide a deposit of DKK 54,158 (about €= 7,270) to cover future public expenses that his or her spouse may incur. In addition, the applicant has to sign a Declaration on Active Participation and Integration into the Danish society. Here are some parts of the declaration:

I declare that to the best of my abilities I will make active efforts to ensure that I and my children (if any) acquire Danish language skills and integrate into Danish society. I will make active efforts to become self-supporting through gainful employment. I will make active efforts to learn the Danish language. I will make active efforts to acquire an understanding of the fundamental norms and values of Danish society. I will make active efforts to participate in the life of the community.I will participate actively in any introductory programme I am offered. I will make active efforts to facilitate the integration of my children by working with day-care centres, schools, etc. to ensure that they acquire Danish language skills as early as possible.
[ . . . ]
I am aware that in Denmark principles apply such as the need for respect and for equal opportunities for girls and boys to develop; that adults are obliged to listen to their children; and that corporal punishment is prohibited.


Denmark, like other EU states, is struggling over defining the essential elements of Danishness. One way to identify what is Danish is by defining what is not Danish. Danish sociologist Peter Gundelach explains: “We know we are Danes only because others are not. It’s all cultural.” The “others” are the non-Western migrants, who have “hijacked the Danish identity.” As part of the campaign to spot the “other,” the DPP showed a poster of a blond Danish girl (“Denmark today”) contrasted with a veiled Muslim woman (“ten years ahead”). The “other” is seen as a cultural threat and a social burden. Danish Prime Minister Fogh Rasmussen explains: “Denmark must not be the social security office for the rest of the world.”

Danish immigration policies are among the strictest in Europe and have been criticized by the Council of Europe and the United Nations. Recently, a decision of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) that restricts Member States’ power to regulate migration—and implies that the Danish policies are incompatible with EU rules—has brought to the forefront the relationship between Member States and EU institutions over matters of immigration regulation. In that case, the ECJ reviewed whether a restrictive Irish law, stipulating that foreign spouses of EU citizens must have lawfully resided in another EU state before being granted admission to Ireland, is in line with the EU Directive on Family Reunification.160 In an important precedent, the ECJ recognized the authority of Member States to regulate terms for entry and residence of non-EU family members, but noted that these terms may be based only on “grounds of public policy, public security or public health.” The ECJ dismissed other grounds, such as economic need and culture. It ruled that EU citizens have a protected right to freedom of movement within the EU, which includes the right to reside freely in another Member State with non-EU family members who accompany them. In addition, the ECJ has called upon Member States to review their legislation to ensure that it is in line with the EU law. According to opinion polls, fifty-five percent of the Danes disagree with the EU’s intervention in Danish immigration law, seeing it as “robbing our national statehood.” The DPP leader stated that “the Government must tell the EU system that it was a prerequisite for Danish EU membership to be able to run our migration policies independently; it is [the] Folketinget [Danish Parliament] that decides—not ECJ judges.” To date*, the Danish policies are still in force.

* My friend Bram, just pointed out that, actually yesterday the rule got tighter. I guess that’s why I received so many visits on the blog. Now, it’s not only that your spouse has to be over 24, it also needs some points. Even though, a “23-year-old American nurse, who already speaks some Danish, should find it easier to move to Denmark with her spouse” (According to the Government outlet CPH Post). I wonder how is she going to speak Danish living in the USA, because a CD language course I assure you it does NOT work :) According to Information, the main idea is to stop Muslim immigration.

Well, as long as I live here, and I’m not a Dane I’m not going to comment anymore :)

Today, my native country Spain, officially reaches for the first time in its history the 4 Million figure of unemployed.  This is a devastating number of people, no matter if this is just a psychological number or if is correctly measured.

I remember in the early 90’s when it reached the 3 million mark. It was a shock for the nation, it was a pretty scary moment. I was in high-school so it did not affect me directly but I knew that the family business was going through a hard time.

Now we reach 4 million. There has been a lot of immigration increasing the total population, so maybe it’s around the same percentage we had, although it’s hard to measure as methodologies have changed.

Spain until recently has been admired in Europe. It was seen as one of the fastest growing and most dynamic economies. Now it’s becoming the ugly duck of western Europe. For some analysts might even be the canary in the coalmine of deflation (perhaps a little exaggerated article for my taste). Reading the commentaries in the Spanish newspapers, now it’s all critics for the Government, which I positioned in the political right (with a little flavor of the left). Everyone is mad at Zapatero now. Some are saying go left, other go right.

For my part, instead of criticizing I would give to suggest two concrete policy suggestions for Spain. I might be wrong, many times I am, but this is what I feel today:
1. Try to adapt some type of flexicurity model. The concept was originated here in Denmark, and after living here almost 2 years I have been convinced of the wonders of it. Of course you can’t “cut & paste” it, you have to adapt it to the Spanish socioeconomic background, but I think it should be worth to explore the possibility of trying it. In fact I wish some researchers or policy makers could come here to my University where they have the Centre for Labour Market Research at Aalborg University (CARMA). I’m convinced that Spain needs some flexibility for the labour market. As I said, I come from a family who has been involved in the creation of several businesses. I’m not saying we’re the perfect firms, but we have created overtime good services for the people and employment. We have also suffered tremendously when the businesses were not doing good. Some times it came for the difficult to hire someone or fire someone. In Spain, compared to other countries it’s quite hard to layout someone, even with more than accepted reasons in other countries. Another leg of the flexicurity tripod, it’s the embarrassing the Spanish official “Oficina de Empleo”, which it’s just a bureaucrat machine, that in many cases has very nice civil servants, but it provides the worst service for everyone. They should be able to find employment in an effective way. I wonder what kind of incentives should be given to the ones running the show. Also it’s important that the unemployed (especially the recently) received economic support until they find another job. I also find useful that the employed buy some type of subsidised insurance in case they loose their job (in Denmark this was used to do through the unions).

2. Incentive the renting in the housing market. In Spain we have the highest rate of home owners in the world. In order to do it, for some this could be very unpopular measures such as taxing empty housing in bigger cities (specially among banks, ha!), besides other measures. The other possibility of course (very reasonable too) it’s to let the banks and housing developers to bankrupt so the market stabilizes. That means not a single cent for any type of corporate bailouts. Anyways, helping to boost the housing market with rent could cover several possibilities: a) People would be more flexible to move to find a job, b) Speculation would decrease which highly has affected the economy-employment c) many people could save their homes upon renting a place they can’t afford (for that it would be more than helpful to have some agreements with the bank (giving the mortgage) and government as some type of collateral), d) many young people could start their own families and this would revert in the economy. I talked a little bit more about this in a past post also talking about housing in Spain and America.