The amount of strategic thinking in Danish government administration varies across different ministries. It also depends on the decision style of the ministry head. Major reforms in Denmark are usually prepared through committees or commissions established to produce a report outlining issues and options. However, one of the conclusions in a major research project on power in Denmark in the beginning of the new millennium was that “Denmark has never had strong traditions for basing political decisions on accessible knowledge ¬– as opposed to Sweden, for instance. The scientific/analytical level in Danish white papers has generally been low. White papers have often seemed negotiated rather than analytical presentations of political issues. Trends in recent years point toward a further weakening of the knowledge base of decision-making. Fewer and fewer bills are prepared in commissions, and when the commissions are formed, their time frame is often narrower than previously.”
It is not clear whether this conclusion still stands. In recent years there have been a number of commissions appointed (Strukturkommissionen, Velfærdskommissionen, Arbejdsmarkedskommissionen, Skattekommissionen and so on) to prepare inputs for important policy discussions and reforms. Moreover, professionalism in ministries has increased.
More overarching strategic policy plans or documents with a strong focus on economic policy in recent times are the government’s 2010 plan and the 2015 plan. The former was launched by the government under Prime Minister Poul Nyrup Rasmussen in 2000, and later adopted with minor modifications by the government under Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen. The 2015 plan is a revision and update of the 2010 plan, and a 2020 plan is expected by the end of 2010.
It should also be taken into account that government policies traditionally have been consensus-driven. This applies both in parliament, as most governments have been minority governments, and in relation to negotiations involving organizations and the political system, most notably in relation to labor market issues.
Additionally, a new type of forum has been developed which brings high-profile policymakers (ministers), representatives from society, and experts together in globalization councils (globaliserings rådet) or growth forums (vækstforum) to discuss important policy issues. This can be seen as a new instrument in the consensus-driven policy approach.
Lise Togeby, et al., Power and Democracy in Denmark: Conclusions, Aarhus, 2003.
Niel s Ejersbo og Carsten Greve, Modernisering af den offentlige sektor. Copenhagen: Børsen, 2005.
Denmark’s National Reform Programme. Contribution to the EU’s Growth and Employment Strategy (The Lisbon Strategy), October 2008, at http://uk.fm.dk/Publications/2008/1
642-Denmarks%20National%20Reform%20 J.G., P.E.Mourtitzen and A.S Nørgaard (eds), 2009, De Store Kommissioner– Vise mænd, smagsdommere eller nyttige idioter.