When the first government under Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen came to power in 2001, it abolished some ministries and merged others, and there were various internal reorganizations. Rasmussen also closed a number of councils and committees (råd og nævn). In his New Year’s speech he criticized so-called judges of taste (smagsdommere), or experts he felt had too much influence. The government’s first reform program was entitled “With the citizens at the helm” (Med borgeren ved roret). A number of reform plans were introduced in the following years.
In 2009, Lars Løkke Rasmussen took over as prime minister from Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who then went on to become NATO Secretary General. He inherited Denmark’s National Reform Program of October 2008. Another program, Denmark’s Convergence Program 2009, set a number of goals to be reached by 2015. After this followed the plan, “Denmark 2020: Knowledge>Growth>Prosperity>Welfare.” in February 2010. In this the government announced 10 ambitious goals for 2020:
(1) Denmark is to be among the world’s wealthiest countries.
(2) The Danish supply of labor is to be among the tenth-highest in the world.
(3) Danish schoolchildren are to be among the cleverest in the world.
(4) At least one Danish university is to be listed among Europe’s top 10 universities.
(5) Denmark is to be among the 10-top countries in the world where people live the longest.
(6) Denmark is to be a green, sustainable society and among the world’s three most energy efficient countries.
(7) Denmark is to be listed among the best countries in creating equal opportunity for its citizens.
(8) Denmark is to be amongst the freest countries and among the best in Europe at achieving integration.
(9) Danes are to be among the world’s most trusting and safe people.
(10) The Danish public sector is to be among the most efficient and least bureaucratic in the world.
While a tax freeze will remain in place, taxes on cigarettes and alcohol will increase as well as the registration tax for cars. Since cars already cost two- to three-times what they cost in most countries, this may not help to attract foreign workers.
These goals are extremely ambitious, especially given the economic downturn caused by the global economic crisis. It is tempting to see a certain amount of wishful thinking in this. In 2000, the European Union announced ambitious goals for the European economy to become the most competitive in the world within a 10-year period, through the so-called Lisbon Strategy. These goals were not achieved. Will Denmark be able to go through the required reforms over the next 10 years? Will Danish society be able to integrate and attract foreigners to work? Will Danish universities be able to pay competitive salaries to attract and retain talent? Will the culture in Danish schools allow for more competition? A number of similar questions arise, yet only time can answer them.
Ejersbo og Greve, Modernisering af den offentlige sektor, Børsens forlag, 2005..
Regeringen, Danmarks Konvergensprogram 2009, Februaty 2020, at http://www.fm.dk/Publikationer/2010 /1940-DANMARKS%20KONVERGENSPROGRAM% 202009.aspx
The Danish Government, Denmark 2020: February 2010, at