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Europe, Euros and Europeans: What About the Brits in Denmark?

  • February 23rd, 2007
  • Posted by EUA Editor

charlotte-man.jpgThe single jobs market, and attractive life-partners, have assisted the build-up of – (of all things!) – a small British community in Denmark; as Charlotte Morgenthal reports.

There were already some 2500 British people living in Denmark in 2005, with the numbers growing, according to the national statistics service Statistbank, the figures showing they mainly arrived to work or study.

“The first reason is that they come here to work”, says Lars Müller, Press officer of the British Embassy in Copenhagen, citing figures that show 50% of residence permits issued to British citizens were connected to jobs.

However, finding a Danish partner and moving to the country to be with them fits in very closely.

“In my opinion this is quite popular”, said Mr Muller.

At the moment there are more British men movi ng to Denmark than women, according to Valerie Kristiansen, president of the country’s British European association.

“I think the Danish women are very clever to get them here,” she concludes, laughing out loud.

“All of my friends came because they either had a Danish girlfriend, or are married or have kids”, Peter Withworth, a 34-year old Englishman recalls.

Peter, pictured here for EUAustralia, took part in building up a gold course enterprise in the countryside, where he is now the manager.

He was one of over 30 000 people who arrived in Denmark from many places last year. seeking work or study opportunities.

That is not a bad move; Europe’s internal free market for jobs provides an added incentive for EU citizens to go to prosperous Denmark, where overall employment of the population is 78%; among the highest jobs rates in the world.

Not that it is always easy:

“Denmark is a club and it is very difficult to become a member”, Valerie Kristiansen said.

If they live outside of Britain for more than 15 years, Brits lose their right to vote, yet cannot vote in Denmark without having full citizenship there, no matter how long they have been resident.

“Sometimes I get tired of being a foreigner”, she said.

It is a huge handicap if one cannot speak Danish, and there are differences of mentality on both sides.

“I have lived in this neighbourhood for over 30 years, but I barely know anybody.

“In Britain you just come by and have a cup of tea; but here, people are very formal.”

Ms Kristiansen said things could well be more difficult for people of non-white background, arriving in more recent times; recalling a conversation about the use of the term “foreigner” in political campaigns, with a member of the conservative, and influential Danish Folkeparti.

“He said to me: ‘We didn’t mean you’.”