(MENAFN- The Peninsula) AFP
Copenhagen: Denmark now aims to work with other EU countries to transfer asylum seekers to centres outside Europe and has suspended talks with Rwanda as it no longer plans to go it alone, its migration minister said on Wednesday.
The Scandinavian country's plans, first announced by the previous Social Democratic government, called for people seeking asylum in Denmark to be transferred to reception centres outside the European Union while their requests were processed.
A law adopted in June 2021 did not specify which country would host the centre, but said asylum seekers should stay there even after they were granted refugee status.
Discussions were launched with Rwanda and other countries, but they have now been suspended since the installation of a new Danish left-right government in December headed by the Social Democrats.
'We are not holding any negotiations at the moment about the establishment of a Danish reception centre in Rwanda', Migration and Integration Minister Kaare Dybvad told daily Altinget.
'This is a new government. We still have the same ambition, but we have a different process', he said.
The new government's programme calls for the establishment of a reception centre outside Europe 'in cooperation with the EU or a number of other countries'.
The change is an about-face for the Social Democrats, which had until now rejected any European collaboration, judging it slow and thorny.
'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.
EU interior ministers are meeting in Stockholm this week to discuss asylum reform.
Those talks are expected to focus on how to speed up the process of returning undocumented migrants to their country of origin in cases where their asylum bid fails.
Denmark's immigration policy has been influenced by the far-right for more than 20 years.
Even Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, the head of the Social Democrats, has pursued a 'zero refugee' policy since coming to power in 2019.
Copenhagen has over the years implemented a slew of initiatives to discourage migrants and made Danish citizenship harder to obtain.
In 2020, it became the only country in Europe to withdraw residency permits from Syrians from Damascus, judging that the situation there was now safe enough for them to return.