The prime minister's speech at the opening of The Danish Parliament – Folketinget,

(The spoken word applies)


... the beautiful young people
Suddenly they ́ve run away.

On Sunday, all of Denmark's “cheeky chap” and rock music poet, Kim Larsen, died.

But his songs and poetry live on. For eternity. Forever.

The beautiful young people. What are they facing?

On the one hand, a world in huge progress.

Since my eldest son was born, infant mortality in the world has decreased by more than 40 percent.

Since my daughter was born, the proportion of the world's population living in extreme poverty has been reduced by more than 50 percent.

The world has become a better place. To the vast majority of people.

On the other hand – changes.

Climate change. That's in full swing. In February, the temperature reached 6 degrees Celsius in the far north of Greenland.

New technology. That changes the way we live. The way we are together. The way we work.

New power balances. The United States, which goes its own way. Russia, which acts aggressively. China, which is claiming more space.

And in the middle of it – Denmark.

We also feel the changes.

But we are well prepared to face them.

Denmark is not perfect – but it is one of the best countries that exist.

We have unified growth and well-being. So that progress is not only for the few.

We have combined rights and duties. So that our country is connected. And it is a model.

We have grown in freedom and community. By insisting on the freedom to live life. But also, by insisting on the responsibility of our fellow human beings.

We are critical of authorities. But we trust each other.

We know that progress does not come by itself. Nor is it created by the few. It must be for the benefit of everyone.

We are a good country because we make room for each other. We develop Denmark – and we stand united when it counts.

Where democracies of other countries were formed in the shadow of revolution, ours was created in the face of peaceful change.

Where labour markets of other countries are rigid and conflicting, our focus is on respect, dialogue – and a common desire for progress.

Where some countries experience a big gap between rich and poor, we are holding on to a society without a great divide.

We can be proud of that. I am proud of that.

Fellowship is Denmark's strength.

***

And Denmark is strong.

Since the election, employment has reached a record high.

146,000 more jobs in the private sector.

In 98 out of 98 municipalities, a larger proportion of citizens have found work.

Prosperity has grown by more than DKK 9,000 per Dane.

Thousands have been lifted from cash assistance – and into the active workforce. A huge social policy progress.

It's not that bad at all.

It is first and foremost the Danes own merit. They have worked their way out of the crisis.

But it is also due to the reforms which we have implemented.

Reforms, which were blamed for this and that – then. But which benefit Denmark, today.

Retirement reform, tax reforms, unemployment benefits, cash benefit reforms.

They have all contributed to progress. And to the fact that the workforce – in this year alone – grows with almost 40,000 persons. And 25,000 next year. This makes the recovery possible.

And this government has gone further. Reduced taxes and charges by about DKK 20 billion.

So that it's worth it to go to work. Especially for people with low incomes. And we have taken care of the so-called incentives problem with respect to pension savings. Making it financially even more worthwhile for the citizen to save up for retirement.

It's not that bad at all.

The government has invested in welfare.

Only since the election, an extra DKK 4 million have been invested in health care – every day.

And in the same period, municipalities have received more money for kindergartens, schools, and home help.

It's really pretty good.

***


But the quality of a welfare society cannot be measured only in monetary amounts.

It must first and foremost be measured by if the citizens feel safe. If the help comes when they need it. If there is time for care.

This summer I received an email from Per from Hedensted.

It was one of those letters that made an impression. Per wrote how he had received – as he expressed it – a royal treatment at the hospital. And he just wrote to say thank you.

Not only to me but – as he wrote – also to my 178 colleagues in the parliament who have helped create a society, where you can get the best treatment when you get ill.

I would like to pass on the thanks from Per today:

Thank you for helping us improve our healthcare, so that it's far better today. Not perfect – but good. Which is in sharp contrast to the situation in 2001.

At that time, the Danish health service had been run into the ground.

The Danes' confidence in the health service was so low that many started off on the German highways in search of alternative treatment.

We have managed to turn around the development.

Clear patient rights. New super hospitals. Reduced waiting times. Lowered cardiac mortality. Better cancer survival. Far more treatments.

5,800 more doctors. 5,900 more nurses.

We have invested in health. And collected the specialities. In skilled units. With the highest expertise.

Yes, the travel time to the operating room has increased. On the other hand, we get much better treatment. Far better survival.

I vouch for that exchange. Anytime.

We are not going back to the time when, granted, yes, we had more hospitals close by. But where people had to leave the country in search of treatment.

On the other hand, we will have to solve the problems we face today.
The first is proximity.

Today, far too many people have to go to the hospital to get a relatively straightforward check-up.
It puts both patients and hospitals under pressure.

However, for example, patients with heart disease do not have to get to the hospital for recovery. Rehabilitation.

In the Region of Central Jutland, it has been found that it can be done in the municipal health centres. So that patients do not have to travel so far.

The investments will also help with another challenge. That too many patients experience a lack of coherence in their treatment.

I think everyone knows a person who has experienced that.

A mother, father, or aunt. They might have a fall at home. Are hospitalized. Where it turns out that there are more problems. But the systems do not communicate.

Neither internally at the hospital – or between the hospital, the municipality, and the general practitioner. Just coordinating a transport from hospital to the home can seem like a massive challenge.

And if there is a need for follow-up care, coordination can, ultimately, sometimes come to a complete stop.

We must do much better. It is not enough that the treatment is good. The course should also feel safe. And it doesn’t end before the patient is doing well again.

Thirdly, there are major differences in health offers, depending on where in the country you live.

Treatment must not depend on your zip code. We need to create much more equality across the country.

Among other things, it's about spreading the word about the good examples. Which put the citizen first.

Good people in North Jutland have introduced a system where COPD patients can measure heart rate, blood pressure, and oxygen saturation themselves, at home, in the sofa.
They can send the numbers via a tablet to the municipality or hospital, which will follow up if needed.

It saves everyone a hassle. First and foremost, the patient. And it has worked in North Jutland since 2015. Nevertheless, it has not yet spread to the rest of the country.
That does not make much sense.

On the other side of the autumn holiday, the government will present a health reform which – as part of the coherence reform – will put the citizen, the human being, the patient, first.

The goal is to create the organization that can best carry on the development of our healthcare system. For the benefit of the citizen.

Nationally, where the differences should be smaller and the quality greater.

Locally, 21 new health communities will build a bridge between the hospital, the municipality, and the GP.

Each community of health is being built around one of the current emergency hospitals. They will on average cover 4-5 municipalities. And be a new driving force for the treatment to be coherent.

So that the weakened elderly patient who is hospitalized experiences being taken safely and properly care of. That the hospital, the GP, and the municipality work together. Organize a comprehensive, clear process. All the way from hospitalization to follow-up and rehabilitation, which may need to be continued at the local health centre.

Health is all about helping people.


***


This applies not only to the treatment of so-called somatic diseases.

A month ago, I visited the Psychiatric Hospital in Slagelse. Here I met two young women. Katrine and Malou. They told us about everyday life at the department where they are hospitalized.

Both were admitted for the first time when they were teenagers. Since then, they have been in and out of treatment places for years.

Two women – strong and vulnerable at the same time. Fighting a fight, the rest of us cannot imagine. They should not have to fight that fight alone.

Denmark's current youth is perhaps the most capable and diligent generation ever. Aware of their choices. Their view of the world. Taking responsibility for themselves and each other.

But at the same time, about every fourth woman between the ages of 16 and 24, expresses her mental discomfort.

And since 2010, the number of patients in child and adolescent psychiatry has increased by more than 50 per cent.

It worries me deeply.

The government will add DKK 2.1 billion more for the psychiatry over four years. As part of a common plan – it is important to ramp up the effort all the way around.

At one end of the spectrum: Vulnerable youngsters.

They need help in time – before the problems grow unimaginably large.

Therefore, the government will, among other things, provide grants for psychological assistance to young people down to the age of 14, suffering from anxiety and depression.

At the other end of the spectrum: People with severe psychiatric diagnoses.

They must also experience better conditions: Better and more intensive treatment.
More coherent efforts. Better recruitment of health employees with the right skills.

***


Everybody joins the community. Young. And older.

In my generation, our grandparents were old when they were in their 60's.
Our parents were old when they were in their 70's.
We ourselves – feel young in our 50's.

Today, many people have an active and good life – for many more years.

We can be happy about that. And look forward to it.

But, unfortunately, there are also older people – too many older people – who feel lonely.
The proportion of suicides is almost twice as high among the elderly compared to the rest of the population.

It's heart-breaking. Yes – it ́s almost shameful for a society.

We each have a responsibility for those close to us. The municipality or home helper cannot and should not replace the warmth from family and friends.

But the greater community must be able to embrace those who need it. We must have that ambition.

The government will allocate more than DKK 700 million over 4 years to better care for the elderly, in order to provide more care and in order to attract more employees.

***


Overall, the government will focus on its citizens. And accordingly, also focus on the employees who provide the actual service to the citizens.

We all know them. The competent midwife. The skilful dental hygienist. The engaged teacher. The friendly porter. And all the rest of you.

All of you who make a big difference to people. Young as well as old.

You need more freedom to do what you do best. Which is to carry out your profession.

Last month, the government presented the first part of a new coherence reform.

130 concrete proposals, which will give less paperwork. And better care for citizens.

This requires skilled managers. Who can rise to the occasion. And who can act within the more flexible frameworks.

Therefore, one of the government's forthcoming proposals will take on how we improve the quality of the leadership in the public sector.

And in the autumn, we will present more initiatives with the same aim: to create a more coherent public service.

Not least for those people who are struggling with multiple challenges at the same time. Unemployment. Disease. Perhaps also an addiction.

They should not be met by a complex labyrinth. They need a coherent approach. With a combined effort that takes into account precisely their story. Their situation

The government wishes to enable even better conditions– with a new initiative that we will present very soon.

No people fit into boxes. And no one should be left on the edge of the community.

***


A few weeks ago, I visited the day-care institution Gaia in Amager. One of the country's largest institutions. Full of charming and cool kids.

When looking at Danish children and young people today, it is hard not to be an optimist on behalf of Denmark.

Life is good for most children in Denmark. They are doing well.

But not all. Still, too many do not get the opportunities and the security which they deserve.

Step by step, the government has presented a comprehensive strategy to help children and young people on the edge.

Strengthened day care services. DKK half a billion to schools with students, who have learning difficulties. More internships. Easier access to vocational training.

Now we put out the next tracks.

We give DKK one billion extra for an early effort for children in vulnerable families. More and better educated educators. Closer contact between healthcare professionals and vulnerable families.

We adjust the primary school reform. Increase professionalism. Provide freedom locally in the communities.

And this year, we send 3,000 students in the fourth grade on a mini-education trip. Around Denmark. To show them new sides of their country. Strengthen the understanding of the community.

After primary school – youth education. More young people must choose and carry out a vocational education.

Since the election we have made headway. The dropout rates are lower. The skills higher. More young people are seeking to be enrolled.

We will put DKK 2 billion aside for that for the next four years. To strengthen the road from primary school to skilled. Upgrade primary schools' practical subjects. And increase the quality of vocational education.

Denmark's youth is Denmark's future. It is our commitment that everyone has a good start. Get the best opportunities for a good life. Becoming a part of the community.

Nobody can do anything – but everyone can do something.


***


This also applies to people who are not born in Denmark. But who have come here to escape war or conflict.

Each refugee has a story. His or her own dreams. His or her own nightmares.

I wish we could help each and every one.

But we cannot. Numbers mean something.

Therefore, the government and the Danish People's Party have tightened immigration policy.

In combination with an enhanced effort in the EU, we have reduced the number of asylum seekers.
By 2017, the figure was the lowest it has been in nine years.

We will continue this effort. War refugees who come to Denmark must be met with help and safety. But also, with clear expectations.

Firstly, an expectation that shelter is temporary.

When the need for protection ends, you must return home. Help to rebuild your homeland. That's how it should be.

Secondly, an expectation that, as a rule, you are to be self-sufficient while you are here.
The government has entered into a tripartite agreement with the parties of the labour market, which means that many more are working. Since the election, the amount of refugees who have jobs – after three years in Denmark – has doubled.

It's a huge step forward. Not least for the individual – no matter where one's future lies.

But one thing is for sure. Nobody’s future will be in a ghetto.

For too many years, not enough demands have been made on the foreigners who came to the country.

It was accepted that many clustered together with those who came from the same countries. In a closed-up world. Without proper contact with the rest of society.

That is not acceptable any more.

The government has presented a strategy that deals with parallel societies.

Better distribution in day care centres. Earlier detection of vulnerable children. Targeted language tests. Strengthened police efforts. Hard action against criminals. And a goal: that Denmark does not have ghettos in 2030.

A total of 20 concrete actions. Anchored in seven political agreements. With broad political support. A good and significant start – for a long, hard run. Which we cannot forget here in the parliament, when other agendas threaten to take up our time.

The government will present a number of legislative proposals based on political agreements. Thank you to all of you who have supported the work.

We must create a strong community. And we must create it together.


***


But we also have to say stop. As in: this is not acceptable – at all. To those who abuse our trust.

The capital area is currently experiencing new gang riots. Shootings in the street, among innocent bystanders.

We must never accept that kind of repulsive behaviour.

I know the police are taking the situation very seriously. Is massively present in the affected areas.

The government has tightened the penalties for gang related crime. Also, for shooting in public places.

At the same time, the prosecutor's office has now issued a provisional ban on the group Loyal to Familia. And asked the courts to decide whether or not it is possible to dissolve the group.

We succeeded in stopping last year's gang conflict. Not least because of a great deal of effort from the police. This time too, every effort is made to stop the gangs.

***

Denmark must be closed to those who do not want the community.

But open to those who make it stronger. Proficient, foreign talents.

Danish companies create the prosperity that enables welfare.

That's why it's serious when they cannot get the employees they need.

Every foreigner who comes to Denmark on what is called the “amount scheme”, contributes hundreds of thousands of kroners to the public funds. Overall, close to one and a half billion kroners each year.

Money that we can spend directly on education, health, welfare.

Nevertheless, a majority outside the government insists on making it as difficult as possible for Danish companies to employ talent from abroad.

The task of the parliament is not to oppose Danish companies. On the contrary.

We must give the companies proper terms. They must hire employees on decent terms.

The government has long sought to get support to change the rules. Unsuccessfully.
Now we will try again. With the involvement of the parties of the labour market. Who also do not want unnecessary hassle.

Tomorrow, the government will present a proposal. It will also make it easier to attract employees from countries with which we already have strong economic ties. Such as the US, Canada, Singapore, Japan.

Danish companies must have the skilled labour they need – without opening the door for those which we do not need.

This time, I hope that a majority in the parliament will help solve the problems. They are real. And they keep growing.

The community will not be weakened by getting help from outside.


***

This also applies to the unity of the Realm.

A living community. Where we take the debates when they are necessary. Engage with each other. Find solutions together.

A few weeks ago, I entered into an agreement with the Premier of Greenland about Danish contribution to realizing a Greenlandic vision. About new airports – and strengthened business cooperation between Denmark and Greenland.

It is an engagement that I am looking forward to. And proud of.

I would like to acknowledge today the support given by the parties here in the parliament.

If we wish to keep the unity alive, we must have knowledge of each other. Understand our differences, similarities, and history. So that we can break down prejudices and build trust.

At this year's summit (Rigsmøde) in the Faroe Islands, we discussed how we can put an effort into increasing the knowledge of each other in the unity of the Realm.

I expect that we can come to work when I meet with the Premier of the Faroe Islands and the Premier of Greenland later this year.

Both the Faroe Islands and Greenland want greater insight and involvement in foreign and security policy.

It places new demands on the way we cooperate within the unity of the Realm.

It is a theme that the government looks forward to discussing more closely with the Faroe Islands and Greenland in the coming months.


***


Strong communities are also the way forward for Denmark in the world.

Much has changed in just a short period of time.

The world order we have taken for granted since the end of World War II is undergoing fundamental changes.

Now is not the time to stand alone. Now is the time to stand together.

With our neighbours. With the countries with whom we share values and destiny.

For 45 years we have been part of the EU. We are approaching a “golden wedding anniversary”. For 25 years we have been in the EU Single Market. We celebrate our “silver wedding”..

And what have we achieved?

Huge advantages.

Same rules for big and small countries. Goods flow freely.

Over half of total Danish exports of goods and services go to the Single Market in the EU.

Has it made us any less Danish?

No.

There is no contradiction between Danish sovereignty and a strong engagement in Europe. On the contrary.

We must stand together with the rest of Europe. Participate actively. Take responsibility for the development of Europe. And do what we can to pull the cooperation in our direction.

Because we have plenty to offer.

More and more people look towards Denmark as a model for their own societies. The Danish flexicurity model. Our approach to migration. Digitalization. Green transition.

A Europe that stands together is becoming increasingly important for Denmark, too.

What we have taken for granted is now at stake.

Free trade. The fight against climate change. Democratic values.

On all these issues, Europe is today the strongest global voice. The grown-up in the room, so to speak.

But the EU is also facing major changes.

In six months, the United Kingdom will leave the community. In my view, it is a tragedy. But it is the choice of the British people.

I hope we can reach a good and balanced agreement. An agreement which at least would mitigate the worst effects. That would be in everybody's interest.

However, even that looks difficult.

We must prepare ourselves for the possibility that there may not be an agreement on Brexit.
Therefore, we are putting a number of things in motion. We are hiring customs officers. Preparing the systems.

At the same time, I would like to emphasise that regardless of how the negotiations end, we will of course take proper care of the thousands of Brits already residing in Denmark. That is only fair and reasonable.


***



The EU is crucial to Denmark. The same is NATO. And NATO too is experiencing a time of changes.

The price of security has risen.

That's reasonable enough. We cannot expect taxpayers from other countries to help pay for our security if we do not take more responsibility ourselves.

Therefore, we increase the cost of the defence significantly with the latest defence agreement.

At the same time, we make great efforts in the world.

We send the world's best soldiers. To the most dangerous missions.
To Afghanistan and to Iraq, where we are at the forefront in the fight against ISIS.

But also, to places where peace must be protected. The Balkans and the Baltic States. This year I have visited our soldiers in both places.

Knowledgeable, decent, and committed people. Who bring with them the values we are fighting for.

Today I will say to Denmark's deployed personnel: We are proud of you. I'm proud of you.

Denmark can be proud of its efforts. It's your merit. Thank you!


***

Denmark can also be proud of its effort facing one of the biggest challenges in the world right now: the climate. Global warming.

The human impact on the climate of the planet is approaching a critical point. The scenarios we have talked about for quite some time are now gradually becoming reality.

Our emissions of greenhouse gases risk triggering a chain reaction. One we cannot control. And that will change the living conditions of our grandchildren and their children.

We cannot let that happen.

I want a Denmark that is at the forefront. That draws the world in a greener direction.

But I also want a Denmark that does not lose its courage.

Because although the challenge is huge, we must not give up. We must believe that we can do something about it.

New green energy is now cheaper than new black energy.
New technologies see the light of day.

We can be happy about that.

Just before the summer holiday, we, together with all parties in the parliament entered the greenest energy agreement in Denmark's history. Thank you.

Three new offshore wind farms. Lower electricity taxes. Green power becomes cheaper.

We can be pleased with that.

In the 17 years since the system change in 2001, we have tripled the consumption of green electricity. Created the world's best energy system. The world's best conditions for green investments. And become European champion of export of energy solutions.

We can be pleased with that.

Now we will set the course for the next 17 years. So that our children and grandchildren also get something to be pleased with.

The transport sector today accounts for a quarter of Denmark's CO2 emissions. And the air in the largest cities is too polluted.

Therefore, the government now sets a clear goal:

In 12 years – just 12 years – we will stop the sale of new diesel and gasoline cars.

And in 17 years every new car in Denmark must be an electric car or another form of zero-emission car.

This means that by 2030 there will be more than one million hybrid, electric or equivalent green cars in Denmark.
It is a big ambition. That will not be easy to reach. But that is precisely why we should try.

The government will take the first steps in a new air and climate initiative that we will present next week.

Now we set the course. And send a clear signal to the EU, the automobile industry, and the rest of the world.

Diesel and petrol cars in Denmark must be a thing of the past. The future is green – and it's very close.

We do that, because we are racing against time. Against climate change.

On the other hand, we should not make climate efforts a political race. We only achieve goals if the parliament is standing together. If Denmark stands together. As is our tradition. So that we can draw the other countries along.

This is also the reason why the government has invited state leaders, business leaders, experts, NGOs, and many others from around the world to a summit in Copenhagen in two weeks.

To one of the biggest green summits in the world this year. And the first in the series under the Partnership for Green Growth and the Global Goals – P4G. Which Denmark has initiated. Invested in. And is spearheading.

And that will bring green solutions to the whole world. In a scale where they really matter.

The P4G will, among other things, promote cooperation in replacing diesel buses with electric buses in Mexico City, São Paulo, Medellín and Santiago. Cities, which together have nearly 30 million inhabitants.

In this way there is a connection between what we do at home – and in the world. We are fighting for a better future.


***

And we'll keep up with that.

Generations before us have built the Denmark we have today. They faced big challenges. And they overcame the challenges.

We must do that too.
We must never lose courage. Always believe in ourselves. And in each other.

Step by step, we are going to achieve results. That is the way it works in a democracy.

In the new parliamentary year there will also be – elections.

For those who do not have the patience to wait, I can reveal today – a date.

There will be elections – for the European Parliament – on Sunday, 26th of May 2019.

An important election in a special time. For Denmark. And Europe.

I will wait a bit more before announcing the date of the parliamentary elections.

I hope and believe that in this parliamentary year we can continue the good cooperation on the many tasks that need to be done before we get there.

Naturally, we do not agree on everything. Nonetheless, we shall pull together. Beyond the disagreements. Reach out to each other.

The present is better than the past. The future is getting even better.

We need to pass on a freer, richer, and a more secure Denmark to the next generation.

... these beautiful young people. May they live a long, long time!

LONG LIVE DENMARK. Hooray! Hooray! Hooray!


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