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Minister goes ahead with controversial Danish trip

11 February 2005

BRUSSELS – Interior Minister Patrick Dewael was scheduled to go ahead with a controversial to Denmark Friday to study the country’s immigration policy despite widespread criticism in some circles.

The French-speaking socialists (PS), green parties and the Flemish Christian Democrats (CD&V) had all urged him to cancel the trip amid concerns that Belgium would seek to emulate Denmark’s “extreme” immigration policy.

The groups claim that Belgium should not even consider adopting immigration policies along the same lines as the Danish model, which has been influenced by nationalist and far right parties in the Scandinavian country.

Denmark has one of the toughest stances on immigration in Europe, cutting development aid to countries refusing to accept the return of illegal immigrants.

The head of the CD&V group in the Belgian Senate was quoted in the Belgian press as saying that co-operation and development policy “is not destined to resolve our internal problems, but to combat poverty in the world.”

For green party Ecolo, the idea of emulating Denmark is “scandalous.”

Not everyone was against Dewael’s trip however.

Dirk Van der Maelen, head of left leaning Flemish party SP.A. told La Libre Belqique newspaper that he was willing to give Dewael “the benefit of the doubt.”

[Copyright Expatica 2005]

Subject : Belgian news