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     Volume 5 Issue 114 | September 29, 2006 |

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Meeting Globalisation

Globalisation is one of the main drivers of prosperity and the creation of better jobs. But in many countries some groups are worried, because globalisation changes our jobs, our technology and the way we used to do business.

Einar H Jensen
Øresund Bridge in Denmark.

Denmark has decided to address globalisation proactively. Even though Denmark today is one of the most competitive and wealthy countries in the world, like most countries, it also needs to make reforms and adjustments. Otherwise it will be difficult in the long run to maintain its position as one of the countries with the highest living standards and a country with a strong social cohesion.

The Danish Government early on came to the conclusion, that the task of gearing Denmark to the future cannot be carried out by the Government and Parliament alone. Everyone should assume their share of responsibilities and be ready to innovate.

The Government therefore decided to set up a Globalisation Council to prepare a comprehensive strategy for Denmark in the global economy. In line with the Danish tradition for dialogue and cooperation between groups in the society across traditional divisions, the Council has high-level representatives from trade unions, industrial organisations, companies, and the academic and research community. The Council is chaired by the Danish Prime Minister and the Minister for Economic and Business Affairs.

Through an extensive series of meetings and debate, the Council has advised the Government on the strategy for Denmark in the global economy. This spring, the Danish Government presented its globalisation strategy for Denmark - “Progress, Innovation and Cohesion”. It shall enable Denmark to stay among the wealthiest countries in the world and to maintain a strong social cohesion.

The strategy contains 350 specific initiatives, which together entail extensive reforms of education and research programmes and substantial improvements in the framework conditions for growth and innovation in all areas of society, including entrepreneurship and innovation.

A large part of the proposals aim at strengthening the quality, governance and efficiency of education and research activities, promoting entrepreneurship and innovation and increasing the number of young people, who complete finish secondary education programme and take a higher education.

All young people should complete an upper secondary education programme, and at least 50 per cent should take a higher education. Everyone should engage in lifelong learning. It is a central target that research and development should amount to 3 per cent of GDP by 2010. Stronger competition and greater openness and transparency should strengthen innovation. New companies should improve the ability to generate growth. Denmark should have a strong interaction with other countries and cultures.

These initiatives entail extensive reforms of the Danish society. The strategy is complemented by the Government's recent welfare reform proposals, which focus on getting young people to complete their studies faster, on postponing the average retirement age, and on improving the integration of immigrants. This reform package will contribute to financing the globalisation strategy (e.g. investments in education and research).

Along with other recent reforms the globalisation strategy and the welfare reform proposals constitute a comprehensive and consistent approach towards the two main challenges that globalisation throws at the Danish society: preparing for the aging population and reaping the full gains of globalisation.

Political priority and transparency
The Danish Government has given high priority to the process of formulating the strategy. Starting in April 2005 the Council have over the course of a year held 14 meetings. The work has benefited from contributions from 48 leading international and Danish experts, including professor Jagdish Bhagwati of Columbia University, and Carl Schramm, Chairman for The Kauffman Foundation.

It has been the aim of the Government to have an open and transparent process for formulating the Globalisation Strategy, and to ensure a public debate along the way. All material for Council meetings was made available beforehand for the press and the general public on a special website. Over 100 representatives of organisations and other individuals were invited to participate in the meetings.

A majority of the Danish citizens-- 77 per cent see globalisation as a good opportunity, because it opens markets (Eurobarometer, May 2006). Only a small minority sees it first and foremost as a threat to employment and companies.

At the same time, international surveys on competitiveness mention Denmark among the top performers in the world. The new strategy will ensure that its competitiveness is sustainable and that the globalisation process is beneficial for all in Denmark.

His Excellency Mr Einar Jensen is Denmark's Ambassador to Bangladesh.



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