“Europe’s strictest”

Proposed changes to Norway’s asylum policies would make them among the toughest in Europe

Photo: Bård Gudim / FrPMedia Per Sandberg, deputy leader of the Progress Party.

Photo: Bård Gudim / FrPMedia
Per Sandberg, deputy leader of the Progress Party.

The Local

Norway’s leading refugee charity has accused the government of “a race to the bottom” on asylum after a politician claimed that new asylum reforms gave the country “the strictest asylum policy in Europe.”

Jan Egeland, Secretary General of the Norwegian Refugee Council, made his protest over Twitter after comments by Per Sandberg, deputy leader of the Progress Party.

The asylum reforms agreed in Norway’s parliament on November 19 have been widely seen as a victory for the anti-immigrant Progress party, the junior partner in Norway’s ruling coalition.

“If all these measures work, Norway will probably be the strictest country in Europe, along with Denmark,” Sandberg told Norway’s NTB newswire. “The political environment in Norway has taken a major step towards the Progress party.”

Sandberg pointed out that the sharp rise in the number of refugees coming into Norway in recent months had increased support for his party’s anti-immigration stance. “It’s a completely different climate,” he said. “The reality has now come home for the other parties too.”

Labor leader Jonas Gahr Støre denied that the other parties had given Progress exactly what it wanted. “Progress is simply making a sales pitch to its own ranks,” he said. “The fact that Progress has supported some of these reforms does not make them worse: it is the content we need to consider, not who supports it.”

The Danish People’s Party, Progress’s Danish counterpart, has long boasted, not without cause, that the immigration laws it has pushed Denmark’s governments to enact since 2002 are “Europe’s strictest.”

Jan Egeland, a former Labor party politician, found YouTube fame in 2012 when the Norwegian comedy duo Ylvis released a song and music video celebrating (and mercilessly ribbing) his long and varied career working to resolve international conflicts and crises.

This article was originally published on The Local.

It also appeared in the Nov. 27, 2015, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly.

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