Wednesday 24 October 2007

Danish royals mark new regions with concert

In the evening of Tuesday October 23, the Danish royal family marked this year's introduction of new administrative regions in Denmark, the so-called "new Map of Denmark", with a concert and supper for invited guests from the newly structured regions and the government at Fredensborg Chapel Church and at Fredensborg Palace. On January 1 this year the new regions came into effect. The government's restructure is intended to improve management of local services throughout Denmark, most particularly health services. The new regions are Northern Jutland, Central Jutland, which unites western and eastern Jutland (including Århus) into the largest region, Southern Denmark, conceived as the gateway to Europe, the Zealand region and the metropolitan (Copenhagen) region.

Jyllands Posten 'Regionsformænd til souper hos dronningen' - The royal house will celebrate the new regions on Tuesday evening at Fredensborg Palace when the regent couple puts on a concert in the chapel and a supper served afterwards in the palace. Queen Margrethe and Prince Henrik have invited the chairmans of the five new regions, Kommunernes Landsforening, and a number of ministers. Together with the royal family they are to celebrate "the new Map of Denmark", which from January 1. meant that a number of municipalities was amalgamated so that the regions replaced the old counties. Along with the regent couple, Frederik and Mary participate, while politicians must do without the newly engaged Prince Joachim and Marie Cavallier.

From the The Copenhagen Post:
Hefty costs and citizen concern mark municipal reform

4 January 2007
The government has passed the technological challenge associated with redrawing the municipal map. Helping people over the mental hurdle is next.
Though few noticed it, the nation’s largest ever public project took effect Sunday midnight. But as New Year’s hangovers were wearing off, Denmark woke up to a new division of labour in the public sector that affects every man, woman and child in the country.
The plan to streamline government through decentralisation has been in the offing since 2002, when the Structural Reform Commission was created.
The structure in effect until 31 December dated from 1970. Its basic three-tiered division of state, county and municipality will remain in place. But while the state’s functions remain almost the same, radical changes are in store elsewhere.
First, the minimum size for the lowest tier - a municipality - has been set at 35,000, forcing the consolidation of the previous 271 municipalities into 98.
Second, the 16 counties have been disbanded, replaced by five regions, primarily charged with operating hospitals.
Though creating larger entities seems contrary to the PM’s stated goal of bringing government closer to the people, the commission found that many old municipalities, some with only a few thousand inhabitants, were too small to provide citizens with an adequate level of service.
Creating larger entities and giving them many of the tasks previously carried out by the county was touted as a win-win situation. The citizen would have a single point of contact for most public sector issues, and the new municipalities would be able to take advantage of economies of scale to trim their budgets without having to cut back on service...

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Added: and to continue the political note, Denmark's Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen has announced a general election will be held on November 13. See The Copenhagen Post

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