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Denmark/ 5.1 General legislation  

5.1.9 Language laws

As mentioned in chapter 4.2.5, there is no official statutory document stating Danish as the national language for the Kingdom of Denmark. Since 2002, Denmark has, to a high degree, followed the EU-regulation (BEK nr. 618 of 22/07/2002) in which all citizens from the European Union are entitled to receive instruction in their native language. This also includes citizens from the Faeroe Islands, Greenland and the Danish minority in northern Germany. Native language teaching for Danes living south of the Danish border in Germany has been regulated since the Copenhagen-Bonn Declaration from 1955.

Greenland and the Faeroe Islands have had their own language policy since the introduction of home rule in 1948 and 1979. The Greenlandic language policy, insisting on Greenlandic as the county's main language, has been subject to several internal and external discussions over the years. Today, Greenlandic is the main language. But Danish and English is also emphasised as second and third languages in schools and the society to avoid ethnic isolation and as a proactive means to participate in the globalisation process.

The national TV and radio-stations (DR and TV2) are obliged to live up to their public service responsibilities and broadcast national and local programmes, including news programmes, in Danish, according to the recent Act on Media from 2010. Danish minorities in northern Germany are benefiting from this public service agreement, as well as inhabitants in Greenland and the Faeroe Islands who are still members of the Danish Kingdom (see chapter 5.3.7 on media legislation).

Major public institutions like Denmark Radio, The Royal Theatre and the Museum of Art are, more and more, regarded as a means to create awareness of Danish identity, cultural heritage and language. Although Danish language authorities prefer to set guidelines and not to legislate for the use of Danish – there has been a tendency to prioritise Danish culture and language when new cultural initiatives are taken. The preservation of the Danish language and its impact on Danish identity is an underlying theme in the present cultural policy and it enjoys the attention of leading politicians and scientists.

Chapter published: 10-04-2012

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