At a meeting today, Naalakkersuisut (the Government of Greenland) discussed recent days’ statements from the Opposition in the Folketing (Danish Parliament) concerning the development of Greenland’s natural resources industry.
Greenland has noted that several parties in the Folketing support the idea of the establishment of a public Danish natural resources company to engage in the financing and development of natural resources projects in Greenland.
Both Denmark and Greenland support international cooperation on open, equal and transparent terms. These principles have been endorsed by both Denmark and Greenland in a number of international forums. Most recently, Greenland has concluded a cooperation agreement in the form of a “letter of intent” with the EU in which one of the key assumptions is that the parties respect the principle of open and free trade, and that no exclusive agreements are concluded with other countries.
Naalakkersuisut welcomes Danish investments in Greenland, including in the natural resources area, where both DONG and Mærsk participate actively in oil and gas exploration.
It is a fundamental principle that all investments in Greenland’s natural resources industry must take place on commercial, market-based terms. In this light, Greenland would be very pleased to welcome a new Danish investment and natural resources company. We do not have an opinion on what proportion of the share capital of such a Danish company should be owned by private or public investors.
It must also be emphasised that even if the work of forming such a company is initiated, Greenland does not require any time-out in the natural resources area. This would damage our credibility with regard to the companies that have invested substantial million-kroner amounts in the development of their natural resources projects, at the joint invitation of Denmark and Greenland.
A framework Act on international tendering in relation to large-scale projects that sets out the framework conditions for the construction of mines, for example, has just been adopted by the Greenland Parliament. Together, the Governments of Denmark and Greenland have emphasised that the Large-Scale Act is in accordance with the Kingdom of Denmark’s international obligations to the ILO, including the core conventions on the freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining.
The Large-Scale Act sets requirements for acceptable pay and employment terms. The Act states that the minimum wage may not be lower than the minimum wage we are familiar with in Greenland, and which is high compared to many western European countries.
These and many other framework conditions are vital to ensuring that Greenland’s natural resources and industrial projects are competitive with equivalent projects elsewhere, including in Europe and North America. The discussions in Denmark are contributing to uncertainty concerning the framework conditions offered to the industry, This directly undermines the joint Danish-Greenlandic policy in this area throughout several decades.
The establishment of public companies does not change the fact that it is necessary for projects in Greenland to be competitive with equivalent projects in the rest of the world. It is quite unacceptable to establish projects that can only function with the help of public subsidies.
There is another significant factor that has not been taken into consideration in the proposal for a new Danish company: the customers. To ensure economic progress, it is not enough to mine natural resources. There must also be someone willing to buy and pay for them, at internationally competitive prices. The establishment of a Danish company to develop natural resources projects would be subject to the same terms.
Naalakkersuisut believes that the minor administrative adjustment of the Immigration Act that the Folketing (Danish Parliament) is to consider should not be the subject of Danish home affairs policy discussions. This matter is far too serious for that. Out of respect for the Self-Government Act, Naalakkersuisut therefore urges that the democratic decisions of the Greenland Parliament be supported with the adoption of the required amendments to the Immigration Act.
The proposal to establish a new Danish natural resources company has not been discussed with Naalakkersuisut. This is surprising, as it is in conflict with the spirit of the Self-Government Act, which gives Greenland the legislative and executive authority in the areas that are subject to self-government. There has been ample opportunity to discuss this with us, since during the last month Naalakkersuisut has invited all parties represented in the Folketing to meetings to discuss the content and significance of the Large-Scale Act. The Danish People's Party is the only party that has not responded to this invitation.