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The Danish Government - and government agencies.

Denmark is a constitutional monarchy. Danish Governments are normally minority administrations, governing with the support of one or several other parties. For this reason, Danish politics are characterised by inter-party compromising (see Parliament). The present Government came to power in 2001 and was re-elected  in 2005 and again at a snap election in in 2007. It is made up of the Liberal and Conservative parties, which together command only 64 of the 179 seats in Parliament, and depend on the support of the Danish People's Party (25 seats) and at least one additional MP to stay in power.

Like Norway and Iceland but unlike Sweden and Finland, Denmark has a "ministerial" system of government whereby each Ministry is subject to instruction by one Cabinet Minister (or in exceptional cases two Ministers) and government agencies in turn are subordinate to the Ministries. This means that while Danish Governments are often exposed to "checks and balances" by Parliament, they less often have to contend with opposing opinions from their agencies.

There are at present 18 Ministries including the Prime Minister's Office. Each is headed by one Minister excepting the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where the Minister of Foreign Affairs has a Minister for Development Cooperation (at present Mrs. Ulla Tørnæs, Liberal Party) at his side. Although the number of Ministries has been quite stable for several decades, some fields of policy - and the corresponding agencies - from time to time get moved between Ministries. Energy policy is a prime recent example, having belonged to the Ministry of Trade and Industry before 1994, to a Ministry of Energy and Environment from 1994-2001, again to the Ministry of Industry and Enterprise from 2001-2005, to a Ministry of Transport and Energy from 2005-2007, and since November 2007 to a Ministry of Climate and Energy, headed by Mrs. Connie Hedegaard (Conservative). The Ministry of Environment was established in 1971, though a Minister with the corresponding title was only appointed two years later, allowing Norway to claim the honour of having appointed the world's first Minister for the Environment in 1972. The present Minister is Mr. Troels Lund Poulsen (Liberal).

The Danish Prime Minister:

Anders Fogh Rasmussen

The Government's web site


Ministries of the Danish Government:

Government's Political Platform

Platform of the Liberal-Conservative Government (2001)

The Danish National Budget

Budget outlook, August 2008
Economic Survey, August 2008


The Ministry of the Environment
The Danish Ministry of the Environment was established in 1971 under the name “Ministry of Pollution Mitigation”, which was revised to the current name in 1973. The Ministry consists of the Department and 14 subordinate agencies, and employs today more than 2500 people in total. The current head of the ministry is since 2007 Minister of the Environment Mr. Troels Lund Poulsen (Liberal). The ministry has one head of the department (Departementschef)and is divided in three divisions:

  • The Cooperative Affairs Division is responsible for operation of the Department at the institutional and Minister levels.
  • The Environmental Policy Division is responsible for presenting cases to the Minister and Permanent Secretary as well as for overall coordination, communication and consultancy with  other institutions at the national level.
  • The International Division is responsible for presenting cases to the Minister and the Permanent Secretary as well as for overall coordination, communication and consultancy regarding international matters with other institutions at the international level..

The Ministry has three agencies, one corporate management centre and one independent research institute and seven independent Environment Centres.. Two independent appeal boards are also linked to the Ministry.

The Danish model implies that the minister and the department take care of the policy-making and the agencies of implementation. This includes for the department the preparation of laws and instruction, central planning and co-ordination, appropriations, complaints and appeals brought to the minister, and other individual questions presented to the minister. The agencies are then supposed to take care of all other tasks and provide the department with expertise in policy-making when needed. The duties are delegated to the agencies by the minister.

The Centre for Corporate Management takes care of administrative tasks for the Department within the Ministry, the Danish Protection Agency, the Danish Forest and Nature Agency, the Agency for Spatial and Environmental Planning and the National Survey and Cadastre Denmark.

The Danish Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
has about 250 employees in six units. The Danish EPA contributes to setting out targets and preparing strategies and action plans as the basis for government work. In 2000 the EPA was assigned to develop a sustainable development strategy and an Indicator system. It also co-ordinates the social consultation process. Generally, the sphere of operation of EPA is targeting on preventing and combating water, soil and air pollution as well as regulating waste and chemicals.

Danish Forest and Nature AgencyThe main focus of the Danish Forest and Nature Agency will be on ensuring opportunities for nature recreation, and to develop, establish and restore nature and to undertake practical management measures for wild flora and fauna.

Agency for Spatial and Environmental Planning was established in October 2007 as a consequence of a change in the organisational structure of the Ministry. The agency works for a sustainable society with a varied landscape, attractive cities, biodiversity and a good environment. The agency manages national interests in the areas water, nature, environment and planning. The agency consists of one central unit in Copenhagen and 7 local environmental centres in the country.

The National Survey and Cadastre Denmark has as its overriding goal to secure everyone admission to reliable and relevant information about nature and oceans in Denmark, Greenland and the Faeroe Islands.

The Nature Protection Board of Appeals (In Danish only) is superior authority on matters dealing with preservation. It is a court of appeal with regards to a number of acts on the regulation of property. The Board of Appeals is superior court of appeal for a number of decisions in accordance with the Act on Environmental Protection, the Act on Soil Pollution, the Act on the Environment and Gen technology, the Act on Chemical Substances and Products, the Act on Ocean Environment, the Water Supply Act and the Act on the Right to Environmental Information.

Environmental Board of Appeal (In Danish only) is superior authority on matters dealing with the environment. It is the superior court of appeal for a number of decisions in accordance with several acts on environmental related acts.

Well worth mentioning, although not a subordinate agency anymore, isthe National Environmental Research Institute (NERI). NERIis an independent research institute governed by the Board of University of Aarhus (1. January 2007), which signs a four-year performance contract with the Ministry of Environment regarding the NERI’s objectives and results. NERI undertakes scientific consultancy work, monitoring of nature and the environment as well as applied and strategic research. NERI's task is to establish a scientific foundation for environmental policy decisions. NERI’s activities are financed approximately equally through an appropriation under the Danish Finance Act and through external funding.

The Ministry of Climate and Energy
The Ministry was established in November 2007 by the 3rd Fogh-Rasmussen Government. The integration of the climate and energy policy areas marked a stronger focus on the climate change problem. The Ministry is responsible for the national and international climate work, energy policy, national geological research in Denmark and Greenland, and meteorology. The Ministry was established to make a stronger effort for a sustainable society, to assure that the energy and climate policy goals are met and to work towards a more ambitious international climate agreement in Copenhagen 2009. The Minister has since the establishment been Mrs. Connie Hedergaard, who was previously Minister of Environment. Subordinate agencies under this Ministry are the following:

The Danish Energy Agency is the main agency responsible for implementing Government policy in relation to the production, supply and consumption of energy, including the reduction of CO2 emissions. It is responsible for energy statistics, for Denmark’s reports under the UN Climate Change Convention, for administering Danish participation in flexible mechanisms and a number of other tasks relating to international co-operation. The Agency was established in 1976 and currently has some 220 employees .

The Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland (GEUS)has as its main task to be Denmark's, Greenland's and the Faeroe Islands' “geological memory” and to counsel within the geo-scientific field, especially on areas and fields that require special knowledge and equipment.

The Danish Metrological Institute (DMI) was established in 1990 through the merger of the former Meteorological Institute, the Meteorological Service for Civil Aviation and the Meteorological Service for Defence. DMI is responsible for serving the meteorological needs of society within the kingdom of Denmark (Denmark, the Faroes and Greenland) including territorial waters and airspace.

The Danish North Sea Partner and Danish North Sea fund. The Danish North Sea Partner is a state-owned entity set up to administer the Danish North Sea Fund. The fund is the state participant in future licences for the exploration for and production of hydrocarbons in Denmark. the Danish North Sea Fund was set up in 2005 to have the responsibility for the state’s participation in new hydrocarbon licences.

The Danish Electricity Saving Trust is an independent trust under the auspices of the Danish Ministry of Climate and Energy. The Trust works to promote energy savings and a more efficient use of electricity.

The Energy Board of Appeal is the final administrative appeal body for decisions by public authorities under various laws governing the energy sector.
Energinet DK maintains the security of supply and ensures the smooth operation of the market for electricity and gas.

The Danish Energy Regulatory Authority, DERA, is an independent authority engaged in proactive and forward-looking supervision of monopoly companies in the Danish energy sector: electricity, natural gas and district heating.


Environmental targets and policies are decided centrally, but, in common with education and many social services, implementation of many aspects of environmental policies is delegated to municipalities. This includes spatial planning, issuance of operating or discharge permits to enterprises, water and waste treatment services. Before the municipal reform of 2007, some of these these tasks were shared with the 14 counties, now abolished in favour of five regional adminsitrations. The new regions’ tasks that are most obviously relevant to climate and energy policy are planning and procurement of transport services, which they have largely taken over from the former counties.  With a lot of responsibilities devolved to the local or regional level, the potential for democratic participation in many decisions is high, but problems such as lack of information or analytical capacity could emerge. The National Association of Local Authorities provide a means for pooling such resources, as well as for joint negotiations with central Government.

Local Agenda 21
Local Agenda 21
initiatives belong to the key multipliers for sustainable development issues and their implementation. After the WSSD the Government published The World Summit in Johannesburg and Denmark's National Strategy for Sustainable Development in 2003 - a publication that follows up on Denmark's National Strategy for Sustainable Development in the context of the Johannesburg World Summit. The Government emphasised that all municipalities and counties in Denmark were bound to adopt a Local Agenda 21 Strategy by 2003.

[Last updated: 20.10.2008]