Denmark has scrapped a public holiday to help pay its NATO defense spending commitments.
The newly formed government said the move would help boost tax revenue to bolster the country’s defense in the wake of the war in Ukraine.
NATO calls on Member States to devote at least 2% of their gross domestic product (GDP) to defense expenditure in order to ensure the military readiness of the alliance.
Denmark will aim to achieve this goal by 2030, three years ahead of schedule.
The government says most of the additional 4.5 billion Danish kroner (£533 million) needed to meet the spending target will be covered by the higher tax revenue expected from the holiday abolition.
But unions have protested plans to abolish the Great Day of Prayer, a Christian holiday which falls on the fourth Friday after Easter and dates back to 1686, since it was proposed in December.
Opposition lawmakers called the bill “stupid”, “crazy” and “totally wrong”, but failed to agree on calling a referendum on the issue. In Denmark, 60 lawmakers can demand a public vote.
“Arrest the thief,” Karsten Honge, a member of the Socialist People’s Party, said during a three-hour parliamentary debate. “The government is ordering people to work one more day.”
Workers in Denmark currently have up to 11 public holidays, but this figure is lower in years when Christmas and New Year fall on weekends.
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The government’s pledge to step up defense spending comes amid heightened geopolitical uncertainty after Nord Stream pipelines carrying gas from Russia to Germany via Danish waters were damaged.
THE WE and NATO called the incident “an act of sabotage”, while Sweden and Denmark both concluded that the the pipelines were deliberately blasted.
Neither country has said who might be responsible for the attacks.
Meanwhile, Russia blamed the West for the unexplained explosions and said the United States had questions to answer about its role in what may have happened.