Offices of the Danish Commonwealth
The Danish Folketing
On 19 May 2009 the Danish Parliament passed the Greenlandic Self-Government Act which came into force on 21 June 2009. The act is based on the proposals contained in the report of the Greenlandic-Danish self-government commission of May 2008.
According to the act the Government of Greenland may decide to transfer new areas of responsibility from Copenhagen to Nuuk, including the areas of justice (courts, prisons, police, and legal matters concerning corporate, accounting, and auditing affairs), mining, aviation, matters concerning personal, family, and inheritance law, immigration and border control, work environment, and financial regulation and supervision.
Acquisition of a new field of responsibility means that the Government of Greenland will take over the legislative and executive power in the field. The following areas may in consideration of the commonwealth and provisions in the constitution not be transferred: the state constitution, citizenship, the Supreme Court, foreign, defence, and security policy, and foreign exchange and monetary policy.
The Self-Government Act introduced a new economic system which means that the Government of Greenland assumes the financial responsibility of a field when it is taken over. The state grant to the Government of Greenland is fixed by law at an annual DKK 3.4 billion (2009 level of prices and wages). If the Government of Greenland obtains revenue from raw material extraction, the subsidies of the state to the Government of Greenland are reduced by an amount equal to half of these revenues, excluding DKK 75 million annually going to the Government of Greenland. Should these revenues reduce state subsidies to zero, new negotiations between Greenland and Denmark on the allocation of subsoil revenues will be initiated.
The Self-Government Act specifies a comprehensive regulation of the status of Greenland in matters concerning foreign policy. An Empowerment Scheme according to which Naalakkersuisut may negotiate and conclude international agreements with foreign states and international organizations on behalf of the state has been incorporated in the Self-Government Act. Moreover, existing agreements and practice between the Danish government and Naalakkersuisut involving Greenlandic authorities in foreign policy issues are now a part of the law.
The Greenlandic language is, according to the Self-Government Act, the official language in Greenland.
The prime minister addresses questions of a general nature concerning the Greenlandic home rule and self-government and coordinates tasks related to Greenland between the various ministries. The prime minister's interpretation section, located at the High Commissioner of Greenland, serves Greenland.
The High Commissioner of Greenland
The High Commissioner is the chief representative of the state in Greenland. The High Commissioner attends the sessions of Inatsisartut and assists when laws which apply to the entire commonweath and laws which apply specifically to Greenland are introduced to the Home Rule Government / the Government of Greenland.
The High Commissioner receives laws and regulations of Inatsisartut when they are proclaimed and translates the legislation of the commonwealth into Greenlandic.
The High Commissioner ensures the holding of general elections to the Folketing and referenda decided by this body.
The High Commissioner issues transit permits for the defence area in Pituffik to Danish nationals residing in Greenland. The High Commissioner is also involved in the planning and carrying out of official visits.
The High Commissioner administers as a state authority and the local state administration essential parts of the family legislation in Greenland. The legislation primarily concerns adoption law, marriage law, parts of the Age of Majority Act and legislation concerning surnames.
As of 2010 the High Commissioner handles applications for grants of legal aid for proceedings in Greenland.
Read more about civil service at www.stm.dk.
Read more about the High Commissioner of Greenland at www.ombudsmanden.gl.