COPENHAGEN, March 30 (Reuters) - Denmark may relax its strict ban on foreigners buying holiday homes in a bid to boost demand in rural areas, Finance Minister Kristian Jensen told Reuters on Thursday.
Fearing an influx of buyers, the Nordic nation won the right to block foreign house purchases when it negotiated membership of the European Union in 1972.
But with low demand and stagnant prices for holiday cottages since 2012, and at a time when many Danes migrate to urban areas, opening up the market to foreigners could breathe life into rural economies, Jensen said.
In particular, exemptions from the current rules could be made for certain regions and for a limited time as an experiment.
“We don’t want to change the general ban ... it can be possible to open for sales to foreigners in certain areas of the country,” Jensen said.
“But we will not do so if it threatens maintaining the general ban for foreigners to acquire a Danish holiday cottage everywhere,” he added.
The EU-sceptic Danish People’s Party, which normally supports the minority government, said the proposal should be scrapped, arguing it could lead the Court of Justice of the European Union to lift the ban altogether.
“The government runs a huge risk by doing this,” People’s Party leader Kristian Thulesen Dahl told Reuters.
The price of Danish homes fell sharply in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, and while large urban centres have seen a recovery in recent years this has not yet extended to the countryside. (Editing by Terje Solsvik)