Denmark's parliament began debating on Wednesday a controversial plan to seize refugees' valuables, with the bill widely expected to be passed on January 26 vote after being backed by a majority of lawmakers.

The bill has been criticised by UN refugee agency UNHCR, which fears it will "fuel fear" and "xenophobia".

The proposal would allow Danish authorities to seize asylum seekers' cash exceeding 10,000 kroner ($1,450), as well as any individual items valued at more than 10,000 kroner.

Wedding rings would be exempt, along with other items of sentimental value such as engagement rings, family portraits and medals.

Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen's right-wing government has faced a wave of criticism over its proposal, which had initially put the limit for refugees at 3,000 kroner ($437).

It has since backtracked, and finally reached agreement with other parties in parliament on Tuesday to secure a majority for the vote.

The Scandinavian country has some of Europe's strictest immigration policies, and has repeatedly tightened its regulations in recent months to deter foreigners from seeking a new life in the country.

European Union Vice President Frans Timmerman said on Wednesday the 28-nation bloc would examine the Danish plan "once the law is adopted and... then give our official position to the Danish government."

Source: Agencies