The Danes will vote on Wednesday on whether to abandon the country’s defense and security policy of exiting the European Union, the latest possible big policy change in northern Europe following Russia’s all-out war on Ukraine.
Denmark There is a history of voting against the EU in referendums, but the centre-left government is optimistic that now is the right time for the Scandinavian country to end its status as the only member not participating in EU defence cooperation.
“Denmark belongs unreservedly at the heart of Europe,” Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said in announcing the referendum.
“NATO will remain our main tool of defence and security, and the EU is a complement to that,” said Morgens Jensen, defence spokesman for the ruling Social Democrats. “If we are not within the scope of EU cooperation, we cannot participate in discussions. “
The polls have been leading those wanting an end to the exit, but experts and politicians are wary due to Denmark’s longstanding Euroscepticism.
Denmark opted out of EU cooperation on defence, euro membership and justice after rejecting the EU’s Maastricht Treaty in a referendum in 1992. The Danes subsequently refused to join the euro in 2000 and voted against changing their judicial exit in 2015.
The latest Danish referendum is in a few weeks’ time Sweden and Finland Opting to join NATO is the biggest change to the Nordic region’s security arrangements in decades.
Denmark remains committed to NATO and is foreign troops It is possible to train and exercise on Danish soil for the first time since at least the 1950s. But as the U.S. begins to turn more toward Asia, Denmark fears that a defense policy of leaving the European Union could strip it of leverage in key areas, especially as European countries increase military spending.
“Consequences of opting out are increasing. Generally speaking, this means a loss of Danish influence. We cannot participate in negotiations. Denmark’s reputation in EU security and defense policy has eroded,” said Christina Kristina, research fellow at the Danish Institute of International Studies. Nissen said she noted that the opt-out had been used 235 times since 1993.
Kristian Søby Kristensen, deputy director of the Centre for Military Studies at the University of Copenhagen, highlighted the importance to Denmark of neighbouring Germany’s recent major changes to its defence and security policy. Berlin is increasing military spending in response to Russia’s war on Ukraine.
He said the referendum was “to prepare for a more assertive Germany in EU defence and security policy”.
Danish opponents of the EU argue that Denmark is better off relying entirely on NATO. They grabbed comments from some leaders, including French President Emmanuel Macron and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, about their desire for a qualified majority vote on defence matters by the EU military or the bloc.
Some observers believe the referendum could push the nationalist Danish People’s Party, which wants to retain its withdrawal, and make it a leading voice for Euroskeptics.
The centre-left Social Democrats have suffered losses in opinion polls since the centre-left Social Democrats took over most of its anti-immigration rhetoric, but the ruling party was seen as disadvantaged for much of the referendum campaign after being forced to change its rhetoric.
“The less we talk, the more noisy they get. . . we just have to watch them quietly [make] Mistake after mistake, we will win as always,” Soren Espersen, the DPP’s defence spokesman, said of the party’s domestic rivals.
The polls began Wednesday at 8 a.m. local time and ended at 8 p.m., with final results likely to be announced later that evening.