Danish voters will decide on Wednesday whether to opt into the EU’s Common Defence Policy as the government seeks to forge closer security ties with allies.
Historically, Danish voters have been skeptical of the EU’s efforts to deepen cooperation and will choose whether to abandon the country’s decision to leave the bloc’s Common Defence Policy 30 years ago.
Denmark’s referendum on Wednesday is the latest example of European countries seeking to forge closer defensive ties with allies in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
it follows the Swedish and Finnish Historic bid to join NATO – Things to discuss at the summit next month.
Denmark’s accession to EU defense policy has relatively little impact on the European security architecture, especially compared to Sweden and Finland’s accession to NATO.
But Christina Nissen, a researcher at the Danish Institute of International Studies, said both moves “are part of the same story” and will strengthen military cooperation on the stunned continent. ukraine war.
The main impact of the decision to drop the withdrawal, she said, was that Danish officials could remain in the room while EU colleagues discussed defence topics and the Danish military could be involved in EU military operations.
Decades on the sidelines
Denmark, a founding member of NATO, has been on the fringes of the EU’s efforts to create a common security and defence policy parallel to the transatlantic alliance.
It was one of four exit moves the Danes insisted on before passing the EU’s Maastricht Treaty, which laid the foundation for a political and economic union.
The 1992 exemption meant that Denmark did not participate in EU discussions on defence policy, military capability development and acquisition, and joint military operations, such as in Africa and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The Danes have also opted out of EU cooperation on justice and home affairs, a common currency and citizenship.
The opt-out decision on citizenship, that European citizenship does not replace national citizenship, has since become irrelevant as other members have since taken the same position. But despite efforts by successive governments to overturn other regulations, others remain intact.
In the 2000 referendum, Danish voters decided to stay outside the euro zone, and 15 years later they voted to retain judicial and home immunity.
This time, however, the Danes appear ready to say goodbye to opting out of the common defense.
Social Democrat Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen has called for a March 8 referendum less than two weeks after Russia launched the referendum. it invaded ukraine February 24.
She called on the referendum to vote “in favour” of repealing the exception, saying doing so “would strengthen our security”.
Support “yes” in opinion polls
“I voted for the decision to repeal the opt-out,” said Peter Jakobsen, a 61-year-old pharmacist in Copenhagen. “We cannot stand outside. We are in the EU and we have to be involved. We have to make a difference.”
But Copenhagen shopper Sanne Michelsen, 52, said she did not see the point of suddenly joining EU defence policy after years outside.
“It was a referendum on quitting that never gave us any problems,” she said in her native Danish, before turning to English to add: “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it.”
The “yes” party has a clear lead in the poll, with about 40 percent in favor of dropping the exemption and 30 percent opposed. About a quarter of voters said they were still undecided.
There is widespread support for dropping the defense opt-out decision in parliament. Only three small parties wanted to maintain it, two on the right and one on the left.