Tuesday

9th Aug 2022

Denmark says No to more EU, casts shadow on UK vote

  • Campaign poster: 'More EU? No Thanks' (Photo: EUobserver)

Danish voters, on Thursday (3 December), responded with a clear No when asked to integrate deeper with the European Union.

The referendum resulted in a large majority - 53.1 percent No, against 46.9 percent Yes - refusing to join EU justice and home affairs policies. Denmark opted out from this part of EU policy when ratifying the Maastricht treaty 22 years ago.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • Dahl promised that a separate referendum could be held on Europol (Photo: EUobserver)

"People wanted to stay in control, and I have great respect for this,” said Liberal prime minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen.

Loekke Rasmussen phoned EU commission president Jean-Claude Juncker and Council president Donald Tusk on Thursday evening and plans to start talks in Brussels on 11 December to secure a parallel deal regarding future Danish participation in Europol, the EU’s joint police body.

Loekke Rasmussen also invited all political parties in the Danish parliament for one-to-one talks on Monday, in order to digest the referendum result and formulate a new Europe policy.

"I have already indicated my support for [UK prime minister] Cameron and his talks ahead of a British referendum to secure continued membership of the EU. We have a strong ally in Great Britain to reform the EU," the Danish PM said.

Brexit link

The Danish referendum campaign saw little attention from abroad, but the result could impact the Brexit referendum campaign.

"The result opens a completely new agenda in Europe, an agenda of less EU. For the first time, we can have a debate about the possibility of returning sovereignty to member states from the EU," Soeren Espersen, the eurosceptic Danish People's Party's foreign affairs spokesperson, told EUobserver.

"I will recommend Loekke [Danish PM] to contact British PM David Cameron already tomorrow morning and initiate co-operation between a larger group of EU countries that share this agenda of less EU," said Danish MEP Morten Messerschmidt, from the Danish People's Party, which sits with the Tories in the European Parliament.

“I’m sure some will try and use the Danish opt-out vote, but the vote was about deeper integration into the EU on a very specific area, while the UK referendum is about leaving the EU entirely. That is a very different thing," Richard Corbett, a British MEP from the opposition Labour party noted.

"Had the Danish referendum been about leaving the EU, the result would have been very difficult.”

New Europol referendum

The No-campaign was backed by four parties: the People's Movement against the EU, which advocates an EU exit; the red-green alliance; the new, business-oriented Liberal Alliance; and the Danish People's Party.

But the main winner of Thursday's vote is the Danish People’s Party, the second biggest party in parliament and a key ally of the government.

Party leader Kristian Thulesen Dahl wants Denmark to be a full member of Europol, also when it becomes a supranational organisation from 2017 onward.

He promised during the campaign that a separate referendum could be held on Europol if needed and that his party would advocate a Yes.

A large majority in parliament, including the Liberal governing party, as well as the Social Democrat opposition, also say Yes.

Their campaigns, ahead of Thursday, urged Danes to help police battle cyber-crime, paedophilia, and human trafficking by voting Yes and told Danes they would be forced to leave the EU's police co-operation Europol if they voted No.

Many Danes want their country to be a full member of Europol, but the government chose to bundle the issue with the general justice opt-out, and lost.

In general the No-votes came from rural areas, while urbanites voted Yes.

There was also a generational divide, with many young people voting No, while many of the over 60-years of age voted Yes.

The turn-out was high, on 72 percent.

EU offers Denmark backdoor to Europol

Denmark's government and political parties are examining a draft agreement that would secure links with Europol starting May 2017, in a follow-up to a referendum last year that rejected full membership into the EU law enforcement agency.

Opinion

How Ukraine made the case anew for an EU army

The Kremlin attacked Ukraine because it believed it could afford to. It perceived nuclear deterrence between Russia and the West as reciprocal, and therefore almost a non-issue. It also saw, in military terms, Europe is disappearing from the world map.

News in Brief

  1. Rhine river on the brink of closure for shipping
  2. Moldova sees 'prelude to war' with Russia-backed forces
  3. Taliban preventing Afghan evacuations to Germany
  4. Amnesty regrets 'distress' caused by Ukraine report
  5. Energy companies warn UK gas exports to EU are contaminated
  6. EU set for clash over rules on political adverts
  7. Three grain ships due to leave Ukraine on Friday
  8. EU on track to reach gas-storage November target

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  3. European Centre for Press and Media FreedomEuropean Anti-SLAPP Conference 2022
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers write to EU about new food labelling
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersEmerging journalists from the Nordics and Canada report the facts of the climate crisis
  6. Council of the EUEU: new rules on corporate sustainability reporting

Latest News

  1. Italy poised to elect far-right rulers
  2. UN chief demands access to nuclear plant after new attack
  3. Greek PM embroiled in spyware scandal
  4. How Ukraine made the case anew for an EU army
  5. 'We must take back institutions', Orban tells US conservatives
  6. Putin must lose Ukraine war, Nato chief says
  7. Let Taiwan's democracy shine brighter
  8. Droughts prompt calls to cut water use amid harvest fears

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us