Sunday

25th Aug 2019

Denmark to battle for European unity

Denmark takes over the six-month EU rotating presidency on Sunday (1 January), kicking off what is expected to be another traumatic year for the eurozone and its single currency.

Like all presidency countries, Denmark has a specific to-do list, but the eurozone crisis means that its most pressing task will be political in nature: ensuring that euro and non-euro states do not drift apart.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

  • Thorning-Schmidt has pledged to keep the EU as unified as possible (Photo: The Council of the European Union)

Not being a member of the single currency means that politically it is already on the back-foot however.

Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt, one of the few centre-left politicians in the European Union, had a taste of what this means during her first EU summit in December.

When she spoke out about the importance of keeping the EU 27 together, French President Nicolas Sarkozy rejected the overture: "You're an 'out', a small out, and you're new. We don't want to hear from you," he said, according to an account in the Financial Times.

While Sarkozy's outburst came during the summit, the actual results of the summit make Thorning-Schmidt's EU cohesion task yet more difficult.

By the end of the long and fractious evening, the 17 eurozone countries said they would forge ahead with an intergovernmental pact on tightening fiscal discipline. Nine non-euro countries - including Denmark - pledged to eventually sign up to it, while the UK is not taking part at all.

The coming weeks will be dominated by efforts to nail down the details of the pact. But this presents its own set of problems for Copenhagen, which is keen to make sure its contents will not trigger a referendum.

Internal Danish politics means that this will be a difficult tightrope for Thorning-Schmidt, whose coalition government is propped up by a eurosceptic left-wing party that is against the pact and is calling for a referendum on the issue.

Like Poland - a non-euro member whose presidency finishes at the end of 2011 - Denmark is expected to spend much of its time trying to keep minds focussed on everyday policies even as the eurozone crisis continues to push member states into yet more emergency summits, meetings and decisions.

One big issue that requires member states' attention but where Copenhagen may struggle to make itself heard above the efforts to deal with the eurozone crisis will be the EU's next long-term budget (2014-2020).

EU budget talks are traditionally ill-tempered affairs. But the tough economic climate promises to make the talks more difficult than usual.

Denmark will be in charge as fresh new legislation on economic governance begins to be felt. The six new laws, massively increasing Brussels' oversight of national budgets and committing member states to a new European Semester, came into force mid December. The March summit will be the first test of the new system, with member states supposed to agree European Commission recommendations on their budget spending policies.

Another event that Denmark will have to factor into the running of its presidency is the French presidential elections in April.

Past experience shows that when large EU countries are facing elections, domestically awkward topics are pushed off the EU table while spurious topics - which may help the incumbent - find their way on to it.

Denmark stuck in EU treaty quagmire

Days away from taking over the EU's rotating presidency that will be responsible in part for steering through a new intergovernmental treaty, the Danish government has become stuck in a quagmire of domestic resistance to the so-called fiscal compact.

Stop criticising Merkel, Danish PM says

With Denmark taking over the EU presidency in January, Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt has said she will fight to make sure that non-eurozone countries are involved in all discussions concerning the internal market.

Debt-ridden Cyprus takes on EU presidency

Debt-ridden Cyprus took over the day-to-day running of the EU Sunday becoming the first euro state to take on the presidency since the end of 2010.

Agenda

This WEEK in the European Union

The leaders of France and Germany will kick off the week with a bilateral meeting on the eurozone crisis with the single currency still facing many of the same problems - only exacerbated - that it did one year ago.

News in Brief

  1. Ocean Viking to disembark in Malta after ordeal
  2. Germany joins France in world outcry on Brazil fires
  3. British people lose faith in Brexit deal
  4. Brexit hardliners want further changes to EU deal
  5. German manufacturers confirm fear of recession
  6. Belgian socialists and liberals scrap over EU post
  7. Fall in EU migration leading to UK skills shortages
  8. Switzerland makes post-Brexit flight preparations

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  5. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  7. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  8. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  9. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  10. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North

Latest News

  1. Spain heading for yet another general election
  2. EU to discuss Brazil beef ban over Amazon fires
  3. 'Our house is burning,' Macron says on Amazon fires
  4. What happens when trafficking survivors get home
  5. EU states and Russia clash on truth of WW2 pact
  6. EU considers new rules on facial recognition
  7. EU to pledge Africa security funds at G7 summit
  8. Letter from the EESC on per diem article

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us