Danish voters to resolve on Wednesday whether or not to decide in to the EU’s frequent defence coverage as gov’t seeks nearer safety ties with allies.
Traditionally sceptical about European Union efforts to deepen cooperation, Danish voters are set to decide on whether or not to desert the nation’s choice 30 years in the past to decide out of the bloc’s frequent defence coverage.
The Danish referendum comes on Wednesday as the most recent instance of European international locations in search of nearer defence hyperlinks with allies in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
It follows Sweden and Finland’s historic bids to join NATO – one thing to be taken up at a summit subsequent month.
Denmark becoming a member of the EU defence coverage would have a comparatively modest impact on Europe’s safety structure, notably in contrast with Sweden and Finland becoming a member of NATO.
However Christine Nissen, a researcher with the Danish Institute for Worldwide Research, mentioned each strikes are “a part of the identical story”, and would strengthen navy cooperation on a continent shocked by the war in Ukraine.
She mentioned the primary impact of abandoning the opt-out choice could be that Danish officers may keep within the room when EU colleagues talk about defence subjects and Danish forces may participate within the bloc’s navy operations.
A long time on the sidelines
Denmark, a founding member of NATO, has stayed on the sidelines of EU efforts to construct a typical safety and defence coverage in parallel with the transatlantic alliance.
It was one in all 4 opt-out strikes that Danes insisted on earlier than adopting the EU’s Maastricht Treaty, which laid the inspiration for political and financial union.
The 1992 waiver means Denmark has not participated within the EU’s discussions on defence coverage, its improvement and acquisition of navy capabilities and its joint navy operations, equivalent to these in Africa and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The Danes additionally opted out of EU cooperation on justice and residential affairs, the frequent forex and citizenship.
The opt-out choice on citizenship, which mentioned European citizenship wouldn’t change nationwide citizenship, has since develop into irrelevant as different members later adopted the identical place. However the different provisions stay intact regardless of efforts by successive governments to overturn them.
In a 2000 referendum, Danish voters determined to remain outdoors the eurozone, and 15 years later they voted to maintain the exemption on justice and residential affairs.
This time, nevertheless, Danes seem able to say goodbye to opting out of frequent defence.
Social Democratic Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen referred to as for the referendum on March 8, lower than two weeks after Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine on February 24.
She referred to as on residents to vote “sure” to abolishing the exception, saying to take action “will strengthen our safety”.
Help for ‘sure’ forward in polls
“I’m voting in favour of abolishing the opt-out” choice, mentioned Peter Jakobsen, a 61-year-old pharmacist in Copenhagen. “We should not stand outdoors. We’re within the EU and we have to be concerned. We should make a distinction.”
However Sanne Michelsen, a 52-year-old shopper in Copenhagen, mentioned she didn’t see the purpose of out of the blue becoming a member of the EU’s defence coverage after years on the skin.
“This can be a referendum about an decide out that has by no means induced us any drawback,” she mentioned in her native Danish, earlier than turning to English so as to add: “If it ain’t damaged, don’t repair it.”
The “sure” aspect has had a transparent lead in polls, with about 40 p.c in favour of dropping the exemption and 30 p.c towards. A couple of quarter of voters say they’re nonetheless undecided.
There’s widespread help for dropping the defence opt-out choice in parliament. Solely three small events need to keep it, two on the proper and one on the left.