Denmark’s Leader Favors Referendum on Joining EU Security and Defense Policy
Denmark has had an opt-out on the EU’s joint defense initiatives since 1993.
Danish Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen has declared himself in favor of holding a referendum that may revise Denmark’s existing opt-out from the European Union’s Common Security and Defense Policy.
Thanks to an opt-out it secured in the early 1990s, Denmark is currently the only EU member states not participating in the Union’s common security and defense efforts. It is thus excluded from EU decision-making and activities on defense.
Lars Løkke Rasmussen has long advocated in favor of Denmark’s participation in the European Defense Agency.
On Wednesday, he suggested a national referendum on the issue during the next parliamentary term, The Local Denmark reports, citing public broadcaster DR.
Denmark is set to hold a general election on June 5, 2019, shortly after the 2019 EU elections on May 23-26.
“We have to have the discussion and that must naturally done with a view to holding a referendum,” Rasmussen said.
“The Liberal Party wants it [a referendum], and we want the referendum to take place during the next parliamentary term, and we want to win it,” the Danish Prime Minister added, refering to his political party.
In his words, Denmark’s participation in joint defesce initiatives of the EU will improve the country’s capabilities to defend itself and control migration.
Danish Defense Minister Claus Frederiksen, who is also from Rasmussen’s Liberal Party, also talked about the issue of Denmark’s opt-out from the EU’s CSDP earlier this week but did not mention the possibility of holding a referendum.
Denmark’s opt-out from the EU’s joint defense policies dates back to a 1993 referendum on the so called Edinburgh Agreement, which granted Denmark four exceptions to the Maastricht Treaty. Denmark had rejected the treaty in another referendum the previous year.
The other three exceptions granted to Denmark under the Edinburgh Agreement are in the areas of justice, the single currency, and European Union citizenship.
The EU citizenship opt-out, however, stipulating that EU citizenship did not replace national citizenship, was rendered meaningless when the 1999 Amsterdam Treaty adopted the same wording for all members.
In 2015, the Danish voters rejected in a referendum Rasmussen’s proposal to increase Denmark’s participation in the EU’s justice cooperation.
(Banner image: Lars Løkke Rasmussen on Twitter)