Danes reject deeper integration with the EU

People in Denmark, do not wish to deepen their country’s EU membership as they voted against the government’s proposal to abolish some Danish opt-outs from EU home affairs legislation.

According to the final results, the “No” side received 53.1 percent of votes, while the “Yes” camp garnered 46.9 percent. The turnout was high as it stood at 72 percent.

Opt-out history

Even though an EU state, Denmark does not fully participate in the EU’s justice and home affairs policies after Danish voters rejected the Maastricht Treaty in 1992. After the rejection, Denmark was offered opt-outs in some EU areas in 1993, and only then the Danes agreed to the Maastricht treaty. Denmark is not the only EU Member State with such kind of agreements, as Britain and Ireland have also long enjoyed similar exemptions from EU laws.

Voting campaign

The Danish pro-EU centre-right government, was in favour of yes and asked from citizens of the country to approve the replacement of Denmark’s opt-out to the EU’s justice and home affair rules, with an opt-in agreement that would result in Denmark joining 22 specific EU legislative acts. On the other hand, the right-wing Euro-sceptic Danish People’s Party (DF), led the “no” campaign arguing that dropping the justice opt-out would give too much power to Brussels.

After the vote, Prime Minister of Denmark Lars Lokke Rasmussen told journalists that the results of the referendum indicate “a clear no,” and added that he had “full respect” for the voters’ decision.

Head of the DF, Kristian Thulesen-Dahl said after the election results: “The Danes know that when things are left to Brussels, they’re left a long way away in a non-transparent system where we lose a lot of our democracy … Danes are saying yes to cooperation but no to relinquishing more sovereignty to Brussels.”

The referendum was very complex, voter say

According to the Local Denmark, after leaving a polling station in Copenhagen, a couple who voted no said the referendum was on purpose packed with technicalities.

“They have packed so many things together in that proposal. They talk to the population as if we were idiots,” the couple said. The Local reported that according to daily Politiken, almost two-thirds of Danes were unable to explain the vote mainly because of the complexity of the EU justice policies.

Europol participation

After the election results, Denmark is now unable to stay in Europol when the legal status of the EU agency changes in 2016.

Up until now the intergovernmental legal nature of EU legislation regarding Europol enabled the Nordic country to participate in Europol despite its legal exemption. However, EU legislation on Europol will change in 2016, turning the agency into a supranational and not an inter-governmental institution.

As a result, Denmark may now pushed out of the EU’s joint police law enforcement agency. German public broadcaster, Deutshe Welle, reported that Rasmussen will now have to negotiate new deals with Brussels to be able to ensure a cooperation between Europol and Denmark.

The Local reported that opponents of the referendum argued that Danish government can negotiate a separate agreement to stay in Europol. However, governmental official said that such an agreement is neither certain nor simple.


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