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Ukraine: Denmark votes in EU defense referendum

COPENHAGEN, Denmark –

Polling stations were opened in Denmark for voters to decide on Wednesday whether to abandon their country’s 30-year-old common defense policy of the European Union.

The referendum is the latest example of European countries seeking closer defense links with allies in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. It follows the historic bids by Sweden and Finland to join NATO, which plans to receive their applications by the end of the month.

About 4.2 million Danish voters are eligible to vote in the referendum. The “yes” side – advocating the elimination of the 1992 opt-out – has been ahead in recent months. Polls show it with about 40% support and the “no” side with 30%.

Mr. Jakob Ellemann-Jensen, head of the opposition Liberal Party, said: “The world is changing and not in a good direction. We need to stand together and strengthen cooperation to strengthen the security of our country. we”. a last-minute attempt to convince undecided voters to vote “yes”.

Recent polls show about 20% of voters are still undecided.

“Unfortunately, we are looking forward to a moment that will be even more uncertain than we are going through,” said Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen. “I believe it’s the right thing for Europe, I believe it’s the right thing for Denmark, believe it’s the right thing for our future.”

Denmark’s participation in EU defense policy would have a relatively modest impact on the security architecture of Europe, especially compared with Sweden and Finland joining NATO. But Christine Nissen, a researcher with the Danish Institute for International Studies, said both moves were “part of the same story”, and would strengthen military cooperation on a stunned continent. stunned by the war in Ukraine.

The main effect of opting out is that Danish officials may be in the room while EU colleagues discuss defense topics and Danish forces may be involved in military operations. of the EU.

One of NATO’s founding members, Denmark has always stood on the sidelines of the EU’s efforts to develop a common defense and security policy parallel to the transatlantic NATO alliance. It is one of four opt-out options that Denmark emphasized before the EU’s adoption of the Maastricht Treaty, which lays the groundwork for political and economic union.

The withdrawal means that Denmark has not participated in EU discussions on defense policy, development and acquisition of its military capabilities as well as joint military operations, such as in Europe. Africa and Bosnia.

In a 1993 referendum, Denmark also refused to cooperate on EU judicial and family matters, the common currency and citizenship. The denial of citizenship, which said European citizenship would not replace national citizenship, therefore became irrelevant as other members subsequently applied the same position. But other provisions remained intact despite successive government efforts to overturn them.

Danish voters in 2000 decided to stay outside the eurozone, and 15 years later they voted to retain immunity from justice and family matters.


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