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The Danish government has proposed a referendum on the abolition of Denmark's opt-outs from the European Union; the Common Security and Defence Policy, citizenship, police and justice and specifically the adoption of the euro. It is the intention of the Danish government to hold the referendum before the end of its parliamentary term in 2011, though it has already been delayed due to the troubled ratification of the Treaty of Lisbon.





One or more referenda on abolishing one or more of Denmark's opt-outs from European Union legislation in four specific areas (as specified in the Edinburgh Agreement and later confirmed in other treaties of the European Union) were announced by Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen in his speech on November 22, 2007 after he won the 2007 parliamentary election.[1] It was not announced whether the referendum would only offer a full repeal of all opt-outs, or a case-by-case choice, and no date was announced, except that it would be before the next Danish parliamentary election, i.e. before 2011.[2] The current government has been planning to hold a second referendum on abolishing the opt-outs (or at least the euro opt-out) since at least 2004, following a change in public opinion, but the discussions and controversy regarding the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe and the Treaty of Lisbon had delayed this.[3]

The referendum was originally expected by many observers to be held sometime during the autumn of 2008[4][5][6][7] but following Ireland's rejection of the Treaty of Lisbon, Fogh Rasmussen stated that this would not happen.[8] In early 2009, it was announced that Fogh Rasmussen expects to hold a referendum on Denmark joining the Eurozone in 2010, as he believes it is possible to meet the demands of the Euro-sceptical Socialist People's Party.[9]

Socialist People's Party

Villy Søvndal, the leader of the Socialist People's Party, has stated that he will be open to discuss an opt-out vote on the citizenship issue but that he remains opposed to revoking the euro and defence clauses, and that he will oppose replacing the legal affairs clause with a refugee policy clause, as well. Søvndal's party is in a strengthened position following its recent election gains (doubling their seats from 11 to 23); under Danish parliamentary practice, an agreement between parties has to be revoked either before or during an election campaign. The SPP was pivotal in establishing the 1993 Edinburgh Agreement and the Danish "national compromise" on the Maastricht Treaty referendum repetition issue, and no party retracted its support for this agreement before the 2007 election. Thus, if Søvndal presses his point, he will de facto hold a veto on whether a referendum will be called or not, and the other parties may be able to only call a referendum after the next Danish parliamentary election, provided that one of more of them officially denounces the 1993 agreement. Søvndal's party contains both pro-European and eurosceptic wings.[10]

Lars Løkke Rasmussen

Following the appointment of Anders Fogh Rasmussen as Secretary General of NATO in 2009, his successor, Lars Løkke Rasmussen, announced that the opt-outs would be put to a referendum "when the time is right", which has been seen as an indicator that the referendum will not necessarily take place before the next election.[11] Following a meeting with the European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso in mid-May 2009, Løkke Rasmussen stated that he hopes at least a referendum on the common currency would take place before the next parliamentary elections (due in 2011).[12][13] At the same point, he said that Denmark already is using the euro (because of the currency peg); only, they have decided to call it "danske kroner".

Justice & CSDP only

The leaders of the three largest opposition parties, Helle Thorning-Schmidt, Villy Søvndal, and Margrethe Vestager have suggested that a referendum on abolishing the opt-outs concerning the Common Security and Defence Policy and the Justice and Home Affairs be held on March 23, 2010[14]. The leader of the EU-sceptic Danish People's Party, Pia Kjærsgaard, who provides the government with its parliamentary basis, has said that she doesn't believe Lars Løkke Rasmussen will hold the referendum[15]. A few hours later, Rasmussen declared that he would not hold the suggested referendum[16].


Denmark obtained four opt-outs from the Maastricht Treaty following the treaty's initial rejection in a 1992 referendum. The opt-outs are outlined in the Edinburgh Agreement and concern the Economic and monetary union (EMU), the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP), Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) and the citizenship of the European Union. With these opt-outs the Danish people accepted the treaty in a second referendum held in 1993.

The EMU opt-out means that Denmark is not obliged to participate in the third phase of the European Exchange Rate Mechanism, that is, to replace the Danish krone with the euro. The abolition of the euro opt-out was put to a referendum in 2000 and was rejected. The ESDP opt-out originally meant Denmark would not be obliged to join the Western European Union (which originally handled the defence tasks of the EU). Now it means that Denmark does not participate in the European Union's foreign policy where defence is concerned. Hence it does not take part in decisions, does not act in that area and does not contribute troops to missions conducted under the auspices of the European Union[17]. The JHA opt-out exempts Denmark from certain areas of home affairs. Significant parts of these areas were transferred from the third European Union pillar to the first under the Amsterdam Treaty; Denmark's opt-outs from these areas were kept valid through additional protocols. Acts made under those powers are not binding on Denmark except for those relating to the Schengen Agreement, which are instead conducted on an intergovernmental basis with Denmark. The citizenship opt-out stated that European citizenship did not replace national citizenship; this opt-out was rendered meaningless when the Amsterdam Treaty adopted the same wording for all members. Under the Treaty of Lisbon, Denmark can change its opt-out from a complete opt-out to the case-by-case opt-in version applying to Ireland and the United Kingdom whenever they wish.[18]

Polls and analyses

A poll from early June, 2008 saw a clear majority in favour of repealing the defence and judicial issues opt-outs, a very close race regarding the euro and a clear majority against repealing the citizenship opt-outs.[19] Following an increase in support for abolishing the opt outs, support dropped in mid-May 2009; in January 2009, 49.8 % were in favour of having the Euro as Danish currency, dropping to 45.2% against and 43.7% in favour in May 2009.[20] Support for abolishing opt-outs on legal and defence cooperation has also dwindled to equal numbers pro and against.[20]

Afterwards support for abolishing the opt outs increased again. As of October 2009, there is a majority in favor of abolishing for each one of the four opt outs, the only difference being in the kind of majority: Absolute majorities are in favor of entering the Eurozone (50% in favor, 43% are opposed) and of a common European Defence (66% in favor, 21% are opposed). There are relative majorities in favor of judicial cooperation (47% in favor, 35% are opposed) and European Citizenship (40% in favor, 30% are opposed). When asked, how they would vote when they had to decide about all four opt outs in a package, a relative majority of 42% would vote in favor of abolishing the opt outs and 37% would vote in favor of keeping the opt outs. (Greens Analyseinstitut published in Børsen [21]) The above mentionned percentages do not sum up to 100%; the option "doesn't know / doesn't want to answer" accounts for the difference. In a vote however (as opposed to a poll) only "yes" and "no" answers are counted, which means all the above questions would get an absolute majority of "yes" in favor of repealing the opt outs.

The social liberal broadsheet Politiken is in favour of the referendum and supports a case-by-case vote on all four issues; it sees the possibility to break the "yes-or-no" deadlock over EU politics in Denmark.[22][23] The liberal conservative broadsheet Jyllands-Posten is also in favour of abolishing all four opt-outs.[24]

See also


  1. ^ Olsen, Jan M. (2007-11-22). "Denmark to Hold New Referendum on Euro". Associated Press. Retrieved 2007-11-22.  
  2. ^ "Denmark currency crisis prompts euro re-think - Times Online". London: Retrieved 2009-01-22.  
  3. ^ Parker, George; Eaglesham, Jean and Benoit, Betrand (2003-01-01). "Danes face second referendum on joining euro". Financial Times. Retrieved 2007-10-17.  
  4. ^ Danish PM says possible autumn referendum on EU opt-outs — - business, legal and economic news and information from the European Union
  5. ^ - Europa - Nachrichten - Kopenhagen strebt in die Euro-Zone
  6. ^
  7. ^ "Besked om EU-afstemning efter sommer" (in Danish). Politiken. 2008-06-11. Retrieved 2008-06-11.  
  8. ^ "Fogh aflyser EU-afstemninger" (in Danish). Politiken. 2008-08-07. Retrieved 2008-08-07.  
  9. ^ "Fogh klar til eurovalg næste år" (in Danish). Politiken. 2009-01-22. Retrieved 2009-01-22.  
  10. ^ SF vil bremse opgør med EU-forbehold -
  11. ^ "S og R raser over Løkkes EU-nøl" (in Danish). DR. 2009-04-14. Retrieved 2009-04-15.  
  12. ^ "Løkke R.: Euro-vote this term?". Politiken. 2009-05-13. Retrieved 2009-05-19.  
  13. ^ "Løkke: Vi skal stemme om euroen" (in Danish). Politiken. 2009-05-13. Retrieved 2009-05-24.  
  14. ^ "Oppositionen vil stemme om EU-forbehold" (in Danish). Politiken. 2009-11-24. Retrieved 2009-11-25.  
  15. ^ "Pia K: Løkke tør ikke tage EU-opgør" (in Danish). Politiken. 2009-11-25. Retrieved 2009-11-25.  
  16. ^ "Løkke afviser hurtig EU-afstemning" (in Danish). Politiken. 2009-11-25. Retrieved 2009-11-25.  
  17. ^ Motivations and consequences of the Danish ESDP opt-out (Revue Stratégique n. 91-92):
  18. ^ Europolitics (2007-11-07). "Treaty of Lisbon — Here is what changes!". Europolitics № 3407. Retrieved 2007-11-22.  
  19. ^ "Danes Assess Reversion of EU Exemptions: Angus Reid Global Monitor". Retrieved 2008-08-07.  
  20. ^ a b "Poll: Danes say no to euro". Politiken. 2009-05-19. Retrieved 2009-05-19.  
  21. ^
  22. ^ Politiken mener » Blog Arkiv » Hvornår & hvordan - EU à la carte
  23. ^ Courrier international, eurotopics : the european press in 3 languages
  24. ^ Courrier international, eurotopics : the european press in 3 languages


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