SUNDAY, April 14, 2024

Denmark to join EU defence policy after historic vote

Denmark to join EU defence policy after historic vote

The leaders of Denmark's centre-left ruling party and the centre-right opposition were united on Wednesday after the country decided to join the European Union's defence policy.

The final results of a referendum on the issue signalled the latest shift among Nordic countries to deepen defence ties in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

After most votes had been counted, Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen of the Social Democrats and the leader of the opposition Venstre party, Jakob Ellemann-Jensen, both hailed the decision.

Denmark is the only EU member that is not part of the European Union's defence and security policy.

The referendum marks the first time a government has succeeded in abolishing one of several exemptions secured in a 1993 referendum on the Maastricht Treaty.

Final results showed almost 67% of voters were in favour of removing an opt-out to the EU's so-called Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP), in what was the largest recorded show of support in a referendum on an EU matter in Denmark.

Around 33 per cent of voters polled were opposed.

The vote to abolish the opt-out is a win for those in favour of greater EU cooperation, while those against have argued that the EU's defence pact is strained by bureaucracy and that Denmark's participation in EU military operations will be too costly.

In historic policy shifts, Sweden and Finland this month decided to apply for NATO membership, while both Denmark and Germany have already promised to sharply raise defence spending.

Denmark is a founding member of NATO, but the alliance's biggest military power, the United States, has signalled that European allies must take greater responsibility for their own security.

In the CSDP, Denmark would be able to take part in joint military operations, such as those in Somalia, Mali and Bosnia and Herzegovina, and cooperate on the acquisition of joint military capabilities.