x

Politics

Denmark Votes in Referendum on EU Defense amid Ukraine War

COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Polling stations opened in Denmark for voters to decide Wednesday whether to abandon their country’s 30-year-old opt-out from the European Union’s common defense policy.

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 Sweden and Finland’s historic bids to join NATO, which plans to take up their applications at the end of the month.

Some 4.2 million Danish voters are eligible to cast ballots in the referendum. The “yes” side – in favor of getting rid of the 1992 opt-out – has been ahead in recent months. Polls showed it with around 40% support and the “no” side with 30%.

“The world is changing, and not in a good way. We need to stand together and strengthen the cooperation that strengthens our security,” Jakob Ellemann-Jensen, head of the opposition Liberal Party, said as he handed out flyers Wednesday in a last-minute attempt to convince undecided voters to vote “yes.”

Recent polls showed that about 20% of voters remained undecided.

Denmark joining the EU’s defense policy would have a relatively modest impact on Europe’s security architecture, particularly compared to 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 continent stunned by the war in Ukraine.

The main effect of abandoning the opt-out would be that Danish officials could stay in the room when EU colleagues discuss defense topics, and Danish forces could take part in EU military operations.

One of the founding members of NATO, Denmark has stayed on the sidelines of the EU’s efforts to build a common security and defense policy in parallel with the trans-Atlantic NATO alliance. It was one of four opt-outs that Danes insisted on before adopting the EU’s Maastricht Treaty, which laid the foundation for political and economic union.

The waiver means Denmark has not participated in the EU’s discussions on defense policy, its development and acquisition of military capabilities and its joint military operations, such as those in Africa and Bosnia.

In a 1993 referendum, Denmark also opted out of cooperation in EU justice and home affairs, the common currency and citizenship. The citizenship opt-out, which said European citizenship would not replace national citizenship, has since become irrelevant as other members later adopted the same position. But the other provisions remain intact despite efforts by successive government to overturn them.

Danish voters in 2000 decided to stay outside the eurozone, and 15 years later they voted to keep the exemption on justice and home affairs.

 

RELATED

ATHENS - A rapprochement of sorts that has seen tensions dialed down between them doesn’t mean Greece isn’t still wary of Greece, said Defense Minister Nikos Dendias, saying there is still an “existential threat” despite warmer ties.

Top Stories

Columnists

A pregnant woman was driving in the HOV lane near Dallas.

General News

NEW YORK – Meropi Kyriacou, the new Principal of The Cathedral School in Manhattan, was honored as The National Herald’s Educator of the Year.

Video

2 Germans, a Spaniard and a Senegalese Killed in Building Collapse in Spain’s Mallorca Island

MADRID (AP) — Spain's National Police on Friday gave details on four people killed when a building housing a bar and restaurant club collapsed on the island of Mallorca.

SPRINGFIELD, Ill.  — The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum is once again under the spotlight after a manager failed to consult a collections committee before purchasing a 21-star flag whose description as a rare banner marking Illinois' 1818 admission to the Union is disputed.

BABYLON, NY – Babylon AHEPA Chapter 416 awarded two very well-qualified students Yanni Saridakis and Maria Avlonitis with $1,000 scholarships on May 19.

THRU JUNE 4 NEW YORK – The third iteration of the Carte Blanche project featuring Maria Antelman with the work ‘The Seer (Deep)’ opened on April 19 and runs through June 4, Monday-Friday 9 AM-2:30 PM, at the Consulate General of Greece in New York, 69 East 79th Street in Manhattan.

ATHENS – An Archieratical Divine Liturgy and a memorial service honoring the 50th dark anniversary of the Turkish invasion of Cyprus at the Metropolis – the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of Athens – marked the beginning of the 4th Archon International Conference on Religious Freedom of the Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate on Sunday, May 26.

Enter your email address to subscribe

Provide your email address to subscribe. For e.g. [email protected]

You may unsubscribe at any time using the link in our newsletter.