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Rasmussen wants Danish referendum over EU defence relationship

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Rasmussen wants Danish referendum over EU defence relationship
PM Lars Løkke Rasmussen during an election campaign visit to an educational centre. Photo: Ernst Van Norde / Ritzau Scanpix
12:45 CEST+02:00
Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen has said he would accept a Danish referendum on the country’s participation in the EU’s foreign policy on defence.

The PM has long been an advocate of Denmark’s participation in the European Defence Agency and is now suggesting a national referendum on the question during the next parliamentary term, public service broadcaster DR reports.

Denmark currently has an opt-out which makes it the only member state not part of the EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy.

“We have to have the discussion and that must naturally done with a view to holding a referendum,” Rasmussen said.

“The Liberal party wants it (a referendum, ed.) and we want the referendum to take place during the next parliamentary term, and we want to win it,” the PM said.

Rasmussen is of the view that participation in joint defence initiatives within the EU will improve Denmark’s capability for defending itself and controlling migration.

Defence Minister Claus Frederiksen, who also represents the Liberal party, also raised the issue this week but did not suggest a referendum.

Due to its current opt-out on participating in joint EU defence, Denmark is not currently part of EU decision-making and activities on defence.

In practical terms, this means that Denmark is cut off from contributing to minor EU military operations and development.

The decision to opt out of the EU’s joint defence work was made via a 1993 referendum on the Edinburgh Agreement, which granted Denmark four exceptions to the Maastricht Treaty. Denmark had rejected the treaty in another referendum the previous year.

The other three exceptions granted to Denmark under the Edinburgh agreement are in the areas of justice, the single currency and European Union citizenship.

The latter opt-out, which stated that European citizenship did not replace national citizenship, was rendered meaningless when the Amsterdam Treaty adopted the same wording for all members.

In late 2015, a referendum in the country resulted in the rejection of a proposal by Rasmussen’s government to beef Denmark’s participation in the EU's justice cooperation.

READ ALSO: Danes reject EU justice rules in referendum

Vocabulary

opt-out, exemption -- forbehold

(military) defence, army -- forsvar

referendum -- folkeafstemning

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