By: Frederik Gammelby
Danish voters yesterday voted No to change their Europol opt-out into an “optional arrangement” membership.
Despite a majority of parties in the Danish Parliament recommending a Yes-vote, 53 per cent of voters voted against the optional arrangement, which would have led the Danish government to choose which parts of the Europol they wanted to cooperate on.
With the No vote, Denmark becomes the first EU member state to withdraw from the Europol supranational policing network. On Monday, the Danish Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen (Venstre/Liberal Party ed.) will meet with EU President Donald Tusk and EU Commission Chairman Jean Claude Juncker to work out a parallel agreement with Denmark on policing.
Professor Soeren Dosenrode at European Studies from Aalborg University in Denmark said about The Prime Minister’s upcoming meeting with Mr. Juncker and Mr. Tusk.
“The Danish referendum is not a big deal in Europe, although it’s a big thing in Denmark. This is chiefly due to the fact that Denmark with this vote is not blocking any treaties. The negotiations depend on what Mr. Juncker and President Tusk are going to say, although the Danish Prime Minister should not count on their goodwill.”
Getting the details of the deal right might prove to be a complex task since Denmark, as an EU member state, will still have to live up to the common interest of the EU.
“Getting parallel agreements is a slow process,” said Professor Dosenrode. “First it has to be approved by the Commission, then the Council of Ministers and finally the European Parliament. This process normally takes between one and five years. Furthermore, EU regulation states that parallel agreements are temporary.”
Danish EU elections have traditionally been associated with EU scepticism, with Denmark having voted No to the Maastricht Treaty in 1992, which later resulted in the Danish opt-out deal under the Edinburgh agreement. Denmark also opted out on membership of the euro in 2000. But why are the Danes so sceptical of the EU?
Professor Dosenrode said: “Fundamentally, the Danes are fond of the EU. However, they are scared of giving away their sovereignty. The idea of the big, federal, European state is frightening for the Danes. At the same time the Danes are deeply suspicious of their politicians, because various politicians from parties across the Parliament have been involved in a string of gaffes in resent years, and this suspiciousness has definitely been reflected in the referendum.”
The Danish referendum has gained attention in the UK, and UKIP leader Nigel Farage has already congratulated the Danes on their No vote. Commenting on what the Danish No vote could mean for Prime Minister David Cameron’s bid to change Britain’s EU-membership, Professor Dosenrode said: “It is definitely a signal to Brussels that EU scepticism is alive and well. In connection to the Danish No vote however it is difficult to say whether Donald Tusk and Jean Claude Juncker would approach Britain in the same way as it would with Denmark.”