A referendum will not be necessary for Denmark to sign the EU fiscal compact treaty after the Justice Ministry found that the treaty neither impinges on Danish sovereignty nor violates the constitution.
The finding means that Denmark is free to sign the treaty next week along with all other EU member states except the United Kingdom and the Czech Republic, who both pulled out in January.
The treaty is designed to ensure tightened fiscal discipline in European member states in order to avert a future debt crisis similar to the one currently afflicting Greece, Spain, Italy, Portugal and Ireland.
But three of the nation's political parties – Enhedslisten (EL), Liberal Alliance (LA) and Dansk Folkeparti (DF) – still believe that a referendum is needed before Denmark signs up to the treaty.
Kristian Thulesen Dahl from DF told Ritzau news agency that he was not surprised by the Justice Ministry’s findings.
“The conclusion was predetermined," he said. "We are looking forward to hearing the opinions of lawyers from outside the Justice Ministry on this important question.”
After politicians from LA and EL echoed Dahl’s statement, the minister for European affairs, Nicolai Wammen, took offence at the suggestion that ministry officials were not impartial in their evaluation of the treaty.
“I would warn against accusing officials of putting aside their objectivity and professionalism simply because their conclusions do not fit one's political viewpoints,” Wammen told Politiken newspaper, adding that the Justice Ministry was simply instructed to do its job and assess the legal implications of the treaty, not find a way to make it support the government line.
Government support party EL argues that the treaty will affect Danish sovereignty, however, by preventing future Danish governments from using budget deficits to stimulate the economy, similar to the current government’s ‘kickstart’ plan.
“We think it’s completely wrong to take away the opportunity of future governments to adjust their economic politics from election to election,” Nikolaj Vollumsen, EL's EU spokesperson told Politiken. "I think the Justice Ministry’s position is simply a legal dodge to avoid having a referendum.”
The new financial regulations outlined in the treaty, which must be passed in each member state as a law, mean that countries will have to meet strict limits on debt and budget deficit levels or risk facing fines of up to 0.1 percent of GDP.
The new regulations are due to come into effect on 1 January 2013.