Not business as usual
The European elections were dominated by Lars Løkke Rasmussen’s boxer shorts and his handling of the media pressure. He did not come across very well, and Venstre lost confidence because he did.
However, the really interesting thing that happened on Sunday was the result of the referendum on the European Patent Court.
The law had been earlier passed by parliament with two thirds of the vote, with just Dansk Folkeparti and Enhedslisten – the two eurosceptic parties – voting against.
However, in the referendum, two thirds of the voters also voted in favour, which meant that for the first ever time, parliament and the electorate were in harmony regarding EU affairs.
This marks a significant change, as normally the voting among the electorate is finely balanced.
And it may lead to politicians considering new referendums to get rid of some of the four opt-out clauses established after the Danes voted no to the Maastricht Treaty in 1992.
The four opt-out clauses are on 1/ Economic and Monetary Union (no commitment to join the euro); 2/ Defence (neither takes part in discussions or is bound by decisions with EU defence implications – unlike it is with NATO); 3/ Citizenship (EU membership complements but does not replace national citizenship); and 4/ Freedom, security and justice (does not participate unless it is connected to Schengen visa rules).
Additionally a referendum on a new bank control system is high on the agenda.
So it would appear that the Danes are not really against EU participation, but have deep-rooted reservations about the dominance of a major power.
After all, how many times over the centuries has Denmark nearly lost its independence to one?
Scepticism will therefore always be there – you can see it in the stories about welfare tourism, social dumping, thieving gangs and the like.
But these scares are reported out of proportion as the true picture shows that 84,000 workers from the eastern European EU members contribute to the GDP.
Unemployment is admittedly a problem, but it’s at a pretty low rate right now, and so are interest rates. Denmark is looking good.
Since the Second World War, Denmark has left its splendid isolation and become an international forerunner in the defence of human rights and international co-operation, and now one can start to hope that Denmark will stop dragging its feet in EU matters and seek influence as a constructive mediator wherever it can.
It is a practice that in the past it has shown a natural talent for. (ES)