Less than a week before the UK goes to the polls and decides to remain or leave the EU, there are already Danes airing the possibility of following their lead and asking for a referendum next year.
Opting out, clearly in
We recently saw how the Danish opt-outs have still not been replaced with full participation, which is troublesome given that they have lost their relevance since their agreement in 1992.
The monetary union opt-out is still there, but the Danish currency is no more than just a euro clone. It has the same value, most Danes have euros in their wallet, and companies have been publishing their accounts in euros for years. A formal integration will probably have to wait a bit until the ECB has convinced us it is stable.
Defence is still opted out and will remain so until the ‘Fort Europe’ border control issue is solved, but Denmark is so active in Syria (and all over really) that an active foreign policy makes sense – for no better reason than reducing the migrant and refugee build-up.
Finally, the legal co-operation did not end up in an opt-in solution and certainly not in full integration. We will have to see what the coming negotiations bring. However, having the same legal standards and integrated police co-operation is an important tool in the fight against terror and crime at large. We will get on with it – we just won’t sit at the table when the rules are formed.
Unlikely to follow
If we are to consider a Dexit – a Danish exit from the EU – we will first see what happens in the UK. Back in the day we did not enter the EFTA because the UK did not cross the channel and our exports were tied to the UK: the trusty bacon and butter. We entered the EU because the UK did and benefited lavishly from it. It was good business.
If Brexit is the result in the UK, then Dansk Folkeparti and Enhedslisten will ask if we should follow suit. Only a referendum can decide that. Before any serious debate is started, it is however relevant to note that the basics have changed in the meantime. Not only are the opt-outs without practical importance, but over the years the importance of the UK to the Danish economy has been reduced while Germany has grown to be our largest market.
The Danes do not love the EU, but they fear uncertainty more, so Dexit is not a likely option. (ES)