WITH A HIGH turnout and a 53.1 percent majority, the modifcation of the legal opt-out was rejected when the Danes voted last week.
Much to the surprise of the ‘Yes’ coalition, which has a comfortable majority in parliament, the electorate took to the ballots to not say ‘Yes’.
A slap on the wrist
BUT WHY? Post-referendum polls indicate that the Danish population did not trust the people in power. They blamed politicians for spending years accusing each other of failing to fulfil promises. So asking the electorate to trust these same people with the power of attorney to hold sway over handing sovereignty to the EU was a bit much to ask.
There was little or no debate on matters such as Europol co-operation and 22 other acts regarding legal issues such as the EU-debt collection and EU mutual recognition of court decisions – probably all issues that individually would get resounding ‘Yes’.
A slap on the establishment’s wrist was what it came to. What was ironic is that the ‘No’ parties do not really know what to do apart from looking victorious.
Not hostile, but sceptical
LAST TIME the Danes went to the EU referendum ballots, the issue at hand was about the European Patent Agency (which was not invented when the optout structure was decided 20 years ago).
The Danes voted ‘Yes’ in a comfortable majority, seeing off the usual voices warning of how joining a super national authority would reduce formal sovereignty, just as now.
The Danes are basically pragmatic, and while they are not hostile towards the EU, they are somewhat sceptical.
The typical objection is the cry that 80 percent of the legislation passed in the EU becomes the law of the nation, either immediately or indirectly after passing mandatory parliamentary approval.
However, measuring legislation by word count can only lead to misunderstandings. If we count the activities in the Danish Parliament for comparison’s sake, we will find that the number of paragraphs have not in the least been reduced after more than 40 years of EU membership. The new commission has heard that cry and has promised to work on the big issues and leave the details alone. We will see about that.
Lars Løkke to the rescue?
Now it is up to the prime minister to negotiate Europol parallel participation, among other things. We need it – they are better off with Denmark included so it will probably happen.
The ‘No’ parties claim that if Europol develops in an unwanted direction, we should be able to leave. How Denmark can leave an integrated intelligence organisation without becoming a criminal’s paradise is another matter. How to protect human rights and privacy in a world where you leave a digital footprint behind you, whatever you do, is a more important matter. For that purpose, it would have been nice to have a fully integrated membership.
However, if we embark with stronger policing to protect us from ever stronger criminals, we should never forget the importance of policing the police, and that is easier if we are present where it matters.