Lidegaard to Cameron: Don’t pursue our EU model

Foreign minister warns UK prime minister away from Denmark’s EU opt-out model

The foreign minister, Martin Lidegaard, has warned Britain’s re-elected PM David Cameron that adopting Denmark’s opt-out model when he renegotiates Britain’s relations with the EU is “not something that I would really recommend”.

Cameron says he wants reforms in his country’s agreements with the EU and plans to hold a referendum on continued membership by the end of 2017.

Cameron primarily wants changes to rules on welfare benefits, wanting  EU migrants to wait four years before being able to apply for certain benefits. He also wants to be able to deport EU jobseekers who remain unemployed after six months.

Changing EU agreements is a slow process, but Lifeguard warned the PM against negotiating opt-outs for the UK.

“I don’t know if this is something I would really recommend, because I think we have had so many problems with opt-outs,” Lidegaard said.

READ MORE: PM sets out case for referendum on EU opt-outs

Denmark negotiated four opt-outs in 1992 before joining the EU: citizenship, the euro, defence and justice.

Opt-out headaches
The justice opt-out in particular has posed problems in recent months.

The government wanted Denmark to join the Unified Patent Court and continue co-operation with the European Police Office, Europol, forcing the government to hold a referendum last year on joining the patent court. Another referendum is scheduled for 2016 on matters related to EU justice co-operation.

Cameron is scheduled to have breakfast with the Danish prime minister, Helle Thorning-Schmidt, tomorrow in Copenhagen.

Rocky road
Lidegaard said that Cameron’s demands for EU reforms might be something Denmark would support as long as they did not compromise the freedom of movement in the EU.

“We are of course open to what Cameron has to say,” he said. “There might be things that the UK wants that we would agree would be a good thing.”

Lidegaard warned that Cameron’s EU journey would not be easy.

“It’s going to be a road full of rocks,” the minister said.