A Large Majority of Danes Want to Join European Defense Policy

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Denmark will join the defence policy of the European Union. A large majority of Danish voters agreed to this in a referendum. Denmark is the only EU member state to stand aside on defence, but the war in Ukraine has made the Danes realize that a joint policy is needed.


Denmark held a referendum on Tuesday on whether to join EU defence cooperation. The country is the only member state that has a so-called opt-out for defence. This means, among other things, that Copenhagen cannot participate in European military missions or the development of weapon systems.

A large majority of almost 67 percent has chosen to join that joint defence policy, according to the virtually complete results.

The Danish government had called the referendum after the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the changing security situation in Europe. Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen had also advised her 4.3 million voting compatriots to opt for a connection with European defence policy.

“Tonight Denmark sent out an important signal. To our allies in Europe and NATO and Putin. We showed that if Putin invades a free country and endangers stability in Europe, the others unite,” Frederiksen said. the result of the referendum.

It was the first time that the Danes gave up an opt-out in a referendum, an exceptional measure that stipulates that the country does not have to comply with certain rules within the EU. Such exceptional measures are often introduced in the EU to reach compromises. In 2000 the Danes voted against the introduction of the euro and in 2015 against the abolition of the opt-out for European police and judicial cooperation.

Denmark negotiated opt-outs in several European policy areas in 1992 after Danish voters torpedoed the Maastricht Treaty in a referendum. The agreement to opt-outs for Copenhagen paved the way for the ratification of the important European treaty a year later.

Other countries also received exceptions, such as the former member state of the United Kingdom and recently Hungary and other countries in the agreement on the import ban on Russian oil.

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