The Danish people have clearly spoken out in favor of the abolition of their country’s so-called EU defense reservation. In a referendum on Wednesday, 66.9 percent of voters voted to get rid of the reservation that has existed for almost 30 years. After counting almost all the votes cast, the opposing side came to around 33 percent. An overwhelming majority of Danes had voted to abolish the reservation, Social Democrat Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen stated to party friends in Copenhagen that evening.
This means that Denmark can now participate in European cooperation on defense and security. Denmark has sent a very clear signal to its allies in NATO and Europe, but also to Russian President Vladimir Putin, Frederiksen said. “We show that when Putin invades a free and independent country and threatens the stability of Europe, then the rest of us move closer together.”
This means that Denmark will be able to take part in European security and defense cooperation in the future and thus, for example, in EU military missions. So far, the special regulation, which is unique in the EU, meant that the country could take part in civilian but not in EU military missions or in the joint development of weapons systems, for example.
Against the background of the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine and the resulting change in the security situation in Europe, almost 4.3 million Danes were asked to vote on the reservation on Wednesday. Voter turnout was around 66 percent. Most of the Danish parties, including the governing Social Democrats, had spoken out in favor of abolition.
Denmark is the only EU country with such a special status on defense issues. It has existed since 1993. A year earlier, the Danes had voted against the Maastricht Treaty. The Scandinavian country then negotiated four reservations on EU cooperation in order to stay out of defense issues, among other things. At the second attempt, the people then approved the Maastricht Treaty.
The result now means that Germany’s northernmost neighbor for the first time gets rid of one of its special regulations in a referendum. In 2000, the people voted against the euro, and in 2015 also against EU judicial cooperation.