Denmark and the European Union

Denmark in the European Union refers to the historical and current issues of Denmark's membership in the European Union. Denmark has a permanent representation to the European Union led by ambassador Jeppe Tranholm-Mikkelsen, in Brussels.[1][2] The current Foreign Minister and Minister for European Affairs is Anders Samuelsen.

The main economic reason that Denmark joined the EEC was because it wanted to safeguard its agricultural exports to the United Kingdom.[3]

Denmark and the European Union relations
Map indicating locations of Denmark and European Union




Denmark formally applied to join the predecessor of the EU, the European Economic Community on 10 August 1961, a day after the British applied.[4] But the then French president Charles de Gaulle vetoed British membership and Denmark did not wish to join the EEC without the United Kingdom.[5] After much negotiation, and following a change in the French Presidency, Denmark, Ireland and the United Kingdom eventually joined the European Communities on 1 January 1973. Denmark and Ireland were so economically linked to the UK, that they considered it necessary to join the EEC if the UK did.[6] The Danish population voted for membership with 63.3% in favour with a turnout of 90.1%.[7] This was the first of several enlargements which became a major policy area of the Union.[8] In 1982, Greenland voted to leave the Community after gaining home rule from Denmark.[9]

The EC became accepted and appreciated in Denmark and in 1986, an overwhelming majority of the Danish population supported the Single European Act.[3]

Danes spurred political awareness of euroscepticism and have enjoyed a reputation as "reluctant" Europeans. In Denmark, the first Danish Maastricht Treaty referendum was held on 2 June 1992 but a shortfall of fewer than 50,000 votes resulted in the treaty not being ratified.[10][11] After the failure, alterations were made to the treaty through the addition of the Edinburgh Agreement which lists four Danish exceptions. The treaty was eventually ratified the following year on 18 May 1993 after a second referendum was held in Denmark.[12]

The Lisbon treaty was ratified by the Danish parliament alone.[13] It was not considered a surrendering of national sovereignty, which would have implied the holding of a referendum according to article 20 of the constitution.[14] Currently, the Danish government wants a referendum on the opt-outs from the EU-treaty, but the prospect of the opt-outs perhaps being rejected does not look appealing. The issue is being postponed for the time being, or until a large coalition of political parties support holding a referendum.[15][note 1]

In October 2012, Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt demanded a 1 billion kroner rebate in the Budget of the European Union, otherwise she would veto against the budget.[16] In February 2013, Denmark and the European Union reached an agreement on a seven-year budget, to approve Danish demand.[17]

On 25 May 2014, the Danish Unified Patent Court membership referendum was approved with 62.5% of the vote, enabling the government to proceed with the ratification of the Agreement on a Unified Patent Court, which constitutes the legal basis for the Unified Patent Court.[18][19]


Two political parties in the Danish parliament call themselves eurosceptic: the Danish People's Party[20] and the Red-Green Alliance.[21] Over the years, many anti-EU organisations have been established, for example People's Movement against the EU and the June Movement.

In July 2011, Denmark reinforced its borders with Germany by stationing more officers in an effort to halt the flow of illegal goods. The action has angered both Germany and Sweden.[22] Minister of Europe Joerg-Uwe Hahn in the state of Hesse called for a boycott of Denmark by tourists. He said "If Denmark is introducing border controls again during the holiday season, I can only suggest that people turn right around and holiday in Austria or Poland instead."[23] The European Commission warned Denmark not to breach the Schengen Treaty.[24]

In January 2019 a poll suggested that 8% of the population want to leave the EU.[25]


Denmark uses the krone as its currency and does not use the euro, having negotiated an opt-out from participation under the Edinburgh Agreement in 1992. In 2000, the government held a referendum on introducing the euro, which was defeated with 46.8% voting yes and 53.2% voting no. The Danish krone is part of the ERM-II mechanism, so its exchange rate is tied to within 2.25% of the euro.

Most of the large political parties in Denmark favour the introduction of the euro and the idea of a second referendum has been suggested several times since 2000. However, some important parties such as the Danish People's Party and Socialist People's Party do not currently support a referendum. Public opinion surveys have shown fluctuating support for the single currency with majorities in favour for some years after the physical introduction of the currency. However, following the financial crisis of 2008, support began to fall, and in late 2011, support for the euro crashed in light of the escalating European sovereign debt crisis.[26]

See also


  1. ^  This article incorporates public domain material from the United States Department of State website (U.S. Bilateral Relations Fact Sheets).

External links

  • "Fact Sheet November 2011:The Danish Parliament and the European Union" (PDF). Retrieved 31 December 2012.
  • "Danish Presidency of the Council of the European Union 2012". Retrieved 31 December 2012.
  1. ^ "Permanent Representation of Denmark to the European Union". Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark. Retrieved 31 December 2012.
  2. ^ "Ambassadør Jeppe Tranholm-Mikkelsen". (in Danish). Retrieved 31 December 2012.
  3. ^ a b "Danish and British Popular Euroscepticism Compared: A Sceptical Assessment of the Concept" (PDF). Danish Institute for International Studies. Archived from the original (PDF) on 20 February 2011. Retrieved 31 December 2012.
  4. ^ "How the EU works, History, 1960–1969". Retrieved 31 December 2012.
  5. ^ "Denmark & EU". Retrieved 31 December 2012.
  6. ^ Bache, Ian and Stephen George (2006) Politics in the European Union, Oxford University Press. p540–542
  7. ^ Nohlen, D & Stöver, P (2010) Elections in Europe: A data handbook, p524 & 534 ISBN 978-3-8329-5609-7
  8. ^ "The first enlargement". Retrieved 31 December 2012.
  9. ^ "Negotiations for enlargement". Retrieved 31 December 2012.
  10. ^ Havemann, Joel (4 June 1992). "EC Leaders at Sea Over Danish Rejection : Europe: Vote against Maastricht Treaty blocks the march to unity. Expansion plans may also be in jeopardy". LA Times. Retrieved 7 December 2011.
  11. ^ "Maastricht-traktaten & Edinburgh-afgørelsen 18. maj 1993" (in Danish). Retrieved 22 February 2011.
  12. ^ "". BBC. 30 April 2001. Retrieved 7 December 2011.
  13. ^ "Denmark and the Treaty of Lisbon". Folketinget. Retrieved 20 October 2011.
  14. ^ "No Danish vote on Lisbon Treaty". BBC. BBC News. 11 December 2007. Retrieved 20 October 2011.
  15. ^ "Denmark to review opt-outs". European Voice. 30 October 2009. Retrieved 20 October 2011.
  16. ^ "Thorning truer EU: Veto hvis ikke Danmark får milliard-rabat". DR (in Danish). 25 October 2012. Retrieved 9 February 2013.
  17. ^ "Denmark secures billion kroner EU rebate". Copenhagen Post. 8 February 2013. Retrieved 9 February 2013.
  18. ^ "MINISTRY: EU patent court may require referendum". Politiken. 7 May 2013. Retrieved 10 May 2013.
  19. ^ "Pressemøde den 7. maj 2013". Government of Denmark (in Danish). 7 May 2013. Retrieved 11 May 2013.
  20. ^ "EU-politik". (in Danish). Archived from the original on 19 October 2010. Retrieved 31 December 2012.
  21. ^ "EU-politik". (in Danish). Retrieved 31 December 2012.
  22. ^ "Neighbours: move toward border controls a "scandal"". Copenhagen Post. 12 May 2011. Retrieved 31 December 2012.
  23. ^ "Denmark steps up customs checks at borders". Reuters. 5 July 2011. Retrieved 31 December 2012.
  24. ^ "EU Slams Denmark over Plans to Reintroduce Border Checks". Der Spiegel. 12 May 2011. Retrieved 31 December 2012.
  25. ^ Ny måling: Vælgerne vil blive i EU, men de vil ikke af med forbeholdene
  26. ^ "Danskerne siger nej tak til euroen". (in Danish). 27 September 2011. Retrieved 29 September 2011.
1972 Danish European Communities membership referendum

A referendum on joining the European Economic Community was held in Denmark on 2 October 1972. The result was 63.3% in favour with a turnout of 90.1%. The law that Denmark should be member of the EEC was passed on 11 October 1972, and Denmark became a member on 1 January 1973.

1986 Danish Single European Act referendum

A non-binding referendum on the Single European Act was held in Denmark on 27 February 1986. It was approved by 56.2% of voters, with a voter participation of 75.4%.The referendum was held by the government of the Prime Minister of Denmark, Poul Schlüter. The government was in favour of Denmark ratifying the Single European Act, but a majority in parliament was against it. The referendum was the last Europe-related referendum in which parties such as the Social Democrats and the Social Liberal Party recommended against ratification.

1992 Danish Maastricht Treaty referendum

A referendum on the Maastricht Treaty was held in Denmark on 2 June 1992. It was rejected by 50.7% of voters with a turnout of 83.1%. The rejection was a blow to the process of European integration, although the process continued. The result of the referendum, along with the "petit oui" in the French Maastricht referendum signaled the end of the "permissive consensus" on European integration which had existed in most of continental Europe until then. This was expressed by Pascal Lamy, chef de cabinet for Jacques Delors, the president of the European Commission, who remarked that, “Europe was built in a St. Simonian [i.e., technocratic] way from the beginning, this was Monnet’s approach: The people weren’t ready to agree to integration, so you had to get on without telling them too much about what was happening. Now St. Simonianism is finished. It can’t work when you have to face democratic opinion.” From this point forward issues relating to European integration were subject to much greater scrutiny across much of Europe, and overt euroscepticism gained prominence. Only France, Denmark and Ireland held referendums on Maastricht ratification.

As the Maastricht Treaty could only come into effect if all members of the European Union ratified it, the Edinburgh Agreement, negotiated in the months following the referendum, provided Denmark with four exceptions which eventually led to Denmark ratifying the Maastricht Treaty in a 1993 referendum.

1993 Danish Maastricht Treaty referendum

A second referendum on the Maastricht Treaty was held in Denmark on 18 May 1993. After rejecting the treaty in a referendum the previous year, this time it was approved by 56.7% of voters with an 86.5% turnout.

2000 Danish euro referendum

A referendum on joining the Eurozone was held in Denmark on 28 September 2000. It was rejected by 53.2% of voters with a turnout of 87.6%.

2015 Danish European Union opt-out referendum

A referendum on one of the country's opt-outs from the European Union was held in Denmark on 3 December 2015. Specifically, the referendum was on whether to convert Denmark's current full opt-out on home and justice matters into an opt-out with case-by-case opt-in similar to that currently held by Ireland and the United Kingdom. Approval of the referendum was needed for Denmark to remain in Europol under the new rules. However, it was rejected by 53% of voters.

Danish Council for Independent Research

The Danish Council for Independent Research (Danish: Det Frie Forskningsråd; DFF) of Denmark funds research and gives advice to government and parliament. The Danish Agency for Science, Technology and Innovation (DASTI) oversees its activity. As of 2012 the council has five sub-councils: Humanities, Medical Sciences, Natural Sciences, Social Sciences, and Technology and Production Sciences.The council signed the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities in November 2011. In 2014 the DFF initiated a controversial "experimental one-year government research-funding scheme specifically for women."As of 2005, the Danish Research Agency (est. 2004) coordinates the DFF as well as the Danish Council for Strategic Research and the Danish Research Coordination Committee.

Danish European Constitution referendum

The Danish referendum on the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe was a planned referendum to be held on 27 September 2005, that would have put the proposed Constitution to the voters of Denmark for ratification. However, after voters voted down the Constitution in both the French and Dutch referendums before the Danish vote could take place, Danish prime minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen indicated that the referendum would be cancelled. On April 24, 2008 the Danish parliament ratified the Treaty's successor, the Treaty of Lisbon without a referendum.

A November 2004 opinion poll indicated that 49% of Danes were expected to vote in favour of the Constitution, with 26% opposing. However, some feel that the domino effect of the successful "no" votes in France and the Netherlands may have reduced the strength of the "yes" side in Denmark. Indeed, polls in June 2005 indicated a likely defeat for the constitution.

Danish opt-outs from the European Union

Denmark holds opt-outs from European Union policies in relation to security and defence, citizenship, police and justice, and the adoption of the euro. They were secured under the Edinburgh Agreement in 1992 after a referendum for the ratification of the Maastricht Treaty was rejected by Danish voters, as a package of measure to assuage concerns raised during that referendum.

The Danish governments has held two referendums on modifying its opt-outs. The first in 2000 rejected the adoption of the euro by 53.2% to 46.8% on a turnout of 87.6%. The second in 2015 rejected converting Denmark's current full opt-out on home and justice matters into a case-by-case opt-out similar to that currently held by Ireland and the United Kingdom by 53.1% to 46.9%.


The European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation, better known under the name Europol, formerly the European Police Office and Europol Drugs Unit, is the law enforcement agency of the European Union (EU) formed in 1998 to handle criminal intelligence and combat serious international organised crime and terrorism through cooperation between competent authorities of EU member states. The Agency has no executive powers, and its officials are not entitled to arrest suspects or act without prior approval from competent authorities in the member states. Seated in The Hague, South Holland, it comprised 1,065 staff in 2016.

Faroe Islands and the European Union

The Faroe Islands, a self-governing nation within the Kingdom of Denmark, is not part of the EU, as explicitly asserted by both Rome treaties.The relations of the Faroe Islands with the EU are governed by a Fisheries Agreement (1977) and a Free Trade Agreement (1991, revised 1998). The main reason for remaining outside the EU is disagreements about the Common Fisheries Policy.

Foreign relations of Denmark

The foreign policy of Denmark is based on its identity as a sovereign state in Europe, the Arctic and the North Atlantic. As such its primary foreign policy focus is on its relations with other nations as a sovereign state compromising the three constituent countries: Denmark, Greenland and the Faroe Islands. Denmark has long had good relations with other nations.

It has been involved in coordinating Western assistance to the Baltic states (Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania). The country is a strong supporter of international peacekeeping. Danish forces were heavily engaged in the former Yugoslavia in the UN Protection Force (UNPROFOR), with IFOR, and now SFOR. Denmark also strongly supported American operations in Afghanistan and has contributed both monetarily and materially to the ISAF. These initiatives are a part of the "active foreign policy" of Denmark. Instead of the traditional adaptative foreign policy of The unity of the Realm, Kingdom of Denmark is today pursuing an active foreign policy, where human rights, democracy and other crucial values is to be defended actively. In recent years, Greenland and the Faroe Islands have been guaranteed a say in foreign policy issues, such as fishing, whaling and geopolitical concerns.

Following World War II, Denmark ended its two-hundred-year-long policy of neutrality. Denmark has been a member of NATO since its founding in 1949, and membership in NATO remains highly popular. There were several serious confrontations between the U.S. and Denmark on security policy in the so-called "footnote era" (1982–88), when an alternative parliamentary majority forced the government to adopt specific national positions on nuclear and arms control issues. The alternative majority in these issues was because the Social liberal Party (Radikale Venstre) supported the governing majority in economic policy issues, but was against certain NATO policies and voted with the left in these issues. The conservative led Centre-right government accepted this variety of "minority parliamentarism", that is, without making it a question of the government's parliamentary survival.

With the end of the Cold War, however, Denmark has been supportive of U.S. policy objectives in the Alliance.

Danes have a reputation as "reluctant" Europeans. When they rejected ratification of the Maastricht Treaty on 2 June 1992, they put the EC's plans for the European Union on hold. In December 1992, the rest of the EC agreed to exempt Denmark from certain aspects of the European Union, including a common defense, a common currency, EU citizenship, and certain aspects of legal cooperation. The Amsterdam Treaty was approved in the referendum of 28 May 1998. In the autumn of 2000, Danish citizens rejected membership of the Euro currency group in a referendum. The Lisbon treaty was ratified by the Danish parliament alone. It was not considered a surrendering of national sovereignty, which would have implied the holding of a referendum according to article 20 of the constitution.

Greenland–European Union relations

Greenland, an autonomous constituent country of the Kingdom of Denmark (which also includes the countries of Denmark and Faroe Islands) is one of the EU countries’ overseas countries and territories (OCT). Greenland receives funding from the EU for sustainable development and has signed agreements increasing cooperation with the EU.

Greenland joined the then European Community in 1973 as a county along with Denmark, but after gaining autonomy in 1979 with the introduction of home rule within the Kingdom of Denmark, Greenland voted to leave in 1982 and left in 1985, to become an OCT. The main reason for leaving is disagreements about the Common Fisheries Policy and to regain control of Greenlandic fish resources to subsequently remain outside EU waters. Citizens of Greenland are, nonetheless, EU citizens within the meaning of EU treaties and Danish nationality law.

Opt-outs in the European Union

In general, the law of the European Union is valid in all of the twenty-eight European Union member states. However, occasionally member states negotiate certain opt-outs from legislation or treaties of the European Union, meaning they do not have to participate in certain policy areas. Currently, four states have such opt-outs: United Kingdom (four opt-outs), Denmark (three opt-outs), Republic of Ireland (two opt-outs) and Poland (one opt-out).

This is distinct from the enhanced cooperation, a measure introduced in the Treaty of Amsterdam, whereby a minimum of nine member states are allowed to co-operate within the structure of the European Union without involving other member states, after the European Commission and a qualified majority have approved the measure. It is further distinct from Mechanism for Cooperation and Verification and permanent acquis suspensions, whose lifting is conditional on meeting certain benchmarks by the affected member states.

Peter Nedergaard

Peter Nedergaard (born October 31, 1957) is a Danish professor of political science who has been employed at the Department of Political Science at the University of Copenhagen since 2008.

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