Monday, 16 September 2019 12:29 GMT
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Denmark mulls EU relationship in referendum




(MENAFN - Gulf Times) Voters in Denmark are to be asked how closely the country should align itself with European Union legislation in a referendum tomorrow.
A majority "yes" vote could see Denmark, an EU member since 1973, replace its long-standing opt-out stance for justice and home affairs with a case-by-case opt-in system, akin to that used by Ireland and Britain.
But the campaign has not generated much passion among the electorate.
A pre-referendum poll of polls this week gave the yes-side a slight edge, leading 34.8% to 33.4% for the no-side, while 31.8% were undecided.
The many issues being discussed and a late start to the campaign has contributed to uncertainty among voters.
The opt-in proponents - a five-party alliance including Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen's right-leaning Liberals and the main Social Democrat opposition - argue that the reform is necessary for Denmark to remain a partner in Europol, the European cross-border crime agency.
"If Denmark is not part of Europol, Denmark is a less secure place to live in," Rasmussen said last week after a visit to Europol headquarters in The Hague.
The current opt-out system, dating back to 1993, has allowed Denmark to stay out of all supranational EU policy areas in home affairs and justice. However, following the 2009 Lisbon treaty, more EU co-operation is being transferred to a supranational level in reforms also affecting Europol.
Unless Denmark votes in favour of a closer relationship to the EU, it is set to lose its membership within the law enforcement agency.
A win for the opt-in campaign would see Denmark adopt 22 existing EU legal acts on matters ranging from family law, impacting divorce settlements and child maintenance payments, to commercial law such as cross-border debt-recovery.
The leftist Unity List opposes scrapping the opt-out system, as does the Danish People's Party, which provides parliamentary support for Rasmussen's minority government on other issues.
The eurosceptic Danish People's Party is known for its tough immigration stance and argues that an opt-in would mean that Denmark will eventually be forced to adopt EU refugee policies, despite claims to the contrary from the yes-side.
Denmark should instead secure a separate agreement with Europol, like non-EU member Norway, and keep the opt-out, it says.
Danish People's Party leader Kristian Thulesen Dahl said during a televised debate with Rasmussen the other day that the opt-out "protected the Danish people" from pro-EU politicians in the Danish legislature.
Under the Danish constitution, a referendum must be held on any draft legislation that transfers powers to supranational authorities.
The Scandinavian country has also opted out of the euro currency union and the bloc's defence rules.


Denmark mulls EU relationship in referendum

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