Denmark should eventually become part of the eurozone as it would benefit the small, Scandinavian country, Danish prime minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt has said in an interview.
Though the Danish prime minister currently has no plans of calling for a referendum of Denmark's euro opt-out, Thorning-Schmidt personally believes the country should still join "eventually".
The Scandinavian country held a euro referendum in 2000 where 53.2% voted against adopting the EU's common currency. And since there is no sign that public opinion has changed since then, Thorning-Schmidt said she was "careful" about holding another vote, even though she believes joining the euro would be in Denmark's best interest.
She does believe however that Denmark should get rid of some of the opt-outs it has negotiated in four EU policy areas – security and defence; citizenship; freedom, security and justice; and the economic and monetary union.
"What I'm saying is that we would gain more influence over matters that already affect us which a small country doesn't have much influence over anyway. This is what the EU is about, basically," Thorning-Schmidt said in an interview with the online media Altinget.
"Therefore, I think that getting rid of the opt-outs would mean that we put ourselves in a place where we would have more influence on issues that affect our economy, our labour market and other things that really matter," she continued.
Thorning-Schmidt rarely discusses EU issues publicly in Danish media, despite being known as an avid supporter of the EU. She has worked in Brussels and has been an MEP from 1999-2004 before becoming prime minister. The Social Democratic leader didn’t either mention the EU in her New Year’s speech, even though the Danish population will have an EU referendum on the Unified Patent Court in May, coinciding with the Parliament elections.
'Germany runs the show'
Should the prime minister call a referendum, she can expect backing from the Liberal Party, which is currently the biggest opposition party in the Danish parliament. However, Liberals would prefer that Thorning-Schmidt waits until the euro crisis is over.
"But when they have approved and implemented the banking union and stronger economic rules, then it is our view to recommend a 'yes' to joining the euro," Jakob Ellemann-Jensen, the Liberal's EU spokesperson, said.
Kristian Thulesen Dahl, leader of the biggest eurosceptic party in Denmark, the Danish People's Party, said the government should either accept that the population isn't in favour of the euro or have the referendum now.
He added that he was critical of the view that Denmark could gain more influence as Germany continues to decide the eurozone policies.
"We would get more influence, on the outside. But I believe it's doubtful whether this has real substance to it," Thulesen Dahl said.
Denmark obtained four opt-outs from the Maastricht Treaty following the treaty's initial rejection in a 1992 referendum.
The opt-outs are outlined in the Edinburgh Agreement and concern the Monetary Union (EMU), Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP), Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) and the Citizenship of the European Union.
With these opt-outs, the Danes accepted the treaty in a second referendum held in 1993. In 2000, Danes rejected a referendum on adopting the euro.
- 25 May 2014: EU referendum on patent court and European Parliament elections in Denmark.
- Altinget:Thorning: Better if Denmark joins the euro [In Danish]