Denmark wants to cooperate ‘as much as possible’ on European defence

French President Emmanuel Macron (L) and Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen (R) during a meeting at Christiansborg Castle in Copenhagen, Denmark, 28 August 2018. [EPA/EFE]

Denmark will take part as much as possible in European defence cooperation outside NATO, Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen said after meeting France’s president on Tuesday (28 August).

French President Emmanuel Macron, who said on Monday that Europe could no longer rely on the United States for its security, welcomed Rasmussen’s comment, saying: “Strategically, a greater involvement from Denmark would be good news for Europe and for France.”

EU security must no longer depend on US, says Macron

French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday (27 August) called for Europe to stop relying on the United States for its military defence as he pushed for fresh EU integration in the face of rising nationalism around the continent.

US President Donald Trump has been sharply critical of NATO, demanding that European member states share more of what he has called an unfair burden on US taxpayers in funding the Western alliance.

Bulgarian President: Trump raised the target for NATO spending from 2% to 4%

US President Donald Trump has raised the stakes for his European allies’ defence spending from 2% to 4% of GDP, Bulgarian President Rumen Radev told a small group of Bulgarian journalists at the NATO summit on Wednesday (11 July). 

Rasmussen said Denmark wanted to cooperate immediately and as much as possible within the limits of its defence opt-out from the European Union – one of four opt-outs put into practice in 1993 after Danes rejected full EU membership the year before.

“That’s why we have agreed during this meeting (with Macron) that we on a bilateral basis will enhance our cooperation,” Rasmussen told a news conference alongside Macron.

“One reason is that transatlantic relations are changing these days; we both realised that during the last summit. So we have to take greater responsibility for our own security.”

Rasmussen said he believed that there would be a division of labour between NATO and Europe in the future, and said Denmark should begin to debate its EU defence opt-out.

“I think it is strange if we put Denmark in a position where we participate in the tough actions in NATO or through different alliances and then when we should invest in stabilisation and rebuilding countries, Denmark has to withdraw,” he said.

The opt-outs can only be changed at a referendum but Rasmussen said he would not call for such a vote before the next general election, due to be held by June next year.

Danish voters in December 2015 rejected a government proposal to give up their opt-out from a range of EU justice and home affairs laws to keep the country inside the European police agency. Denmark later got a deal with that allowed it to continue using the Europol database.

Denmark rejects further EU integration in referendum

Danes voted against adopting a ‘flexible’ opt-in arrangement on EU justice legislation in a referendum on Thursday (3 December). Parties said the ‘No’ result was due to a Danish refusal to give up more sovereignty to the EU. 

Denmark has also opted out of the common euro currency, but the Danish Crown has been pegged to the euro for decades.

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