Support for the euro hits historical low in Denmark

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Only one-fifth of Danes want increased economic integration with Europe, according to the latest polls. A referendum on potential euro membership is not in sight, say members of the government.

The financial crisis in Europe is so deep that a historical number of Danes are turning their backs against the euro and European integration.

According to a survey by TNS Gallup for the newspaper Berlingske Tidende, there has been a remarkable shift in the Danes' attitude regarding the euro and the EU in general recently. Only 22% of the Danish voters would today vote 'yes' to adopting the euro in a referendum. In February, 41%, were positive and wanted to join the eurozone.

The support for replacing the Danish Krone with the euro is now at its lowest since Berlingske Tidende started measuring the Danes' euro sentiment in 1996.

Britain and Denmark are the only two non-eurozone countries not obliged to adopt the euro at some point. The Scandinavian country last held a referendum on a euro membership in 2000.

Denmark also has opt-outs on the Common Security and Defence Policy, Justice and Home Affairs and the Citizenship of the European Union.

Danish Minister for European Affairs Nicolai Wammen said it's only natural that the Danes have a "strong scepticism regarding the euro."

"With the turmoil there is in the eurozone, then I can understand that the Danes are not standing in line to get the common currency," said the minister, who represents a pro-European and pro-EU party, the Social Democrats.

"We don't plan to adopt it [the euro] either, but we would like to have a referendum on the Defence and Justice opt-outs – but that's not going to happen just around the corner," Wammen added.

Further integration or standing still

Kristian Thulesen Dahl, leader of the Danish People's Party, one of only two EU-sceptic parties in the Danish parliament, said it would be nice for a change if the Danish government listened to the population.

"The government has to except that this is a permanent condition that Denmark does not which to sit and negotiate at every table there is in the EU," he said.

The euro survey also shows that there is the lowest support for getting rid of the Defence and Justice opt-outs since 1994, and that only one-third of the Danes want an increased economic integration in Europe.

This makes the EU professor from Copenhagen University Peter Nedergaard use the word "endpoint."

"Let's get a consolidation in the EU and stop thinking about the next integration step all the time," Nedergaard said.

But that's not good enough, according to Denmark's EU Commissioner Connie Hedegaard, who is responsible for climate policy.

"If the Danes don't want to move forward, it does not mean that the world tomorrow is the same as the world today. We need to start discussing things like the banking union when it's discussed in other countries – not afterwards," she said.

"We have to explain to the Danes how it's going to affect us if we insist on standing still," Hedegaard added.

The EU rapporteur for the Social Liberals, one of the three parties that make up the Danish centre-left government, Sofie Carsten Nielsen, said it would not be impossible to have a referendum on the Justice and Defence opt-outs.

But looking at the 22% figure that's in support of the euro, she said: "That we cannot have a referendum on for the present time."

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), the 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.

The EMU opt-out means Denmark is not obliged to participate in the third phase of the European Exchange rate Mechanism - replacing the Danish krone with the euro.

The abolition of the euro opt-out was put to a referendum in 2000 and was rejected.

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