Ahead of defence opt-out referendum, Denmark opposes EU Treaty change

The Danish refusal to change the EU treaties comes a few weeks before a referendum planned on 1 June to see if the Danish people want to abolish its opt-out from EU defence policy. [Shutterstock/Bumble Dee]

Denmark has voiced its opposition to changing EU Treaties, just weeks ahead of a crucial referendum on its defence opt-out after Brussels hinted it could change treaties, so unanimity on issues like common defence policy is no longer needed.

The message on treaties came at the presentation of the Conference on the Future of Europe (CoFoE) recommendations, during which EU citizens presented 49 proposals on how the EU’s future should be shaped, drawn from a year of meetings and deliberation.

Several proposals call for treaty change, including scrapping qualified majority voting (QMV) for foreign and security policy decisions.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Monday that “unanimity in specific areas simply does not make sense if we want to move forward quickly.”

The idea of scrapping national vetoes is not new, and the German, French and Italian governments have announced that they are open to possible treaty changes.

In Denmark, however, such a step would require a referendum, and the Danish government has rejected the idea that fundamental changes to EU cooperation would be needed.

“While we are not ruling out any options at this stage, we do not support rash and hasty attempts to launch a process that would lead to treaty changes,” reads a joint letter signed by Denmark and 12 other countries, including Estonia, Slovenia and Malta.

“We already have a Europe that works. We do not need to rush into institutional reforms to deliver results,” the letter adds.

Danish Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod told the Ritzau news agency that it would be “a dead end to propose treaty changes on which 27 EU countries must agree.”

The Danish refusal to change the EU treaties comes a few weeks before a referendum planned on 1 June to see if the Danish people want to abolish its opt-out from EU defence policy.

After the Danes rejected the Maastricht Treaty in the 1992 referendum, the Edinburgh Agreement gave Denmark four opt-outs, including one on defence matters. Since then, Denmark has not participated in the Common Security and Defence Policy, EU military operations, or the EU decision processes related to military operations.

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