COPENHAGEN Denmark heads to the polls on Thursday to make a decision no matter whether to adopt some EU guidelines, testing for the first time one particular of the country’s decades-old exemptions from European integration given that Danes resoundingly rejected the euro in 2000.
The government, collectively with the main opposition party, argues Denmark needs to adopt some EU justice and property affairs laws to maintain the country within the cross-border policing agency Europol.
But the populist Danish People’s Party (DF), now the second-largest faction in parliament, says Danes need to vote “No” to retain a tough-fought-for exemption won in 1993 and avoid giving away sovereignty more than security to eurocrats in Brussels.
The vote comes amidst heightened safety fears across Europe following the current Paris attacks claimed by Islamic State militants which killed 130 folks, and as Europe struggles with a massive influx of refugees from Syria and other nations.
Polls show opinion split evenly, if somewhat tending towards voting “No” in recent days, with a huge portion of people undecided. Analysts say the “Yes” campaign has been lackluster while the “No” side had a significantly easier message of rejection.
Denmark wants to adopt some EU rules since of a reform of Europol, the European Police Office, that will adjust the way it receives and analyses data. The ruling center-proper Liberals, ex-ruling Social Democrats, and numerous other parties agreed on 22 EU laws that Denmark would opt into if the vote is a “Yes”.
All have stressed the acts do not concern immigration, one more element of the Justice and Residence Affairs policy from which Denmark is exempt, meaning it does not, for example, have to participate in schemes to resettle refugees.
But the referendum asks Danes to give parliament the energy to choose on the opt-ins. It does not ask Danes to approve the 22 EU laws. Analysts say that has allowed the euro-sceptic DF celebration to play on Danish mistrust of politicians.
DF says Europol participation can be maintained by means of other treaties and that there is absolutely nothing forcing future governments to conduct a lot more plebiscites need to they want to opt in to EU guidelines on immigration, from which Denmark is now exempt.
Denmark, Britain and Ireland all won concessions from the EU in the early 1990s when the modern day foundation for the now 28-member bloc was laid. Like Britain, Denmark did not adopt the euro, and both Britain and Ireland have been exempt from the passport-totally free Schengen region.
A “No” result would cheer Britain’s anti-EU UK Independence Party, which desires a total withdrawal from the EU. But British Prime Minister David Cameron could also point to it as a sign that other nations other than Britain are unhappy with the EU as it stands today. He is trying to renegotiate Britain’s relations with the EU ahead of an in-out referendum by 2017.
(Reporting by Sabina Zawadzki Editing by James Dalgleish)