Denmark abolishes defense reservation after 30 years

Denmark abolishes defense reservation after 30 years

Released on 02..2022

  • The people have decided: Denmark will abolish its EU defense proviso. Photo: Emil Helms/Ritzau Scanpix/AP/dpa
  • The result of the Danish referendum is a clear yes to the EU. Photo: Philip Davali/Ritzau Scanpix/AP/dpa


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Denmark will no longer be left out on defense issues within the EU. The citizens decided by referendum. The result is a clear commitment to the EU.


To 30 years with special status, Denmark intends to get involved in defense cooperation within the EU in the future.

Nearly 67 percent of Danish voters voted in a referendum on Wednesday to abolish their country’s so-called EU defense proviso. Only around 30 percent were in favor of wanting to retain this special status.

This means that Denmark will be able to take part in future European security and defense cooperation – for example in military EU missions. Until now, the special regulation, which is unique in the EU, meant that the country could take part in civilian but not in EU military missions or in the joint development of weapons systems, for example.

War in Ukraine reason for realignment in EU countries

The clear result is a further signal that the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine has led to realignment of the respective defense policies in various EU countries. This can also be seen in Denmark’s direct neighbourhood: in Germany, Chancellor Olaf Scholz proclaimed a turning point a good three months ago, Sweden and Finland have decided to say goodbye to their decades of military freedom from alliances and to apply for NATO membership.

Almost 4.3 million Danes were called on Wednesday to vote on the defense reservation. Voter turnout was about 33,8 percent. The result was clearer than expected. An overwhelming majority of Danes had voted to abolish the reservation, Social Democrat Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen stated to party friends in Copenhagen that evening. Denmark has sent a very clear signal to its allies, but also to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Denmark the only EU country with special status

Denmark is the only EU country with such a special status in defense matters. It has existed since 1993. A year earlier, the Danes had voted against the Maastricht Treaty. The Scandinavian country then negotiated four reservations on EU cooperation in order to stay out of defense issues, among other things. At the second attempt, the people then approved the Maastricht Treaty. This is the first time that Germany’s northernmost neighbor has rid itself of a special regulation by referendum. In the year 2000 the people voted against the euro and 2015 also voted against EU judicial cooperation.

The abolition of the defense proviso will apply from the day the other EU countries are informed in writing by the Danes have been set. After the vote, however, it will probably be a few more weeks due to formalities before the special regulation is finally a thing of the past. The Danish parliament in Copenhagen will then comment on various aspects of EU defense cooperation, such as which military operations Denmark would ultimately like to join. (dpa)

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