About 53 percent of Danes have said no to new EU rules on cross-border policing in a referendum that could have integrated Denmark more with the rest of the block. The poll’s outcome comes only a few weeks after the bloodshed in Paris and amidst Europe’s biggest refugee crisis since the Second World War. According to Denmark’s Prime Minister, Lars Lokke Rasmussen, the result “is a clear no” adding that he had “full respect” for the voters’ decision.
The country’s center-right government, supported by the opposition, had campaigned for a positive outcome of the poll hoping that voters’ backing would have helped Danish authorities in the wake of the Paris attacks. A number of terrorists were French citizens living in Belgium and one surviving attacker, Salah Abdelslam, is believed to have fled across the French border. As a result of the ‘no’, Copenhagen will have to ensure its membership in Europol, the EU’s law enforcement agency tackling terrorism and crime, with a special agreement with Brussels.
In contrast, Danish People’s Party (DPP), which supports Mr Rasmussen’s administration in the parliament, had campaigned for “No”, not willing to give up more of Denmark’s sovereignty in favor of Brussels. Although there had never been a direct relationship between a potential “yes” in the referendum and the country’s opt-out on immigration, the DPP says that a “yes” could have actually made the EU dictate Denmark’s immigration policies.
Denmark is not the only EU country that has an “exception” enabling it to choose whether to accept or reject legislation in selected areas on a case-by-case basis. Ireland and the UK also have similar opt-ins on justice and home affairs legislation. Some believe that the result of the Danish referendum might be interesting for London, which is trying to re-define its relations with Brussels before organizing its own poll on whether or not to stay in the block.