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Denmark Set To Join EU's Common Defence Policy Following Historic referendum

In a historic referendum, Denmark voted in favour of joining the European Union’s (EU's) common defence policy that the country avoided for a long time.


Image: AP

In a historic referendum held on Wednesday, Denmark voted in favour of joining the European Union’s (EU's) common defence policy that the country avoided for a long time. This comes as the country intends to bolster its defence ties with allies in Europe following Russia's invasion of Ukraine. With all ballots counted, 66.9% voted in favour of ending the country's 30-year opt-out from EU policy, while 33.1% voted against it, according to the country's election commission.

"An overwhelming majority of Danes have chosen to abolish the defence opt-out. I am very, very happy about that,” Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said, as per the Associated Press (AP). 

The Danish Prime Minister further stated that her country has sent a clear and strong signal to Russian President Vladimir Putin. "With the decision we have made, we show that when Putin invades a free and independent country and threatens peace and stability, we will move closer together," Frederiksen added. The referendum in Denmark came after its neighbouring Nordic countries Sweden and Finland made historic bids to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in May.

German Foreign Minister lauds result of Danish referendum

According to the AP report, Denmark, a founding member of the 30-member military alliance, would have a slight impact on Europe's security architecture after joining the EU's defence policy, especially when compared to Sweden and Finland joining NATO. However, Christine Nissen, a researcher with the Danish Institute for International Studies, claimed that both decisions complement each other and would help in bolstering military cooperation in Europe. Meanwhile, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock also hailed the result of the Danish referendum.

"Today, Denmark has taken a historic decision to move Europe even closer together. The EU’s response to Russia's war against Ukraine is a stronger Common Security and Defense Policy. Every step each of us takes makes us stronger in the face of these tectonic shifts [sic]," she wrote in a Twitter post. 

It is pertinent to mention here that despite being one of the founding members of NATO, Denmark has remained on the periphery of the EU's efforts to develop a unified security and defence policy alongside the transatlantic military alliance. According to reports, Denmark has been a source of contention for Europe for decades. In 1992, voters rejected the Maastricht Treaty, putting a stop to efforts to turn Europe into a union. There was broad opposition to a federal European government that could curtail the sovereignty of individual nations, the AP reported.  

(With inputs from AP)

Image: AP

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