June 26, 2022

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Denmark votes on closer defense ties with the EU over Russia's concerns

Denmark votes on closer defense ties with the EU over Russia’s concerns

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) – The Danes voted on Wednesday to decide whether to join the European Union’s defense policy, potentially becoming the bloc’s last holdout as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine forces countries to fundamentally reassess their security.

Denmark is the only member of the 27-nation bloc that is not in the Common Security and Defense Policy, having secured exceptions to it and the euro currency in the 1993 referendum on the Maastricht Treaty, which laid the foundation for the modern European Union.

If the Danes who are known for their criticism of the European Union vote to cancel the withdrawal, as polls suggest, it would mark another important shift in policy for Europe after Russia launched the invasion in February.

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Sweden and Finland decided this month to apply for NATO membership. Denmark and Germany have already promised to sharply increase defense spending. Read more

“NATO will, of course, remain our most important tool, but the EU gives us another tool to secure our defense in the east,” said Mogens Jensen, a defense spokesman for the ruling Social Democrats.

Denmark is a founding member of NATO, but the alliance’s largest military power, the United States, has indicated that European allies should take greater responsibility for their own security.

Participation in the Common Security and Defense Policy will enable Denmark to participate in joint EU military operations, such as the military operations in Somalia, Mali and Bosnia.

And although the EU would benefit from Denmark’s extensive experience in military operations as part of NATO and other alliances, a yes vote is often seen as a symbolic victory in Brussels, according to Kristian Sobe Christensen, senior researcher at the University of Copenhagen Center. Military studies.

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“The political importance will outweigh the military contribution,” Christensen told Reuters.

A large majority in Parliament recommends canceling the withdrawal. Wednesday’s vote will be the third by Danish lawmakers to overturn one of the 1993 withdrawal decisions after the vote on the euro in 2000 and Justice and Home Affairs in 2015, both of which failed.

Initial polls showed a strong lead for those who voted to cancel the withdrawal, with nearly 48% in favor and 31% against.

The naysayers have argued that EU defense cooperation is strained by bureaucracy and ineffective decision-making, while also fearing the prospect of contributing to the EU’s potential supranational army.

The European Union has no plans to create a supranational army within the bloc, but has decided to form a rapid deployment force consisting of up to 5,000 soldiers. Read more

Polls close at 1800 GMT. The result is expected in the late evening.

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(Reporting by Nikolai Skidsgaard) Editing by Alison Williams

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