Denmark and the European Union
Denmark in the European Union refers to the historical and current issues of Denmark's membership in the European Union. Denmark has a permanent representation to the European Union lead by ambassador Jeppe Tranholm-Mikkelsen, in Brussels. The current Minister for European Affairs is Social Democrat Nicolai Wammen.
The main economic reason that Denmark joined the EEC was because they wanted to safeguard its agricultural exports to the United Kingdom.
Denmark formally applied to join the predecessor of the EU, the European Economic Community on 10 August 1961, a day after the British applied. But the then French president Charles de Gaulle vetoed British membership and Denmark did not wish to join the EEC without the United Kingdom. After much negotiation, and following a change in the French Presidency, Denmark, Ireland and the United Kingdom eventually joined the European Communities on 1 January 1973. Denmark and Ireland were so economically linked to the UK that they considered it necessary to join the EEC if the UK did. The Danish population voted for membership with 63.3% in favour with a turnout of 90.1%. This was the first of several enlargements which become a major policy area of the Union. In 1985, Greenland voted to leave the Community after gaining home rule from Denmark.
Danes spurred political awareness of euroscepticism and have enjoyed a reputation as "reluctant" Europeans. In Denmark, the first Danish Maastricht Treaty referendum was held on 2 June 1992 but a shortfall of fewer than 50,000 votes resulted in the treaty not being ratified.´ After the failure, alterations were made to the treaty through the addition of the Edinburgh Agreement which lists four Danish exceptions. The treaty was eventually ratified the following year on 18 May 1993 after a second referendum was held in Denmark.
The Lisbon treaty was ratified by the Danish parliament alone. It was not considered a surrendering of national sovereignty, which would have implied the holding of a referendum according to article 20 of the constitution. Currently, the Danish government wants a referendum on the opt-outs from the EU-treaty, but the prospect of the opt-outs perhaps being rejected does not look appealing. The issue is being postponed for the time being, or until a large coalition of political parties support holding a referendum.[note 1]
In October 2012, Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt demanded a 1 billion kroner rebate in the Budget of the European Union, otherwise she would veto against the budget. In February 2013, Denmark and the European Union reached an agreement on a seven-year budget, to approve Danish demand.
Two political parties in the Danish parliament call themselves for eurosceptic. The Danish People's Party and the Red-Green Alliance. Over the years, many anti-EU organisations have been established in Denmark, for example People's Movement against the EU and the June Movement.
In July 2011, Denmark reinforced its borders with Germany by stationing more officers in an effort to halt the flow of illegal goods. The action has angered both Germany and Sweden. Minister of Europe Joerg-Uwe Hahn in the state of Hesse called for a boycott of Denmark by tourists. He said "If Denmark is introducing border controls again during the holiday season, I can only suggest that people turn right around and holiday in Austria or Poland instead." The European Commission warned Denmark not to breach the Schengen Treaty.
Denmark uses the krone as its currency and does not use the euro, having negotiated an opt-out from participation under the Edinburgh Agreement in 1992. In 2000, the government held a referendum on introducing the euro, which was defeated with 46.8% voting yes and 53.2% voting no. The Danish krone is part of the ERM-II mechanism, so its exchange rate is tied to within 2.25% of the euro.
Most of the large political parties in Denmark favour the introduction of the euro and the idea of a second referendum has been suggested several times since 2000. However, some important parties such as the Danish People's Party and Socialist People's Party do not currently support a referendum. Public opinion surveys have shown fluctuating support for the single currency with majorities in favour for some years after the physical introduction of the currency. However, following the financial crisis of 2008, support began to fall, and in late 2011, support for the euro crashed in light of the escalating European sovereign debt crisis.
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