In her opening address to parliament on Tuesday, PM Helle Thorning-Schmidt called for a referendum on Denmark’s opt-out to the European Union’s justice and home affairs rules.
Denmark faces exclusion from Europol due to its EU opt-out and the prime minister said on Tuesday that it is time for Danes to decide if they want to remain part of the international police cooperation.
“For 16 years, Denmark has been a part of the European police cooperation in Europol. It is now clear that because of our opt-outs we will be forced to leave Europol. Maybe already by next autumn. That will be a serious problem for Danes’ security and safety,” she said.
Thorning-Schmidt said that a referendum would not happen until after the next parliamentary elections, which she must call no later than September 2015.
“Therefore, the government is ready to commit itself to a referendum after the next election. A referendum to change our opt-outs to an opt-in agreement. Then we can decide which parts of the EU cooperation in the justice arena that Denmark should be a part of. And which parts we don’t want to be,” she added.
Denmark was granted four opt-outs from the 1992 Maastricht Treaty: defence, home affairs, the maintaining of the kroner rather than the euro and an opt-out on citizenship rules that was cancelled out by the Amsterdam Treaty that took effect in 1999.
Denmark last held a referendum on its relationship to the EU in 2000, when voters once again rejected the euro. Although both of her two most recent predecessors and Thorning-Schmidt herself have previously promised referendums, they have not made the ballot since.