The PM, who called politicians to a marathon series of meetings on Monday and Tuesday at official residence Marienborg, said that he would be looking for a “lowest common denominator” on European issues following last week's resounding rejection of a referendum to scrap one of the nation's four EU opt-outs.
This, Rasmussen hoped, could form a basis upon which the various parties across the political spectrum could build an agreement on which to base Denmark’s future relation to the EU.
While all parties, including the ones that supported the 'no' vote, want Denmark to continue to participate in the EU’s supranational intelligence and policing service Europol, there are significant differences regarding the further 22 legislative acts that were included in the referendum.
The government wants to have a number of these, in particular those relating to cross-border crime and terror laws, included in a so-called parallel agreement that Denmark must now try to forge with the EU in order to prolong its Europol membership. As it stands now, Denmark will fall out of Europol cooperation in 2017.
Kristian Thulesen Dahl, leader of nationalist and Eurosceptic Danish People’s Party (DF), which campaigned for a no vote, said on his way to the meetings that DF saw Europol as the key priority of the talks.
“We’ll look at that [the legislative acts] when we come to them. For now, Europol is the priority,” Dahl told Politiken.
Liberal Alliance (LA) also campaigned for a 'no' vote based on a rejection of one specific act that would have seen it become easier for the sitting government to pass laws giving legislative sovereignty to the EU. The party's leader, Anders Samuelsen, said that the PM's Venstre and the other 'yes' parties must “drop the arrogance” on Denmark’s role at the “core of the EU” and instead focus on “peace, freedom and trade” in an EU that was not the equivalent of a “paternalistic state”.
A number of parties – including DF, the Social Democrats, the Social Liberals (Radikale) and the Red-Green Alliance (Enhedslisten) – have also expressed a desire for broader talks regarding Denmark’s ongoing role in the EU. The government has so far rejected the possibility of these taking place.
“We think now is the right time [for broader EU talks],” Dahl said on Monday, “but we’re not going to use the Europol talks as a hostage.”