Danish support for EU at record high: report

Two out of three of people in Denmark reject the idea of their country following the United Kingdom’s footsteps by leaving the EU.

Danish support for EU at record high: report
File photo: Jens Nørgaard Larsen/Ritzau Scanpix

Support for Denmark’s EU membership is at historically high levels domestically prior to European Parliament elections in May, according to a poll conducted by Kantar Gallup and reported by newspaper Berlingske.

A far lower proportion of Danes now support a hypothetical Danish EU exit, relative to polls taken prior to the UK’s referendum in 2016.

In the new poll, 62 percent responded that they did not want a Danish referendum on EU membership, while 26 percent said they did support such a vote.

If a referendum was held, 66 percent said they would vote to remain in the EU, while 22 percent would vote for Denmark to leave.

The impact of the Brexit process on the United Kingdom has had a greater effect on the debate over EU membership in Denmark than any other factor, according to professor and elections researcher Kasper Møller Hansen of the University of Copenhagen.

“What you are seeing here is the biggest shift in Danish opinion on the EU in history. With all the referenda we’ve had (in Denmark) and with the debate we’ve had here since the Single European Act referendum in 1986 right up to now, Danes have always been around 50-50 (for and against membership),” Hansen told Berlingske.

Prior to the British membership referendum in June 2016, almost one third of people answering an equivalent Danish poll said they wanted Denmark to follow the UK out of the EU. Just under half of respondents wanted to remain in the union, while the rest were undecided.

“The problems the British have been through are clearly reflected in Danes seeing that it is not as easy to leave the EU as we perhaps thought, or indeed as the Brits probably thought,” Hansen said.

The professor noted that pro-EU political parties in Denmark, including the Liberal (Venstre) party, the senior partner in the coalition government, and the Social Democrats, the largest party in opposition, enjoy full support from their voters over the question of EU membership.

Meanwhile, Eurosceptic parties including the rightwing Danish People’s Party and leftwing Red Green Alliance have both seen a significant drop in polling numbers. Fewer of these parties’ supporters are convinced over wanting Denmark to leave the EU than previously, Berlingske writes.

READ ALSO: Most Danes satisfied with EU membership, would vote against leaving: survey


Brexit: Brits in EU feel European and don’t want to return home

The majority of Britons who live in the EU, Norway, Iceland or Switzerland and are protected under the Brexit agreement feel European and intend to remain in Europe permanently, but many have concerns about travel problems, a new survey reveals.

Brexit: Brits in EU feel European and don't want to return home

The research also shows that problems exist and “travel is where most issues relating to the new status currently occur”. For instance, border officials are still stamping passports of UK citizens with residence rights under the EU UK withdrawal agreement, even though they shouldn’t.

“There is constant confusion around passport stamping. I was ‘stamped in’ to France on a short trip… but could not find anyway to be ‘stamped out’ again. I think I can only spend 90 days in other EU countries, but have no idea how anyone can check or enforce that – until someone decides to try. It’s a mess,” was one of the answers left in an open question.

“Every time I go through a Schengen border control, I need to provide both my passport and Aufenthaltstitel card [resident permit in Germany] and watch to check that they don’t stamp my passport. As I am currently travelling a lot that’s been 20-odd times this year…” another respondent said.

The survey was carried out by Professor Tanja Bueltmann, historian of migration and diaspora at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, between October and November 2022. About 1,139 UK citizens replied.

Of these, 80 per cent found acquiring their new status easy or very easy, 60.7 per cent feel their rights are secure, while 39.3 per cent have concerns about their status going forward.

Staying permanently

More than three quarters (76.6 per cent) of respondents said they plan to live permanently in the EU or the other countries of the European Economic Area and Switzerland. In fact, 65.7 per cent said that Brexit has increased the likelihood of this choice.

For some, the decision is linked to the difficulty to bring non-British family members to the UK under new, stricter immigration rules.

“My German wife and I decided we no longer wanted to live in UK post Brexit referendum. In particular, we were affected by the impact of immigration law […] We cannot now return to UK on retirement as I cannot sponsor her on my pension. We knew it was a one-way journey. Fortunately, I could revive an application for German citizenship,” was a testimony.

“My husband is a US citizen and getting him a visa for the UK was near impossible due to my low income as a freelance journalist. We realized under EU law, moving to an EU country was easier. We settled on Austria as we had both lived there before… we could speak some German, and we like the mountains,” said another respondent.

Professor Bueltmann noted that the loss of free movement rights in the EU could be a factor too in the decision of many to stay where they are.

Citizenship and representation

Among those who decided to stay, 38.2 per cent are either applying or planning to apply for a citizenship and 28.6 per cent are thinking about it.

A key finding of the research, Bueltmann said, is that the vast majority of British citizens do not feel politically represented. Some 60 per cent of respondents said they feel unrepresented and another 30 per cent not well represented.

Another issue is that less than half (47.5 per cent) trust the government of their country of residence, while a larger proportion (62 per cent) trust the European Union. Almost all (95.6 per cent) said they do not trust the UK government.

Feeling European

The survey highlights the Brexit impacts on people’s identity too. 82.6 per cent of respondents said they see themselves as European, a higher proportion than those identifying as British (68.9 per cent).

“Brexit has really left me unsure of what my identity is. I don’t feel British, and I certainly don’t identify with the mindset of a lot of British people who live there. Yet, I am not Danish either. So, I don’t really know anymore!” said one of the participants in the survey.

Professor Bueltmann said the survey “demonstrates that Brexit impacts continue to evolve: this didn’t just stop because the transition period was over or a deadline for an application had been reached. Consequently, Brexit continues to shape the lives and experiences of British citizens in the EU/EEA and Switzerland in substantial, sometimes life-altering, ways.”

Considering the results of the study, Professor Bueltmann recommends policy makers in the EU and the UK to address the issue of lack of representation, for instance creating a joint UK-EU citizens’ stakeholder forum.

The report also recommends the UK government to rebuild trust with British citizens in the EU introducing voting rights for life and changing immigration rules to allow British-European families to return more easily. 

This article was prepared in cooperation with Europe Street News.