Denmark initiates talks on boosted military spending

Initial political discussions over the options for strengthening Denmark’s military and defence and been set in motion, according to the prime minister’s office.

Danish soldiers parade during national Flag Day
Danish soldiers parade during national Flag Day, September 2021. The country has begun political talks over boosted military spending. Photo: Henning Bagger/Ritzau Scanpix

The talks, which are at an early stage, were begun as a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

They were confirmed by the leader of the Conservative party, Søren Pape Poulsen, who told news wire Ritzau that he and fellow opposition party leader Jakob Ellemann-Jensen of the Liberal party had been at the discussions.

Left wing parties Social Liberal (Radikale Venstre) and the Socialist People’s party are also reported to have been represented, according to Danish media Altinget.

Future military and defence policies were on the agenda for the talks.

Poulsen told Ritzau that an immediate cash injection for the Danish military had been discussed as well a possible referendum on the opt-out Denmark currently has in place with regard to EU defence laws.

The EU opt-out, which Denmark has had since 1992, means that Denmark does not participate in forming and implementing EU decisions and acts that are related to defence.

Denmark is currently under a target of NATO contributions of 2 percent of GDP agreed by NATO member states in 2014. The current defence spending plan runs until 2023 and the next one must seek to address the shortfall, Pape said.

“It’s crucial for us that any agreement in principle on Danish defence and security includes an agreement to reach the 2 percent of GDP in the next defence budget. And that we thereby bolster and strengthen our military. That’s more important than ever,” Poulsen said.

Finance Minister Nicolai Wammen has previously informed parliament that a defence budget of 2 percent of GDP by 2030 would require an additional 17.9 billion kroner to be spent on defence annually than it is currently.

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Defence minister would welcome Nato troops in Danish port city

Denmark’s Minister of Defence Morten Bødskov said on Friday he wants to increase the viability of west coast port Esbjerg for use by military alliance Nato, including troops from the United States.

Defence minister would welcome Nato troops in Danish port city

Bødskov visited West Jutland city Esbjerg on Friday as part of considerations over a potential extension of the city’s port, the Ministry of Justice said.

The port city, which also played host to this week’s green energy meetings, has been flagged as the site of a new mustering point for Nato and especially United States military forces, according to a press release from the Ministry of Defence. 

“Russia’s terrible attack on Ukraine makes it very clear that Denmark must live up to expectations that we can act as a host country for allies who want to go through Denmark,” Bødskov said in the statement.

The ministry said that the United States in particular has shown interest in making more use of Esbjerg harbour.

Such use would be part of operations in which the city’s port would be used to transport military personnel and hardware to the Baltic Sea region including the Baltic countries.

Esbjerg Harbour has been used by the American military on a number of previous occasions in relation to exercises, while hardware and personnel have previously travelled through the city.

“Esbjerg Harbour has an attractive location in relation to supporting our Nato allies – particularly the United States – with the deployment of things like hardware in the Baltic Sea region,” he said.

“It’s a good opportunity for Denmark to provide support to countries that send reinforcements to maintain security for all of us,” he said.

The exact plans for the harbour – and their cost – are currently unconfirmed.

Preliminary work at the location will include environmental approvals, which must first be prepared. The Defence Ministry did not give clear detail as to what this process entails.

An extension of the harbour is expected to be complete by the end of 2023, however.

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