Russo-Ukrainian war: Denmark ready to join EU common defense policy after historic vote

Denmark is set to join the European Union’s defense policy following a referendum that reflects a shift in security stance among the Nordic countries following the Russian-Ukrainian conflict.

The referendum, which took place on Wednesday, saw people vote overwhelmingly in favor of the government’s proposal by 66.9% to 33.1%.

Denmark is the third Nordic country to give up its neutral status after neighbors Finland and Sweden applied to join NATO last month.

Participation in defense policy will allow Denmark, a founding member of NATO, to take part in joint EU military operations, such as those in Bosnia, Mali and Somalia, and will allow Danish officials to remain in the room when their EU colleagues discuss defense matters.

“When a threat to freedom knocks on Europe’s door and there is war again on our continent, we cannot remain neutral. We support Ukraine and the Ukrainian people,” Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said in a speech late Wednesday, following the result, according to Reuters.

“Denmark tonight sent a very important message. To our allies, to NATO, to Europe, and we sent a clear message to Putin.”

Denmark, historically critical of the EU, was the only member of the 27-nation bloc not to be part of its Common Security and Defense Policy.

Read also | Russia advances on Severodonetsk, troops fight in the streets

The Scandinavian nation of nearly 6 million people won exemptions to this policy in a 1993 referendum on the Maastricht Treaty, which laid the foundations for the modern EU.

Read also | Russia says US sending rocket systems to Ukraine will increase risk of direct confrontation

Denmark’s prime minister called for a referendum just two weeks after Russia invaded Ukraine, after reaching an agreement with a majority of parties in parliament.

Apart from this, the Scandinavian country has also pledged to increase its defense spending to 2% of GDP, in line with NATO membership requirements, by 2033.

(With agency contributions)


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