The Danish referendum is about sovereignty in defense policy. Vote no!

By Lave K. Broch
Cand.scient.pol. and member of the People’s Movement against EU

Already, there are corners of what the defense reservation covers that are supranational, and there is a clear pressure on the veto; both because the European Commission, Germany, France and Italy are proposing treaty changes that will mean that the right of veto is removed in the field of security and defense policy, and because the EU’s strategic compass calls for restraint regarding the use of the right of veto.

In addition, the promise of a new referendum in the event of a supranational EU army does not appear to be legally binding.

Abolishing the defense reservation is therefore a slippery slope towards relinquishing sovereignty within the area of ​​defense.

A no is therefore the best guarantee that power over defense policy will remain in Denmark.

EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has already announced that she would like to amend the EU treaties, which form the legal basis of the EU, and she is backed by several EU governments, including the governments of Germany, France and Italy.

The Danish government is against, but has already accepted the EU’s strategic compass, which also calls for restraint in using the right of veto. This is what is called “constructive renunciation”.

This means that you do not block a decision when you are against something that the majority in the EU wants to implement in the field of security and defense policy.

However, the country, which uses constructive abstinence, is politically and financially responsible even though the government in question has not supported the proposal.

The EU’s strategic compass states:

“More generally, we must also work for greater flexibility in our decision-making process without compromising political and financial solidarity. We will therefore exploit the potential of the EU Treaties, including constructive renunciation. ” 2

The Danish government has thus already accepted this reluctance to use the right of veto in security and defense policy.

It is a retreat that has weakened Denmark’s negotiating position when the EU Commission, Germany, France and Italy now want a supranational security and defense policy.

Already now there are also corners of what is covered by the defense reservation, where decisions are made by majority decisions, and where there is thus no Danish veto.

The areas where the EU is already taking decisions by majority decision in the field of defense are:

  1. The financial management of a fund for the emergency financing of civil and military operations. 3
  2. The Statute of the European Defense Agency as well as the seat and the detailed rules for the operation of the Agency. 4
  3. Establishment, membership and withdrawal of membership regarding the military integration cooperation Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO). 5

This referendum is therefore undoubtedly about relinquishing sovereignty.

When the government promises us that we will get a new referendum if there is a supranational EU army, then it is also remarkable that the government will only inscribe this promise in the comments to the law, and not in the law itself.

There is therefore a high probability that the promise is not legally binding and after a few years the significance of this promise will be worth very little.

That is why, as I see it, it is only a political promise, and we have had many political promises when it comes to the European Union. Just think of Poul Schlüter’s promise that “the union is stone dead” before the 1986 referendum.

A final aspect of the issue of sovereignty – which makes me very disappointed with our politicians – is that Danish citizens in the Faroe Islands and Greenland, as it looks now, will not have the opportunity to participate in the referendum on 1 June.

This, I believe, is contrary to Danish state law and the European Convention on Human Rights.

It is my position that neither the Folketing, the Home Rule Government of the Faroe Islands nor the self-government of Greenland have the right to prevent Danish citizens from participating in the referendum.

Defense policy is a national issue and the vote is therefore also important for Faroese and Greenlanders.

The constitution also applies in the Faroe Islands and in Greenland. It should therefore be a matter of course that all Danish citizens living in the kingdom have an influence when voting on a kingdom matter.

If you want to be sure that the power over defense policy remains in Denmark, then vote no on 1 June. The defense reservation is our best guarantee against the surrender of sovereignty.

1)  Article: EU leaders open to change common defense policy. But the government flatly says no.  Danmarks Radio, d. 09.05.2022.
2) Page 14 of the EU Strategic Compass
3) Article 41 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU)
4) Article 45 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU)
5) Article 46 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU)


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