Danish voters went to the polls on Wednesday to decide whether to scrap their country’s 30-year-old opt-out from the European Union’s common defense policy.
The referendum, which follows Sweden and Finland’s NATO membership bids, is the latest security response by a European country to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
A total of 4.2 million Danish citizens were eligible to vote in the referendum.
In recent months, those in favor of repealing the 1992 opt-out have been in the lead, with recent polls showing them with around 40% support and the “no” side with 30%. Around 20% of voters were still undecided.
Denmark is a founding member of NATO, and its participation in EU defense policy would have only a minor impact on Europe’s security architecture.
The main difference is that Danish forces will be able to participate in EU military operations in Africa and Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Danish officials will be able to stay in the room when EU colleagues discuss defense issues.
Copenhagen has been hesitant to join the EU’s efforts to develop a common security and defense policy in tandem with the transatlantic NATO alliance.
It was one of the opt-out clauses insisted on by the Danes prior to the 1992 Maastricht Treaty, which laid the groundwork for political and economic union.
Among the most significant were cooperation in EU justice and home affairs and the adoption of the common currency, the euro.
Danish voters reinforced their decision to avoid the eurozone in a referendum in 2000, and 15 years later they voted to maintain the exemption on justice and home affairs.