Putin faces fresh threat as Denmark overwhelmingly votes to join EU common defence policy

Princess Isabella of Denmark is confirmed at Fredensborg Palace

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Denmark has voted in a historic referendum to take part in EU security policy, scrapping its 30-year opt-out. The vote will allow Danish troops to take part in EU military missions.

The referendum on Wednesday, in which voters backed the government’s proposal by 66.9 percent to 33.1 percent, followed historic applications by Denmark’s previously non-aligned Nordic neighbours, Finland and Sweden, to join NATO last month.

Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said the move, which was approved by 66.9 percent of voters, sent “a very important signal” amid the conflict in Ukraine.

Ms Frederiksen said: “We’re showing that when Putin invades a free country and threatens the stability in Europe, we others pull together.

“When freedom knocks on Europe’s door and it’s war again on our continent, you cannot be neutral. We support Ukraine and the Ukrainian people.”

Denmark, historically critical of the EU, secured exemptions from joining the common security and defence policy (CSDP) and the euro in a 1993 referendum, but the country’s Prime Minister, Mette Frederiksen, said it was time to change tack.

She told cheering supporters on Wednesday evening after the result was published: “Tonight Denmark has sent a very important signal. To our allies in Europe and NATO, and to Putin.

“Denmark now can partake in the European cooperation on defence and security. And for that I’m very, very happy.”

Ms Frederiksen called the referendum barely two weeks after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, after reaching an agreement with a majority of parties in the Danish parliament, and pledged to increase defence spending to 2 percent of GDP, in line with NATO membership requirements, by 2033.

The ruling Social Democrats’ defence spokesperson, Mogens Jensen, said: “NATO will of course remain our most important tool, but the EU gives us another in securing our defence in the east.”

Eleven of Denmark’s 14 parties, representing more than three-quarters of seats in parliament, had urged voters to drop the opt-out.

Jakob Ellemann-Jensen, head of the opposition Liberal party, said: “The world is changing, and not in a good way. We need to stand together and strengthen the cooperation that strengthens our security.”

EU leaders Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel welcomed the result.

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Denmark’s decision was a “strong message of commitment to our common security”, Ms Von der Leyen tweeted, saying Denmark and the European Union would benefit.

Mr Michel said: “This decision will benefit Europe and make both the EU and the Danish people safer and stronger.”

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