Denmark rejects EU laws in referendum

Danes vote against proposals to adopt more European Union laws

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen leaves the voting booth at a school in Copenhagen December 3, 2015.

Voters in Denmark on Thursday rejected a government proposal on adopting more European Union laws in a referendum on the bloc's justice and home affairs rules.

With all the votes counted, projections on Denmark's two main television stations showed that the “No” vote was ahead with 53 percent, as the turnout was 72 percent, which was higher than expected.

Pro-EU Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen said that he respected the decision.

"It is a clear no... I have full respect for the Danes' decision," he said, during a press conference.

Rasmussen said that he will hold talks with Danish party leaders on Monday to agree on a plan on how to move forward and will also meet with European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker and European Council President Donald Tusk next week in Brussels.

Rasmussen’s one-party center-right government had campaigned for a “Yes” vote which defended international coordination in the fight against cross-border crime, including terrorism.

The anti-EU, anti-immigration Danish People’s Party, which called on voters to reject the proposals, believes dropping Denmark’s justice opt-out would give further sovereignty to Brussels and will increase the risk of more immigration.

The rejection of voters means Denmark will have to temporarily end ties with EU's law enforcement agency Europol, as it is going through a transition, preparing to increase its role in fighting terrorism and banning opt-outs from EU justice policies for full members.

Just like Britain and Ireland, the Scandinavian country has long enjoyed the option to decide whether or not to participate in some areas of the EU policy.

In a vote watched by British politicians, the "No" result is expected to please Britian’s UK Independence Party.

“The Danish 'No' to Europe is a massive boost for the Brexit campaign in Britain as well as Marine Le Pen and other political forces who want to see Europe revert to closed nation-states based on economic protectionism and nation-first rejection of cooperating with other EU member states and, sadly at times, open xenophobia," said Denis MacShane, Britain's former Europe minister.

The vote was Denmark's eighth referendum regarding its ties with Europe after the last one in 2000.

TRTWorld and agencies