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Danish Euro Referendum

DW staff (jg)
November 23, 2007

The Danish government is planning to hold a new referendum on whether or not to adopt the euro. This comes seven years after Danes firmly rejected the European single currency.

euro coin
The Danes may be shaking off their euroskeptic imageImage: EZB

Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen also wants voters to decide whether they are still in favor of opting out of EU policy in three other areas related to joint defense, justice and home affairs.

"The time is approaching," Rasmussen told a news conference. "It is the government's view that the people in this parliamentary term should have the opportunity to take a stance on the Danish EU opt-outs."

Rasmussen, who is a staunch supporter of the European Union, said the exemptions harmed Danish interests. He did not say when the vote might be held. But it should happen some time within the newly elected center-right government's four-year mandate period.

Government push for more integration

Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen
The Danish Prime Minister is treating his re-election as a mandate to forge more EU integrationImage: AP

He also said he wanted the recently agreed EU treaty to be quickly ratified, but did not say if this would require its own referendum. The Danes had scheduled a vote on an earlier proposed EU constitution in September 2005, but called it off after French and Dutch voters rejected the treaty.

Only two of the eight parties in the Danish parliament, together representing about 17 percent of the vote in last week's election, are opposed to the EU and further co-operation.

Analysts predict that, if Denmark were to join the single currency, the practical economic impact would be limited because the Danish krone tracks the euro.

"It will change nothing," said Danske Bank chief economist Steen Bocian. "The Danish economy is acting as if it were a full member of the union. There will be a limited effect on the currency but not much because it's been extremely stable for a long period."

Polls show EU rising in popularity among Danes

Anders Fogh Rasmussen with pro-euro referendum poster
Rasmussen is hoping that the Danes will say "Yes" this time aroundImage: AP

Danes rejected the euro in 2000. The other opt-outs were secured in 1993 after the country initially rejected the Maastricht treaty.

Recently they seem to have warmed a little to the European bloc. According to a poll published last month, 51 percent of nearly 1,000 Danes surveyed said they were in favor of getting rid of the exemption on the euro, while 40 percent said they were opposed to the move.

The poll also indicated a majority of Danes were in favor of lifting the exemptions on joint defense and judiciary cooperation, but that 73 percent wanted to maintain the exemption on European citizenship.

In the Nordic region, only Finland has joined the 13-member euro zone. Neighboring Sweden has, like Denmark, maintained its krona currency despite its EU membership, while Norway and Iceland have rejected even joining the EU.