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Denmark reconsidering EU defense opt-out

August 28, 2018

Denmark's prime minister, Lars Loekke Rasmussen, told France's Macron that he wanted to increase defense cooperation with the EU immediately. He cited "changing" trans-Atlantic relations, alluding to US President Trump.

Lars Loekke Rasmussen and Emannuel Macron
Image: Getty Images/AFP/L. Marin

French President Emmanuel Macron spent the first day of a two-day trip to Denmark on Tuesday pressing for more Danish involvement in the European Union, as he continues to call for a pivot away from the United States for the bloc. For his own part, Danish Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen seemed to agree, saying that Denmark was willing to do more for European defense outside of NATO.

"I believe Denmark is too modest about its European commitment," Macron said in a joint press conference with Loekke Rasmussen after talks.

The Danish leader said that he and Macron had agreed to a plan that would see Denmark increase its cooperation with the EU as much as possible within the confines of the defense opt-out the country received along with membership.

He even hinted at the fact that Copenhagen might have to rethink maintaining the opt-out, which can only be changed by holding a national referendum.

"One reason is that trans-Atlantic relations are changing these days; we both realized that during the last summit. So we have to take greater responsibility for our own security," Loekke Rasmussen told reporters, alluding to the erratic behavior of US President Donald Trump towards his European allies.

High-profile minister quits

Macron's visit coincided with political turbulence at home, as France's well-known environment minister, Nicolas Hulot, unexpectedly announced his resignation, citing frustration with a lack of action from European and global leaders.

"Europe is not doing enough," Hulot said. "The world is not doing enough. The planet is becoming an oven, our natural resources are being exhausted, biodiversity is melting like snow in the sun and it's not always dealt with like a priority issue."

es/kms (AP, AFP)

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