Parliamentary ratification only

Danish Institute for International Studies

Denmark will not hold a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty as an investigation by the Danish Ministry of Justice in December 2007 concluded that the new treaty does not lead to any loss of national sovereignty. Under the Danish Constitution a referendum is needed when national sovereignty is relinquished to the EU (unless 5/6 majority in parliament is secured). Denmark was due to hold a vote on the European Constitution in 2005, but the planned referendum was scrapped after the no votes in France and the Netherlands. According to the Danish Ministry of Justice, nine mostly technical areas of the Constitutional Treaty would have involved a transfer of sovereignty to the EU, e.g. rules regarding identity papers, diplomatic protection, EU standards for medicine, and a common policy on space technology etc. These nine areas have been removed from the Lisbon Treaty leaving it for ratification by MPs[1].
 
In the Danish Parliament, the Lisbon Treaty is seen as a step towards a more open, democratic and efficient EU, which is better suited to reap the benefits and handle the challenges of globalisation. The ratification of the treaty in the Danish Parliament will take place either in February or March 2008. The text is expected to easily win the approval of the Danish Parliament, notably after the opposition (the Social Democrats and Social Liberals) gave their backing to the Prime Minister for a parliamentary ratification and furthermore strongly support the treaty. However, not all parties in Parliament are content with the decision of parliamentary ratification. Several parties (the Danish People’s Party, the Socialist People’s Party and the Unity List) have urged the government to hold a referendum as part of a wider EU-debate. These parties are supported by the two EU-sceptical movements, the ‘June Movement’ and the ‘People’s Movement against the EU’. Shortly after the Lisbon summit in October 2007, the People’s Movement against the EU started signature petition to pressure the government to ratify the treaty through a referendum. Furthermore, the leader of the Socialist People’s Party, Villy Søvndal – although supporting the treaty – finds that the EU is an elite project, where the voice of the people is bypassed thereby breaking the tradition for involving Danish citizens in EU matters[2].
 
The Lisbon Treaty has received considerable attention in the Danish media, which has mainly focused on the difference between the new treaty and the failed Constitutional Treaty. For many, the Lisbon Treaty is seen to carry the same substance and ideas as the Constitutional Treaty. The lack of transparency compared to the previous Constitutional Treaty is generally seen as a drawback as the content of the treaty is difficult to understand for the general population.
 
The suggestion of a ‘Group of the wise’ is welcomed in Denmark. The Prime Minister, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, emphasized that the members of the group should refrain from discussing institutional and treaty changes in the EU as well as from discussing EU’s external borders. The Danish parties, generally, agree that the group should focus on EU’s problems relating to energy policy, the fight against terrorism and the EU economy in a global perspective. Anders Fogh Rasmussen put great emphasis on having an even division between men and women in the group, and he is open to nominating a Danish candidate for the group[3].


[1] BBC News – No Danish vote on Lisbon Treaty, 11 December 2007, available at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7138138.stm (last access: 21.01.08). For a more extensive discussion see Danish Institute for International Studies: Denmark (Future of the EU), in: Institute for European Politics (Ed.): EU-25/27 Watch, No. 5, September 2007, Berlin, pp. 31-33.

[2] BBC News – No Danish vote on Lisbon Treaty, 11 December 2007, available at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7138138.stm (last access: 21.01.08).

[3] Politiken – Fogh vil have vise kvinder, 25 January 2007, available at: http://mobil.pol.dk/nyheder/udlandarticle.pml;jsessionid=aaRSvLBJtxvd?ar... (last access: 21.01.08).