DENMARK: EU-referendum will leave asylum opt-out untouched

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Denmark will hold a referendum on its relations to EU justice and home affairs no later than March 2016, regardless who wins an upcoming election to be held at the latest in September next year, five political parties in the Parliament have agreed. The purpose is to change the present opt-out position to an opt-in like UK and Ireland.

The present opt-out prevents Denmark to take part in EU decisions on immigration and asylum, with exceptions for the Dublin and Eurodac Regulations. This is agreed by a large political majority. But it also prevents Denmark being a part of Europol as the intergovernmental police cooperation turns into a full-fledged EU-body. This troubles the five parties.

The referendum is thus predominantly motivated to keep Denmark within the ranks of Europol.

The political preferences are more muddled in other areas of policing and crime prevention, and on civil justice. A forthcoming analysis of what areas Denmark might, or might not, opt into will be presented 1 February 2015, giving time for the five parties to agree on what legal acts they want Denmark to adopt should the referendum open up for an opt-in solution.

The political agreement gives each of the parties a right to veto any opt-ins not agreed upon by all of them, regardless of the outcome of the next election. A swing in the parliament towards a more asylum-positive legislation - hypothetical as it might be - will not be able to manifest itself in any new opt ins.

The agreement is signed by the governmental parties Social Democrats and Liberals ("Radikale Ventre"), Socialist Peoples party, and by the leading opposition parties the right leaning Liberals ("Venstre"), and the Conservatives. The five are seen as the pro-European block.

Danish Peoples party (centre-right populists) Red Green Alliance ("Enhedslisten") and Liberal Alliance (neo-liberals) oppose the agreement and will argue against giving up the general Danish opt out on Justice and Home Affairs.

Link to the agreement (in Danish only)

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