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UCPH professor: Danes are EU free riders

DANISH NEWS - Danes want all the benefits of the EU but none of the risks, argues UCPH professor after Danes vote 'No'

After a resounding ‘no’ in Thursday’s referendum, EU expert and University of Copenhagen professor Marlene Wind has characterised Danes as ‘free riders’ unwilling to make a contribution to the 28-country union, a trend that started 28 years ago when the original four opt-outs were passed. This is according to

“We’ve been free riders for nearly 3o years now, prepared to sit back and watch while failing to understand that if you’re part of a community it’s about give and take – not just take,” said the professor.

“People seem to think that we should only contribute if there’s something in it for us.”

Resounding rejection

At the same time she blamed Danish politicians for failing to present the ‘true story’ of the EU.

“I feel Danes, generally, believe in the idea of a common market where we can sell our goods but the EU is much more than just that – it’s also about a binding commitment because otherwise things will fall apart. That’s what politicians have failed to adequately explain.”

In the referendum Thursday, Danes rejected the government’s proposal to shed the justice opt-out. With all the votes counted, the ‘No’ camp won 53.1 percent against 46.9 percent to the ‘Yes’ camp with a turnout of 72 percent, which was higher than expected.

Reflection of insecurity and uncertainty

The outcome is a defeat both for the Danish government and the main opposition parties who had urged voters to back the proposal, arguing it was necessary for Denmark to combat cross-border crime and remain a member of Europol.

”It is a clear no and I have full respect for the decision. It is my clear impression that it’s not so much what we have voted about that voters rejected, but perhaps what we haven’t voted on,” said Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen at a press conference after the vote. Rasmussen said the result reflected general ‘insecurity and uncertainty’ over the consequences of a ‘Yes’ vote and ”maybe also general EU scepticism and a host of other things,” but not a ‘no’ to giving Danish police the sharpest tools in the battle against cross-border crime.

The result of the referendum could help to fuel anti-EU sentiment throughout Europe and is likely to be of special interest in Britain, whose government is trying to renegotiate its relations with the EU before holding a vote on whether to remain in the bloc.

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