Denmark plans to hold a referendum on ending its opt-out from the European Union's Common Security and Defense Policy, Danish Defense Minister Carl Holst said Wednesday. Danish leaders cited increasing global instability as the rationale for the potential policy change.
Ending the opt-out, which has been in place since the 1992 Maastricht Treaty, would allow Denmark to participate in EU military operations and to work in cooperation on development and acquisition of military capabilities within the European Union, the Danish Defense Ministry's website says. Denmark currently cannot take part in any decisions or planning related to the military in the EU, and is the only nation among the 28 EU states to opt-out to the Common Security and Defense Policy.
"The government wants to end the defense opt-out," Holst told Information, a Danish newspaper Wednesday, according to Reuters. "It was also the recommendation of the latest defense committee that we join in."
While Holst is a member of Venstre, the center-right, pro-European Union party currently in power, the left-wing Social Democrats, who still are the largest party in the Danish parliament, also support ending the defense opt-out.
"We live in a more and more unstable world in which it is important that Denmark has the opportunity to participate in international missions together with our allies in the EU," Social Democrats spokesman Henrik Dam Kristensen told Information, the Local reported.
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Denmark has already planned a referendum to end the nation's exemption from EU justice rules for before the end of 2015 and a vote on the country's defense policy is expected shortly after. The justice opt-out has prevented Denmark from participating in the EU's plan for redistributing refugees and migrants flooding into Europe through the Mediterranean Sea.
Denmark was granted four opt-outs from the Maastricht Treaty that created the European Union -- for defense, justice and home affairs, citizenship and adoption of the euro.