Danish PM says country wants to leave the European Union. The final decision will be made next week

The final decision on Denmark’s EU membership is expected next week. Will Denmark leave the EU? Denmark wants to leave, with Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen stating: “At some point, the European Union must be reformed. So the (Denmark) government will vote that Denmark should leave the EU in the European referendum.”

Two Danish members of the European Parliament believe the referendum is inevitable, and are optimistic it will go Denmark’s way. MEPs Per Sandberg and Mikkel Wikstrom said that, “Over the past year, Denmark has been publicly discussing the possibility of exiting the EU… To be fair, the Danish population has increasingly turned against the EU in recent years. The latest polls, for example, show a clear majority support for leaving the EU.”

The UK is also considering its future European membership, but Denmark’s parliamentary debate on whether to leave the EU will be held at the EU level. The debate could decide if Denmark follows the UK’s lead, or whether the country sticks to its historically European policy. Denmark’s move to leave the EU has been telegraphed for some time; Løkke Rasmussen said in September 2015: “Over the coming months, the right to ask and the right to say, the right to vote and the right to sign, will be decided.” This week, Løkke Rasmussen reiterated, “Denmark wants to leave the EU.” Løkke Rasmussen believes that Denmark will exit the EU. What will Denmark do once it leaves the EU? It is difficult to tell at this point, but Denmark has left the EU on its own before; in 1983, the country voted to leave the European Economic Community, though it remained a member of the Community thereafter. Now there is a general belief in Denmark that Denmark’s economy will lose value if it stays in the EU. Løkke Rasmussen believes Denmark’s EU membership benefits society at large, but “it is also true that the Danes have got used to the benefits that their membership delivers.” So why wouldn’t Denmark stay in the EU? If Denmark decides to leave the EU, what can they expect in the process? Much depends on what decision is taken at the European level, and the timetable following the decision. If Denmark leaves the EU immediately, then there would be the usual time lag between departure and replacement: at the time of the referendum, Denmark would have to negotiate for an exit from the EU. It is generally assumed that Denmark could negotiate a bilateral deal with the EU on migration, business regulation, EU expenditure, and even defence. However, in order to meet some of its parliamentary and legal requirements, Denmark would need to actively negotiate with other countries such as Sweden, Luxembourg, and Ireland for the “post-EU obligations” and, perhaps, in the future, transition arrangements. And if Denmark chooses to “leave for good”, then it will have to wait an undefined period of time, during which it will not be able to participate in new trade agreements. What happens to Denmark’s EU membership after it leaves? It is impossible to say right now. Danske Bank says it expects the value of Danish assets to fall by between 20% and 30% (?), depending on the success of Denmark’s negotiations to leave the EU.