The Danes voted almost 67% on Wednesday, June 1, in favor of joining the defense policy of the European Union (EU), according to the count of 97% of the ballots.

“Tonight Denmark sent an important signal. To our allies in Europe and NATO, and to [President Vladimir] Putin. We show that when Putin invades a free country and threatens stability in Europe, the rest of us come together,” said Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen. “There was a Europe before February 24, before the Russian invasion and there is a Europe after,” she added.

EU leaders Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel immediately hailed Denmark’s “historic” vote. “I welcome the strong message of commitment to our common security sent by the Danish people,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen tweeted, “convinced that Denmark and the EU will benefit from this decision.” “The people of Denmark have made a historic choice,” said European Council President Charles Michel.

End of Danish exceptions

Two weeks into Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Ms Frederiksen announced an agreement with most parties in parliament to put the end of the Danish exception to a referendum, along with major military investments to cross the bar of 2% of the GDP devoted to the defense budget desired by NATO.

A traditionally Eurosceptic country, Denmark obtained in 1993 a series of exceptions, called “opt outs” (“opt outs”) on several European issues, particularly in the field of defence. The Scandinavian country – a founding member of NATO – was thus unable to participate in any EU military mission.

Formerly marginal, the defense policy of the Twenty-Seven has gained momentum in recent years, even if the ideas of a European army are still a foil for many capitals.