To be sure, just about the last thing the EU needed was another blow to European solidarity.
The monumental challenge of coping with the millions of refugees who have inundated the Balkans on their way to Germany has splintered the bloc and now, the debate on how best to deal with the flood of asylum seekers threatens to shatter the sacred Schengen ideal altogether.
On Wednesday we reported that the EU has now threatened Greece with indefinite suspension from the Schengen passport-free travel zone unless it overhauls its response to the migration crisis by mid-December, as frustration mounts over Athens’ reluctance to accept outside support. At the same time, Turkey (who is now fond of starting world wars) is set to receive a €3 billion check to support Ankara’s efforts to “keep migrants in the region.”
Well, in case the situation wasn’t fractious enough, Denmark voted against further integration on Thursday in a referendum that boasted a turnout of 72%. As WSJ reports, “voters were asked if parliament should have the power to opt-in on a total of 22 EU justice and home affairs laws, from which the small Nordic country has hitherto been exempt.”
53% of Danes said “no”.
“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 even after a planned overhaul of the intergovernmental police agency next year,” WSJ goes on to note.
“The result of the election is based on a general skepticism toward the EU,” PM Lars Loekke Rasmussen said. Rasmussen contends that deeper integration is paramount if the country wants to "fight cross-border crime." "At stake is the ability to coordinate everything from tracking cyber crime to ensuring family disputes get the same legal treatment across EU borders," Bloomberg adds.
"Danes are saying yes to cooperation but no to relinquishing more sovereignty to Brussels," Kristian Thulesen-Dahl, head of the EU-skeptic, anti-immigration Danish People's Party, said on Thursday. The DPP is the big winner here and the vote effectively means the majority of Danes do not support a move to subject the country to Brussels' migrant quota system. "DPP leaders have said that adopting the government plan could compel Denmark to participate in joint EU efforts to tackle the region’s migrant crisis," WSJ says. Rasmussen says that isn't the case.
Now, the PM will have to struggle to keep his country in Europol. "Rasmussen said he now would have talks with European Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker aimed at reaching so-called parallel agreements that would allow Denmark to continue cooperation with Europol, among others," AP says.
As for the consequences of preserving the opt-out, Denmark will now be cut off from critical information given last week's changes to the role of the European police agency. Danes "won't have immediate access to Europol registers on foreign fighters in Syria, criminal motorbike gangs, etc.," Henning Soerensen, a lecturer in EU law at the University of Southern Denmark, warns.
So there you go. No access to centralized data on "motobike gangs," which means that if the Hell's Angels decide to stage an attack on Copenhagen, Denmark will be out of luck when it comes to shared intelligence.
The vote has wider ramifications. As WSJ goes on to suggest, "the result of the Danish vote could have implications for British Prime Minister David Cameron as he seeks to renegotiate Britain’s relationship with the EU."
As a reminder, Brexit is one of SocGen's five black swans for 2016 and "Denmark voting against further European integration could strengthen Cameron’s negotiating hand, since he could use the Danish referendum to show the U.K. isn’t the only country with major concerns about the EU and that other European populations are weary about further integration."
So there you have it, more "dis-union" and just one more reason to believe that the EU project has entered what might fairly be described as a terminal decline. If the Denmark vote tells us anything, it's that terrorists need not waste time attacking Europe - it's going to fall apart on its own.