A New Denmark aiming at Europe? Danish security and defence policy under the government of Helle Thorning-Schmidt


  • Madelene Lindström
  • Mike Winnerstig

Publish date: 2013-02-14

Report number: FOI-R--3630--SE

Pages: 45

Written in: Swedish


  • Denmark
  • EU
  • NATO
  • Nordic defence cooperation


The security and defence policies of the new left-leaning Danish government under Helle Thorning-Schmidt are, compared to previous governments, characterized by significant continuity. The main objectives and priorities that dominated Danish policy under the earlier era of center-right governments remain, including the so-called Danish activist foreign policy. The Danish government wants to deepen Danish EU policies and to work for the abolishment of the Danish opt-outs regarding EU foreign and defense policy.. However, nothing indicates that the government will launch a referendum on the EU opt-outs during its current term. NATO is still seen as the cornerstone of Danish security and foreign policy. Even the Socialist People's Party (SF), which traditionally has been very critical toward NATO. now pursues a clearly "NATO friendly" policy. The Danish EU opt-outs also contribute to the fact that Denmark will continue to be dependent on NATO and on relations with the United States. The new government continues to see the bilateral relationship with the United States as extremely important for Denmark. However, some differences in nuance can be identified and in terms of certain issues Denmark migth not automatically side with the U.S. The new government has a rhetorically more positive attitude toward Nordic defence cooperation. However, it is clear that in terms of Danish priorities, Nordic cooperation comes after transatlantic cooperation and even after bilateral cooperation with major European countries such as the United Kingdom. This priority order is explained by, among other factors, the Nordic countries' different alliance affiliations or lack thereof, as well as different operational conditions. In some areas - such as the NORDEFCO cooperation - Denmark might become a more active partner with an interest in increased cooperation.