Analysis

Reflections on the Danish referendum

Danish prime minister and Jean Claude-Juncker

Summary In using two languages, the campaigners on Denmark’s referendum spoke past one another, failed to understand each other and divided Denmark into two opposing camps.

In this EPIN Commentary, head of research at Think Tank EUROPA Catharina Sørensen offers her reflections on Denmark’s referendum, held on December 3rd, on whether the country should change its blanket opt-out on all justice and home affairs cooperation in the EU to the more nuanced opt-in model adopted by the UK and Ireland.

In her view, the outcome reflected the two separate ‘languages’ deployed in the public debate over the referendum – the emotional discussion about sovereignty, which appealed to the heart, and the technical argument about cooperation, which appealed to reason. In using these two languages, the campaigners spoke past one another, failed to understand each other and divided Denmark into two opposing camps.

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