The Danes, the European Union and the forthcoming Presidency
Soren Dosenrode delivers a clear insight into this "Danish paradox", whereby a genuine feeling of belonging to the European Union mingles with deep reluctance to engage in any form of debate on political integration. In so doing, he uncovers another one: the pro- European elite is tending to limit European integration to the single market, thus fuelling the opposition of part of Danish public opinion to a process perceived as exclusively mercantilistic and capitalistic. These paradoxes, which have an unfortunate tendency to feed on themselves, are rooted in the complex history of the Danish nation State and in a respectable concern for preserving the specific features of an original welfare State model.
However, according to the author, they should not make us doubt the Danes' support for the Union, which is in line with the Community average. The timing of this presidency is ideal: Denmark will need to take a decisive part in pushing through the enlargement negotiations - an area where, despite its traditional neutralism, this small country is clearly determined to play a major political role. Dosenrode's prediction that this coincidence could result in both a success for Europe and greater support of the Danish people for political integration thus has every chance of coming true.
This favourable context is all the more welcome since the agenda of the Danish presidency is particularly full and will require a lot of determination and know-how. I am grateful to the author for outlining this agenda's main thrusts... before they were made public! The Danish government, while preparing to fulfil its duties with its customary diligence, has refused to announce any programme before the end of the Spanish presidency so as not to interfere with the work of its Spanish counterparts. In the period of doubt currently affecting the European integration process - one which has notably seen worrying results at the polls -, irrepressible optimists such as myself will find much to rejoice about in this remarkable study.