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Denmark Joins EU Military Cooperation as It Drops Historic Opt-Out

One of the seven Danish F-16 fighter jets takes off from military airport Flyvestation Skrydstrup in Jutland, Denmark (File)InternationalIndiaAfricaPundits have described the move as a signal of Denmark moving closer to the EU, as the US and UK, its traditional security and military partners, have become increasingly unreliable.In a historic milestone, Denmark has ended its 30-year-long opt-out on EU’s military collaboration and joined the Permanent Structured Cooperation program, also known as PESCO.This is a result of a referendum held in June 2022, in which Danes voted in favor of joining the EU’s common security and defense policy and contributing to the bloc’s military missions and operations. To complete this shift, Denmark also joined the European Defense Agency.According to Denmark’s acting Defense Minister Troels Lund Poulsen, with this move, Denmark has become a full member of the EU’s joint defense policy.»Now we have cleared all obstacles from the table in relation to being able to cooperate on the EU’s defense dimension. So it’s a really good day for Denmark,» Poulsen told local media.WorldDenmark Touts ‘Pragmatic Idealism’ as New Foreign Policy Strategy17 May, 08:26 GMTThis move was also welcomed by the EU’s top diplomat Josep Borrell, who praised Denmark for joining «the core of our defense cooperation.»Christine Nissen, a researcher of the EU’s defense and security policy at the Danish Institute for International Studies (DIIS), argued that this constitutes a change of heart.»In the past, we have aligned ourselves very closely with the US and the UK in security and defense policy. But those partners have become more uncertain cards in recent years, and now we are instead moving closer to the other European countries in the area,» Nissen told Danish media.

What is PESCO?

The Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) is seen as a key EU military initiative​. It provides a framework for defense cooperation among the 26 participating states (from Sweden in the north to Cyprus in the south), which jointly develop defense capabilities, coordinate investments, enhance the operational readiness, interoperability and resilience of their armed forces through various collaboration projects.As of now, PESCO involves 68 projects covering areas ranging from training facilities, land formation systems, maritime and air systems, cyber, and enabling joint multiple services and space. They range from a joint intelligence school in Greece to a Romanian-led project to train soldiers to protect themselves against chemical or nuclear attacks.

Denmark’s Newfound Military Interests

Earlier this spring, the Danish Defense Ministry said it would allocate DKK 38 billion ($5.6 billion) on bolstering its military in order to get closer to NATO’s spending target. The money will be spent on gear, equipment, buildings, information technology, personnel and new investments. The ministry cited the «current geopolitical situation» which warrants «more resources.»The Danish military has also placed a stronger emphasis on its forward presence in the Baltic countries, ostensibly to «protect» them from Russia.Last but not least, Denmark’s massive military spending spree, also involves bulging aid to the Kiev regime in the Ukraine conflict, which involves funding, materiel and training.Nevertheless, despite unprecendented funding, the Danish military remains admittedly understaffed to the point of curtailing its overseas presence in the Middle East and limiting its Arctic patrols.

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