Denmark Rejects Europe-Centric Defense Vision While Deepening Defense Ties to Scandinavia

Following the chaotic Afghanistan withdrawal and the recent AUKUS controversy, prominent European voices have called for greater European strategic autonomy and even for a 20,000 strong EU military unit which could be deployed abroad. A draft proposal is expected to be presented within the next two months.

Denmark, however, has wholeheartedly rejected any European defense plans which would come at a cost of the military relationship with the United States. While she claimed to welcome additional European defense initiatives, Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen told local media that she would never accept any option which would seek to replace NATO.

“The most important, stand-alone explanation for the fact that Danes, Europeans and Americans have been able to live in safety and security for decades is the transatlantic cooperation that grew out of the ashes of the world wars. […] It is, by volume, the strongest alliance for democracy and freedom and fundamental human rights, and it must not be undermined by thoughts of a stronger Europe at the expense of strong transatlantic cooperation.”

While most of Europe has decided on a largely mediatory approach to the AUKUS submarine spat between America and France, the Danish government has taken a clearly pro-American position with Frederiksen saying that she “doesn’t understand” the French reaction.

Denmark also recently undertook steps to strengthen its defense cooperation with its northern neighbors with the signing of a new defense cooperation agreement. Besides Denmark, the trilateral pact includes Norway and Sweden and is particularly geared towards supporting the latter which while remaining outside of NATO has increasingly recognized the threat that Russia poses to Swedish sovereignty. Swedish defense spending has seen significant increases recently and an agreement to purchase the American Patriot defense system has already been made.

The recent agreement builds upon the foundation of the NORDEFCO collaboration which features an even greater range of Nordic states.