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Opting out

Certain European Union countries have what are known as ‘opt-outs’, which are a means of ensuring that when a given country does not wish to join the others in a particular field of EU policy, it can opt out, thus avoiding an overall stalemate.

Examples of opt-outs include:

  • Schengen Agreement: Ireland and the United Kingdom;
  • economic and monetary union: Denmark and the United Kingdom;
  • defence: Denmark
  • EU Charter of Fundamental Rights: Poland and the United Kingdom;
  • area of freedom, security and justice: Denmark, Ireland and the United Kingdom (the latter two countries may opt into given initiatives if they wish).