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Denmark : EMU opt-out clause

When the Maastricht Treaty was concluded in 1992, Denmark obtained an exemption clause or "opt-out" under which it does not have to enter the third stage of Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) or therefore introduce the euro. The Protocol specifies the terms of that "opt-out".


Protocol on certain provisions relating to Denmark, annexed to the Treaty establishing the European Community (1992).


The Protocol on certain provisions relating to Denmark, annexed to the Treaty establishing the European Community, provides Denmark with the guarantee that it will not automatically proceed to the third stage of EMU even if the criteria are fulfilled. The Danish Constitution requires a referendum to be held on this issue.

Provisions of the Protocol

The Protocol stipulates that:

  • the Danish Government will notify the Council of its position concerning participation in the third stage before the Council makes its assessment of the convergence criteria;
  • in the event of a notification that Denmark will not participate in the third stage, Denmark will be granted an exemption the effect of which will be that all provisions of the Treaty and the Statute of the European System of Central Banks (ESCB) referring to a derogation will be applicable;
  • the procedure for abrogating the exemption will only be initiated at the request of Denmark.

In the event that the exemption is abrogated, the provisions of the Protocol cease to apply.

Referendum on the Maastricht Treaty (1992)

The Danish Parliament adopted the Maastricht Treaty in May 1992, with 125 votes for and 25 votes against. The Danish Constitution requires a referendum to be held on any draft legislation authorising a transfer of powers to supranational authorities.

The Maastricht Treaty was presented to the Danish people in a referendum on 2 June 1992. The Treaty was rejected with 50.7 % of the votes.

Responding to Denmark's concerns: the Edinburgh declaration

Since the Treaty had to be ratified by all Member States before it could enter into force, the Edinburgh European Council in December 1992 found a solution in the form of the Decision of the Heads of State and Government, meeting within the European Council, concerning certain problems raised by Denmark on the Treaty on European Union. This declaration refers to the document "Denmark in Europe" which was presented by the Danish Government and set out the main problems identified:

  • the defence policy dimension;
  • the third stage of EMU;
  • citizenship of the Union;
  • cooperation in the fields of justice and home affairs;
  • the principle of subsidiarity .

The European Council laid down provisions designed to meet the Danish concerns which would apply exclusively to Denmark and to no other Member States, neither at the present time nor in the future. As regards entry to the third stage of EMU, the declaration lays down the following decision:

  • In accordance with the Protocol on certain provisions relating to Denmark, Denmark has given notification that it will not participate in the third stage of EMU. Accordingly, Denmark will not participate in the single currency.
  • Denmark will not be bound by the rules concerning economic policy which apply to Member States participating in EMU.
  • Denmark will retain its existing powers in the field of monetary policy according to its national laws and regulations.
  • Denmark will participate fully in the second stage of EMU and will continue to participate in exchange-rate cooperation within the European Monetary System (EMS).
  • Denmark retains the capacity to pursue its own policies with regard to distribution of income and social welfare.

A second referendum

On this basis, a second referendum was held on 18 May 1993. The Treaty was accepted with 56.8% of the votes.

Denmark's situation today

The Danish krone has remained within the EMS and has been part of the new exchange-rate mechanism (ERM II) since the introduction of the euro. It may fluctuate within a 2.25% band on either side of the euro.

Referendum on stage three (2000)

After the adoption of the single currency by eleven Member States on 1 January 1999, the Danish Government decided to organise a referendum on Denmark's entry to the third stage of EMU and thus to abrogate the opt-out. The referendum was held on 28 September 2000. There was a turnout of 86% and 53.1 % of the voters were against the adoption of the euro.

See also

For more information, please consult the following Commission websites:

Last updated: 16.08.2006