The 79 times that the ECJ has ignored the Danish renegotiation

New research by Vote Leave has revealed how little attention the EU will pay to any deal it agrees with the UK Government.

EU ignored its deal with Denmark. After Danish voters narrowly rejected the Maastricht Treaty in a June 1992 referendum, the EU made certain promises to Denmark which convinced its citizens to endorse the Treaty in a second referendum. Since then, however, EU judges have routinely ignored that deal – passing 79 judgments and opinions which were contrary to it on key issues such as:

  • stripping immigrants of citizenship when they obtained it fraudulently,
  • maintaining effective border controls; and even
  • the surnames Danish citizens are allowed to use.

These all broke the commitment the EU made to Denmark about the status of EU citizenship in 1992.

Precedent set to ignore any UK deal on benefits. David Cameron is looking to use the Danish deal as a model for his renegotiation. In a briefing document for this referendum, Number 10 has claimed that the deal done with Denmark in 1992 gave the country ‘opt-outs that were legally-binding. Twenty three years later these opt-outs still hold.’

David Cameron wants to use the Danish model to secure changes to stop EU migrants claiming benefits in the UK – but, in a highly significant ruling, EU judges have already established that they will ignore any deal David Cameron might get on restricting benefits.

In 2012, they ruled that making entitlements to welfare conditional on completing six years’ education in a member state was illegal – and inconsistent with ‘the fundamental status’ of EU citizenship. This means the ECJ could strike down any requirement agreed by EU leaders that the UK will not have to pay in-work benefits to migrants during their first four years in the UK.


Vote Leave supporter and former Cabinet Minister Owen Paterson said:

‘EU judges tore up the agreement that the EU made with Denmark in 1992 about EU citizenship. They will do the same to any deal the UK obtains from the EU in the coming months.

‘If we vote to remain in the European Union, there is a growing danger that British citizenship will be superseded by EU citizenship as the ECJ pushes relentlessly for political union. The ECJ will continue to use EU citizenship to take control over an ever increasing number of policy areas as it purports to uphold EU citizens’ rights.

‘The Government has no proposals to change this as part of its renegotiation. The only way to restore the exclusive ability of the UK Parliament to control British citizenship and to prevent the ECJ taking more control is to Vote Leave.


Please see the briefing for more details.

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