While Theresa May grapples with the ever steepening slope of leaving the European Union, those over the sea in the Nordic regions are shaking their heads in disbelief. In August, the finance minister of Denmark Kristian Jensen voiced his concerns that he agreed with the 50-50 chance of a no-deal Brexit, and that time is running out to strike a favourable deal, or deal at all. Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen said in April that leaving the single market carried a price tag not just for the UK, but for Denmark too. The relationship with the UK and it’s imminent exit from the EU is one that rings close with many countries in Europe, but notably Scandinavian countries that engage in heavy trade, tourism and diplomatic ties. Denmark, which has been a close ally of the UK since joining the EU at the same time, has shown its own Eurosceptic opinions recently, so it seems bizarre that they would warn the UK so often of their own blundering actions while on the other hand agreeing with so many factors that led the UK to vote leave in the first place.
However, while the government of Denmark shows signs of Euroscepticism, such as opting out of the Dublin Convention, the Danish public shows another facet. A recent poll showed that rejection of leaving the EU was at 55% to 27%, and that Danes on the whole became more supportive of the EU after seeing the difficulties that the UK has seen after voting Leave. Like many continental European countries, Danes feel a certain sense of ‘European-ness’ and community due to their proximity to other EU countries. After moving to continental Europe three years ago, it is easier to feel, though some governments may have a different sentiment, a more close-knit bond with our European neighbours. There is a feeling of community here, and while many believe that the rest of Europe would want to see the UK go at this point, the vast majority of the younger generations in continental Europe view the UK’s exit with feelings of sorrow. Although many in Scandinavia and Europe in general dislike the EU, they still value the ideals that the EU has provided for them – freedom of movement, freedom to work where they want; an often romanticised version of the EU that many in the UK will possibly lose out on. ‘We are losing a neighbour’, a Danish friend lamented to me last week. A neighbour that many felt was excluded both geographically and politically, and now one that we need to embrace, or at least the younger generation who overwhelmingly wanted to stay within the Union. A Eurobarometer is not going to measure how people feel about the EU, it is the attitude of how the rest of the remaining Member States treat those that decide to leave it.