April 25, 2016 / 3:19 PM / 3 years ago

Danish government ally, eyeing UK, urges referendum on EU ties

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - Denmark should consider holding a referendum on its relations with the European Union, a key ally of the country’s minority government said on Monday, as Britain prepares to vote on June 23 on whether to leave the 28-nation bloc.

Danish People's Party leader Kristian Thulesen Dahl gives his winning speech at the Danish Parliament Building in Copenhagen December 3, 2015 after the no-result of the EU-referendum, whether the current Danish 'opt-out' on EU Justice and Home Affairs should be replaced by an 'opt-in' model.

Like Britain, Denmark has negotiated several exemptions from EU laws, most notably from having to join the euro currency.

The British referendum comes after Prime Minister David Cameron renegotiated some terms of Britain’s EU membership, including curbs on EU migrants’ access to some welfare benefits.

Denmark should try to win similar concessions from the EU if Britons vote to stay in the bloc, said Kristian Thulesen Dahl, leader of the populist Danish People’s Party, the largest of the three parties supporting the minority government in Copenhagen.

If the Danish parliament is unable to agree on the matter, “then why not ask the Danes to decide on the matter via a referendum,” Thulesen Dahl said in a blog.

If Britain votes to leave the EU, Thulesen Dahl said he thought London would forge an accord with the EU based on close cooperation, adding that this would also “most likely” be an interesting position for Denmark.

“Other countries may find it attractive as well,” he said without elaborating. He stopped short of calling for a British-style In-Out referendum on Denmark’s EU membership.

The Danish People’s Party says it is not opposed to Denmark’s EU membership but calls for less interference by Brussels in Danish affairs.

The party holds 37 seats in Denmark’s 179-seat parliament, three more than the ruling Liberal Party, giving it a strong hand in negotiations with the government.

Denmark joined the European Economic Community (EEC), the forerunner of the EU, with Britain and Ireland in 1973.

Reporting by Teis Jensen; Editing by Gareth Jones

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