World News

EU Commissioner says Denmark can't have 'parallel' Europol deal

European Commission First Vice-President Frans Timmermann addresses the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, during a debate on the state of the rule of law and restrictions to press freedom in Poland, January 19, 2016. REUTERS/Vincent Kessler

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - A senior EU official told Denmark’s leaders on Tuesday that they would not get the cross-border policing deal they have been seeking since Danes voted in a referendum to quit Europol.

In a precursor to the much more dramatic vote by the British in June to leave the European Union entirely, Danes last December rejected a government proposal for new laws needed to keep the country inside the European police agency.

Since then, the government has sought what is known in EU jargon as a “parallel deal” that would allow it to maintain some cooperation with Europol.

But European Commission Vice President Frans Timmermanns told Danish broadcaster TV2 that was not possible.

“I’m afraid not. You can’t be slightly pregnant, you’re either pregnant or you’re not. If you vote to be out of Europol, you’re out of Europol. I don’t see on the basis of the legal situation any alternative for that,” Timmermanns said.

“The vote of the Danish people was very clear, and the consequence of that vote is that Denmark will not be in Europol,” he said.

Britain’s leaders face a similar, but far more wide-reaching conundrum, as many would prefer to keep access to the EU single market while avoiding the obligation to allow EU citizens free movement, something the Commission says is out of the question.

Denmark joined the European bloc along with Britain and Ireland in 1973 and has long enjoyed exemptions from several EU laws.

Reporting by Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen; Editing by Robin Pomeroy