The U.K. may be a key ally of Denmark, but that doesn’t mean it should expect any favors from the government in Copenhagen when it negotiates its departure from the European Union.
"Our objective is to make the best possible deal for Denmark," Danish Foreign Minister Kristian Jensen told Bloomberg when asked about future Brexit talks.
The small Scandinavian nation has often sided with Britain during discussions in Brussels. The two countries are broadly in favor of the free market and have refused to join the bloc’s common currency, the euro. They have both obtained important opt-outs from EU rules since joining the club, in 1973, while Danish Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen was one of the most enthusiastic supporters of David Cameron’s efforts to crack down on so-called "benefit tourism."
However, Jensen stressed Friday that Denmark was gearing up to defend its business interests. His comments provide a taste of the kind of reception that U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May can expect when she discusses the terms of her country’s EU divorce with the remaining 27 member states.
"We have about six months to get our wish list ready," said Jensen, who is expecting negotiations on Britain’s departure to start as soon as the end of this year. "We need to find out where we should be aggressive in securing our interests and where we need to ensure that Britain doesn’t get any advantages that the rest of us aren’t getting."
It’s particularly important that "British businesses don’t get any advantages that we won’t have," he stressed. Although the U.K. is one of its biggest trading partners, one of Denmark’s main worries concerns reciprocal access for fishermen.
While Denmark relishes the fact that the U.K.’s current membership status allows "the usual alliances and voting agreements to carry on" in Brussels, it is important to avoid any foot-dragging, as this may cause excessive uncertainty, he said.