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Copenhagen Wants to Stay in EU Police Agency Despite Danes' ‘No’ Vote

  • Reuters

FILE - In this Nov. 26, 2015 file photo, a Belgian Army soldier walks through the Galleries Royal Saint-Hubert in the center of Brussels.

FILE - In this Nov. 26, 2015 file photo, a Belgian Army soldier walks through the Galleries Royal Saint-Hubert in the center of Brussels.

Denmark wants to stay in the European Union's police agency Europol, the country's justice minister said in Brussels on Friday after Danes voted against closer cooperation on crime-fighting with the bloc in a blow to European integration.

The Scandinavian country voted on Thursday against adopting more EU laws to help fight cross-border crime, with backers of the "no" campaign advocating against any closer ties with the 28-nation bloc struggling with multiple crises.

In particular, Copenhagen needed the changes to stay within Europol at a time of increased security in Europe following last month's attacks in Paris.

Denmark's Justice Minister Soren Pind was due to brief his EU colleagues about the situation during a justice and interiors ministers' meeting in Brussels on Friday.

"I'm going to tell them about the outcome of the Danish referendum, that we cannot participate in the Europol provision. That puts us in a difficult situation but we'll just have to work with it and see how we can solve this," Pind said.

"The government has a very strong interest in Denmark continuing in Europol, and we must attempt to do that," he said before the talks started.

The leading power behind the "no" campaign in Denmark, the populist Danish People's Party (DF), has said that Europol participation can be maintained through other treaties.

Pind's fellow ministers and EU officials expressed regret at Danes' decision but said they were ready to work to keep Copenhagen within the bloc's the cross-border policing agency.

"It's a strong expression of some hesitation over the extent to which Europe can provide security," EU's Counter-terrorism Coordinator Gilles de Kerchove said of the Danish vote as officials arrived to the meeting, pledging more security measures and steps to alleviate the migration crisis that has fuelled Euro-sceptic rhetoric across the bloc.

"If we want to address these challenges, we need more Europe and more Schengen," he said. "The opposite won't get them solved."

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