From Copenhagen to Copenhagen. The Danish Role in Eastern Enlargement
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During the negotiations on Eastern enlargement of the European Union, from 1993 until 2003, Denmark played the role of promotor. First by chairing the European Council meeting that opened the door to Europe for the Central and Eastern European states, then by arguing for an all-inclusive enlargement in 1997 at the Luxemburg European Council meeting and finally by making the conclusion of the ongoing negotiation the top priority of the Danish Presidency of the EU in 2003. According to the prominent theories in de current literature, Denmark could have had two reasons to play this part. The rationalist claim that Denmark had clear economic and geopolitical benefits in pursuing (all-inclusive) enlargement, while the constructivist claim that the Danish role was founded on a strong sense of solidarity and shared identity. This thesis argues that in this case, it is not one reason or the other; both reasons do actually apply to Denmark. By investigating the Danish history, identity and national context, one is able to explain the reasoning behind the foreign policy decisions made by Denmark. The Danish identity is built around the welfare system and the Danish conception of democracy. It focusses on solidarity, security and chances for every citizen. The Danish people therefore have a strong sense of community and value the greater good. The latter shows in the foreign policy as well: the Danish government argued that non-inclusive enlargement would undermine the peace and stability of the European continent. It would endanger the functioning of the Union and through that Denmark itself. Stability had to be ensured and this could be done by allowing the new CEEC’s to join the EU, the Danes argued. The process of democratization that would commence with accession would stabilize the countries and eliminate all threats of danger. This could be seen as a geopolitical reason for enlargement, but is also an economic one, as stability fosters economic growth. Moreover, it is a normative reason as its foundation can be found in the firm believe in democracy, solidarity and it can be considered part of the Danish identity to take up this role, because if they would not support peace and solidarity, the government would lose credibility on national level. Denmark used this rhetoric on both national and international level. In terms of Schimmelfennig, this approach can be seen as ‘rhetorical action’, in order to gain support, by calling upon shared values. On national level, this approach was not as much rhetorical action as on European level: the Danish political parties were highly socialized actors. Not supporting the government’s discourse of ‘a duty to unite Europe’ would not be seen as legitimate, as it would not be in line with the core values of the Danish identity. On European level, Denmark attempted to combine the normative part of their argumentation to a geopolitical argument of imminent threat. However, while this rhetoric opened eyes for the incomplete approach offered by the European Commission, it did not have the convincing effect on all the member states. The way the threat was perceived varied among the member states and, additionally, each state had interests of their own that they tried to convince the others of. This can be seen as some sort of battle of rhetorical action.