This content is from: Local Insights

Denmark

By a judgment dated April 6 1998, the Danish prime minister was acquitted of charges of unconstitutional conduct in connection with the signing of the EU Treaty. The plaintiff, a group of Danish citizens, alleged that a provision in the constitution stating that surrender of sovereignty may only take place in certain defined cases had been violated.

The Supreme Court found that the provisions in the constitution regarding surrender of sovereignty should not be construed narrowly, pointing out that the provisions leave room for interpretation. However, it also emphasized that there are strict limits to the use of Article 235 of the EU Treaty (a general clause granting the EU broad powers to attain the aims of the common market), and that this Article cannot be used as an ad hoc legal basis for action without a legal basis in other provisions of the treaty. This view is supported by the EC-court.

Furthermore, the Supreme Court stated that Danish courts must consider an EU provision contrary to Danish law, should the extraordinary situation occur that it can be concluded with sufficient certainty that an EU provision, which has been upheld by the EC-court, is based on an interpretation of the EU Treaty which goes beyond the Danish surrender of sovereignty. The conclusions in this respect seem to be similar to those of the German constitutional court in Karlsruhe in 1993.

It is believed that the ruling by the Supreme Court has increased the chances that the Danes will approve the Amsterdam Treaty in a referendum to be held on 28 May.

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