1 Centre for Advanced Security Theory, Department of Political Science, Faculty of Social Sciences, Københavns Universitet2 Centre for Advanced Security Theory, Department of Political Science, Faculty of Social Sciences, Københavns Universitet
A post-Danish sovereign nation state in the making
The relationship between Greenland and the European Union (EU) can best be understood by exploring the development from Danish colonialism to a future independent Greenlandic state. In 1985, Greenland became the first territory ever to leave the European Economic Community (EEC) when it opted for status as an ‘overseas country or territory’. The manner in which Greenland had to follow Denmark into the EEC in 1973 – whereby Greenlanders saw control over their fisheries move from distant Copenhagen to even-more-distant Brussels – was pivotal for the Greenlandic demands for home rule that succeeded in 1979 and made the 1985 withdrawal possible. On 25 November 2008, a majority of the people of Greenland voted in favour of enhanced home rule – ‘self-government’ – still within formal Danish sovereignty. Denmark and Greenland alike are preparing for a future envisioned as involving climate change, intensive raw material extraction, new transportation corridors and new claims to sovereignty over the Arctic. Greenland uses this imagined future as a way of enhancing its subjectivity, not the least when dealing with the EU. This article analyses how the Greenlandic self-understanding as being on the way to sovereignty – and the tensions involved – structures the triangular relationship between the EU, Greenland and Denmark. The article concludes that the visions of sovereign equality might, on the one hand, create greater expectations than Greenland will immediately be able to live up to – at home and in the EU. On the other hand, the representation of the Greenland–EU relationship as one of sovereign equality – present and future – might just be able to provoke the resources necessary to make the dream come true.
Cooperation and Conflict, 2014, Vol 49, Issue 1, p. 98-118
Faculty of Social Sciences; Empire; European Union; Greenland; Norden; sovereignty games