England beat Denmark in the semi finals of Euro 2020 last night, marking an historic moment for English football. Harry Kane’s goal in extra time proved decisive in beating the Danes, who have won plaudits for their resolute performances in the tournament. England will now play Italy in Sunday’s final at Wembley – the Three Lions’ first time in a final since 1966.
Denmark and England built up a friendly but competitive rivalry in the lead up to the game, with Kasper Schmeichel mocking the “it’s coming home” phrase.
The criticism was a lot more serious, however, when a Danish Government minister branded the UK a “small nation” that does not yet realise its status.
He suggested that Britain’s days as a global power had been and gone and that Brexit would be a “disaster for the UK”.
Denmark’s then foreign minister, Kristian Jensen, said in 2017: “There are two kinds of European nations, there are small nations and there are countries that have not yet realised they are small nations.
“It is a paradox that the country that once had an empire on which the sun never sets, that ruled the waves, that in its heart is truly global, is now drawing back from the world’s most successful free trade area. It is a paradox that I cannot get.
“I had the privilege of meeting Boris Johnson shortly after he took office. Bojo said to me: ‘Come on Kristian, don’t be so sad, there must be something good about Brexit’. I just shook my head and said: ‘No. There is nothing.’”
Speaking to the media after his speech, Mr Jensen continued his onslaught.
He said: “There is still this notion in some countries that because they have been the rulers of the 20th century they will continue to be that in the 21st century.
“They [the UK] are a member of all these groups [G7, G20, UN permanent security council] but what has happened to the value of the pound since Brexit? What will happen in the coming years when the finance sector is perhaps looking to Frankfurt or Paris?
“What will happen when inflation rises? How will they be in the future? I am very concerned about Britain’s economy right now … I think France will be the spokesperson for the EU [on the security council].”
In 2017, Denmark set out plans to contest the UK’s efforts to gain more control over its waters.
Officials in Copenhagen mined the archives to build a legal case that, threatening to fight the case in the international court of justice in The Hague.
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Denmark’s foreign affairs minister, Anders Samuelsen, told the Guardian at the time that the issue was crucial to many communities in Denmark and that they would be making their case through the EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier.
He said: “Danish fishermen have historically been fishing across the North Sea. The common fisheries policy in the EU has regulated this, based on historical rights and preserving our common stocks that don’t follow economic zones.
“Clearly, this is very important for many fishing communities especially along the Jutland coast, and we all put our full support behind the EU’s negotiators to find the best way forward.”
The UK’s trade deal with the EU has resulted in changes to the fishing quotas enjoyed by European vessels in British waters.
This agreement ensures that 25 percent of EU boats’ fishing rights in UK waters will be transferred to the British fleet over a period of five years.
After that, annual negotiations will decide how the catch is shared out between the UK and EU, and Britain would have the right to completely exclude EU boats after 2026.