The scandalous poster that made Denmark join the EU 40 years ago

Posted by Henriette Jacobsen on 25/02/13
Tags: , , , ,  
1st of January 1973, Denmark joined the EU back when it was called the European Economic Community (EEC) along with Ireland and Great Britain.
This was the Community’s first enlargement, after it was established in 1958 by Belgium, Luxemburg, France, the Netherlands, Germany and Italy. The six nations, as we have been told over and over again in the past months due to the Nobel Peace Prize, created the Community as a peace project.
Naked women on bikes

The classic "Ja" poster from 1972

However, Denmark joined the Community not for ideological reasons but to a large extent only because Britain, a close ally and one of Denmark’s biggest exports markets and trade partners, was joining.

The Danes simply thought that it would be more difficult to sell bacon to the Brits if Denmark didn’t have access to the new trade market in Europe. So, no ideology, no willingness to create a better (more peaceful) world behind the Danes’ decision to join. But to be fair, I don’t think that any country since has joined the EEC or the EU because of more ideological reasons than economic.

Denmark held a referendum on the 2nd of October 1972, where more than 60% backed an EEC membership. I came across this classic (not classy) poster from the “Yes” side; it was made by the “Committee for accession to the European Economic Community”. The Committee obviously knew exactly what would appeal to the promiscuous, hippie Danes.

I have tried to come up with ideas for the symbolic message(s) of the poster:

  • “If Denmark joins the Community, there will be more naked women on bikes (for whatever reason)”.
  • “You don’t have to worry. Nothing will change if we join the Community. There will STILL be naked women on bikes in Denmark afterwards”.
  • “The Community will make us poorer. We will be stripped. Let’s join now”.
  • “If we join the Community, we, the Committee, PROMISE you naked women on bikes will celebrate the membership”.

4 Responses to The scandalous poster that made Denmark join the EU 40 years ago »»

  1. Comment by davide | 2013/02/26 at 11:05:46

    I don’t see it as scandalous at all. To me, it means “we’ll bring to Europe our diversity, i.e. equality of sexes, informality, environmentalism.” It means being confortable that one’s identity won’t get lost in the European cauldron. And it had success.

  2. Comment by Henriette Jacobsen | 2013/02/27 at 10:28:36

    Hmm, I wonder where you see the gender equality in this poster. I only see the exact opposite to be honest: sexism.

  3. Comment by Igor Konig | 2013/03/12 at 14:54:33

    denmark’s presence in the EU is a good thing, how else would we get all the cheap bacon over here LOL

  4. Comment by Chris | 2013/04/18 at 11:52:08

    Hm…what I see is that – optimistically – all nice women say “yes”, being it to EU-membership or to sex-offers, just look where is the “yes”. :) Future is bright.


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