How are controversial national opt-outs managed and perceived in the EU? This article argues that the United Kingdom and Denmark compensate diplomatically for the exclusionary effects of their exemptions. A Bourdieudian approach to national diplomacy in the EU is developed to explore how British and Danish officials handle their opt-outs. By drawing on extensive interview data, it is demonstrated that the two opt-out champions employ various sophisticated strategies to overcome the dilemma between autonomy and influence. Some diplomatic strategies reduce marginalization while others enhance it. National opt-outs are ambiguous attempts at avoiding further European integration.