Austria's European Union Presidency: Mountains to Climb

January sees Austria take over the rotating European Union Presidency, an irony to many given its recent steadfast opposition to opening membership talks with Turkey which it must now push forward. Vienna faces domestic political problems and considerable scepticism about the European project, a recipe for a difficult time in charge.

The World Today
4 minute READ

Kurt Richard Luther

Senior Lecturer in Politics, Keele University

Phillippa Sherrington

Lecturer in Eu Politics & Public Policy, University of Warwick

For the Austrian government, the forthcoming Presidency of the European Union (EU) is much more troublesome than when it first played this role in 1998, just three years after joining. Not only is the government’s domestic position far from secure, but expectations are running high on the back of a lack-lustre British performance and there is much pressure on Vienna to revive EU fortunes.

The government has hinted it will reignite the EU Draft Constitution debate, despite its rejection by France and Holland in June, and has already adopted the slogan Europe 4 people – people 4 Europe. Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik, stated in September: ‘We are undergoing a crisis of confidence in the EU. Our priority aim will therefore be to strengthen public confidence in the EU. Better and more ample information is not enough; the way in which we make European policy must become more visible and comprehensive again’.

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