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Global Austria

 | 
Günter Bischof
, 
Fritz Plasser

II. The World and Austria

Austria’s Dismal EU Membership: From Enthusiasm to Ambivalence

Sonja Puntscher Riekmann

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Introduction

Austria’s application for EU membership coincided with the end of the Cold War and the demise of the Soviet Empire. The debate about membership, mainly driven by economic reasons, had flared up several times before, but only in the second half of the 1980s geopolitics opened a real window of opportunity for putting aside the arguments about Austria’s neutrality that had so far precluded membership. The application documents were handed in on 17 July of the mythical year 1989, whereas membership started on 1 January 1995. However, Austria’s European perspective remained contested. Not only did the rising Freedom Party (FPÖ) switch from a pro-to an anti-European stance, but also the Social Democratic Party (SPÖ), leading the grand coalition with the People’s Party (ÖVP), was split over the issue. And so were the trade unions as well as interest organizations representing employees and small enterprises. Moreover, the relatively young Green Party was skeptical about the EU’...

© innsbruck university press, 2011

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