Conclusions of European Council seen mainly positive

Austrian Institute of International Affairs

Wolfgang Schüssel, former Chancellor and current foreign affairs spokesman of the Austrian Peoples Party (ÖVP), stated that the solution found at the European Council in December 2008 was a good proposal for Ireland and that he expected the schedule for the Lisbon Treaty to stay on time. The Lisbon Treaty is in his words “the central core for the EU for the next years”.[1]

The decision to maintain the “one state – one Commissioner” principle was generally perceived positively, only Johannes Voggenhuber, MEP of the Greens, expressed his concern that this decision would lead backwards into a re-nationalisation of the Commission.[2]

European Elections: Payoff or new chance?

The European Parliament elections in June 2009 are seen by the Austrian Freedom Party (FPÖ) as an opportunity for a payoff with the parties which denied Austrians a popular vote regarding the Lisbon Treaty. The party keeps emphasising that it is not against the EU as such, but that it wants the EU to change, as they see current developments as a huge mistake.[3]

In November, European Parliamentarians of the Austrian Peoples Party (ÖVP) and of the Social Democrats (SPÖ) publicly announced that they expected more active pro-European politics from their parties back in Austria. There is a need for change, and a clear commitment to Europe in order to be able to work properly and credible regarding the upcoming elections in June 2009 for the European Parliament.[4]

No candidate found for the new Commission

Regarding the formation of a new Commission in autumn 2009, the Austrian Government still has to decide who it will present as a candidate. However, some representatives of the Social Democrats have already signalled that this time, the party might raise claim to nominate the Austrian Commissioner. Nevertheless, commentators speculate that this is a part of the political bargain and that in the end, Chancellor Werner Faymann (SPÖ) will leave this post to the Austrian Peoples Party. The reason behind this might be that Faymann does not want to put his EU-critical track in doubt by sending a candidate from his party.[5]

Besides, Austrians have generally reacted positively to the concessions made in consequence of the Irish ‘No’. After all, this has enabled Austria to keep a post in the Commission, as already mentioned above.

Besides from the news that there would be an appointment, no statement could be found on the appointment of the High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy.

[1] “Schüssel: EU-Gipfel unterbreitet Irland gutes Angebot”, press release, available at: (last access: 17 February 2009).

[2] Johannes Voggenhuber: “EU-Gipfel: Mutlos, unentschlossen und zerstritten in die Krise”, press release, available at: (last access: 17 February 2009).

[3] “Strache: Regierung soll EU-Märchenstunde beenden”, press release, available at: (last access: 17 February 2009).

[4] “EU-Abgeordnete von SPÖ und ÖVP fordern aktive Pro-Europapolitik”, Der Standard, 18 November 2008, available at: (last access: 17 February 2009).

[5] “Nichts ist klar, Frau Kommissar”, Der Standard, 8. January 2009, available at: (last access: 17 February 2009).