Austria

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President

Chancellor

Alexander Van der Bellen (independent, from January 2017)

Brigitte Bierlein (interim, since May 2019)

Population 8,725,931
Size 83,879 km2 (32,385.86 sq mi)
MEPs 18 (joined the EU in 1995)
Next presidential election

Next legislative election

2020

29 September 2019

Presidency of the Council After 2030
Last meeting with Boris Johnson None held to date
Brexit priorities Austria held the Presidency of the Council of the EU in the second half of 2018, when the final phase of the negotiations took place. Austria’s role was significant as it led the negotiations from the Members States’ point of view.

The main priority for the Austrian government is to secure the rights of its 25,000 citizens residing in the UK. Also high on the agenda will be to ensure Austria will not have to fill the EU budget gap left by the UK once it leaves. The Austrians want to take the opportunity from Brexit to reform the EU to make it more efficient.

What former Chancellor Kurz said on Brexit “I think it was crystal clear what the consequences for Great Britain are: This is a big mess, an enormous damage, and so I don’t think that Great Britain will become a role model.”

“For me, the status and rights of around 25,000 Austrians living and working in the UK are at the forefront.” We also want to achieve clarity and legal certainty for Austrian companies operating in the UK. 

On the Withdrawal Agreement: “It is a good deal for both sides. Nobody has been cheated. This deal prevents a hard Brexit. Therefore it helps us in Europe, but even more so it helps Great Britain because a hard Brexit would hit Great Britain significantly more severely.”

Austria’s priorities Following elections in 2017, People’s Party (ÖVP) and the far right Freedom Party (FPÖ) formed a government led by ÖVP leader Sebastian Kurz. They agreed to take a hard line on asylum seekers, seek friendlier relations with Russia and cut wages in order to curb immigration. Despite the FPÖ’s views on the EU, the two parties have agreed not to have an EU referendum and to support the eurozone.

Ahead of the European elections in May 2019, footage appeared of the Vice Chancellor from the FPÖ, Heinz-Christian Strache, trying to trade lucrative public contracts for campaign support from a woman who Strache believed to be a Russian business woman. Upon release of this video, the government collapsed and Chancellor Kurz lost a vote of confidence. Brigitte Bierlein has been appointed interim Chancellor, in charge of a technocratic government, until elections are held on 29 September 2019.

 

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