The Europeanisation of Austria: Misfit, Adaptation and Controversies
This article analyses the multiple dimensions of Austria’s Europeanisation and the high degree of both misfit and conflict involved therein. Austria’s path to EU membership was characterised by fundamental doubts due to the country’s status of neutrality, and by a basic reinterpretation of this concept. After accession, need for institutional adaptation to the EU’s decision-making patterns was significant since major tenets of the Austrian political system are special. Furthermore, policy misfit between the domestic and the EU level was considerable in several fields, among them highly symbolic ones. Austria’s EU-related diplomacy recently witnessed a major crisis with the other 14 member states ‘sanctioning’ the new centre-right government in a controversial way. Against this background of strong and multi-dimensional misfit, Austrian performance in implementing EU law is still surprisingly good. By contrast, public appreciation of EU membership has declined even further, and a majority of Austrians oppose enlargement while the Freedom Party advocates a referendum on that issue. Therefore, the conclusions argue that improved communication processes and mutual learning across the multiple levels of the EU system are crucial.
corporatism; Europeanization; federalism; implementation; political science
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