Oostenrijkers willen een EU-referendum

A growing faction of Austrians are unhappy with EU membership and a drive is on to gather 100,000 signatures so that the prospect of an exit can be examined.

Just as everybody was fearing a Grexit, Frexit, Brexit, the Austrians launched a petition to quit the EU. Activists who launched the petition argue that Austria would be better off economically without the EU and is on a drive to gather 100,000 signatures by July 1 required for the national parliament to consider the initiative.

Inge Rauscher, a retired 66-year-old translator, began the drive. “We want to go back to a neutral and peace-loving Austria,” said Rauscher at the start of the campaign. Her non-partisan Heimat & Umwelt committee argues that Austria will benefit economically and environmentally from the rift. She is also critical of Austria’s forced endorsement of EU sanctions against Russia and blames Brussels for the economic downturn. She points to the loss of the country’s sovereignty with over 80% of essential legislation being dictated by Brussels, not by elected commissioners. “In our view, Europe is not a democracy,” she said.

Rauscher and her committee calculates that each household would gain 9,800 euro’s per annum from a rift once freed from the burdens of EU democracy. Opinion polls show that a third of Austrians are in favor of leaving the EU.

“This initiative is open for all political parties and we expect a broad support. This is proved by our numerous conversations with the citizens over the past months,” Rauscher said. Rauscher added that at the preliminary stage, before the initiative was officially launched, it collected some 10,000 signatures from Austrian citizens.

However, Rauscher said that the Austrian media have barely mentioned the petition because they are “loyal to the European Union,” making it harder to promote the initiative.

The authors of the petition regard an EU exit as the only way to make Austria independent of Brussels and return to neutrality.

If the initiative gathers 100,000 signatures in the period between June 24 until July 1, it will be considered in the lower house of the Austria’s parliament.