Europäische Union, EU#
European Union (EU), until 1993 European Community (EC), economic and political union of fifteen European states with headquarters in Brussels (Belgium). Members (1999): Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Sweden, Spain and United Kingdom.
Austria applied for full membership on July 17, 1989; on February 1, 1993 accession negotiations started in Brussels with Austria, Finland, Norway and Sweden. Austria's negotiation position focused on neutrality, agriculture, real estate transactions and transit traffic. After the end of negotiations a plebiscite in Austria on June 12, 1994 resulted in a 66% vote in favour of accession, which was effected on January 1, 1995. Austria also joined the Schengen Agreement which had been signed by Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg and the Netherlands in 1985 and which was later joined by Italy, Spain, Portugal and Greece. This meant the de facto abolition of border controls between almost all these countries. The Treaty of Amsterdam of 1998 provides for closer cooperation amongst all 15 EU members in the areas of justice, foreign policy and security policy. From July to December 1998 Austria held the Presidency of the Council of Ministers of the European Union for the first time. On January 1, 1999, as a member of the Economic and Monetary Union, Austria introduced the Euro as official currency.
Literature#M. Gehler and R. Steininger, Oesterreich und die europaeische Integration 1945-93, 1993; H. Neisser, Das politische System der EG, 1993; F. Cede and C. Thun-Hohenstein, Europarecht - kurz gefasst, 1995.