Monday

25th Jul 2016

France and Austria clash over Constitution

  • BENITA FERRERO-WALDNER: the Austrian Foreign Minister argued that each country needs its own commissioner. France disagrees. (Photo: European Commission)

Dominique de Villepin was the first French Foreign Minister to visit Vienna since 1998, when he completed a two-day tour this week.

Bilaterial visits were suspended after the inclusion of the far-right leader Jorg Haider in Austria's coalition government.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Mr Haider's electoral popularity has since declined dramatically but Franco-Austrian relations now look set to be hit by another important European issue - the Intergovernmental Conference (IGC) on the draft Constitution, which begins this coming weekend.

Austria finds itself at the head of the group of smaller countries arguing for substantial changes to the draft, whereas France - along with the UK and Germany - are wary of unravelling the text drafted by former French President Valéry Giscard d'Estaing.

Benita Ferrero-Waldner, Austria's Foreign Minister, saluted a "new start" in relations between Paris and Vienna but firmly repeated her position that each country should have its own commissioner after enlargement. This is one of the biggest sticking points between the two main groups.

But Mr de Villepin disagreed forcefully, arguing, "let's not forget that the commissioners are not supposed to be representing their country, but acting in the interests of Europe".

He added, "the main thing for us is that the IGC comes to a quick conclusion", meaning that France will not support lengthy debates on changes to the text.

France and Austria were able to agree on one Constitution issue, according to Austrian daily Die Presse. De Villepin said they agreed that "all member states should be treated equally".

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Belgrade Security ForumMigration, Security and Solidarity within Global Disorder: Academic Event 2016
  2. GoogleHow Google Fights Piracy: Creating Value While Fighting Piracy
  3. EJC"My Visit to Israel" - Opinion by MEP Lopez Aguilar, Chair of the EP Working Group on Antisemitism
  4. World VisionChildren Migrating, Out of School and at Work as Hunger Deepens in Southern Africa
  5. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceStand-Up (and Exercise) to Prevent Chronic Diseases
  6. Centre Maurits CoppietersLaunches a Real-time News Hub Specialised in EU Stakeholders
  7. Dialogue PlatformFethullah Gulen Calls for International Probe Into Turkey Coup Allegations
  8. GoogleEU-US Privacy Shield: Restoring Faith in Data Flows and Transatlantic Relations
  9. World VisionWorld Leaders & Youth Advocates Launch Partnership to End Violence Vs. Children
  10. Counter BalanceReport: Institutionalised Corruption in Romania's Third Largest Company
  11. Access NowEuropol Supports Encryption. We Can Relax Now… Right?
  12. GoogleLearn about Google's projects across Europe on Twitter @GoogleBrussels