Austria in the European Union
In 1989, the Austrian Government formally applied for accession into the European Union. After five years of successful negotiations and backed by a national referendum, Austria joined the EU on January 1st 1995 together with Sweden and Finland. Ever since its accession, the country has actively participated in all the EU institutions (European Parliament, European Commission and Council of the European Union) and constructively shaped the EU´s development.
Austria has held the presidency of the Council of the European Union twice, in 1998 and 2006 respectively and shortly, in the second half of 2018, Austria held once again the presidency of the Council of Ministers for six months as part of the Trio Presidency Estonia-Bulgaria-Austria (2017-2018).
In the European Commission, Austria has so far been responsible for several portfolios:
From 1995 - 2004, Franz Fischler headed the DG for Agriculture, Rural Development and Fisheries. During this time he significantly shaped the outcome of the Agenda 2000, which reformed the European Union's Common Agricultural and Regional policies.
Following Fischler's departure Austria's former Minister for Foreign Affairs, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, became the Union's Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy. She held the position for six years (2004-2010).
In January 2010 Johannes Hahn became the latest Austrian member of the European Commission, where he headed the DG for Regional Policy between 2010 and 2014 before being assigned Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy (since 2014). As such, Johannes Hahn is responsible for the Union's relations with the Western Balkans, an area of special importance to Austria.