In Austria ‘The World of NGOs’ conducted a series of debates to trace opinions of citizens towards t
Although the majority of the debates were marked by a negative connotation, very positive remarks were brought up by young and elderly persons as well.
In terms of negative associations, the two most frequent ones were, firstly, that the EU is a bureaucratic apparatus, overregulating life and, secondly, that the EU fosters big business interests at the expense of its citizens. The regulations disadvantage small Austrian entrepreneurs, businesses and farmers. As a recurring example of overregulation the directive regulating the size and form of bananas and cucumbers was mentioned. Only the rich ones benefit from the EU and in this context the EU was characterised as an organisation spoiled by lobbyism and corruption. It was argued that promises concerning advantages of EU membership did not come true; the current border controls, a lack of democracy and the fact that national interests regularly prevail over European interests was also criticised.
While some said, it is necessary to give up our national identities and to introduce English as common language others said that the only way to resist is to vote for right wing parties. There was no discussant that argued that Austria should leave the EU. However, there were several discussants that wished the EU would disappear.
Positive aspects mentioned regularly, referred to the Euro as common currency, the EU as a provider of peace and security, the free market and open borders. Travelling, studying abroad and getting scholarships were perceived as much easier today. Austria has gained economic advantages, being a small country, depending on import and export. The abolition of roaming fees was mentioned as a particularly positive aspect by young people. Elderly participants pointed out that the individual European countries are too small, both politically and economically. For that reason, the EU is a successful counterweight to the USA, Russia and China.