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Report of the wise. The 14 become 15 again

The report of the three European sages submitted to Jacques Chirac yesterday (Friday) recommends the lifting of sanctions against Austria.

(B2 archives) The diplomats of the Fourteen can breathe easy, the Austrian government can keep up its threats of a referendum... and Haider will be able to continue blowing hot and cold. The report submitted to Jacques Chirac (as President of the European Union) yesterday by the three European wise men responsible for evaluating the Austrian regime and the FPÖ, the Austrian liberal party of which Haider is a member, draws up a nuanced observation of the Austrian situation which will allow France, which presides over the European Union, to remove a serious thorn in its side by lifting – at least temporarily – the sanctions “ on a bilateral basis decided in February.

Austria receives a satisfecit

The three European sages appointed at the beginning of July — Martti Ahtisaari, former President of Finland, Jochen Frowein, director of the Max-Planck Institute in Heidelberg (Germany) and the former Spanish Minister for Foreign Affairs, Marcelino Oreja — have indeed, after a detailed examination “, he awards a large satisfaction to the Schüssel government. Austria indeed respects common European values, in particular those relating to the rights of minorities, refugees and immigrants. " Better ! " In some cases ", believe the three wise men, “the Austrian rules are higher than those applied in other countries of the European Union ».

… but an FPÖ which uses xenophobia as a hobbyhorse

On the other hand, the three wise men seriously thrash Haider's party. Admittedly, the report defines the FPÖ as " a right-wing populist party with radical elements ". But it is immediately to notice that he " used xenophobic sentiments during the election campaign” and created " an atmosphere "which led to consider" demonstrations directed openly against foreigners as normal ". We cannot, moreover, exclude – estimate the report – that new currents can emerge to the right of the party ". These few remarks do not prevent the Sages from advocating the lifting of sanctions, because over time, they have become " counterproductive ».

Counterproductive risk of sanctions

Sanctions in effect create “ in Austria nationalist feelings » and can be « misinterpreted as sanctions directed against Austrian citizens ". Lifting the embargo – which could be officially announced this week – does not, however, mean abandoning all vigilance. The wise people “strongly recommend” the adoption of a mechanism within the Union that could monitor and evaluate the respect and concrete actions of the Member States of the Union in relation to common European values. A mechanism also suggested by the European Commission. Austria can thus return, head held high, to the European concert… but horns are not excluded.

(Nicolas Gros-Verheyde)

(article published in France-Soir)

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).