ÖGfE-survey: Increasing support for EU membership in Austria, but scepticism towards deepening of the Euro zone

“Public support for EU membership in Austria is higher than it has been for a long time. Although the latest elections in Austria, France as well as in the Netherlands showed increasing support for EU skeptical parties and positions, the pro-European attitude prevailed. In times of Brexit and the election of Donald Trump, a vast majority of Austrians would not want to opt for unilateral ventures but seek common European solutions”, says Paul Schmidt, Secretary General of the Austrian Society for European Politics (ÖGfE), analyzing the results of a current ÖGfE-survey. “Nevertheless at this point in time Austrians would not vote for a deepening of European integration. In the upcoming national elections Austrian political parties should strive to explain how they see the future of the European Union.”

75 percent of Austrians presently believe that Austria should remain a member of the EU. 21 percent favor leaving the Union while 4 percent do not take a position. Compared to the last survey, conducted in January 2017, the number of membership proponents has increased by 8 percentage points while the number of membership opponents decreased by 4 percentage points.

Public support for EU membership has not been that high since February 2011. The wish to leave the Union is at a low similar to that recorded in January 2016. The number of those unsure of their position towards EU membership (don’t know/not specified) has decreased by 12 percentage points since summer 2016.

A total number of 54 Austrian-wide ÖGfE-surveys since 1995 indicate that – despite fluctuations – Austrians in favor of EU-membership have continuously formed a clear majority. On average the number of membership supporters has been at around 70 percent versus 23 percent of leavers. The highest support for EU-membership was recorded in June/July 2002 (80 percent), the strongest wish to leave the EU in June/July 2008 (33 percent).

“The high level of support for EU membership will only persist if EU and member states succeed in restoring trust in common European solutions.”

59 percent of Austrians currently would oppose a reform of the Euro zone including a common Euro area treasury and budget. 23 percent would support such an idea. 18 percent have not made up their mind yet.

“The new Franco-German tandem Macron-Merkel is likely to push for further integration in autumn – especially regarding the redesign of the Euro zone. Currently public debate is just at a starting point. The proposals on a new Euro zone are not yet clearly defined.”

Austrian parliamentary elections will take place on 15 October 2017. 52 percent state that the reform of the European Union should play a prominent role in the course of the parliamentary elections. 36 percent do not regard it as a priority. 12 percent have not made up their mind yet.

Three out of four Austrians say that it is “very important” (34 percent) or “important” (41 percent) for their voting decision, which position political parties take towards the EU. 19 percentsay that this is “rather not important” (14 percent) respectively “not important at all” (5 percent). 6 percent gave no response.

“Austria should actively take part in shaping a reformed Union. In the course of the upcoming elections, political parties could seize the opportunity to take a clear stance”, Schmidt points out.

The current survey was conducted from 19 to 24 May 2017 by the Sozialwissenschaftliche Studiengesellschaft (SWS) on behalf of ÖGfE (Tel SWS 260). 549 persons were questioned via telephone (Austrian population from the age of 16 / weighted according to sex, age and education). Maximum margin of fluctuation approx. +/- 4,2 percent. Difference to 100 percent due to rounded values.