- Austrian Parliament in Vienna (Photo: EUobserver.com)
Austria has a population of 8.36 million and an area of 83,860 kms. It joined the EU in 1995.
In 2000 Austria elected a new government including ministers from Jörg Haider's FPÖ party, which was seen by other EU States as an "extremist rightist party". The other EU member states reacted by introducing sanctions against Austrian politicians and authorities outside formal EU meetings.
The sanctions on Austria were lifted when it became necessary to have a "Yes" vote in the Danish Euro referendum on 28th September 2000. The Danes voted "No"to joining the euro anyway. Haider was killed in a traffic accident in 2008.
The Treaty of Nice introduced a so-called Lex Austria article, now to befound in the Lisbon Treaty Article 7 TEU. This provides that 4/5ths of the member states, with the support of an absolute majority of the members of the European Parliament, can issue a warning against a breach of common principles by a particular country.
The voting rights of the state that has been warned may then be suspended by qualified majority in the Council and a two-thirds majority in the European Parliament - also representing an absolute majority of members.
Austria's Parliament http://www.parlament.gv.at/
Austria's government website