Austria's accession to the European Union marked the completion of the process of Austria’s integration efforts which had started long before the submission of Austria’s application for EC membership by then Minister of Foreign Affairs, Alois Mock, on 17 July 1989.
Austria was one of the founding members of the European Free Trade Area (EFTA), established by the Stockholm Convention which entered into force on 3 May 1960. The first closer economic ties to the states forming the European Economic Community (EEC) were established in 1973 when the free trade area between Austria and the EEC was set up. Although this bridge between the members of EFTA and the members of the EU proved successful because the EFTA states’ export business was granted largely unhindered access to the EC area in the industrial sector, it did not offer any perspective for more comprehensive relations.
In 1989 the plan for the establishment of a European Economic Area presented by then President of the Commission, Jacques Delors provided for a close association between EFTA and the EEC. By the time the treaty establishing the European Economic Area was signed in Porto on 2 May 1992, Austria had already set itself the integration goal of full membership in the European Communities. Just one year after the entry into force of the EEC Treaty in 1994, Austria was to join the Treaty as an EU Member State.
Following the submission of Austria’s application for membership on 7 July 1989, the EC Council agreed to launch the accession process on 28 July 1989, with the formal membership negotiations starting on 1 February 1993.
The Federal Constitutional Law on the Accession of Austria to the European Union meant the explicit empowerment for the conclusion of this state treaty in line with the outcome of the negotiations achieved on 12 April 1994. Following the adoption of this Act by the two houses of the Austrian Parliament, the National Council and the Federal Council, the Federal Constitutional Law on the Accession of Austria to the EU was put to a referendum according to Article 44 par. 3 of the Austrian Federal Constitution on 12 June 1994, in which 66.58% of the Austrian population voted in favour of accession to the EU. The Accession Treaty and the Final Act were then signed in Corfu on 24 June 1994.