Opportunities for Austria

The major EU enlargement of 2004 was a tremendous political and economic challenge as well as a vast success: It has led to greater stability and prosperity in Europe. Austrian businesses have seized the investment opportunities in the Central and Eastern European countries (CEEC) earlier than their international competitors. Austrian direct investments in the region have increased from 0.5 billion Euros in 1990 to 66 billion Euros in 2012. This value represents approximately 50% of the total of Austrian foreign direct investment.

With the accession of the CEEC to the EU, the dynamic development of Austrian foreign trade received another impetus. According to the Austrian Economic Chamber (WKÖ), the EU enlargements of 2004 and 2007 contribute to a yearly growth of real GDP in Austria by + 0.4% and to the creation of over 5 000 new jobs every year.

Austrian exports to Central and Eastern Europe have tripled in the past ten years. Since the accession of Austria to the EU, Austrian exports to the five EU Member States - Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia - have quadrupled, increasing from 4 billion Euros in 1995 to 17 billion in 2012.  Austria has therefore greatly benefitted from the EU enlargement.

With the transitional exception of Croatia, no restrictions apply to the free movement of workers and services for Austrian citizens in the new EU Member States. In Austria, limitations are only applicable to Croatian citizens until 30 June 2015.

Austria strongly supports the European perspective for all countries of the Western Balkans, among other reasons because Austria is the largest foreign investor in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia and among the top foreign investors in the remaining countries of the region. Growth and prosperity require a sound economic environment and reliable political and legal structures.

Experience has taught us that the perspective of EU membership is a crucial motor for transformation and stabilisation in the countries of the Western Balkans. In the framework of the accession process, Austria supports institution-building based upon European values such as democracy, rule of law, human and minority rights.