Central Europe – defining a European region
The term Central Europe is not only a reference to the geographic position, but is even more defined by the deep rooted historic and cultural links that connect the region and its inhabitants.
Besides Austria, Central Europe - by any means - comprises Austria´s neighbouring countries Slovakia, Slovenia, the Czech Republic and Hungary, as well as her “cultural neighbours” Poland and Croatia.
With the end of the division of the European continent and the European integration of the former communist countries of Eastern and Central Europe these close links gained in relevance again.
Partners for Austria
Since the 1990s the bilateral ties between Austria and the other Central European countries have strongly increased and intensified. With the upcoming accession of Croatia all countries of the region will be members of the European Union and partners of Austria also on the European level.
In 2001 the Regional Partnership (Austria, Slovakia, Slovenia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland) was created, which further intensified cooperation amongst its six member states.
Economic relations in Central Europe – only negatively affected by the international economic and financial crisis in 2008 /2009 - have seen a steady increase of trade volume. Austria is very closely linked with her Central European neighbours by the flow of trade and services as well as by large investments.
Cultural and scientific exchange is a major pillar of cooperation in Central Europe. In her neighbouring countries Austria maintains a network of 20 “Austria Libraries”. In 2001 the "Platform Culture-Central Europe" was founded within the framework of the Regional Partnership to serve as a basis for bilateral and multilateral cultural dialogue. Scientific cooperation inter alia is promoted through the Central European Exchange Program for University Studies (CEEPUS), founded in 1995, to which all Central European States are party. Today there are already 15 member states. Since 1995 more than 30.000 students and teachers have been exchanged.