Maria Enzersdorf, 14 June 2013 – "EU enlargement is the most effective driver for reforms and rule of law", State Secretary Reinhold Lopatka said at EVN in Maria Enzersdorf, Lower Austria. He visited the company on his DARUM EUROPA information tour that takes him through the whole of Austria where he visits companies to discuss the European Union with the workforce.
Croatia is to join the EU on 1 July 2013. EVN is involved in energy and environmental projects in several Southeastern European countries. Since June 2012, EVN has for example been supplying first customers in the Croatian city of Zadar with natural gas.
EU membership and the prospect of accession of other countries on the Western Balkans are central for Austrian investors who consider an involvement in Southeast Europe.
"It is in the interest of both sides that EU standards are soon reached in the new member states in terms of legal protection, transparency in the judicial system and in the fight against corruption. The EU supports these countries where reforms are needed", the State Secretary said.
Austrian companies are entrusted with major infrastructure and service provision projects as well as telecommunications contracts in Southeast Europe and operate more than 1500 subsidiaries in the Western Balkan states. Austria is one of the leading investors in the region, and moreover the number 1 investor in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia.
"Austrian companies are already making a significant input to the economic development in the countries that aim for EU membership", Lopatka said. "And the Austrian economy, the guarantor of jobs on the domestic labour market, benefits from this. Austria earns 6 out of every 10 euros from exports, and 70 percent of our exports go to countries of the European Union. Together with Germany, Austria has the lowest unemployment rate within the EU", Lopatka concluded.
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