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Austria to fight uphill against Euroscepticism

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Austria to fight uphill against Euroscepticism

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Austria is determined to save the marriage between Europe’s citizens and the institutions.

Presenting his country’s agenda for the next six months as European Union president, Chancellor Wolfgang Schüssel told the European Parliament his main task would be to restore lost confidence in Europe after a year of setbacks.

“By the end of our presidency,” he said, “We want confidence in Europe to be on the rise again: citizens’ confidence, trust between the member countries, and also between the institutions.”

Austrians are among the most euro-sceptical Europeans.

Schüssel addressed economic concerns calling attention to the potential of small and medium-sized companies in the EU as “the only job-machine going — a sleeping giant.”

He proposed taxes on air travel and short-term financial transactions to help fund the EU’s work.

He also talked about enlargement — a sensitive issue — saying that if approached with intelligence it too could constitute a growth strategy for Europe. Dealings with the Western Balkans and Turkey feature prominently in Vienna’s agenda.