Britain to lift its sanctions against Austria

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The Independent Online

Downing Street today said that Britain is prepared to drop the diplomatic sanctions imposed against Austria in protest against the inclusion of the far-right Freedom Party in its government.

Downing Street today said that Britain is prepared to drop the diplomatic sanctions imposed against Austria in protest against the inclusion of the far-right Freedom Party in its government.

But the UK will not act until France, which currently holds the EU presidency, has drawn up a joint approach among the 14 European nations involved.

The move follows last week's publication of a report by an EU committee set up to consider whether sanctions - which included a series of measures to leave Austria out in the diplomatic cold - could now be lifted.

In theory the sanctions were not imposed by the EU but by each country, so Austria continued to participate in European business.

But the EU countries scaled down all links after Freedom Party leader Jorg Haider's party was included in the Vienna administration.

Mr Haider has since stepped aside from a leading role, and a spokesman for Mr Blair said: "The Prime Minister has studied the report and thinks the measures should be lifted."

There is no decision on when the measures may be lifted.

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