AUSTRIANS seem likely to vote to join the European Union on Sunday but a poll published yesterday was too close for comfortable predictions. An IFES Institute survey showed 48 per cent of Austria's 5.6 million voters broadly in favour of joining next January. Of the rest 37 per cent were against and 15 per cent undecided. But those who had firmly made up their minds were equally divided for and against on 31 per cent apiece.
Chancellor Franz Vrantizky intensified his 'Ja' campaign last week to combat what he called scare-mongering by the anti-EU, far-right Freedom Party and the Greens. Both say EU membership would mean the demise of Austria's neutrality, the loss of thousands of jobs and huge tax rises. The Austrian referendum is the first of four polls by countries hoping to join the EU next year. Finland, Sweden and Norway vote in the autumn.
IF you plan to head for the Balearic Islands this August, book now. The tourist board of Spain's most popular holiday destination has declared a state of alert after two local economists calculated that 3,000 to 15,000 visitors a day could find themselves without a roof over theirs head at the height of the season. Hoteliers have responded by setting up a 'bed bank'. French air traffic controllers have just agreed to handle an extra 30 per cent of flights across France to and from the islands to try to prevent a repetition of the five-hour delays some 150,000 travellers faced at the end of May. Buen viaje.
ANOTHER stirring Euro-victory for Britain yesterday. Brussels plans for EU youth programmes, among the few directly connected with real life, were cut back. With his French and German colleagues, Tim Boswell, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education, pressed at a ministerial meeting in Luxembourg for spending on youth programmes to be limited to pounds 81m a year, with annual growth of less than inflation so real spending will be reduced. The European Commission had suggested raising the budget to pounds 107m. The money is used for youth exchanges and education programmes.
BAT clubs - nothing to do with Batman, Robin or Count Dracula - are prospering across Europe since the promulgation earlier this year of the Agreement on the Conservation of Bats in Europe. The agreement, covering 11 West European countries, prohibits the unauthorised capture, or killing of bats. It also promotes bat research and the identification of bat sites.
THE far-right Republican Party in Germany gained a minor victory yesterday. An electoral committee in Saxony-Anhalt, permitted them to stand in regional elections in three weeks.
The committee had previously banned the Republicans because of undemocratic procedures in the selection of candidates. It is unclear, however, whether the 'Reps' can hope for much electoral benefit, from yesterday's decision. The party, led by Franz Schonhuber, a former member of the Waffen-SS, has done well in regional elections, gaining seats in state parliaments. But the increase in murderous violence against foreigners has reduced the party's support. Latest opinion polls give the party 3 per cent or less - below the 5 per cent necessary to gain seats.Reuse content