Austrian Government Latest To Have Debate On EU Membership

While Greece is hanging in by a thread to remain in the European Union (EU), more than 260,000 Austrians led by a 66 year old retired pensioner have forced their Government to debate leaving the organization.

They have signed a petition calling for a referendum to let the rest of the country weight in on the issue. Austrian law says any petition calling for a referendum which has 100,000 signatures must be debated in the Austrian parliament.

The 261,159 people who signed the petition make up 4.12 percent of the electorate with the majority of signers coming from Lower Austria and Carinthia.

The petition was started by launched Inge Rauscher, 66-year-old retired translator, who launched a similar petition in 2000 with 3.35 percent of the electorate support.

He said his latest petition had more support because the Greek economic crisis.

Austria, cited in GDP terms as the 11th richest country in the world is one of the better off EU members countries. It 2012 it had only 4.3 percent of unemployment, the lowest figure in the EU.

Britain has a similar referendum scheduled to take place sometime before 2017. Latest polling there shows nearly 38 percent of Brits want to exit the EU, and 44 percent want to stay.

Opinion polls in Denmark show 52 percent of support for continued EU membership, and 47 percent at least wanting a review of EU membership terms.

In Ireland more than 60 percent of those surveyed wanted to remain in the EU.