Finland, Austria and Sweden celebrate 25 years of EU membership

Written by Martin Banks on 6 January 2020 in News

Twenty-five years ago, Finland, Austria and Sweden became the 13th, 14th and 15th Member States of the EU following referendums in each of the states prior to accession.

Photo credit: Fotolia

Heidi Hautala, a Vice-President of the European Parliament and Finnish Greens member, has told this website that when the EU gets its act together, “its influence reaches far beyond its own borders.”

Speaking on the 25th anniversary of Finland's EU accession, Hautala said, “Protection of privacy and leadership in the protection of the environment demonstrate this. Now the bloc must come up with a model for the sustainable economy - Finland can play its full part in this planet-saving task.”

Former Swedish Prime Minister, Carl Bildt said that EU membership “has been a good period for our country.”


A study published by the Austrian Institute for Economic Research says that Swedish GDP is up 4 percent today compared to what it might have been if Sweden had remained outside the EU (but was still in a free-trading relationship through EFTA).

The corresponding figure for Finland is 7 percent while Austrian GDP is estimated to be up 16 percent compared to what it would have been if Austria had not joined the EU.

Austria benefited most due to its close ties with the new Member States in Central and Eastern Europe, it says.

According to a poll by the Finnish Business and Policy Forum, the popularity of EU membership in Finland has reached a record high with 56 percent holding a positive view and only 13 percent against.

 “When the EU gets its act together, its influence reaches far beyond its own borders … Now the bloc must come up with a model for the sustainable economy” Heidi Hautala MEP

Since the Eastern enlargement of the EU, Austria, Sweden and Finland have become net contributors to the community budget.

Financial pressures, together with the issue of migration, have led to rising Euroscepticism in both Austria and Sweden but not to such a point where a majority of citizens question EU membership itself as was the case in the UK, says the Forum.

Roger Casale, Secretary General and CEO of New Europeans, a civil rights organisation with members in Austria, Sweden and Finland, said, “It is remarkable how little comment and attention this important anniversary has attracted. It's as if Sweden, Finland and Austria had been Member States of the EU from the outset, and the EU itself part of the natural world dating back to the beginning of time.”

“None of this remarkable achievement of 25 years EU membership has happened by chance and Brexit teaches us that we should take nothing for granted going forwards.”

“None of this remarkable achievement of 25 years EU membership has happened by chance and Brexit teaches us that we should take nothing for granted going forwards” Roger Casale, New Europeans

Martin Selmayr, the former Secretary General of the European Commission and now head of the Representation of the European Commission in Austria, said Austria’s membership “has made the EU a better place.”

Further comment came from Dominik Kirchdorfer, President of the European Future Forum who said, “Austrian membership of the EU has been a win-win situation. Austria has benefitted economically while the EU was able to look to Austria as a key strategic partner when it came to EU enlargement to East and Central Europe.”

About the author

Martin Banks is a senior reporter at The Parliament Magazine

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