Hofer: EU referendum for Austria if there are no reforms
Presidential candidate Norbert Hofer calls for an Austrian European Union referendum if there are no significant reforms in the next year, after Britain votes to leave the union.
Hofer, whose Austrian presidency bid failed after he lost by 30,000 votes in May, said that if the union continues on its current course then he wants a referendum for Austria as well.
This comes only days after Hofer told the Local that he urges the UK to stay and fight rather than cut and run. His recent comments, however, suggest that he would do the same if the EU does not undergo heavy reforms in the near future.
“If the union develops incorrectly, then that is the moment for me where one needs to say: Now we have to ask the Austrians as well,” he said in an interview with Österreich.
This will happen, according to Hofer, if they continue to become a more “centralised union, instead of focusing on their real core values”.
Hofer argues that the EU cannot delay this much longer and must act quickly. “If the necessary reforms do not happen in the next year, then the project will be badly damaged,” he says.
He believes that without Britain the EU will struggle to reform and will likely maintain the status quo.
On Tuesday he said: ”The UK has been an important critical correction to the mainstream course in Brussels. On a number of issues, the UK has had the courage to insist on its own positions, and to say: 'We disagree. This must be done differently.' If the UK decides to leave, we would lose a country that has the courage to point out the EU's weaknesses and act on them.”
Hofer says the European Union functioned well while it remained a purely economical union and not a political one. “I firmly believe the European Union has a positive future, provided that we abandon the idea of a centralised model,” he said.
If the EU develops incorrectly, then Hofer argues that we should discuss “Öxit”, Austria leaving the European union.
Far-right leaders in other European Union member states, such as France and the Netherlands, have made similar demands and have also voiced their interest in a referendum on EU membership in their own country.
Written by Helena Uhl