National decision making

Two-thirds of the laws in the EU member states have their roots in legalisation enacted by the European Union. For a federal state like Austria, where the power is divided between the Federal Government and the regions, it is essential that the regions are involved in the legislative process. They have constitutionally guaranteed rights of information and participation in EU matters.

The Federal Government must immediately inform the regions of any plans that could affect their independent fields of activity or are otherwise of interest to them, and give them the opportunity to put their point of view forward. The same applies to the local authorities represented by the Austrian Association of Municipalities and the Association of Austrian Cities and Towns. When the regions present a united response to a plan that affects matters where legislation is at the regional level, the Federal Government is bound by this position in EU negotiations and voting and can only deviate from it in exceptional circumstances related to foreign or integration policy.

Where an EU measure involves matters that are legislated at the regional level, the Federal Government will nominate a representative from the regions to participate in the formulation of policy in the Council. The Governor of the Tyrol was nominated under this policy to the EU Council of Ministers on regional planning, regional policy and urban policy.

Other important participation opportunities are offered by the integration of representatives of the provinces in many Council working groups and Commission committees and through integration of the regions in Austria's Permanent Representation to the EU in Brussels.

Discussions and policy formulation related to integration issues take place in the liaison office of the Austrian regions (Verbindungsstelle der Bundesländer) in Vienna, the Conference of Governors, and the Integration Conference of the regions. All regions are represented in the Integration Conference by their governors and the presidents of their regional parliaments. This form of participation of the regional parliaments, which have set up their own committees for European integration, compensates for the limitations in legislation imposed by EU law.

The Council for Issues of Austrian Foreign and Integration Policy is another political coordinating committee in Austria. Governor Günther Platter is a member of this consultative body as the representative of the Conference of Governors.