The Government and Politics of the European Union

Seventh edition

by Neill Nugent


Population 8.3 m
Capital Vienna
Surface area 82,500 km2
Official language German
Gross domestic product (GDP) (in euros) 248.89 bn
GDP as a % of EU-27, based on 2009 data 2.1
GDP per capita by purchasing power standards (indexed to EU average of 100) 123.1
Currency Euro
Human development index (HDI), an index based on life expectancy, education and GDP (max. 1) 0.948
World rank in HDI 15
Key economic sectors Trade and services account for about two-thirds of GDP, and the industrial sector about one-third
Leading companies Raiffeisen Bank; Erste Bank; OMV Group (oil and gas company)
Unemployment in January 2010 5.3% (source:
Main religious denominations (% of population) Roman Catholic (73.6); Evangelical Lutheran (4.7); Muslim (4.2)
Political system A democratic federal republic
A federal President is directly elected for no more than two successive six-year terms. There is a bicameral legislature, with a National Council elected for a four-year term and a Federal Council representing the nine states.
Electoral system The National Council is elected by proportional representation; all persons over the age of 16 inclusive can vote. The Federal Council is made up of appointees by the State Assemblies, who serve for the duration of their State Assembly’s term. The number of deputies per state is proportional to the state’s population.
Current (March 2010) leaders President: Heinz Fischer (b. 1938), since July 2004
Federal Chancellor: Werner Faymann (b. 1960), since December 2008
Previous leaders: Presidents: Thomas Klestil (1992-2004); Kurt Josef Waldheim (1986-92)
Federal Chancellors: Alfred Gusenbauer (2007-08); Wolfgang Schüssel (2000-07)
Joined the EU/EC 1995
Commissioner from country in Barroso II College of Commissioners, and portfolio Johannes Hahn (Regional policy)
Number of MEPs 19/754
Turnout in 2009 EP elections (%) 45.3
Member of eurozone Yes (founder member)

Except where a specific reference is inserted, the sources for this profile are either Neill Nugent’s book itself, or Barry Turner (ed.), The Statesman’s Yearbook Online, Basingstoke and New York: Palgrave Macmillan. If your library subscribes, you can gain access at: