TIDE TURNING? Slap in the face for Juncker as Austria appoints anti-EU Foreign Minister

TIDE TURNING? Slap in face for Juncker as Austria appoints anti-EU Foreign Minister

AUSTRIA has sent a powerful political message to the EU by appointing an anti-European candidate as foreign minister.

LEIGH BOOBYER

Norbert Hofer, who has repeatedly attacked the EU over immigration, economic and security policies, will become the most important representative of the EU-critical Freedom Party (FPÖ) and take over the EU and world affairs agendas for Austria. Sebastian Kurz, leader of the Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP), is holding coalition talks with the FPÖ to form a new government by Christmas. Mr Hofer is considered a vehement critic of the notion of an superstate, and is cautious of Eurocrats. FPÖ politicians have ultimately demanded Mr Kurz appoint a finance minister or a foreign minister of the far-right party or else they will force coalition talks to collapse.

EUGETTY: Austria is poised to appoint anti-EU Norbert Hofer as foreign minister

Populist Mr Hofer is smooth performer in front of the cameras and has been instrumental in helping the FPÖ shed some of the harsher aspects of its image. He has previously said that carrying guns is a “natural consequence” of immigration.

HoferGETTY: Mr Hofer’s appointment as foreign minister would strike a blow to the EU

Hofer’s appointment is a clear slap in the face for European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker who has expressed wishes to isolate and use sanctions against any far-right or populist governments swept to power or presidential office on the wave of popular anger against migration. He has made clear that Mr Hofer would have been frozen out of EU decision-making when he stood to be President of Austria in 2016. Mr Juncker said at the time: “There is no debate or dialogue with the far-right.”

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