The National Council, the lower house of Austria's parliament, has adopted a treaty to integrate the Alpine nation with Western European markets and pave the way for full membership in the European Community.
Deputies voted overwhelmingly on Tuesday to adopt the European Economic Area Treaty (EEA) after a stormy debate and despite opposition from the Freedom and Green parties. It must now be passed by the upper house, and then signed by President Thomas Klestil. But those steps are considered a formality.
By extending the EC rules on free flows of people, goods, capital, and services to European Free Trade Agreement states like Austria, the treaty creates a single European market.
But with debate raging over the pace and extent of EC integration, some Austrians question whether the EEA agreement, or even EC membership, is in their best interests.