Popular Petition “Veto against Temelin"
In 2002, the FPÖ initiated a popular petition “Veto against Temelin. Popular petition on vetoing an EU accession of the Czech Republic if Temelin is not decommissioned”.
The petition’s specific goal was that the Temelin nuclear power plant be decommissioned before the Czech Republic could join the EU in 2004. The popular petition achieved 914,973 signatures and thus ranks 3rd of the 50 popular petitions conducted up to 2020. Although the popular petition caused a great stir and was discussed at length in the National Council, Temelin ultimately remained in operation, and the Czech Republic joined the EU in 2004.
The popular petition “Veto against Temelin” (registration week 14 to 21 January 2002) wanted to ensure that the Temelin nuclear power plant in the Czech Republic had to be decommissioned before the Czech Republic joined the European Union. The intention was to achieve this by Austria exercising its veto against Czech accession.
The popular petition stated that “Austria must therefore vehemently and emphatically express its concerns about the Temelin nuclear power plant near the border. By means of a federal constitutional law, it is to be made clear to the Czech Republic that Austria insists on the decommissioning of Temelin.
The threat of a veto is quite common in Europe to enforce national interests. An expert opinion by the Institute for Environmental Law at the University of Linz confirms that this is both permissible under international law and required by national law.”
The FPÖ initiated the popular petition at a time when it was itself in government and would therefore have had the opportunity to raise these concerns directly. However, the people were directly involved and with significantly more than 900,000 signatures of support, the popular petition “Veto against Temelin” became the third most successful Second Republic plebiscite conducted in the period up to 2020.
A "Special Committee for the Preliminary Consultation of the Petition for a Referendum 'Veto against Temelin'" was established in the National Council, and several parliamentary debates on the topic followed, as well as expert hearings. Eventually, a resolution was passed on a motion by ÖVP, FPÖ and Greens, which included an exit offer ("financial support for an exit from nuclear energy"), the initiative for a Europe-wide exit from nuclear energy and a "no" to an increase in Euratom’s credit line for new nuclear power plants.
Even though the popular petition caused a great stir and was discussed at length in the National Council, the Temelin nuclear power plant remained in operation despite malfunctions and in 2004, the Czech Republic joined the European Union without an Austrian veto.