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13 May, 2019 16:24

‘We don’t need Schnitzel regulations’: Austria’s Kurz blasts EU ‘paternalism’

‘We don’t need Schnitzel regulations’: Austria’s Kurz blasts EU ‘paternalism’

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz has savaged the European Union’s “regulatory madness,” and called for the scrapping of 1,000 regulations. The center-right leader’s broadside comes ahead of pivotal EU parliament elections.

“People demand answers from the EU on major issues such as security, external border control or climate change,” Kurz said in a statement sent to Austrian news agency APA on Sunday. “But nobody needs EU regulations on how to make a schnitzel or fries.”

“Instead of demanding more and more money, the EU should stop telling people more and more how to live,” the 32-year-old leader added, before calling for the abolishment of 1,000 unspecified EU regulations.

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Since taking office in 2017, Kurz has clashed with Brussels on a range of issues, most prominently immigration. Kurz has called for penalties on EU states who take in too many migrants, and has sealed off his own country’s borders with Hungary and Slovenia to stem the flow of migrants.

Kurz has not outright rejected the idea of a European Union, but slammed its “paternalism” and called earlier this month for “generational change at the top” of the bloc.

The Austrian leader is not the first politician to ridicule the union’s more nitpicky regulations. Former British Home Secretary Boris Johnson repeatedly chided the union for Regulation 1333/2011 in the runup to 2016’s Brexit vote. Regulation 1333/2011 dictates that bananas sold in the union must be free from “abnormal curvature of the fingers,” unless they come from designated areas of Portugal or Greece.

And Kurz’s fictional “schnitzel regulation” is not too far removed from the truth either. Regulation 2017/2158 sets out to minimize the presence of carcinogenic acrylamide in fried foods. Although its text does not mention the deep-fried Austrian delicacy by name, the measure was slammed by Agriculture Minister Andrä Rupprechter, who accused the EU “fry police” of meddling with citizens’ snack foods.

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The schnitzel war is a minor proxy battle in the ongoing struggle to shape the future of the European Union. Kurz’s party is a member of the EU-wide European People’s Party conservative bloc. The group is the largest bloc in the European Parliament, and according to the parliament’s own figures, looks set to consolidate its power after the May 23 vote.

More hardened Euroskeptic parties also look set to make gains on election day. In the UK, Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party is on course to take more votes than the Conservative and Labour parties combined, according to a recent poll. In the Netherlands, the anti-establishment Forum for Democracy (FvD) could also become the largest individual party, after emerging from recent provincial elections as the biggest party in the Dutch senate.

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