Der Wiener Spiegel der EU

Wenn ein EU-Bürokrat ins Wien des Fin de Siècle reisen könnte, wäre er überrascht, wie sehr das Habsburgerreich der heutigen EU ähnelte. Wie die EU war Österreich-Ungarn ein supranationales Experiment; es umfasste 51 Millionen Einwohner, 11 Nationalitäten und 14 Sprachen. Diesem Mikrokosmos Europas standen ein doppelkröniger Kaiser und König vor sowie zwei Parlamente, die die überwiegend voneinander unabhängigen österreichischen und ungarischen Hälften des Reiches vertraten.

Das Habsburgerreich fungierte für die in ihm vertretenen Völker und für Europa als eine stabilisierende Kraft. Gegenüber seinen verstreuten ethnischen Gruppen übte es die Doppelrolle als Schiedsrichter und Türsteher aus, indem es bei indigenen Rivalitäten ausgleichend wirkte und Zwergennationen vor aggressiven Staaten schützte. Darüber hinaus füllte es ein geopolitisches Vakuum im Herzen des Kontinents, das Deutschland und Russland in Schach hielt.

Solange es diese Funktionen erfüllte, wurde Österreich als „europäische Notwendigkeit“ angesehen – als Stabilisator von Nationalitäten und Nationen, für den es keinen denkbaren Ersatz gab. Doch Anfang der 1900er Jahre sah sich das Kaiserreich zwei Problemen ausgesetzt, die Zweifel an seiner Fähigkeit zur Erfüllung dieser Missionen aufkommen ließen.

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