Austria’s new government signals toughness on immigration

Edited by walterp on . Posted in Main

Chancellor Sebastian Kurz’s People’s Party (ÖVP) ministries control the finance, economy and justice ministries while the Freedom Party (FPÖ) of Vice-Chancellor Karl-Heinz Strache are running the interior, defense and foreign affairs ministries. Here is a look a their principal plans:

EU

Despite the FPÖ’s historical ambivalence towards the European Union, the coalition “commits to Europe” but will act to “steer the EU back in the right direction towards its fundamental ideas”.

During its EU presidency in the second half of 2018, Austria will “take a leading role in correcting some of the erroneous developments” of the bloc, including “strengthening the idea of subsidiarity”.

Although the new government wants more Swiss-style “direct democracy”, Strache said Saturday he had agreed to ÖVP demands to rule out a British-style referendum on Austria’s EU membership.

During its presidency it will hold a summit on immigration.

It also wants to contribute to an improvement of relations between the West and Russia and says Vienna will not agree to Turkey joining the EU.

Immigration

The program calls for a halt to “illegal immigration” and to speed up the asylum process to deport those who are not accepted. Asylum is “temporary protection” only.

Those “refusing to integrate must expect sanctions” and “parallel societies” must be prevented.

There will also be a stop to “immigration into the social system”. Monthly payments to those with asylum and subsidiary protection will be cut to €365 plus an “integration bonus” of €155.

“We want to protect our homeland Austria as a liveable place with all its cultural assets. This includes deciding for ourselves who can immigrate and live with us and ending illegal immigration,” the document says.

Bureaucracy and taxes

The coalition also wants a “slimmer state” and a “brake on bureaucracy”, with the aim of cutting state expenditure by several billion euros (dollars). Lawmakers will see their salaries frozen.

Austria, the program says, is the “world champion when it comes to regulation and limiting freedom and personal responsibility”. It no longer has the lowest unemployment rate in the EU.

Looser labour laws will see workers be able to work up to 12 hours a day in what the parties say is a “win-win” for employees and employers.

There is also a pledge that there will no new taxes and that the proportion of taxes and other charges taken off salaries will be cut “towards” 40 percent from 43 percent.

Families will get a tax bonus of €1,500 per child.

 

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