Wednesday

22nd Nov 2017

Austria wants to discriminate against EU workers

EU citizens should be barred from taking jobs if a qualified Austrian has applied to the same position, says Austria's centre-left chancellor.

Chancellor Christian Kern on Wednesday (11 January) accused east European nations of "exporting their joblessness to Austria" and wants local employers to prioritise Austrians unless no other candidate is available.

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"That means - only if there is no suitable unemployed person in the country can [a job] be given to new arrivals without restriction," he said.

Kern was speaking in Wels, a town whose mayor hails from the right-wing populist FPO. The FPO has seen a historic resurgence in support despite narrowly losing the presidential run-off in December.

Kern's statement was made during a presentation of a 10-year economic plan, and aims to woo the anti-immigrant voters back into his social democrat party ahead of national elections.

But it also directly clashes with the free movement of workers, viewed as sacrosanct throughout much of the EU.

Articles in the treaty of the European Union uphold the right for any EU national to be treated on equal footing with nationals of that member states.

Kern's pledge would allow employers to discriminate against people based exclusively on nationality.

Austria's asylum cap

He also backed government plans to cut Austria's asylum application cap of 35,000 per year to 17,000.

The cap, first introduced in January last year, allows authorities to impose an emergency decree to turn away people at the border should the threshold be breached.

The 35,000 cap was not reached last year but the move to further reduce it was announced by the head of the People's Party (OVP), a junior member of the coalition government headed by Kern.

"We want to halve this cap, we want to reduce it to around 17,000," said OVP leader Reinhold Mitterlehner according to Reuters news agency.

Analysis

Austrian far-right: beaten, but not defeated

Far-right candidate Norbert Hofer's loss to Green-backed Alexander Van der Bellen sent relief across Europe, but his party is still in a good position to head a government in the future.

EU free movement must be curbed, UK says

British leader Theresa May has said free movement of EU workers to Britain cannot continue as in the past, while visiting Slovakia and Poland on Thursday.

MEPs point finger at Malta

The European Parliament debated shady deals and rule of law in Malta after the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia, while the Commission wanted to avoid a "political fight".

Austrian privacy case against Facebook hits legal snag

Austrian privacy campaigner Max Schrems may sue Facebook Ireland in an Austrian court but won't be able to pursue a class action suit in Austria, according to a non-binding opinion by a top EU court advisor.

EU Parliament 'cookie' restrictions worry online media

The European Parliament and groups representing newspapers and magazines are at odds over how new privacy rules will affect the media, especially restrictions on website cookies - but one MEP thinks it could spark new business models.

MEPs ponder how to fight tax havens

After the Paradise Papers brought new revelations about tax dodging across the globe, including in the EU, the European Parliament wonders how to step up the fight.

MEPs point finger at Malta

The European Parliament debated shady deals and rule of law in Malta after the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia, while the Commission wanted to avoid a "political fight".

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