Friday

28th Apr 2017

Austrian leader rows back on EU labour restrictions

Austria's chancellor Christian Kern appears to have retreated on a previous pledge to prioritise local hires over EU nationals.

Speaking to reporters in Brussels on Monday (13 February), the social democrat denied any efforts were being made to let local employers hire Austrians before other EU citizens.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

"I think the important thing for me is that we have nobody in Austria who is calling for preferential treatment for local inhabitants or Austrian nationals," said Kern.

In January, while speaking in the Austrian town of Wels, a far-right stronghold, he accused eastern European countries of exporting their unemployed and said restrictions need to be imposed.

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

Wels is a city dominated by the far-right Freedom Party. Kern's remark's last month in the city was widely seen as a bid to woo far-right voters ahead of elections.

But on Monday, Kern refuted the plans while addressing reporters in a joint press conference alongside European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker and Austrian president Alexandre Van der Bellen.

"The problem is not so much that people from other European countries are working in Austria but rather they doing that in potentially unfair conditions," he said.

Kern did not elaborate on what such unfair conditions entail but noted than a fifth of Austria's unemployed were foreigners.

"It is a question of finding jobs for everybody," he said.

Austria's president Van der Bellen said the issue was "very very complex".

Juncker said the three had spoken about it at length during their meeting.

He said the EU commission is working with the Austrian government to put an end to social dumping where workers sent from another EU state earn less than their local counterparts.

"That is not what the internal market is for," said Juncker.

EU starts legal action against Hungary

The EU Commission is to launch a legal probe into Hungary's attack on a Soros-funded university, but Hungary's Orban was unrepentant the he faced MEPs.

European states still top media freedom list

Nordic countries Norway, Sweden and Finland still have the world's most free media, according to Reporters Without Borders, but the overall situation is declining.

News in Brief

  1. Vote of no confidence prepared against Spanish PM
  2. Syria to buy Russian anti-missile system
  3. Germany seeks partial burka ban
  4. Libya has no plan to stop migration flows
  5. EU has no evidence of NGO-smuggler collusion in Libya
  6. Poland gets 'final warning' on logging in ancient forest
  7. Commission gives Italy final warning on air pollution
  8. Romania and Slovenia taken to court over environment policies

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceCharlotte Hornets' Nicolas Batum Tells Kids to "Eat Well, Drink Well,Move!"
  2. ECR GroupSyed Kamall: We Need a New, More Honest Relationship With Turkey
  3. Counter BalanceParliament Sends Strong Signal to the EIB: Time to Act on Climate Change
  4. ACCARisks and Opportunities of Blockchain and Shared Ledgers Technologies in Financial Services
  5. UNICEFRace Against Time to Save Millions of Lives in Yemen
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersDeveloping Independent Russian-Language Media in the Baltic Countries
  7. Swedish EnterprisesReform of the European Electricity Market: Lessons from the Nordics, Brussels 2 May
  8. Malta EU 2017Green Light Given for New EU Regulation to Bolster External Border Checks
  9. Counter BalanceCall for EU Commission to Withdraw Support of Trans-Adriatic Pipeline
  10. ACCAEconomic Confidence at Highest Since 2015
  11. European Federation of Allergy and Airways60%-90% of Your Life Is Spent Indoors. How Does Poor Indoor Air Quality Affect You?
  12. European Gaming and Betting AssociationCJEU Confirms Obligation for a Transparent Licensing Process

Latest News

  1. EP chief faces questions after homophobic 'summit'
  2. EU signals Northern Ireland could join if united with Ireland
  3. One year later: EU right to open Internet still virtual
  4. Rethinking Europe's relationship with Turkey
  5. Mob storms Macedonian parliament
  6. MEPs retain secrecy on office spending
  7. May accuses EU-27 of 'lining up against Britain'
  8. Resurrected Renzi to regain leadership of Italy's ruling party