Why this story matters:
The ruling parties ÖVP and FPÖ have long been speaking about about the "exploding costs" of having a social benefits program that assists migrants. Their official goal in seeking a reform was to ensure standardization between the federal states -- but the underlying goal was certainly to reduce some types of welfare payments paid out to non-citizens.
The reform plans were passed during a session on Sunday and Monday. They will hit the Vienna region hardest, where half of those receiving these benefits do not have an Austrian passport. New hurdles in accessing welfare will mainly affect refugees. They will now have to demonstrate German language skills and simple English skills in order to get a basic benefit of 863 euros.
European law expert Franz Leidenmüller of the University of Linz says that requirements targeting refugees would be contrary to European law -- access to social benefits has to be the same for nationals and asylum seekers.
"Access requirements can’t be discriminatory to asylum seekers -- and a language skills requirement is."
Overall, the cutbacks for refugees will contribute to their impoverishment and could create a breeding ground for crime.
Details from the story:
- In 2016, Austria spent half a billion euros on minimum wage.
- At 924 million euros, these are just 0.9 percent of total social benefits (2016 figures).
- The remaining social benefits amount to 106,044.8 million euros.
- At 7.3 million euros, expenditure on minimum wage is lowest in Burgenland, with Vienna having the highest expenditure of 583.4 million.