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IMMIGRATION

Strache calls to expel folk who won’t integrate

Heinz-Christian Strache, chief of the right-wing Austrian Freedom Party (FPÖ), again called for separate school classes for foreigners to learn the German language.

Strache calls to expel folk who won't integrate
HC Strache. Photo: APA (schneider)

Furthermore he said that he wanted to limit the number of foreigners in school classes. Immigrants who did not want to integrate, should be expelled, Strache said.

It was necessary to have preparation classes to learn the German language otherwise it would not be possible to follow regular lessons, he claimed.

Strache also said that the FPÖ had been proposing such measures for years, such as those which the independent expert for the panel on integration had suggested on Monday.

The FPÖ had called for a limit of foreign pupils of 30 percent in each classroom in the 1990's, Strache added.

However, it was important to discuss measures for the education sector "seriously and objectively", Strache said.

Nevertheless he criticised Foreign and Integration Minister Sebastian Kurz of the conservative Austrian People's Party (ÖVP) saying he was not really determined to change something.

Kurz's proposal to promote more measures for immigrants from EU countries was "obfuscation" according to Strache.

There were no problems to overcome language barriers for people from the same cultural area, whereas problems still remain with immigrants from Turkey, he said.

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IMMIGRATION

‘Discrimination’: Austria’s benefit cuts for immigrants ‘go against free movement’

Benefit cuts imposed by Austria on immigrants whose children live in their country of origin contradict EU law becasue they constitute "discrimination on the ground of nationality", a legal adviser at the bloc's top court said on Thursday.

A picture of the sign and logo of the Court of Justice of the European Union in Luxembourg
A picture of the sign and logo of the Court of Justice of the European Union in Luxembourg on January 13, 2020. (Photo by JOHN THYS / AFP)

The opinion is the latest legal hitch to befall a series of measures — imposed by a previous government that included the far-right — which sought to restrict benefit payments to foreigners.

Richard de la Tour, advocate general of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), said the cuts to child benefits constituted “an infringement of the right of free movement conferred on EU citizens”.

The specific case relates to reforms that came into effect in 2019 which indexed child benefits according to where the recipient’s children live.

This meant reduced payments for tens of thousands of eastern Europeans who work in Austria — notably in the care sector — but whose children remain in their countries of origin.

The advocate general’s advice is not binding on the court but it is seen as influential.

De la Tour found that the cuts were “indirect discrimination on the ground of nationality which is permissible only if it is objectively justified”, and that Austria had failed to do so.

They contravened the principle that “if a migrant worker pays social contributions and taxes in a member state, he or she must be able to benefit from the same allowances as nationals of that state”, he added.

In 2020 the European Commission, supported by six eastern member states, brought an action before the CJEU claiming Austria was “failing to fulfil its obligations”.

Former Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz had said he hoped the cuts would save 114 million euros ($130 million) a year but in 2019 they recouped 62 million euros.

The former coalition also introduced benefit cuts for immigrants who failed to reach a certain level of German, but those measures were subsequently overturned by the Austrian courts.

The government that introduced in the cuts was brought down in a corruption scandal in May 2019.

It included the centre-right Austrian People’s Party (OeVP), which is still the senior partner in the current government.

However their current coalition partners, the Greens, opposed the benefit cuts at the time.

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