Refugee Crisis

Refugee crisis could cost Austria ‘billions’

Refugee crisis could cost Austria ‘billions’
Refugees at Vienna's Westbahnhof station. Photo: Kim Traill
A secret document from Austria’s finance ministry, which was leaked to the Austrian broadcasting company ORF, forecasts that if Austria takes in an estimated 85,000 asylum seekers in 2015 and a further 130,000 in 2016 it will cost a total of €6.5 billion over the next four years.

This is much higher than earlier official calculations, and is based on a projected 25,000 positive asylum applications per year.

The figure includes the costs of primary care for asylum seekers, integration, social security, and helping recognised asylum seekers access the labour market. The document estimates that if the cost of family reunification is included this would almost double the figure to €12.3 billion.

In comparison, the 2015 budget for the defence ministry amounts to around €1.8 billion, which corresponds to 0.55 percent of gross domestic product (GDP).

In September, almost 200,000 refugees arrived in Austria, and 8,000 of those have applied for asylum. The interior ministry has said it expects a total of 80,000 asylum seekers this year.

The conservative People’s Party (ÖVP) has argued in favour of granting refugees “limited asylum” and restricting family reunification – where family members of a recognised refugee are given permission to join him or her in Austria.