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REFUGEE CRISIS

IMMIGRATION

Bavaria slams Austria for unchecked refugee flow

Bavaria's state premier has blasted Austria for waving on thousands of refugees to Germany without informing local authorities and has called on Chancellor Angela Merkel to intervene.

Bavaria slams Austria for unchecked refugee flow
Refugees at Vienna's Westbahnhof station. Photo: Kim Traill

Austria's failure to tell Bavaria when thousands of refugees are arriving or being brought to the border is causing problems, Horst Seehofer said.

“This behaviour by Austria burdens our neighbourly relationship. You can't and mustn't treat one another like this,” he added.

Seehofer said that Merkel's top priority ought to be limiting what he said were uncontrolled flows of people from Austria into Germany across the Bavarian border.

“It's the Chancellor's job to speak with Austria,” he said, adding that the two national governments had decided to introduce the much criticized 'open-borders' policy together.

“If I'm not successful [in getting an answer from Berlin] then we will have to consider what options for action we have,” Seehofer told the Passauer Neue Presse – implicitly reiterating his threat to bring in undefined “emergency defence” measures if the federal government doesn't help.

Bavarian authorities complain that the lack of coordination is leaving them scrambling at the last minute to find resources to welcome the new arrivals.

Late on Monday for instance, around 2,000 refugees crossed on foot into Bavaria, catching local authorities unaware, police said.

Police spokesman Frank Koller said Austria had informed them that nine buses carrying asylum seekers were on their way to Bavaria on Tuesday, but from “unofficial sources, we learnt that there are in actual fact 22 buses on the way”.

“The actual figures unfortunately sharply differ from Austria's reports,” he said.

Austrian authorities rejected the claims as “a joke”, saying both sides are in constant contact over coordination on the asylum seeker influx. They also criticised Germany’s introduction of a border crossing limit of 50 people per hour.

“Usually we don't comment on political statements but the fact is that if Austria receives 11,000 people in Spielfeld on a daily basis, Bavaria cannot say that it will just process up to 50 people an hour at its border. That's a joke,” said police spokesman David Furtner.

“Plus this doesn't meet German standards: the government said that all refugees would be welcome. There seems to be a problem of interpretation by German national police who counteract the directive with restrictions (in migrant numbers),” he added.

Hundreds of refugees have been forced to wait for hours outside in the cold without knowing when they will be able to continue onto Germany.

The Austrian Red Cross said it treated 6,500 refugees on Monday night and was able to house 3,000 in emergency shelters. “The others continued onto Germany, and crossed the border,” Red Cross spokesman Christoph Patzalt said.

A report in the German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung described the situation at the Achleiten border crossing in Austria as chaotic and said that whilst police are happy to escort refugees to the German border they are not providing them with “tents, blankets, or tea”.

Austrian authorities have said they expect around 7,000 refugees to cross the border into Austria from Slovenia on Tuesday.

Aid agencies have said they are extremely concerned about the welfare of refugees arriving in Slovenia from Croatia, who are ill-equipped to deal with the increasingly cold weather.

ECONOMY

Diversity and jobs: How migrants contribute to Vienna’s economy

International business owners in Vienna bring in billions of euros in revenue and taxes each year, according to a recent survey by the Chamber of Commerce.

Diversity and jobs: How migrants contribute to Vienna's economy

New figures show that Vienna’s international entrepreneurs do more than simply boost diversity in Austria’s capital city – they also significantly contribute to the local economy.

The Wirtschaftskammer (Chamber of Commerce) has revealed that business owners in Vienna with a migration background generate € 8.3 billion in revenue and create around 45,500 jobs.

Plus, these companies pay around € 3.7 billion every year in taxes and duties, reports ORF.

READ MORE: Austrian presidential elections: Why 1.4 million people can’t vote

Walter Ruck, President of the Vienna Chamber of Commerce, said: “Companies with a migrant background not only enrich the diversity of the corporate landscape in Vienna, they are also an economic factor.”

Ruck added that more than 200 international companies move to the capital each year and said the diversity is helping Vienna to financially recover from the pandemic. 

The Chamber of Commerce considers a business owner to have a migration background if they were not born in Austria and/or they have a non-Austrian nationality.

READ ALSO: What are the rules on working overtime in Austria?

According to ORF, there are 34,000 entrepreneurs in Vienna with a migration background and 7,400 of those business owners have Austrian citizenship.

Additionally, 4,500 business owners have Slovakian nationality, 3,800 are from Romania and 2,600 have German citizenship.

The most popular business sector for people in Vienna with a migration background is retail, followed by real estate and technical services.

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