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IMMIGRATION

Refugee gives birth after crossing border

An Afghan refugee has given birth to a baby girl in a medical emergency tent in Spielfeld, shortly after crossing into Austria from Slovenia.

Refugee gives birth after crossing border
Refugees in Spielfeld, Styria. Photo: APA

The mother, who gave birth at 5am on Tuesday, was cared for by a Red Cross team and both she and her baby are said to be in good health. They have been taken to hospital in Graz.

An interpreter was sent to the hospital on Tuesday and will speak to the woman about her plans and how long the doctors recommend she should stay in hospital. The majority of refugees arriving in Spielfeld are keen to travel on to Germany as soon as possible.

In recent days the number of refugees and migrants crossing the border has risen sharply.

On Tuesday morning around 3,800 refugees were waiting in Spielfeld for buses and trains. A further 3,600 people were waiting on the Slovenian border to cross into Austria.

Police expect more people to arrive later in the day, but have said that emergency accommodation is already full and that therefore people will have to wait in Spielfeld before they can be transported further.

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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