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IMMIGRATION

Austria rejects Balkans migrants conference criticism

Austria has rejected criticism from Greece that Athens has not been invited to a conference in Vienna on Wednesday among countries along the west Balkans route for migrants towards northern Europe.

Austria rejects Balkans migrants conference criticism
Refugees arriving in Greece. File photo: UNHCR

“These meetings (of western Balkan states) take place within a format and with fixed participants,” interior ministry spokesman Karl-Heinz Grundböck told AFP.

“A summary of the meeting will be provided at talks between (EU) interior and justice ministers on Thursday in Brussels,” he said.

The “Managing Migration Together” meeting in Vienna involves the foreign and interior ministers of Albania, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia.

Greece's foreign ministry said that being left out meant that the conference was “an attempt to take decisions in Greece's absence that directly affect Greece and Greek borders.”

Greece has also accused Austria of undermining efforts to reach a joint European response to the migration crisis by siding with hardline EU members who refuse to take any refugees.

Vienna has moved closer to the Visegrad Four group — Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic — in their call for tighter EU controls inside the passport-free Schengen zone.

“One must recognise that Austria has already taken 100,000 refugees… but I think it is making a very big mistake by placing itself alongside these countries,” junior interior minister for migration Yiannis Mouzalas told Vima radio on Monday.

Vienna last week also introduced a cap of 80 asylum-seekers per day and said it would only let 3,200 migrants pass through each day, sparking fears of a domino effect along the Balkan migrant trail.

The limits have also seen Austria come under fire from the EU commissioner for migration and Germany's interior minister.

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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