Austria to get Europe’s first new steelworks in decades

Austrian steelmaker Voestalpine said Wednesday it will build Europe's first new steelworks in decades, bucking the trend in the sector to close sites or move to where labour is cheaper.

Austria to get Europe's first new steelworks in decades
Voestalpine's offices in Linz. Photo: Jo Feichtinger

“We decided today that we want to construct the first steelworks in Europe in 40 years,” chief executive Wolfgang Eder told the Austria Press Agency.

The decision to invest €330-350 million ($390-410 million) in the high-tech site at Kapfenberg in “high-cost” Austria was “anything but simple”, Eder added in a statement.

“The decisive factor was the people: in the end our employees, with their extensive expertise and their commitment, were a stronger argument than all the critical aspects,” he said.

The plant, completely replacing an existing 100-year-old plant at the same site, will manufacture high-performance steels for the international aerospace, automotive, and oil and gas industries.

The investment will secure around 3,000 jobs in southern Austria and the plant will be 100-percent powered by renewable energy sources and open in 2021, the firm said.

In recent years the trend in the steel industry, struggling with overcapacity and cheap Chinese imports, has been to shut plants in Europe and produce elsewhere.

Last week, Germany's ThyssenKrupp and India's Tata announced plans to merge their European operations, raising fears of thousands of job losses.


Today in Austria: A round up of the latest news on Wednesday

Find out what's going on on Wednesday in Austria with The Local's short roundup of the news.

Restaurants in the Naschmarkt market in Vienna have been preparing to open today. (Photo by JOE KLAMAR / AFP)
Restaurants in the Naschmarkt market in Vienna have been preparing to open today. (Photo by JOE KLAMAR / AFP)

Restaurants, hotels, sports facilities and culture open up

Austria’s restaurants, hotels, sports facilities, cultural establishments and leisure facilities have reopened with a testing requirement after almost seven months.

Supermarkets will stay open later, and the rules for meetings and travel have been relaxed. 

EXPLAINED: The new rules for entering Austria

Green pass ready from 4th June

Austria’s Green Pass will be ready from June 4th, allowing people wishing to visit restaurants or hotels the chance to show a QR code, said Health Minister Wolfgang Mückstein at a press conference, Der Standard newspaper reports. 

Lower Austria: Reservation for 12 to 15 year olds

In Lower Austria, children and adolescents between the ages of twelve and 15 can now be registered for the corona vaccination at this link. The EMA’s approval of the vaccine is expected around the end of May or the beginning of June. Vaccine appointments will not be available before then. The age group includes around 67,000 children. 

Expats in Austria struggle with learning German and making friends

The study “Expat Insider 2021” has found Austria is 23rd in popularity for expats out of a total of 59 destinations examined in the study, Austria was ranked 23rd. Taiwan (1st place), Mexico (2nd place) and Costa Rica (3rd place) were the most popular countries among expats, while South Africa (57th place) and Kuwait (59th place) were the least popular.

Austria’s quality of living and work life were given good ratings, but it lost points due to the difficulty experienced by expats in making friends and learning German.  The unfriendliness of the Austrians was also criticised (58th place).

READ MORE: The 10 biggest culture shocks experienced by expats in Austria

Austrians have low home ownership

Only 55 percent of Austrians own their own home, compared to the EU average of 70 percent, the Wiener Zeitung newspaper reports.

A survey by IMAS finds the percentage of people who want to invest in property has dropped from 49 percent in 2018 to 39 percent in February 2021. It reports investors have driven up prices since the financial crisis in 2008 and since the start of the pandemic.

READ MORE: Why do so few Austrians own their own home? 

Openings provide boost for employment

Labour Minister Martin Kocher believes around 150,000 people will return to employment in the next few weeks after restaurants and hotels open again on Wednesday the Wiener Zeitung newspaper reports. Around 130,000 will come back from short-time working and around 20,000 from unemployment. He and Finance Minister Gernot Blümel admit they expect a “catch-up effect” in the case of company bankruptcies, after very few were reported last year. Neither expects a big wave of bankruptcies, the outlet reports. 

Seven day incidence at 62

The seven-day incidence, or the number of new infections with the coronavirus in the past seven days per 100,000 inhabitants, is 62.2. The number is highest in Vorarlberg (111) and Tyrol (83.8). The value is lowest in Burgenland (31.6) and Lower Austria (45.2).

Indian variant found in Upper Austria 

The first confirmed case of the B.1.617 variant of the coronavirus, which was first discovered in India has occurred in Upper Austria.

A woman from Linz had returned from India. The test on entry was negative, the country’s crisis team announced yesterday afternoon.