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TODAY IN AUSTRIA

Today in Austria: A roundup of the latest news on Tuesday

Reaction to government's decision to use coal, no more 'air tax' for Vienna's restaurants, storms and more news from Austria on Tuesday.

Runners jog in a garden of Schönbrunn Palace, the main summer residence of the Habsburg rulers.
It should be a little cooler today after the storms. (Photo by JOE KLAMAR / AFP)

Reaction to Austria’s switch back to coal

Two years ago, Austria stopped using coal to generate electricity, the second country in Europe to do so.  As The Local reported on Monday, the government has  now announced  it will again use the coal-fired power from the Styrian power plant in Mellach to generate electricity and heat. Broadcaster ORF  reports many experts and environmental protection organisations are calling on the government to push ahead with an Energy Efficiency Act, which will create legal requirements to save energy. The previous one expired in 2020.

Environmental economist Sigrid Stagl told ORF that Austria had overslept the switch to renewable energies and had not adapted the necessary structures for energy and electricity generation in the last 20 to 30 years. Austria is in trouble. The reopening of Mellach also shows the “extent of desperation” felt by the government, she said.

The Wiener Zeitung newspaper comments it is “almost tragically ironic” that Environment Minister Leonore Gewessler (Greens) has to re-open the decommissioned coal-fired power plant in Mellach. The paper notes in July 2020, she took part in a ceremony in which ex-Verbund boss Wolfgang Anzengruber handed over the last piece of coal from Mellach.

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‘Air tax’ for Vienna’s restaurants abolished

Restaurants in Vienna will no longer have to pay an “air tax” when awnings or canopies protrude into public spaces from next year. According to an estimate by the City of Vienna, Viennese companies should save an average of around 800 euros per year. Taxes on potted plants, showcases and unlit self-advertising will also be abolished. A fee will continue to be charged for illuminated advertising.

The Chamber of Commerce and the Social Democratic Business Association welcomed the abolition, broadcaster ORF reports. According to the Chamber of Commerce, the end of the “air tax” is a relief for companies in times of rising inflation. 

A third of households in Austria do not have enough income to live on 

The sharp rise in inflation means around a third of the households in Austria do not have enough income, Der Standard newspaper reports. The Ministry of Finance has just presented the first report of a newly established group of experts, including representatives from Wifo (Austrian Institute of Economic Research),  to analyse the development of inflation. They expect an inflation rate of 7.5 percent for this year and five percent next year. Just a few weeks ago the experts predicted 6.5 percent in 2022 and 3.2 percent in 2023.

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Vienna relaxed about gas stop

Although Austria is worried about how to keep the lights on as gas deliveries from Russia reduce in volume, in Vienna there is another alternative to the Mellach coal-fired power plant in Styria. According to broadcaster ORF it is also possible for Vienna heating plants to run on oil. Michael Strebl, CEO of Wien Energie said this would not require the plants to be converted or retrofitted. Energy is also generated in the capital from waste burned at the Spittelau plant, which supplies more than 60,000 households.

In addition Vienna’s natural gas storage facilities are currently 84 percent full, more than usual at this time of year. 

Heavy thunderstorms and hail in parts of Austria

Heavy thunderstorms swept through parts of Austria on Monday and caused severe damage through heavy rain, storms and hailstones up to the size of a golf ball. Initially, Salzburg and Upper Austria were hit hardest by the storms, in Carinthia the districts of Spittal, Hermagor, Villach-Land and Wolfsberg were particularly hard hit, and there was flooding in a village in the Lavant valley. Graz was hit by large hailstones.

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TODAY IN AUSTRIA

Today in Austria: A roundup of the latest news on Tuesday

Innsbruck most expensive place to rent, call to tax energy companies' profits, more women in Austria's boardrooms, and other news from Austria on Tuesday.

Today in Austria: A roundup of the latest news on Tuesday

Innsbruck most expensive place to rent

A comparison of rental prices across Austria has found that Tyrol’s capital, Innsbruck, is the most expensive place to rent a property, with Salzburg in second place. Vienna comes seventh in the comparison by the Krone newspaper. Innsbruck residents pay EUR 4.60 more per square metre than the Viennese. Nine of the ten most expensive districts are in Tyrol, Salzburg and Vorarlberg.

Among the best value of the 78 districts surveyed, three are in Styria.

READ MORE: How to find a rental flat when you arrive in Austria 

Calls to tax profits of energy companies by Austria’s Vice Chancellor 

Werner Kogler (Greens) has joined the voices of the opposition SPÖ party, the Chamber of Labor and trade unions in calling for taxation of “excess profits” made by energy companies. However, the OVP party, which governs Austria in coalition with the Greens, has distanced itself from this idea. The  Federation of Austrian Industries (IV-Vienna)chief Christian C. Pochtler described the plan as a “midsummer night’s dream” and “populist activism”, according to Der Standard newspaper.

Proportion of women in board positions at almost 30 percent

Only 29 percent of the companies in the Vienna Stock Exchange Index (WBI) have at least one woman on the executive board according to the “Mixed Leadership Barometer” survey  by the consulting firm EY. Overall, however, the proportion of women in boardrooms have increased in Austria. A total of 17 women sit on the boards of WBI companies, one more than at the beginning of the year. Five women currently work as CFO and four as CEO. Two women each work as Chief Operating Officer or Chief Customer Officer.

The real estate industry has the highest proportion of female board members at 20 percent. In second place is the consumer goods sector with a share of 19 percent. In industry, the proportion of women on the board is 9.5 percent, according to broadcaster ORF

Ex-football player arrested following match

The Upper Austrian police have been creating headlines after arresting ÖFB legend Hans Krankl following a Bundesliga match between LASK and Rapid on Sunday evening. The 69-year-old TV commentator is said to have disobeyed police instructions. According to the report, the local police wanted to ensure a coordinated departure of the thousands of football fans when the incident occurred. “The driver did not follow the clearly given stop signal and drove towards a police officer. He only stopped his vehicle when there had already been slight physical contact between the officer and the bumper of the car,” says the official police report.

Krankl was not mentioned by name in the police report, but he confirmed the incident to the Krone newspaper. However, he said he denies the allegations, adding the road was clear and there was no reason to stop him. He told the Krone  that he was a friend of the police. 

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