Should Austria be allowed to seal off its job market?

The Austrian government wants to introduce a so-called "employment bonus" to limit the employment of migrant workers. Under the scheme the ancillary wage costs for every new job that is created would be halved over a period of three years - but this wouldn't apply for jobs that go to migrant workers. The press in Austria's neighbouring countries sees the scheme as a ploy to win support by the coalition in Vienna.

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Handelsblatt (DE) /

Xenophobic job scheme will discredit Austria

The SPÖ-VP government is hoping that the job scheme will help it maintain its grip on power, Handelsblatt observes:

“To achieve this goal the Austrian chancellor has no qualms about exploiting the widespread xenophobia in the country. Instead of seeing immigration as an opportunity for an export-oriented economy the government is constructing a pecuniary stronghold against foreign workers. It is doing the country a disservice with its xenophobic job initiative. It is damaging Austria's reputation. This high-tax country already suffers from a lack of foreign investors. Austria can only win the fight against rising unemployment if it introduces comprehensive reforms against excessive bureaucracy, anachronistic regulations and a rigid social policy. But the government in Vienna lacks both the energy and the courage for that.”

Neue Zürcher Zeitung (CH) /

Right-wing nationalists not the only threat

The Austrian government is dismantling the foundations of the EU with its labour market policy, the Neue Zürcher Zeitung complains:

“As far as the content of such initiatives is concerned [Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern] is taking the same stance as right-wing nationalist parties like the FPÖ which are so often criticised and described as a danger for Europe. His essentially pro-European coalition partner, the ÖVP, is going along with all this out of fear of new elections. This is a short-sighted strategy: Can you imagine the uproar if the Germans suddenly decided to close off their job market to Austrians? Or if eastern European EU member states put Austrian firms at a disadvantage in their markets that are so crucial to those firms' interests? The foundations of the EU are under pressure not just because of right-wing nationalist movements. In Vienna, a standard social democratic-conservative coalition is hacking away at those foundations.”