Austria: should cash payments be a constitutional right?

Despite fierce criticism, also from within his own party, Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer is sticking to his plan to enshrine the right to pay with cash as a fundamental right in the constitution. He reaffirmed his proposal to this effect in a video message addressed to the nation on the weekend. The national press weighs in on the issue.

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Die Presse (AT) /

Utterly pointless

This is a debate about non-existent problems, writes lawyer Rainer Hable in the daily Die Presse:

“If a provision in the Austrian constitution simply repeats what EU treaties already provide for, it is pointless. ... So the calls for the right to cash to be enshrined in the Austrian constitution are completely pointless. First of all because Austria could not provide for anything beyond what is already determined by EU law. And secondly because the right to pay with cash is already anchored in European constitutional law in Article 128 of the TFEU. So to sum up: Chancellor Nehammer wants to solve problems that don't exist.”

Kurier (AT) /

A symbol of freedom

Cash has high symbolic value for many people, Kurier stresses:

“Politically, the issue is a safe bank. All surveys show how attached Austrians are to their cash. The petition for a referendum 'for unrestricted cash payments' was signed by more than 530,000 people. The initiators scored points with arguments that opponents have not been able to refute for years: cash means freedom and independence. It helps us to escape the danger of becoming 'a transparent person in the digital world'. A blackout can't hurt cash but it can certainly hurt digital currencies. And then there's crisis prevention, where cash proves its worth.”