Since January 1st, Austria has introduced the so-called indexation of the family benefits, which will not affect Austrians themselves. The impact will be mainly on foreigners working in the country, but leaving their families at home. According to the new rules, the amount of benefits will begin to derive from the amount of allowances paid in the child’s country of residence. Primarily workers from countries where living costs are lower than in Austria will be affected by the reduction.
There are 8,000 Czech workers in Austria, who pay taxes just like Austrians. Since the very beginning of the year, these people do not share the same benefits. The new law is discrimination for people who came to Austria from Eastern Europe, and the European Union should do something about it because this legislation only strengthens eurosceptic voices across Europe.
Also, Austria’s action is contrary to the EU´s law and undermines the basic principles on which the European Union stands. The free movement of people, together with other freedoms, including the free movement of goods, services, and capital, is one of the pillars without which there could be no functioning internal market. The fact that the decision of the Austrian authorities will affect Czech citizens is also unfortunate because the possibility to travel freely to work anywhere in the European Union was one of the main reasons why the Czech Republic joined European integration in 2004. What is even sadder is that this fundamental freedom is now being jeopardized and paradoxically those countries that joined the Union later must fight for its preservation.
At least, the new Austrian law on the compensation of family expenses which introduced the indexation of childcare allowances has alarmed the European Commission. At the end of January, Brussels gave Vienna two months to explain the new rules. Thus, a fundamental procedure has been launched that could also be brought to the European Union Court of Justice. In Europe, where there must not be two categories of citizens, employees and children.