The European Commissioner for Social Affairs Marianne Thyssen announced on January 23 that Brussels has opened a case against Austria for carrying out discriminatory policies against workers from other EU countries.
EU citizens who work in Austria and who, like native-born Austrian workers, pay taxes and social security contributions receive fewer benefits because their children live in a different, and far and poorer, country within the 28-member bloc. The policy mostly affects the numerous citizens of Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, and Romania that now live and work in Austria.
“Our single market is based on equal treatment”, said Thyssen. “There are no second-class workers…or second class children in the EU,” added Thyssen, who demanded that the equal treatment of migrant workers who contribute to Austria’s social security system must receive the same benefits as Austrian citizens, no matter where their children live.
The Commission claims that the conservative Austrian government of Chancellor Sebastian Kurz has violated the bloc’s rules on the coordination of social security systems, which prohibit any form of discrimination on the basis of nationality.
Vienna now has two months to meet the Commission’s concerns before facing the prospect of being censured.