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April 20, 2021

Austrian-Romanian diplomatic dispute on the social benefits for intra-community workers

Recent statements made by the Austrian Foreign Minister on social benefits for Romanians working in this country sparked vehement reactions in Bucharest.  Romania’s Foreign Affairs Ministry (MAE) warns that bilateral relations between Romania and Austria are in danger because of the pressure the Romanians working in Austria are subject to.

“Romanian Foreign Affairs Ministry (MAE) disagrees with the public positions adopted by the Federal Minister of Foreign Affairs of Austria regarding the social benefits for intra-community workers, as more as he was especially targeting Romania, and warns that, by artificially amplifying such positions, there is a risk that Romanian citizens who now work legally in Austria might becomes victims of an internal dispute. MAE already made known its position related to the matter to the Austrian side, earlier in the week, via diplomatic channels, at ambassador level,” a communiqué released by MAE shows.

“The special mentioning of Romanian in the context related to the implementation of the European norms concerning the export of social benefits (child allowance) is unjustified, since Romania is only ranking 5th among the members states where these allowances are transferred to (after Hungary, Slovakia, Poland and Slovenia). Thus, according to the measurements conducted by the Austrian side, it results that the Romanian citizens are not toping the ranking of beneficiaries of such allowances, which is an aspect that was also publicly confirmed recently by the Austrian Labour Minister Rudolf Hundstrofer.

MAE reminds to the Austrian side that the free movement of people and workers is one of the fundamental principles of the EU, which implies concrete aspects, among which the non-discriminatory access to social services. The same as the other European citizens working in other member states, the Romanian citizens must also have access to allowances generated by their work and social contributions, since a different approach would only be profoundly inequitable and contrary to the in force European norms,” the cited document maintains.

MAE’s reaction comes after Austria’s  Foreign Minister, Sebastian Kurz,  explained for the public broadcaster ORF that for two Romanian children, whose parents work in Austria, the Austrian state provides about 300 euros monthly. “The amount nearly corresponds to the average salary in Romania,” said Sebastian Kurz. The Austrian chief diplomat wants that the amount of allowances granted by Austria to match that of the State from where the parents of the children come from. “Thus, Austria would no longer pay about 300 euros for two Romanian children whose parents work in Austria, but only about 30 euros,” Kurz added.

“We concur with the British: Britain wants reforms within the EU and this must happen quickly,” Sebastian Kurz also told ORF.



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