The allowances for the children of EU citizens working in Austria were cut on January 1st, down to the levels in pay in their countries of origin, in case the said children stayed home. The Romanian ministries are criticising the decision. The Ministry for Romanians Everywhere (MRP) announced on Saturday that it treats this situation with priority, while the Ministry of Labour and Social Justice (MMJS) reiterated the concern caused by this decision that it considers discriminatory.
“The Ministry for Romanians Everywhere treats with priority the situation of Romanian citizens who are affected by the Austrian authorities’ decision to lower the allowances for the children of European citizens who are working in Austria, based on the children’s residency status. The integration of Romanians living abroad in the states in which they chose to settle and work, as well as their non-discrimination, has permanently represented a priority in the bilateral meetings and talks that Minister Natalia-Elena Intotero has had with central and local authorities from European states, including from Austria. The Minister for Romanians Everywhere has insisted, on each occasion, at each meeting with EU state officials, on the need for Romanians to be integrated as best as possible and to have the same rights and obligations as the citizens of the host countries. In this sense, the dignitary asked for the support of the central and local authorities of the member states,” MRP representatives point out in a communique issued on Saturday.
According to them, “this indexation of allowances does not reflect the principle of equality and non-discrimination, the common values on which the Union is founded, nor the ‘Unity in diversity’ principle on which the European project was consolidated.”
“We are talking about a law that affects not only Romanians but also the citizens of other states of the Union. Hence, it is a European-level problem that must be tackled at European level and, in this sense, we trust the European Union’s institutions and mechanisms. At the same time, during the summits that the Ministry for Romanians Everywhere will organise on the margins of Romania’s presidency of the Council of the European Union, the situation in Austria will definitely be on the order of business. Romanians living abroad suffer as it is, because they are far from children, from families, from the country. A law such as the one that has come into force in Austria now only serves to make the situation even harder for them. Romanians have the same obligations as the citizens of the states in which they are working. They deserve having the same rights too,” said Natalia-Elena Intotero, Minister for Romanians Everywhere.
In their turn, MMJS representatives have reiterated their concern about the Austrian Parliament’s decision.
“In fact, Labour and Social Justice Minister Marius Budai has conveyed the same concerns to European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility Marianne Thyssen, when the two officials had a bilateral meeting in Brussels,” MMJS officials point out in the communique issued on Saturday.
They state that the situation was constantly in focus, the Ministry sounding the alarm as early as 25 October 2018.
“Romania’s clear position on this topic is that European workers must be treated equally in the member states in which they are working, their right to free movement being one of the fundamentals of the European Union and of the Single Market. Thus, Romania opposes any initiative that would jeopardise the principle of equality in what concerns the free movement of workers and will continue to work with the European institutions empowered to adopt measures, so that there would be no discrimination between European citizens,” Labour and Social Justice Minister Marius Budai stated.
The decision to lower the allowances paid by the Austrian state to EU citizens whose children reside in their countries of origin was adopted by the Austrian Parliament on 24 October 2018 and came into force in early 2019.
Foreign Ministry on workers in Austria’s non-resident children’s allowance: Decision contravenes EU legislation
The Romanian Foreign Affairs Ministry (MAE) and Romania’s Government stated on Saturday that they took note “with concern” of the coming into force starting 1 January 2019 of the legislation regarding the adjustment of the allowances for non-resident children of workers in this member state depending on the average living cost in the residence country of the child, and say that such a decision contravenes the principles laying at the foundation of the European project and the legislation of the European Union.
“It is worth mentioning that the area of enforcing the new legislation is represented by the allowances and tax deductions for non-resident children of persons working in Austria, the measure not affecting the children living in this state. We find such a measure contravenes the principles laying at the foundation of the European project and the Union legislation, by creating a discrimination situation in respect to the citizens of other member states, Romanians included, who are paying taxes in Austria,” MAE states in a press release.
MAE points out that the Romanian authorities will continue the demarches with the European Commission and will make a call on all available institutions, according to the EU legislation.
According to MAE, the Romanian state firmly supports the exercise of the fundamental freedoms of movement inside the European Union and the equal access of European workers to the social benefits corresponding to the work performed.
“The Romanian citizens working in Austria pay the same taxes as the citizens of this state and they must enjoy an equal treatment as those in terms of corresponding rights. The EU membership compels all states to ensure a correct, fair and undiscriminating treatment for all European citizens,” the MAE representatives also say.
According to the same sources, the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union provides the right of European workers to settle and work in any other member state than the one where they have their citizenship, benefiting from the social advantages of the residence country, in the same conditions as its citizens, without any citizenship-related discrimination.
“Romania has been the first state to have drawn attention on the problems incurred by the Austrian legislative measures aimed at introducing the mechanism of indexation of child allowances. In this respect, political-diplomatic demarches have been conducted on all levels, both on the bilateral component and in discussions with European officials. In all these demarches, Romania has constantly underscored the need to maintain the prevalence of the equality of EU citizens, the fundamental nature of the right to free movement and the need to observe the imperative of similar benefits for equal contributions on the level of all member states. The topic is still on the discussion agenda with the representatives of the other member states, particularly Austria and countries with similar interests as Romania, as well as with EU institutions, the European Commission in particular. MAE will continue to underscore in the bilateral and European talks the unfair and contrary to the EU values nature of the recent Austrian law,” the release mentions.
ForMin Melescanu : We assess the possibility to address European Court of Justice
Romania’s Government is assessing the possibility of addressing the European Court of Justice in the case of Austria enforcing the legislation on the adjustment of the level of allowances for non-resident children of workers in this member state, depending on the average living cost in the child’s residence country, Romanian Foreign Minister Teodor Melescanu told Digi 24 private television broadcaster on Sunday evening.
He labeled this measure as discriminating.
“It is a clear case of discrimination. Why? Because the Romanians working in Austria pay fees and taxes same as any worker or employee in Austria, regardless of nationality. Therefore they contribute to the state budget. From this point of view, we are assessing at present the possibility, if there aren’t alternatives to reduce this discrimination, to address the European Court of Justice on this topic and we probably won’t be the only ones,” Melescanu pointed out.
The Minister stated that, from the estimates, the allowances of the children affected by this piece of legislation would be cut down to half.
“From the calculations we’ve made, most likely for the children who are in Romania, but whose parents work in Austria, there will be a 50 percent cut in these subsidies. From our point of view it is clearly a discrimination, because we are all European citizens and, according to the Treaty on the functioning of the European Union, no kind of discriminations are allowed, including in the social area, and secondly, because we are the ones losing the most, as the calculation is made depending on the living standard in each country,” the minister highlighted.
CNMR to file protest letter with Austria’s Embassy against non-resident children’s allowance adjustment
The National Coalition for Romania’s Modernisation (CNMR) announced it will file a protest letter with Austria’s Embassy against the decision to adjust the allowances for non-resident children.
“I am saying this clearly: We are not second hand citizens and we shall not accept such a treatment exactly in the period when we are holding the Presidency of the European Union. Austria’s decision can seriously affect the relation with the Romanian economic, union, social and academic environment. I will demand Austria’s Embassy in Bucharest explanations on behalf of my colleagues and Romanians we represent and we expect urgent explanations from the Austrian state,” CNMR chairman Alexandru Cumpasanu said, according to a CNMR release sent to AGERPRES on Sunday.
According to the source, on 24 October 2018 Austria’s Parliament adopted “a controversial and unfair law,” providing the reduction in allowances for the children of citizens from the other EU member states who work on the territory of the Austrian state.
“For many countries, including Romania, the adoption of this law entails a discriminatory reduction of the amounts paid for children, by adjusting them to the living standard in the community countries where they come from. Practically, this law that came into force on 1 January 2019 affected many children of the EU member states citizens working on the Austrian state territory, as well as an approximate number of 14,000 Romanian children who, although they live with their families in Austria, will get the allowance depending on the average living cost in the residence country, namely Romania. This law contravenes the principles at the ground of the European Union legislation because it managed to create a discrimination situation for citizens of other member states, Romanians included, who work, live and pay taxes in Austria,” the release points out.
The source also mentions that the Romanian state was the first to have drawn attention on the problems generated by the Austrian legislative measures referring to the introduction of the new mechanism on calculating the child allowances, which doesn’t reflect the principle of equality and non-discrimination.
“Taking into account the pro-European attitude of CNMR as well as that of Romania’s citizens, we find as unjustified and abusive this measure which can create a precedent for many other EU member states. That is why CNMR will file a protest letter on behalf of the member organisations with Austria’s Embassy in Bucharest and will demand explanations and the remedy of the situation. So much the more as starting 1 January Romania is holding the rotating Presidency of the European Union, we find this measure as an affront to the Romanian diaspora and we ask from the President, Parliament and the Government concrete measures for protecting the interests of Romanian children non-resident in Austria,” CNMR points out.
MEP Maria Grapini to file new interpellation with EC on child allowances of Romanian workers in Austria
MEP Maria Grapini announced that she will file on Monday, January 7, a new interpellation with the European Commission requesting “a fair measure and the urgent intervention of Europe” in the question of the cut in child allowance for Romanian workers in Austria.
“(…) Austria’s Chancellor has recently been in Bucharest, when, in a total contempt, he preferred to threaten us that Austrian companies would leave Romania if the government ordinance was enforced! Our President left the impression everywhere that he is good friends with Sebastian Kurz. What holiday is Klaus Iohannis on now, when his Austrian buddy violates the rights of Romanian children, with an impertinence which Europe has never seen before? Are there electoral strategies more important, even now, for Romania’s President than the fate of our children [whose parents work] in Austria?,” Maria Grapini said in Timisoara, according to a release.
Austria legislated starting 1 January 2019 on the adjustment of the allowances for non-resident children of workers in this member state depending on the average living cost in the residence country of the child. the area of enforcing the new legislation is represented by the allowances and tax deductions for non-resident children of persons working in Austria, the source mentions.
“The EU membership compels all states to ensure a correct, fair and undiscriminating treatment for all European citizens. The Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union provides the right of European workers to settle and work in any other member state than the one where they have their citizenship, benefiting from the social advantages of the residence country, in the same conditions as its citizens, without any citizenship-related discrimination. In spite of this true Bible of the European Union, Austria decided according to its own will, choosing an obvious discrimination,” reads the release sent my MEP Maria Grapini, affiliated to the S&D Group of the European Parliament.