Austria’s News in English: June 17 – 23
Welcome to the latest edition of MyExpatCommunity’s Austria’s News in English feature! Here we’ll provide you with snippets of the most important Austrian news of the last couple of weeks so you can stay up to date.
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1. EU wants to decide on reform of the Eurozone this year
The European head of states wants to finish the planned reform of the Eurozone before the end of the year. The Eurozone is a monetary union of 19 EU member states which have adopted the euro (€) as their common currency and sole legal tender.
Part of the reform is the Euro rescue package ESM, which is being prepared to serve as a backstop in the European Banking Union. It will be overhauled in December with an extensive package. The Eurozone budget will also be carried forward by the Euro Group and the EU Commission, specifically in further developing “suitable solutions for financing”.
The elements developed should be capable to arrange the size of the BIIC in the context of the MFF (the perennial EU financial framework). The head of states is also developing an agreement for the financial framework by the end of the year.
Source: Der Standard
2. Federal ÖVP received 3 Million Euro of donations in 2017
After months of mystery who financed the election campaign of the ÖVP in 2017, the first details are emerging. The Porr (a construction company) and major shareholder Klaus Ortner donated the biggest single amount of money to the party, as ÖVP General Secretary Karl Nehammer announced. The party had received almost 3 Million Euro in donations from various sources. Including donations to local ÖVP parties and related organizations, that number rises to 4.4 Million Euro.
The donations received before and after elections are listed on Sebastian Kurz’s website, but they only account for 2.1 Million Euro. The difference to the 3 Million Euro is due to the rest of the money not having been donated during the election campaign, as Nehammer explained. Many donators, however, donated before and after the elections. Klaus Ortner sends the party €438,000 via various companies of the Porr concern. That makes him the highest donator before KTM boss Stefan Pierer with €436,563. Unlike Pierer, who donated in one go, Ortner split his donations into smaller sums, which helped to avoid publishing the donation on the website.
Further large donations can be found in the donation list presented to the Court of Auditors. It includes an additional three large donations over €50,000 that so far haven’t been published. They came from Dorotheum manager Martin Böhme and Markus Braun, chairman of the company Wirecard. They were included on the website with €40,000 each, but in reality, donated €100,000 and €70,000 respectively. Both Böhme and Braun split their donations into several parts too. Further large donations came from the ILAG wealth management company, belonging to the family Turanuer, with €100,000.
In a press conference, Nehammer campaigned for reducing the amount of money necessary to disclose a large donation publicly from €51,000 to €25,000. He, however, was reluctant about reforming the practice of donation splitting. The other political parties are now calling for a reform of the donation disclosure for parties.
Source: Der Standard
3. Smoking ban to start in November
The Constitutional Court has dismissed a motion by the Viennese City Government concerning the non-smoker protection law. They concluded that this was not a question for a judge but one for the parliament. The Austrian Nationalrat is currently preparing a vote on the subject anyways. Since the end of the ÖVP-FPÖ government, a majority is now possible in the parliament to bring the law back on track. The ÖVP has already announced to vote in favor of the motion together with SPÖ, Neos and Liste Jetzt.
The decision of the Court, to put the decision into the parliament’s hands, has been received with mixed reactions. SPÖ and Neos voiced disappointment that the Constitutional Court deems certain human behavior acceptable that can have a negative impact on other people and the community, as the legislator deems the gain in freedom higher as the consequences. They are however committed to staying on track with their motion in parliament. Only smoking ban opponent FPÖ expressed their joy over the final verdict.
Source: Der Standard
4. Tyrol closes villages and country roads serving as alternative routes for vacationers
The prolonged holiday weekend and the impending vacations usually mean extensive traffic jams on Tyrolean streets and highways. To prevent the chaos from spreading to close by villages and country roads, the federal state has declared a driving ban. Highway exits were closed on Thursday in the area of Innsbruck, aiming to prevent “navigations system dodgers” from escaping the traffic by traveling through the city.
The first blockade was executed on Thursday between 7 am and 7 pm. The following weekends, Saturday 7 am to Sunday at 7 pm will follow suit. The practice will continue until September 14. Not only the drive and exits on the highways will be affected, but also the road section following immediately after. The ban applies to cars, trucks and motorcycles alike. Furthermore, the Ministry of Interior has been asked to remove the alternative routes from the traffic data provided to the navigation systems.
The German state of Bavaria has already voiced its displeasure. Bavarians are not only tourists in Tyrol itself, but they regularly use the highway to go south on vacations. The CSU Minister of Transportation Hans Reichhart called the behavior harassment and asked for the EU Commission to have a say in this.
Source: Die Presse
5. Sahara Air: Second heat wave hitting Europe
A new heat wave will be heating Austria later this month. Responsible for this is hot air hitting the continent from Northern Africa. The temperatures will rise to 32° Celsius this Friday in Tyrol and Vorarlberg, by Tuesday the Danube area will rise up to 30° Celsius as well. On Wednesday the Sahara air will have its grab on the whole country, giving way to temperature records. From Wednesday until Friday, 39° Celsius are possible, increasing the possibility of thunderstorms due to high levels of humidity.
40° Celsius, however, is unlikely, as the imported Sahara sand will push down temperatures just enough. The June record in Austria, by the way, was measured in the heat wave summer of 2013 in Waidhofen an der Ybbs, where temperatures rose to 38.6° Celsius. This will be outdone the coming week.
Following the heat, on Saturday temperatures will cool down to 25° to 26° Celsius. Thunderstorms and rain will be likely. This will also mark the end of the tropical nights. Any further developments for the weather are unclear at this point.
Source: Die Presse
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