Austria’s News in English: Week of September 24 – 30
Welcome to the latest edition of MyExpatCommunity Austrian news 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. Enjoy, and don’t forget to share your feedback with us & subscribe to get the newsletter. Yes, just sign up right over there! —>
1. Decrease in Austria’s National Debt in 2017
According to Statistik Austria, Austria has managed to end 2017 with lower national debt and a lower deficit. The number decreased from 83% of GDP (gross domestic product) in 2016 to 78,3 percent of GDP in 2017. For the first time since 1997, the numbers have also sunk in absolute terms (i.e. not referring to inflation). Instead of an expected 296 Billion Euro debt, Austria’s current debt is at 290 Billion Euro.
This will be the lowest deficit that Austria will be reporting to the European Union in the last 15 years. Reasons for this favourable development include economic growth, low interests and cutback of debts that the emergency nationalization of Hypo Alpe Adria, Kommunalkredit and ÖVAG created.
There was still a surplus in spending. The state earned 178,9 Million Euro last year and spent 181,8 Million Euro. Most of the money went into social services (41,8 percent), followed by healthcare (16,6 percent), public administration (12,4 percent), economic business (11,6 percent) and ultimately education (9,9 percent).
Furthermore, the spending on social services like the welfare as well as unemployment money has decreased. This partly due to more people finding work along with companies making higher returns.
Source: Die Presse
2. The European Union is putting Online Marketplaces and Search Engines under Observation
The EU will start observing companies like Amazon, Google or Ebay more closely starting now. A team of 15 experts has already started evaluating if the businesses are implementing specifications from Brussels that were announced back in April accordingly. These specifications include which criteria of products appear first in the search results if in-house products are listed more prominently, how private customer data is handled, and if the advertisement is marked properly.
The April decision by the EU had been aimed at creating fair working conditions for the European competition. If the companies breach those agreements over the next three years, the EU will determine further actions.
Source: Der Standard
3. “Don’t Smoke“ Petition Open for Signing
Following the failure of the Non-Smoking law that was to be established in Austria this May, a further petition for a smoke-free Austria can be signed by Austrian citizens age 16 upwards from the 1st to the 8th of October in every local authority.
The first online petition (from December 2017) through the initiative “Don’t Smoke” gained more than 30.000 signatures. The formal petition for a referendum was registered back in February in a cooperation of the Austrian Medical Association and the Austrian Cancer Aid. The principal 591,146 support signatures for the petition that were collected earlier this year will be included into the pool of signatures obtained over the following week.
The smoking law in Austria has also been keeping the courts busy. The Viennese provincial government filed a complaint of unconstitutionality back in June. Former prominent ÖVP politicians like Erwin Pröll or Reinhold Mitterlehner have spoken out against their party’s course of continuing indoor smoking and have personally signed the original initiative.
4. Discount on Vaccination against Pneumococcus
Starting October, the price for a vaccination against Pneumococcus will be reduced by a third of the current costs. Pneumococcus is the cause for pneumonia, inflammation of the middle ear or ulcerous meningitis. Kids under the age of five and adults at age 50 upwards are encouraged to get the vaccine. People will chronic conditions like asthma or diabetes have a higher chance of contracting an infection too. It is also a disease that is more common amongst males than their female counterparts.
While the vaccination is a standard for small kids, adults often wait too long between shots. So the directive is to first use a vaccine that is effective for 13 variations of Pneumococcus. Then it is recommended to refresh a year later with a 23-valent older vaccine. The discount will run from the 1st of October until the 31st of May 2019. The vaccine Prävenar 13 will be available at the pharmacy for 76 Euro instead of 108 Euro, and the vaccine Pneumovax23 for 33,20 Euro instead of 42 Euro.
Source: Der Standard
5. Lime is coming to Vienna
The Viennese city bikes are getting competition. Starting this week, the company Lime is bringing 300 electric scooters to Vienna. Depending on the demand by the Viennese population, the number of scooters might be increased in the future.
To unlock the scooters customers will have to install the Lime app on their smartphone and scan the QR-Code on their scooter. One ride costs 1 Euro for unlocking and then continuously 0,15 Euro per minute. The scooters can be used between 7 am and 9 pm. At that time, they will be returned to the charging station. To oblige to the city’s traffic regulation, the scooters won’t be going faster than 24 km/h.
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