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EUROPEAN UNION

Today in Austria: A roundup of the latest news on Thursday

Find out what's going on in Austria on Thursday with The Local's short roundup of today's important news.

.     Schönbrunn Palace a on a sunny day in Vienna (Photo by ALEXANDER KLEIN / AFP)
Schönbrunn Palace a on a sunny day in Vienna (Photo by ALEXANDER KLEIN / AFP)

BioNtech/Pfizer deliveries will be delayed in June

Biontech/Pfizer will deliver 2.5 million doses of its coronavirus vaccine to Austria in June, but that there are some fluctuations to the weekly delivery schedule, with lower numbers expected to arrive initially. This will be potentially mitigated by higher deliveries towards the end of the month, broadcaster ORF reports.

Austrians see the EU in a negative light

An Eurobarometer survey has found Austrians see the European Union in a negative light. Only 34 percent rate the EU positively, and only eight percent have a very positive image of the European community. In contrast, five percent of those surveyed in Austria have a very negative and 22 percent have a negative image of the European Union. 39 percent see the EU as neutral. In the opinion of the respondents, the EU should focus on access to vaccines, both in Austria and across the EU.

Mandatory vaccination for Vienna Health Association employees

The Vienna Health Association now only hires people who are willing to be vaccinated against Covid-19. Not only health workers are affected, but also administrative and cleaning staff – and everyone doing an internship, ORF reports. 

New traffic light colours for Austria

Salzburg has joined Burgenland and Carinthia in the yellow/green coronavirus traffic light zone, which denotes low risk. Tyrol and Vorarlberg are the only states now classified as high risk (red/orange).  Medium risk (yellow) prevails in the rest of the country. Last week the criteria for the colour scheme were changed, so there are now five colours on the traffic light. The category for very low risk is new, which extends to up to five new infections per 100,000 inhabitants . This category will be shown by the colour green.

READ MORE: Explained how does Austria’s coronavirus traffic light system work?

Seven day incidence at 36

The seven-day incidence, or the number of new infections with the coronavirus in the past seven days per 100,000 inhabitants, is 36. With the exception of Vorarlberg (88.4) and Tyrol (52.8), all federal states are below 50 – with Salzburg (21) and Burgenland (17.7) having the lowest values.

Boat trips resume on the Danube

Tours on boats along the Danube in Vienna have started again. Every Sunday the MS Kaiserin Elisabeth goes to the Wachau in Dürnstein. The “3G rules” are a prerequisite for being able to take a ride. All passengers must either have a negative Covid-19 test, have been vaccinated for at least three weeks – or be able to prove that they have already had a Covid-19 infection to board. There is also a FFP2 mask requirement inside when not consuming food. Trips to Bratislava will not be possible until August, broadcaster ORF reports

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EUROPEAN UNION

EU court rejects Austria case against Hungary nuclear plant

The EU's second highest court on Wednesday rejected a complaint by Austria against a European Commission decision to approve the expansion of a nuclear plant in neighbouring Hungary with Russian aid.

EU court rejects Austria case against Hungary nuclear plant

Staunchly anti-nuclear Austria lodged the legal complaint in 2018 after the European Union’s executive arm allowed the expansion of the Paks nuclear plant outside the Hungarian capital Budapest with a 10-billion-euro ($12.4 billion) Russian loan.

The plant is Hungary’s only nuclear facility and supplies around 40 percent of its electricity needs.

In its decision the commission judged that the project met EU rules on state aid, but Austria disputed this.

The General Court of the EU ruled Wednesday that “member states are free to determine the composition of their own energy mix and that the Commission cannot require that state financing be allocated to alternative energy sources.”

READ ALSO: Why is Austria so anti nuclear power? 

Hungary aims to have two new reactors enter service by 2030, more than doubling the plant’s current capacity with the 12.5-billion-euro construction. The Paks plant was built with Soviet-era technology in the 1980s during Hungary’s communist period. 

The construction of two new reactors is part of a 2014 deal struck between Hungary’s right-wing Prime Minister Victor Orban and Russian President Vladimir Putin. The work is carried out by Moscow’s state-owned nuclear agency Rosatom.

The details of the deal have been classified for 30 years for “national security reasons” with critics alleging this could conceal corruption.

READ ALSO: Reader question: What are the chances of blackouts in Austria this winter?

Since the late 1970s, Austria has been fiercely anti-nuclear, starting with an unprecedented vote by its population that prevented the country’s only plant from providing a watt of power.

Last month, the Alpine EU member filed a complaint with the European Court of Justice over the bloc’s decision to label nuclear power as green.

In 2020, the top EU court threw out an appeal by Austria to find British government subsidies for the nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point in breach of the bloc’s state aid rules.

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