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

Inquiry commission on Wien Energie begins, verdict on Leonie-case expected for today, province leaders meeting and more news from Austria on Friday.

Today in Austria: A roundup of the latest news on Friday
A woman builds a snowman in Vienna - parts of Austria could see snowfall today. (Photo by HELMUT FOHRINGER / APA / AFP) / Austria OUT
  • Austria starts inquiry committee over Wien Energie

Starting on Friday at 10 am at the Vienna City Hall, the City Council’s investigative commission on the Wien Energie case will meet every two weeks.

On the initiative of the centre-right Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) and the far-right Freedom Party (FPÖ), it will investigate the events surrounding the dramatic financial needs of Wien Energie that became known in the summer. The commission can summon people to testify and request documents. 

They will focus on two issues. 

The first concerns the extent to which Mayor Michael Ludwig and City Finance Councillor Peter Hanke have exercised their ownership rights regarding Wien Energie, which is wholly owned by the city via Wiener Stadtwerke. Specifically, the commission wants to know whether the two SPÖ politicians reacted in time and appropriately to the price increases in the electricity markets in the summer. 

The second matter revolves around Ludwig’s emergency powers as head of the city, with which he granted Wien Energie loans totalling €1.4 billion. It is to be clarified whether this procedure was legally compliant and whether Ludwig should have informed committees such as the City Senate earlier.

READ ALSO: Why did Wien Energie ask for €6 billion from the Austrian government?

  • Austrian citizenship: Can you be rejected because of a driving offence?

Naturalisation processes may be on the rise in Austria, but citizenship is still hard to get, and any mistake could mean you miss out on the opportunity. Here’s what you need to know.

  • Verdict on the case of the death of 13-year old that shocked Austria expected on Friday

The court case about the killed 13-year-old, Leonie W., is coming to an end, with a verdict expected on Friday. 

Zubaidullah R. (24), Ibraulhaq A. (19) and Ali H. (20) allegedly mixed ecstasy tablets into a drink for Leonie W. and then raped her in June 2021, according to prosecutors. The girl did not survive. She died of a fatal triple overdose and by suffocation inside the apartment of one of the defendants in Vienna-Donaustadt.

The men all admitted to having had sexual intercourse with a minor. However, they claim it had been consensual.

The verdicts are expected on Friday. In case of a guilty verdict, Zubaidullah R. could face ten, 20 years or life as he was older than 21 at the time of the alleged crime. Ibraulhaq A. and Ali H. each face up to 20 years.

READ ALSO: Fall-Leonie: charges filed in case of death of a 13-year-old girl in Vienna

  • Province leaders to meet in Vienna

Vienna’s mayor – and provincial governor – Michael Ludwig (SPÖ), is hosting a conference with the provincial governors on Friday. 

At the meeting in Vienna’s City Hall, the heads of the provinces will discuss, among other things, fiscal matters, broadcaster ORF reported. They had already announced in advance that they wanted a bigger slice of the revenue shares in future. But the energy crisis is also a “central focus”.

“Rising energy prices and their consequences for the economy and society are among the greatest current challenges”, the provincial governors said in a joint statement on Thursday. 

The conference will, therefore, also discuss a motion calling on the federal government to present “as soon as possible” an energy protection umbrella for business and labour as well as all households to cushion the high energy costs for Austria’s companies.

READ ALSO: Vienna Energy Bonus: How to get a €200 payout

  • Weather

Screenshot from ZAMG

Dense clouds will cover the sky; in the south, there may be some sleet and snow at low altitudes, Austria’s meteorologic institute ZAMG said. 

The snow line will be between 500 and 900m above sea level in the west. In the afternoon, the snowfall will decrease in the south. In the northern half, it may continue to snow a little.

Towards evening the snowfall will stop almost everywhere. The wind will be mostly light in the east, partly moderate from northeast to southeast. Daytime highs are between 0C and 5C.

If you have any questions about life in Austria, ideas for articles or news tips for The Local, please get in touch with us at [email protected].

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For members


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

Austrian government considering rental cap, Tyrol lags in childcare, avalanche risks and more news from Austria on Tuesday.

Today in Austria: A roundup of the latest news on Tuesday
  • Austrian government considering rental cap

The centre-left SPÖ and the far-right FPÖ have been calling for a stop to rent increases for some time. Now, the governing parties ÖVP and Grüne are also said to be interested in a change in the law with a possible rent cap, broadcaster Austrian media reported.

“We are currently in parliamentary coordination,” said Nina Tomaselli, member of the National Council and spokeswoman for the Greens on housing and construction, in an interview with APA. The Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) is also sending out signals that a solution to rent increases could be agreed upon, the report added.

One of the possibilities discussed is a cap on the inflation compensation, so rental costs wouldn’t increase by so much even when inflation rises above a certain level.

READ ALSO: Cost of living: Why are rents in Austria rising so steeply?

  • Avalanches in Austria: What you should know to stay safe in the mountains

Austria is an excellent destination for skiing, snowboarding and other winter sports, but the risk of deadly avalanches is real. Here’s what you need to know to stay safe in the Alps.

  • Tyrol lags behind in childcare

With an average of 38 closed days per year, Tyrol has the highest number of “days off” in kindergartens, and many are only open part-time, as the daycare centre statistics for 2021/2022 show, according to an ORF report. 

The state government recognised that the situation for working parents was too complicated, and during the elections, politicians made promises to give Tyroleans a “legal entitlement to childcare”.

However, months after the elections and no new measures were taken, the report said. According to deputy governor Georg Dornauer (SPÖ), crises ranging from inflation to the accommodation of refugees have meant that the topic had to be put on hold. 

But now it is time to start because “implementation will not happen overnight”, said Dornauer.  The province wants to complete a full evaluation this year and negotiate financing with the federal government. 

READ ALSO: Which Austrian states offer free public kindergartens?

  • Avalanches are still a risk in Austrian Alps

According to the Tyrolean Avalanche Warning Service, the avalanche danger in Austria is expected to remain considerable for most of the week, specifically at warning level 3. 

Patrick Nairz of the Tyrolean Avalanche Warning Service appealed once again, as he did on Sunday, to winter sports enthusiasts to simply “practice restraint” in the short term and refrain from ski tours and descents, especially in steep terrain.

Since Friday, eight people have died under avalanches in Tyrol and Vorarlberg. In St. Anton/Arlberg and Kaunerberg (Landeck district), three athletes died on Saturday, as did a 55-year-old in Kleinwalsertal and a 17-year-old in Zillertal. 

In East Tyrol, a snowplough driver was caught in an avalanche and died. In Ötztal, a person died under a snow slab on Sunday. On Friday, a Chinese tourist died in an accident in the Tyrolean Ötztal.

READ ALSO: Eight dead in weekend avalanches in Austria

  • Weather

Screenshot from ZAMG

If you have any questions about life in Austria, ideas for articles or news tips for The Local, please get in touch with us at [email protected].