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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 Monday

Austrians are in 11th place in "happiness" ranking, February inflation stood at 10.9 percent, Lufthansa reduces Munich flights from Graz and more news from Austria on Monday.

Today in Austria: A roundup of the latest news on Monday
  • Austrians are in 11th place in “happiness” ranking

Global happiness levels have remained constant despite crises. Finland remains the country with the happiest population, according to the World Happiness Report published today.

The EU country took the top spot in the ranking for the sixth time. As in the previous year, Austria came eleventh.

Finland, the northernmost EU country, is followed at some distance in the annual ranking by Denmark, Iceland, Israel, and the Netherlands before Sweden, Norway, Switzerland, Luxembourg, and New Zealand complete the top ten.

While Austria remained stable in eleventh place, Israel made a year-on-year jump from ninth to fourth. The most unfortunate among the 137 states surveyed are Afghanistan and Lebanon.

The researchers involved, who publish the report based on surveys conducted by the Gallup Institute, calculate the ranking in each case based on data from the past three years.

They identified six critical factors for happiness: social support, income, health, freedom, generosity and the absence of corruption.

READ ALSO: ‘Bad-tempered locals’: Vienna ranked the world’s ‘unfriendliest city’

  • COMPARED: Germany’s Chancenkarte vs Austria’s Red-White-Red card for skilled non-EU workers

In their race to recruit expert workers, Germany and Austria have recently announced overhauls to the visas skilled non-EU citizens can get. Germany’s Chancenkarte or ‘opportunity card’ and Austria’s ‘Red-White-Red’ card aim to make it easier for skilled non-EU workers to take up jobs in the two countries. But how do they compare?

  • Number of winegrowers increasing in Upper Austria

Climate change also offers some opportunities, broadcaster ORF reported. For example, good wine now grows in Upper Austria because of the changed climate, and more and more farmers are getting a taste for it and are cultivating different grape varieties. According to winegrowers, the potential is enormous.

Grüner Veltliner, Chardonnay, Riesling, Zweigelt and Blauer Burgunder – these grape varieties also grow in Upper Austria. The vines of the winegrowers thrive mainly along the Danube, in the central region and the Innviertel. On the other hand, the Salzkammergut and the upper Mühlviertel are peripheral areas in viticulture, says Upper Austria’s winegrowing president Leonhard Gmeiner.

According to him, there are currently around 50 wineries in Upper Austria., but more are being added. Gmeiner speaks of annual growth of 20 to 30 percent. He said that the climate along the Upper Austrian Danube is similar to that in the Wachau in Lower Austria.

READ ALSO: How to drink wine like an Austrian

  • February inflation stood at 10.9 percent 

In February 2023, Austria’s inflation rate stood at 10.9 percent, a slight decrease from January, when it was 11.2 percent, according to recent Statistik Austria data.

It’s still higher than the average in the EU (9.9 percent) and much higher than the euro inflation, which was 8.5 percent in February, according to Eurostat.

“The slight decline in inflation from 11.2 percent in January to 10.9 percent in February 2023 is mainly attributable to less pronounced price pressure on household energy and fuels,” said Statistics Austria Director General Tobias Thomas.

READ ALSO: High inflation: What’s keeping prices high in Austria?

  • Lufthansa reduces Munich flights from Graz

Due to preventive cost-cutting measures, Lufthansa will operate the Graz-Munich connection only once a day from summer instead of three times a day. As a result, the business location in Graz will lose important links to Bavaria.

Over the summer, Lufthansa has proactively withdrawn more than 34,000 flights in Munich and Frankfurt. Graz is also affected. 

“There are several reasons. One is that at major airports, there are sometimes staff shortages – both at the airlines such as Lufthansa and at the airports themselves, at the handling and security companies,” said Graz Airport Managing Director Wolfgang Grimus. In addition, a new air traffic control system in Munich means fewer takeoffs and landings are possible in the summer.

READ ALSO: UPDATED: What Austrian travellers need to know about the German airport strikes Friday

  • City of Vienna seeks 21,000 new employees

Austria’s capital Vienna is looking to fill 21,000 positions by 2030, as many workers from older generations retire, and the government will start a major advertising campaign to attract new talent, mayor Michael Ludwig and personnel city councillor Jürgen Czernohorszky (both SPÖ) said on Friday.

According to Ludwig, there are “various” possible fields of work. For example, employees are sought in the government’s social, technical and digital areas.

Currently, the City of Vienna employs around 67,000 people – not all of them need to be Austrian citizens. However, due to the high demand, the capital will organise its own “job fair” for the first time.

READ ALSO: Jobs in Austria: City of Vienna seeks 21,000 new employees

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].