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TODAY IN AUSTRIA

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

Lower Austrian elections, details on increased retirement age are announced, Austrians are having problems affording homes and more news from Austria on Friday.

Today in Austria: A roundup of the latest news on Friday
Many European countries are increasing retirement age as population grows older. (Photo by CDC on Unsplash)
  • Lower Austria to elect new regional parliament

Austria’s province Lower Austria is set to elect a new regional parliament this Sunday, the 29th. The most recent polls put the local ÖVP branch, the centre-right VPNÖ, in the lead with 37 percent of voting intentions. Next, the far-right FPÖ has 26 percent of the votes, a significant leap from their results in the last elections, when the blue party had 14.8 percent.

In third place, the centre-left SPÖ has 23 percent, while NEOS has 7 percent and Greens 6 percent.

  • EXPLAINED: What is the Austrian integration exam for non-EU nationals?

If you are a third-country citizen in Austria, you will likely have to show German skills and basic knowledge of the democratic system for a residence permit. Here’s what you need to know about the Integration Exam.

  • Austrian government announces details on increased retirement age for women

This week, Austria’s government unveiled detailed plans for raising women’s retirement age to match men’s. Gradually and by 2033, women’s retirement age will rise from 60 to 65.

The exact time timetable has been announced by the federal coalition and should be approved in the National Council next week, the newspaper Der Standard reported. Women born between January 1st and June 30th, 1964, will only be able to start their pension years once they reach 60.5 years old. 

For those born in the second half of 1964, the standard retirement age will be 61. This continues rising until women who were born after 30 June 1968 have a retirement age of 65, as do their male colleagues.

READ ALSO: Five things you need to know about the Austrian pension 

  • Salzburg to get free kindergartens

Children from three to six years old will be able to attend state kindergartens for free in Salzburg starting April, broadcaster ORF reported. The costs of around €13 million will be subsidised entirely by the western state.

The parties couldn’t reach an agreement to relieve the burden of childcare costs for children under the age of three, but the negotiations will continue.

  • FPÖ outraged by ‘anti-democratic’ statements by Van der Bellen

Austria’s Federal President Alexander Van der Bellen recently said that he wouldn’t automatically give FPÖ party leader Herbert Kickl the task of forming a government if the far-right party won the federal elections. 

The statements have caused an uproar within the ranks of the FPÖ, the newspaper Die Presse reported. On Thursday, FPÖ secretary-general Christian Hafenecker said the comments were an “anti-democratic and authoritarian act.” 

On Facebook, Kickl criticised the “arbitrariness of an individual” and ironically commented: “Aha. Very neutral. Very democratic. Very moral. Very tolerant.”.

READ ALSO: Can the Austrian president refuse to appoint a far-right chancellor?

  • Funding for 24-hour care to be increased

The subsidy for 24-hour care at home for people in need of care will be increased retroactively as of January 1st, broadcaster ORF reported. The federal government is expanding the subsidies by 16.67 percent, the Ministry of Social Affairs announced on Thursday.

READ ALSO: Health care reform: Austria to give €2,000 bonus to nursing staff

  • One in there people has problems affording housing

More and more people are having payment problems due to rising housing and energy costs, according to data from the Vienna Chamber of Labor (AK) and Volkshilfe Wien. Already 30 percent of 16- to 69-year-olds fear they will no longer be able to meet their housing costs, reported ORF.

AK expert Thomas Ritt said that financial aid is good and important but that the housing sector should be regulated, for example, by capping rents, which would provide immediate relief for tenants. 

The experts also said other measures are needed, such as allowing only subsidised apartments to be built on federal properties. In addition, there would have to be an effective federal vacancy tax and a restriction on short-term rentals.

READ ALSO: What are Austria’s Social Democratic Party’s plans for freezing rents until 2025?

  • 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].

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TODAY IN AUSTRIA

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

Energy price increasing despite falling costs, Austrian Airlines flight crews can't 'rule out' a strike action, Mjam app to become Foodora service and more news from Austria on Wednesday.

Today in Austria: A roundup of the latest news on Wednesday
  • Wien Energie raises tariffs despite falling wholesale prices

Clients of the City of Vienna electricity company Wien Energie have received letters warning of price increases, as the newspaper Der Standard reported. In Carinthia, customers of Stadtwerke Klagenfurt have received similar letters.

These contracts are only now adjusted for the higher prices of the last twelve months – despite prices dropping more recently. 

Customers of Stadtwerke Klagenfurt must also prepare for higher costs, as the electricity price will rise from 13.6 cents gross per kilowatt hour to 29.5 cents and gas from 5.98 cents to 11.99 cents.

In a press release, the public utility company said that a price adjustment during the heating season was deliberately avoided, but now the higher purchase costs must be passed on to the customers. The price increase is, therefore, retrospective and is still based on the peak values of a few months ago.

According to Austria’s energy authority E-Control, there are already significantly cheaper offers on the market than the new tariffs of Wien Energie and Stadtwerke Klagenfurt. Therefore, those affected are advised to look around, for example, using a tariff calculator.

However, prices are expected to fall even further in the second quarter, said E-Control expert Leo Lehr. “If you have an existing contract, you should therefore wait a little longer before switching”, he added.

READ ALSO: How to get Vienna’s €200 energy subsidy in 2023

  • What is the Austrian JÖ Karte and how can you save money with it?

If you’ve been to an Austrian supermarket, chances are the cashier asked you if you have a JÖ Karte. But what is it and how does it work?

  • Austrian Airlines flight crews can’t ‘rule out’ a strike action

On Monday, worker meetings of Austrian Airlines crews caused the cancellation of 102 flights, as The Local reported. But workers rejected the company’s latest offer in the collective bargaining negotiations, which could lead to a strike on Good Friday if a deal is not reached soon.

“The 1,200 employees participating in the works meeting unanimously rejected the offer of the Austrian Airlines (AUA) management and instructed the works council and the union to conduct further negotiations until Maundy Thursday,” Vida spokeswoman Yvonne Heuber told Kurier.

She added: “There must be an acceptable offer on the table; otherwise, there will be further action. It cannot be ruled out that these will start as early as Good Friday. A strike is never the goal, we want to reach a solution at the negotiating table, but that is now up to the AUA management”.

READ ALSO: Austrian Airlines workers threaten strike on Good Friday

  • Mjam app to become Foodora service

Foodora will replace the Mjam brand by parent company Delivery Hero, Austrian media reported. Foodora was present in Vienna until 2019 before being changed to Mjam. 

On Tuesday, the group confirmed the rebranding. The name Mjam – and its green colours – is thus history for more than 2,600 bicycle couriers. As of May, Austria will share the bright pink Foodora brand with Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic.

In order to attract and keep riders, the company promises a series of benefits, including food vouchers, “fitness benefits,” and free German courses. 

READ ALSO: The German language you need for spring in Austria

  • Austrians spend an average of €50 on Easter gifts

Three-quarters of all Austrians plan to celebrate Easter this year. Seventy-four percent of them plan to spend around €50 on their Easter gifts.

Around €260 million will be spent on Easter, as the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber (WKÖ) announced on Tuesday after a survey conducted by KMU Forschung Austria.

The majority – seven out of ten respondents – want to keep their budgets roughly the same as in previous years. Fifteen percent wish to dig deeper into their pockets this time, while 17 percent will spend less on gifts.

This year’s most popular gifts are sweets such as chocolate bunnies or eggs and chocolates: 68 percent go for these classics. They are followed by (coloured) Easter eggs and toys. Cash, flowers and potted plants are also among the most popular gifts.

Three-quarters of Austrians prefer to celebrate the holiday by having an Easter snack or meal together. Among the cherished traditions are pecking eggs (45 percent) and decorating an Easter bush (40 percent), Easter egg hunts (39 percent) and colouring Easter eggs together (34 percent).

READ ALSO: Eight unmissable events in Austria in April 2023

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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