Austria’s new plan to cut benefit payments for children living abroad discriminates against Slovaks working in Austria, according to Slovakia’s acting Foreign Minister Ivan Korcok.
Speaking at a news conference in Bratislava after a meeting Austria’s Foreign Affairs Minister Karin Kneissl, Korcok called on Austria to honour the principle of non-discrimination.
“Our citizens who work in Austria, and work there legally, pay contributions to Austrian funds, therefore we expect they would receive appropriate benefits from these funds,” Korcok said.
As reported by the Reuters news agency, Kneissl said Austria would seek a change on a European level so that children benefits reflect the standard of living, welfare, and purchasing power in each country.
“We diplomats agreed we should open the door for [social affairs] ministers to discuss the issue,” she added.
Austria’s ruling coalition of conservatives and the far right last week unveiled plans to cut the benefits, which start at around €114 a month per child.
Austria borders eight countries, including the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Slovenia, where wages are significantly lower.
According to Reuters, Eastern Europeans make up a large part of its workforce in sectors including healthcare and construction but they often live and work away from their families and children.
In 2016, Austria transferred €273m abroad to EU and European Economic Area countries in benefit payments for 132,000 children.