EU to launch probe into Austrian family benefits thanks to joint action by V4 countries
Due to a joint action by the Visegrád Four member states, the European Union will launch a probe into rules adopted by Austria reducing family allowances to children of non-Austrian EU workers, the state secretary for family and youth affairs at the ministry of human resources told MTI on Sunday.
“The V4 countries have taken a successful joint action against Austria’s decision to reduce family benefits to children of EU citizens working in Austria, including Hungarian workers, from January 1,” Katalin Novák said.
After the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia as well as Lithuania, Slovenia and Bulgaria called on the European Commission to take the necessary measures, EC Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Mobility Marianne Thyssen indicated that the EC would launch a probe into the Austrian decision’s compatibility with EU law.
Austria is going to lower family benefits to EU workers employed in Austria on their children not living in the country from January 1, 2019.
According to the position of the V4 countries as well as Lithuania, Slovenia and Bulgaria, the decision severely infringes EU law, the principles of equal treatment and coordination in social security, and constitutes unjustified discrimination as the foreign workers pay the same taxes and contributions as Austrian citizens.
In her reply to Novák, Marianne Thyssen said that based on the principle of free movement, the EC is convinced that all EU citizens are entitled to the same rights, and nobody should be discriminated against in terms of child benefits either.
Novák said the indexation of Austrian family benefits concerns Hungarian families the most, affecting almost 40,000 children.
Supporting families raising children is of key important for the Hungarian government and it will do its best to ensure them full access to their rights and allowances. The government looks optimistically to the probe that the EC will soon launch and trusts that it will stand up for the rights of Hungarian families, she said.