Hungary’s government will “fight to the end” for the rights of Hungarians working in Austria, as it is convinced that Austria’s decision to cut family benefits for foreigners working in the country violates EU laws, a government official said on Friday.
Speaking to MTI, Katalin Novák, the state secretary for youth and family affairs, noted that the European Commission has launched an infringement procedure against Austria over the issue of benefits for family members of workers posted abroad.
On January 1, Austria cut family benefits paid for foreigners working in the country to the price levels of the country of residence of the child.
Novák said the decision would hurt Hungarian citizens the most, because it is mostly they who have children in Hungary. As an example, she said that if a Hungarian citizen lives along the border with Austria and travels there for work on a daily basis and pays taxes and contributions there, with their family staying at home in Hungary, they will now only be eligible for 60 percent of the benefits they received in the past.
This affects some 40,000 Hungarian children, Novák pointed out.
She said the Hungarian government has taken the firmest possible stance against this measure at the European Union level and has also addressed it among its Visegrád Group partners. The state secretary noted that in November, the V4 together with Bulgaria, Slovenia and Lithuania asked Marianne Thyssen, the EU commissioner for employment and social affairs, to address the issue.
Novák said the commissioner signalled in December that the EC would look into Austria’s measure. Earlier this month, Hungarian Justice Minister László Trocsányi called for an infringement procedure against Austria, which the commission has already launched, she noted.