Austria: Asylum – Job Office boss Kopf wants a “condition for social benefits”


In the months-long debate on the reunification of Syrian children and women and the associated imbalance to them – almost all families go to Vienna – Job Office (AMS) boss Johannes Kopf proposed a “social welfare condition”. As reported by “profil” (online), the federal states could conclude an agreement. That only the federal state in which the residence was located during the asylum procedure is responsible for providing social benefits to refugees.

If they will move from Tyrol to Vienna, they would not be eleigible to receive social benefits. The refugees would not be able to submit a new application. According to Kopf, this could be regulated via a so-called 15a agreement between the federal states. If the entire family lives on minimum benefits, the losses would be even higher if they moved to Vienna. In the contrary, such a “social welfare condition” could keep people in regions where there is more work and they can get off minimum benefits more quickly.

The NEOS have already been calling for a residence obligation since 2016, which would keep recognised refugees in the federal state in which they were granted asylum for an initial period of three years. The Mayor of Vienna, Michael Ludwig (SPÖ), is also in favour of this version. The ÖVP has so far refused to enter into a debate and considers the federal capital to be solely responsible for the high number of family reunifications. The social benefits, some of which are significantly higher than in other federal states, would attract more refugees to the capital. In a press release on Saturday, Styrian Governor Christopher Drexler (ÖVP) called for a “new regulation of family reunification for persons entitled to asylum that leads to a clear limitation”. Austria and Styria are already challenged by migration “from other cultural backgrounds. If hundreds more people are added through family reunification, this cannot be managed anymore.”

Johannes Pressl, President of the Association of Municipalities, does not agree with the ÖVP party line. He insist a residency requirement based on the Swedish model. In Sweden, there is basic support for refugees for three to six months, combined with a residence obligation. He is not in favour of tearing people away from a living environment they have been used to for years. In his opinion, “Integration can generally succeed better in communities and smaller towns if close ties to the village community or even friendships are formed there.”

For Vienna FPÖ leader Dominik Nepp, Kopf’s demand is just “a drop in the ocean”. Nepp is convinced that asylum seekers have it too good in their home town. “The fact is that asylum seekers are drawn to the welfare paradise of the Ludwig SPÖ from the outset because, unlike in other federal states, milk and honey flow for them there.” He calls for the payment of social benefits to be linked to Austrian citizenship and family reunification to be stopped in general. “Family reunification yes, but only in Syria and Afghanistan,” the Vienna FPÖ President is quoted as saying in his press release.