EU Moves Against Austria for Changing Benefit Payments for Children Living Abroad

European Union Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility Marianne Thyssen speaks during a press conference at the European Commission Headquarters in Brussels on March 7, 2018. The EU will set out plans to strike back against US President's threatened steel and aluminium tariffs, with flagship US products …

The European Union (EU) has launched infringement proceedings that could lead to sanctions against Austria over a controversial new reform to benefit payments for children living abroad.

The European Commission began infringement procedures this week following Austria’s new policy, which will see benefits for children abroad adjusted to the cost of living in the country they reside in, Le Figaro reports.

EU Social Affairs Commissioner Marianne Thyssen announced the infringement procedure at a press conference slamming Austria’s conservative-populist government, saying there were no “second-class children” in the European Union.

“When mobile workers contribute to a social security system in the same way as local workers, they must receive identical benefits, even when their children live abroad,” she insisted.

The new law, which came into effect this year, will affect around 150,000 children of foreign EU workers, with the largest number coming from Romania, and would likely save Austrian taxpayers more than 100 million euros per year.

The infringement process, which can lead to heavy sanctions, is just the latest move against a populist government by the European Commission.

For example, earlier this week the political bloc sent a formal letter to the Italian government announcing it would be bringing the infringement procedure over claims the Italians have not been properly following the Eurodac regulation, a fingerprint database for asylum seekers.

This letter was not the first threat of infringement proceedings against Italy, with the European Commission threatening sanctions over the Italian budget last year.

The moves are just the latest from the commission who have made it clear in the past that they will fight against populists across the continent, with European Council president Donald Tusk labelling populists as “brownshirts” and a “fundamental threat” to the European Union.

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)



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