IWB for Refugees: Austria

Summary of the national legislation on refugees

In hindsight, Austria has been the country of destination for several groups of refugees in past decades. The country has received 180.000 Hungarians during the Hungarian uprising of 1956, and during the Prague spring in 1968, Austria opened its borders to 162.000 people from the former Czechoslovakia. Later, thousands fleeing the former Yugoslavia found refuge in Austria during the Balkan wars in the 1990s. While many of these people either returned to their countries of origin when the situation had stabilised or moved on to new destinations, a few thousand found a new home in Austria. (1) In the wake of the ongoing crisis in Syria and other conflicts in countries such as Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia, the number of people applying for asylum in Austria has recently increased: Compared to 28.064 asylum applications in 2014, 88.340 applications were filed in 2015. (2) Austria is a signatory of both the 1951 Refugee Convention as well as its 1967 Protocol. Per Austria’s Federal Act Concerning the Granting of Asylum (AsylG 2005, Article 3), asylum is granted if a person can prove well-grounded fear of persecution on the basis of “race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion” within the meaning of Article 1(A)(2) of the Geneva Convention on Refugees. (3) Alternatively, if no direct threat to an individual can be determined, but the country of origin is not safe, e.g. due to civil war, the person is entitled to subsidiary protection per the nonrefoulement principle (1951 Refugee Convention, Article 33). The high number of asylum applications in 2015 prompted a political discussion on the necessity of stricter asylum law. Consequently, temporary controls were reintroduced at the borders to the Republic of Slovenia and Hungary during the period from 16 September 2015 to 10 May 2017 “to ensure public peace, order and security”. (4) On 27 April 2016, the Austrian National Council passed an amendment to the 2005 Asylum Act. (5) The changes are as follows: (6) Temporary Asylum (Asyl auf Zeit) Article 2 (15) replaces “permanent right of entry and residence” by “initially temporary and eventually permanent right of entry and residence”. A newly added Article 3 (4) clarifies: “The right of residence is valid for three years and is extended by an indefinite period of validity, if the conditions for initiating a procedure to withdraw the status of the person entitled to asylum are not present or the disallowance procedure is discontinued. The right of residence continues to apply until the legal status of the asylum seeker is revoked. With legal effect of the withdrawal of the asylum status, the right of residence shall cease to exist.” Article 3 (4a) establishes that the Federal Office must, at least once in the calendar year, prepare an analysis of the extent to which a substantial, permanent change in the specific, especially political, conditions that are relevant to the fear of persecution has occurred in countries of origin, which are of importance regarding the number of attestations of the asylum status in the past five calendar years. Article 3 (4b) states that in a family procedure, the period of validity of the temporary residence permit is determined by the duration of the residence of the family member. Article 7 (2a) establishes that irrespective of the period of validity of the right of residence referred to in Article 3 (4), a procedure for the revocation of the status of asylum seeker is to be initiated in any case if the analysis in accordance with Article 3 (4a) reveals that there has been a substantial, lasting change of the specific and especially political circumstances relevant to the fear of persecution in the home country of the asylum seeker. The Federal Office shall inform the asylum-seeker about the initiation of the status withdrawal procedure. Restrictions on Family Reunification Article 35 (1) toughens the conditions for family reunification of a person entitled to asylum in cases where the application for family reunification is issued later than three months after the asylum status was granted. Article 35 (2) establishes that family members of a person with subsidiary protection can apply for international protection in Austria at the earliest three years after the status of subsidiary protection was granted to their relative, if all conditions for subsidiary protection are met. Exceptions apply to unaccompanied minors (Article 35, 2a). The above changes to Austria’s Federal Act Concerning the Granting of Asylum do not apply to persons who were granted asylum before the 2016 amendment came into effect, and to persons who issued their application before 15 November 2015 (Article 75, 24). State of Emergency Decree (Notverordnung) In the context of tightening the asylum law, the implementation of a state of emergency decree has been much discussed among Austrian officials. On 7 September 2016, a draft of the decree was published. (7) If triggered, the decree would allow the government to turn refugees away directly at the border, returning them to the EU member state where they first arrived. The case of emergency occurs, when “public order and the protection of internal security” are no longer guaranteed due to high numbers of asylum seekers, determined at 37.500 asylum applications for 2016 and 35.000 for 2017. Initially limited to six months, the scheme can be extended three times by half a year. (8) This measure was heavily criticised by human rights- and aid organisations (9), such as the Red Cross (10), UNHCR, the Austrian Agenda Asyl (a merger of several relief organizations), and Amnesty International. (11) In 2016, the number of applications for asylum in Austria decreased considerably: 42.285 applications were received (as compared to 88.340 in 2015), whereof 36.030 were admitted to the proceedings (27.254 applications issued in 2016 + 8.776 from 2015). (12) Similarly, while 4.302 applications were submitted in the first two months of 2017, 3.774 were admitted to the proceedings (2.627 from 2017 and 1.147 from 2016). (13) For more information on the Austrian legal framework relevant to asylum procedures, refer to the Asylum Information Database: http://www.asylumineurope.org/reports/country/austria Outlook In March 2017, the draft Aliens Reform Act 2017 (FrÄG 2017) has been presented to the Austrian Parliament. It aims at further restricting refugee protection and foresees amendments to the following Austrian laws: Settlement and Residence Act, Asylum Act, Aliens Police Act, BFA Procedures Act (Federal Act on the general rules for procedures at the Federal Office for Foreign Affairs and Asylum), GVG-B (Federal Act to regulate the basic care of asylum seekers in the admission procedure), Border Controls Act. (14) (15) On 26 July 2017, the European Court of Justice ruled that Austria (and Slovenia) were entitled to deport asylum-seekers the EU member state where they first arrived. (16) References (1) UNHCR (n.d.). Flüchtlingsland Österreich. Retrieved March 28, 2017, from http://www.unhcr.at/unhcr/in-oesterreich/fluechtlingsland-oesterreich.html (2) Bundesministerium für Inneres. (n.d) Asylwesen: Statistik 2016. Retrieved April 3, 2017, from http://www.bmi.gv.at/cms/BMI_Asylwesen/statistik/files/Asyl_Jahresstatistik_2016.pdf (3) Bundeskanzleramt: Rechtsinformationssystem. (2017). Bundesrecht konsolidiert: Gesamte Rechtsvorschrift für Asylgesetz 2005. Retrieved March 29, 2017 from https://www.ris.bka.gv.at/GeltendeFassung.wxe?Abfrage=Bundesnormen&Gesetzesnummer=20004240 (4) Bundeskanzleramt: Rechtsinformationssystem. (2017). Bundesrecht konsolidiert: Gesamte Rechtsvorschrift für Vorübergehende Wiedereinführung von Grenzkontrollen an den Binnengrenzen. Retrieved April 6, 2017, from https://www.ris.bka.gv.at/GeltendeFassung.wxe?Abfrage=Bundesnormen&Gesetzesnummer=20009276 (5) Parlament der Republik Österreich. (n.d) Asylgesetz 2005, Fremdenpolizeigesetz 2005, BFA-Verfahrensgesetz, Änderung. Retrieved April 2, 2017, from https://www.parlament.gv.at/PAKT/VHG/XXV/I/I_00996/index.shtml (6) Parlament der Republik Österreich. (n.d.) Änderung des AsylG2005: Gegenüberstellung. Retrieved April 2, 2017, from https://www.parlament.gv.at/PAKT/VHG/XXV/I/I_00996/imfname_498909.pdf (7) Bundeskanzleramt: Rechtsinformationssystem. (n.d) Verordnung der Bundesregierung zur Feststellung der Gefährdung der Aufrechterhaltung der öffentlichen Ordnung und des Schutzes der inneren Sicherheit. Retrieved April 4, 2017, from https://www.ris.bka.gv.at/Dokument.wxe?Abfrage=Begut&Dokumentnummer=BEGUT_COO_2026_100_2_1276438 (8) Bundeskanzleramt: Rechtsinformationssystem. (n.d) Verordnung der Bundesregierung zur Feststellung der Gefährdung der Aufrechterhaltung der öffentlichen Ordnung und des Schutzes der inneren Sicherheit: Erläuterungen. Retrieved April 4, 2017, from https://www.ris.bka.gv.at/Dokumente/Begut/BEGUT_COO_2026_100_2_1276438/COO_2026_100_2_1276450.pdf (9) Kurier. (2016). Regierung blitzt mit Flüchtlings-Notverordnung ab. Retrieved April 6, 2017, from https://kurier.at/politik/inland/fluechtlinge-scharfe-kritik-an-notverordnung-in-der-begutachtung-regierung-versuche-oesterreich-schlecht-zu-reden/224.459.651 (10) Österreichisches Rotes Kreuz. (2016). Rotes Kreuz: Kein Anlass für eine Asyl-Notverordnung. Retrieved August 5, 2017, from http://www.roteskreuz.at/news/datum/2016/10/05/rotes-kreuz-kein-anlass-fuer-eine-asyl-notverordnung/ (11) Amnesty International Österreich. (2016). Stellungnahme zum gesamtändernden Abänderungsantrag betreffend ein Bundesgesetz, mit dem das Asylgesetz 2005, das Fremdenpolizeigesetz 2005 und das BFA-Verfahrensgesetz geändert warden. Retrieved August 5, 2017, from (11)https://www.amnesty.at/de/view/files/download/showDownload/?tool=12&feld=download&sprach_connect=417 (12) Bundesministerium für Inneres. (n.d) Asylwesen: Statistik 2016. Retrieved April 3, 2017, from http://www.bmi.gv.at/cms/BMI_Asylwesen/statistik/files/Asyl_Jahresstatistik_2016.pdf (13) Bundesministerium für Inneres. (n.d) Asylwesen: Statistik 2017. Retrieved April 3, 2017, from http://www.bmi.gv.at/cms/BMI_Asylwesen/statistik/files/2017/Asylstatistik_Februar_2017.pdf (14) European Council on Refugees and Exiles. (2017). Austria: Proposals to restrict humanitarian visas and family reunification. Retrieved June 11, 2017, from https://www.ecre.org/austria-proposals-to-restrict-humanitarian-visas-and-family-reunification/ (15) Parlament der Republik Österreich. (n.d). Fremdenrechtsänderungsgesetz 2017 – FrÄG 2017. Retrieved on June 11, 2017 from https://parlament.gv.at/PAKT/VHG/XXV/ME/ME_00279/index.shtml (16) Judgement of 26 July 2017, C‑646/16, EU:C:2017:586, paragraph 104. Retrieved August 5, 2017, from http://curia.europa.eu/juris/document/document.jsf?text=&docid=193206&pageIndex=0&doclang=EN&mode=lst&dir=&occ=first&part=1&cid=78192

Refugee life in Austria

For the duration of the asylum procedure in Austria, an asylum seeker who lives independently receives the basic care (Grundversorgung) of EUR 320 per month to cover expenses such as rent, heating, electricity, food, etc. Asylum seekers are neither entitled to minimum allowance, nor family- or child-care allowance. In comparison, the amount from the minimum allowance for an Austrian is a maximum of EUR 840. In most cases, asylum seekers are accommodated in simple multi-bed rooms and share bathroom, toilet and common areas. In case the accommodation provides food, asylum seekers are paid EUR 40 per month. Only when a person is recognised as a refugee, s/he is entitled to social benefits such as the minimum allowance. (1) Integration of Refugees On 26 January 2016, the Council of Ministers approved a 50-point plan for the integration of persons entitled to asylum and subsidiary protection in Austria. (2) This document is viewed as the framework of the Federal Republic of Austria in this area. It includes measures in all areas of life, which should be implemented by the federal government, the Länder, municipalities, social partners and civil society. A central item of the 50-point plan is the implementation of the value and orientation courses “My life in Austria”. The courses aim to impart values, such as freedom of expression, equality and tolerance towards all citizens, as well as important everyday knowledge. The value and orientation courses are taught throughout Austria by trainers of the Austrian Integration Fund (ÖIF). For those with little knowledge of German, interpreters are available for Arabic and Farsi/Dari. The courses have seminar character and take place in small groups of about 15 people. Asylum seekers can gain experience in the Austrian labour market through voluntary work. The voluntary positions must not include any auxiliary activity and must have the purpose of training. Working in gastronomy, construction or agriculture is not suitable for unpaid voluntary work. (3) Values and Expectations of Refugees In February 2017, the Austrian Academy of Sciences (ÖAW) published a study on the values and expectations of refugees in Austria, conducted on behalf of the Federal Ministry for Europe, Integration and External Affairs (BMEIA). (4) 898 refugees from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq were interviewed. About 80 per cent of respondents were male. The results show that the interviewees accept the civil liberties of a constitutional state as an abstract principle, but have not yet internalized, or reject them for themselves. The Austrian Integration Fund (ÖIF) finds that the results present “clear contradictions between general and concrete questions about the personal way of life”. (5) 61 per cent of the interviewees state to be religious. While 83 per cent rate the coexistence with members of other religions as positive, 45 per cent consider the religious communities as not equal. Only 40 per cent would accept their children marrying a person of another religious community. While 90 per cent of the participants believe that democracy is the ideal form of government, 40 per cent find that religious commandments are to be placed above state regulations. And while more than 80 per cent of the surveyed affirm the equality between women and men, there are just as many who are in favour of adhering to religious clothing regulations. Although 90 per cent of the interviewees accept the Austrian lifestyle, 40 per cent consider Austrian living habits too liberal for themselves. References (1) UNHCR. (n.d) Asylsuchende bekommen maximal 320€ pro Monat. Retrieved April 2, 2017, from http://www.unhcr.at/unhcr/in-oesterreich/fluechtlingsland-oesterreich/soziale-leistungen.html (2) Bundesministerium für Europa, Integration und Äußeres. (n.d) Integration von Asylberechtigten und subsidiär Schutzberechtigten. Retrieved April 2, 2017, from https://www.bmeia.gv.at/integration/integration-von-asylberechtigten-und-subsidiaer-schutzberechtigten/ (3) Wirtschaftskammer Österreichs. (2016). Arbeitsmarktintegration von Flüchtlingen. Retrieved April 4, 2017, from https://www.wko.at/Content.Node/kampagnen/fachkraeftepotenzial/faq-fachkraefte.pdf (4) Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften. (2017). Wertehaltungen und Erwartungen von Flüchtlingen in Österreich: Endbericht. Retrieved April 5, 2017, from http://www.oeaw.ac.at/fileadmin/NEWS/2017/PDF/Studie_Wertehaltungen_und_Erwartungen.pdf (5) Österreichischer Integrationsfonds. (2017). Wertehaltungen von Flüchtlingen in Österreich. Retrieved April 22, 2017 from http://www.integrationsfonds.at/monitor/detail/article/wertehaltungen-von-fluechtlingen-in-oesterreich/

The legal process

The asylum procedure begins with an asylum application issued with either the police or directly in a so-called first-time recording centre (EASt). Currently there are three such centres: Traiskirchen, Thalham and Schwechat airport. After submitting the application, the asylum seekers are accommodated in one of the three centres for the duration of the asylum procedure, where they are registered and interviewed. The EASt’s are the responsibility of the federal government. In the approval procedure, the competent authority – the Federal Office for Foreign Affairs and Asylum (BFA) – determines whether Austria or another EU member state is responsible for the procedure. If the asylum seeker came to Austria from another EU country, the latter is responsible for the implementation of the asylum procedure under the Dublin Regulation. Any asylum seeker can lodge a complaint against this decision with the Federal Administrative Court. The Court either confirms the negative decision of the BFA or determines that Austria is responsible. If no complaint is lodged, or if either the Federal Administrative Court or the Administrative Court have confirmed the negative decision, the asylum seeker is transferred to the responsible EU country and may prior to it be taken into custody pending deportation (Schubhaft). In the case of approval, Austria is responsible for the asylum procedure and the asylum seeker is assigned to an accommodation in one of Austria’s nine Länder. As of this point, the federal states are responsible for basic care. The next step is the content procedure. The Federal Office for Foreign Affairs and Asylum investigates whether the asylum seeker is being persecuted or has reason to fear persecution in the home country. If there are no causes of flight in the sense of the Geneva Refugee Convention, and if there are no serious human rights violations in the home country, the asylum application is rejected. At this point, too, the asylum seeker can issue a complaint to the Federal Administrative Court, and to the Administrative Court to appeal the decision of the former. In cases where no complaint is lodged with the Federal Administrative Court nor the Administrative Court, or if the negative decision is confirmed, the asylum seeker must leave Austria. Those who do not so voluntarily, can be deported to the home country. If the asylum procedure determines that the asylum seeker does need protection from persecution, s/he is granted asylum and thus becomes a recognized refugee. This allows the person to stay in Austria and have almost the same rights and duties as an Austrian. Alternatively, when there are no causes of flight as per the Geneva Convention but the asylum seeker is nonetheless in danger in the home country, e.g. because of civil war, s/he receives the so-called subsidiary protection (nonrefoulement principle). If neither is established, the person is in some cases still allowed to stay in Austria. Reasons for this can be that the person has been living in Austria for years and is very well integrated, or if close family members live there. Source: UNHCR. (2013). Flucht und Asyl in Österreich: die häufigsten Fragen und Antworten. Retrieved March 29, 2017, from http://www.unhcr.at/fileadmin/user_upload/dokumente/02_unhcr/in_oesterreich/Questions_Answers_2013.pdf


Description of what happens if they do not receive the refugee status

Unless the asylum seeker is either granted protection provided for in the Geneva Convention, or the nonrefoulement principle applies, or a right of residence is granted for other reasons, s/he must leave Austria. Should the asylum seeker not comply, s/he can be deported. If the person does not have valid travel documents, a “home travel certificate” must be issued by the authorities of the country of origin. If no such certificate is issued, the person cannot be deported, hence coming into a legal grey area. While the person can remain in Austria and is “tolerated”, s/he does not receive a work permit and gets only limited benefits from the basic care. Source: UNHCR. (2013). Flucht und Asyl in Österreich: die häufigsten Fragen und Antworten. Retrieved March 29, 2017, from http://www.unhcr.at/fileadmin/user_upload/dokumente/02_unhcr/in_oesterreich/Questions_Answers_2013.pdf

Analysis of how the media depicts the refugees in Austria

The daily newspaper with the biggest reach (31 per cent) in Austria is the Kronen Zeitung, or Krone, a right-leaning publication often criticised for tendentious and subjective reporting, especially in the migrant and refugee context. (1) (2) (3) Krone is followed by Heute (13,1 per cent), Austria’s biggest daily freesheet, the Kleine Zeitung (11,6 per cent), a regional daily founded by the Catholic Press Association, and Österreich (8,5 per cent). (4) Among the most frequently visited websites in Austria are some of the web services of traditional mass media companies. The Austrian Broadcasting Corporation (ORF), with its large variety of internet services, is leading when it comes to unique clients and page impressions. ORF.at is followed by the web services of Der Standard and krone.at (5) In the Austrian media environment, tabloid press plays a central role due to its large share of the press landscape and high degree of market concentration. While Der Standard competes within the quality newspaper segment, Krone and Heute are tabloid-style papers that issue rather short reports that tend to have a simple sentence structure and sensationalist headlines. Analysis is scarce. Topics concerning migrants and refugees are strongly represented in Austrian press. At the beginning of 2015 the reporting was largely neutral, yet it soon gave way to negative coverage of refugees. (6) Thereby, the focus is not on the real lifeworld of the minorities but on problem descriptions. Ethnic minorities are frequently placed in specific thematic contexts, creating chains of associations in which they become synonymous with conflict and social problems. (7) Especially (but not exclusively) tabloids are based on this type of reporting. (8) A content analysis of krone.at in the interval between the end of 2015 and the beginning of 2017 produces a multitude of articles with headlines that invoke terminology related to violence (9), turmoil (10) (11), crime (12), threats to national security (13), and point to refugees as an economic and financial burden. (14) (15) Furthermore, krone.at offers a possibility to comment under its articles. The public discussions among Krone-readers are marked by homogeneity of attitude. Unfavourable portrayals of refugees and appeals for tighter asylum regulations dominate the opinionated statements. By specifically naming nationalities and/or designations of origin, the headlines suggest the proximity of a social group, in this case asylum seekers, to violence and crime. Whereas the reporting places emphasis on the alleged criminal character of asylum seekers, offences by asylum seekers are not apparent from Austrian crime statistics: Crime figures are recorded in two different statistics: police and judicial criminal statistics. The judicial criminal statistic reports show many people have been sentenced by the Austrian criminal court. This statistic records the citizenship of the perpetrators, yet it is not possible to say how many asylum seekers are among them. Police criminal statistics do differentiate between statuses such as tourists, asylum seekers, EU citizens, etc. but they only show the number of complaints issued against a person and not whether the person has been convicted. (16) A self-regulatory institution in the Austrian press sector is the Austrian Press Council. The Council serves the editorial quality assurance, the promotion of responsible journalism as well as the guarantee of freedom of the press. One of its main tasks is the publication and adaptation of the honorary code for the Austrian press to identify and counteract deficiencies in the press sector. The most reprimanded publication is the Kronen Zeitung. (17) (18) (19) On numerous occasions throughout 2015 and 2016, the Austrian Press Council admonished the Krone for misrepresenting issues concerning refugees. (20) (21) In one of the cases, it rated an article published in the Tyrol edition of the Krone as “sweeping slander of refugees” that infringes the code of ethics of the Austrian press. (22) The Kronen Zeitung, however, is not a member of the Press Council and neither are Heute and Österreich, which makes it difficult to sanction them. In addition to a general propensity to sensationalism and the Austrian Press Council’s reliance on voluntary compliance, Katharine Sarikakis, Professor of Media Industries at the University of Vienna, identifies prioritising commercial over ethical concerns and relying on political elites as sources of information as further shortcomings of the Austrian press. (23) References (1) Der Standard. (2016). Kritik an verzerrender “Krone”-Grafik zu Mindestsicherung. Retrieved 21 April, 2017, from http://derstandard.at/2000042770666/Kritik-an-verzerrender-Krone-Grafik-zu-Mindestsicherung (2) Wilhelmer, P. (2015). Leichenfoto: Massive Kritik an “Kronen Zeitung”. Retrieved 21 April, 2017, from https://kurier.at/wirtschaft/atmedia/leichenfoto-massive-kritik-an-kronen-zeitung/149.527.313 (3) Langthaler, H., & Trauner, H. (2009). Zivilgesellschaftliche und politische Partizipation von Flüchtlingen und AsylwerberInnen in Österreich. Retrieved 21 April, 2017, from http://medienservicestelle.at/migration_bewegt/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/Politische-Partizipation-von-Fl%C3%BCchtlingen.pdf (4) Verein ARGE Media-Analysen. (2016). Österreichische Media-Analyse MA 15/16. Retrieved April 7, 2017, from http://www.media-analyse.at/table/2683 (5) Österreichische Webanalyse. (2016). Online Angebote. Retrieved April 7, 2017, from http://www.oewa.at/basic/online-angebote (6) Sarikakis, K. (2016). Austria: Good and Bad, but a Lack of Accountability when Journalism Fails the Migration Test. Retrieved April 7, 2017, from https://www.icmpd.org/fileadmin/user_upload/AUSTRIA_Media_Migration.pdf (7) Volf, P. (2003). Medien – Minderheiten zwischen Klischee und Mainstream. Demokratiezentrum Wien. Retrieved April 16, 2017, from http://www.demokratiezentrum.org/fileadmin/media/pdf/volf_medien2.pdf (8) Ibid. (9) Kronen Zeitung. (2017). Gewalt in den Asylheimen: Erstmals konkrete Fakten. Retrieved April 16, 2017, from http://www.krone.at/oesterreich/gewalt-in-den-asylheimen-erstmals-konkrete-fakten-betreuer-in-gefahr-story-562741 (10) Kronen Zeitung. (2016). Chaos-Camp Idomeni: Polizei begann Räumung. Retrieved April 16, 2017, from http://www.krone.at/welt/chaos-camp-idomeni-polizei-begann-raeumung-bisher-friedlich-story-511597 (11) Kronen Zeitung. (2016). Samos: 20 Verletzte bei Streit zwischen Migranten. Retrieved April 16, 2017, from http://www.krone.at/welt/samos-20-verletzte-bei-streit-zwischen-migranten-randale-in-lager-story-513243 (12) Kronen Zeitung. (2015). Asylbewerber begingen in 8 Monaten 8484 Straftaten. Retrieved April 16, 2017, from http://www.krone.at/oesterreich/asylwerber-begingen-in-8-monaten-8484-straftaten-deutlicher-anstieg-story-486443 (13) Kronen Zeitung. (2016). 114 Terrorkrieger kamen als “Flüchtlinge” zu uns. Retrieved April 16, 2017, from http://www.krone.at/oesterreich/114-terrorkrieger-kamen-als-fluechtlinge-zu-uns-jetzt-bestaetigt-story-538979 (14) Kronen Zeitung. (2016). 22.674 Flüchtlinge lassen Arbeitslosigkeit steigen. Retrieved April 16, 2017, from http://www.krone.at/oesterreich/22674-fluechtlinge-lassen-arbeitslosigkeit-steigen-wien-traegt-hauptlast-story-504015 (15) Kronen Zeitung. (2016). Flüchtlinge kosten uns zwei Milliarden Euro. Retrieved April 16, 2017, from http://www.krone.at/oesterreich/fluechtlinge-kosten-uns-zwei-milliarden-euro-mehr-als-angenommen-story-533954 (16) UNHCR. (2013). Flucht und Asyl in Österreich: die häufigsten Fragen und Antworten. Retrieved March 29, 2017, from http://www.unhcr.at/fileadmin/user_upload/dokumente/02_unhcr/in_oesterreich/Questions_Answers_2013.pdf (17) Mark, O. (2015). Presserat: “Krone” vor “Österreich” mit den meisten Verstößen. Retrieved April 14, 2017, from http://derstandard.at/2000012834254/Presserat-Krone-vor-Oesterreich-mit-meisten-Verstoessen (18) Der Standard. (2016). Presserat: “Krone” verletzte Ehrenkodex am häufigsten. Retrieved April 14, 2017, from http://derstandard.at/2000032271502/Presserat-Krone-verletzte-am-oeftesten-Ehrenkodex (19) Der Standard. (2017). Presserat-Rügen 2016: “Kronen Zeitung” wieder vor “Österreich”. Retrieved April 14, 2017, from http://derstandard.at/2000053533421/Presserat-Ruegen-2016-Kronen-Zeitung-wieder-vor-Oesterreich (20) Österreichischer Presserat. (2015). Entschiedene Fälle 2015. Retrieved April 13, 2017, from http://www.presserat.at/show_content.php?sid=83 (21) Österreichischer Presserat. (2016). Entschiedene Fälle 2016. Retrieved April 13, 2017, from http://www.presserat.at/show_content.php?sid=86 (22) APA-OTS. (2017). „Kronen Zeitung“: Pauschalverunglimpfung von Flüchtlingen. https://www.ots.at/presseaussendung/OTS_20170110_OTS0041/kronen-zeitung-pauschalverunglimpfung-von-fluechtlingen (23) Sarikakis, K. (2017). Austria: Good and Bad, but a Lack of Accountability when Journalism Fails the Migration Test. Retrieved April 21, 2017 from http://mediagovernance.univie.ac.at/fileadmin/user_upload/p_mediagovernance_industriesresearchgroup/Papers/AustriaMediaMigration.pdf

Follow-up on the refugee crisis

The subjective perspective

The preceding review has shown that Austria has accepted groups of refugees in the past and that it initially kept its focus on welcoming refugees in the present context, until the mood shifted. The growing number of asylum applications demanded political action. The Government’s abrupt turn from welcoming refugees to reinstating border controls exposed bickering in the grand coalition government formed by the Social Democratic Party of Austria (SPÖ) and the Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) and has taken a toll on the Austrian public’s belief in their government’s ability to handle the situation. At the same time, the refugee crisis became the hot topic in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election. Although the presidential post in Austria is mostly ceremonial, the election provided an opportunity for the Austrian electorate to express its frustration with the ruling government: neither of the traditional parties’ candidates made it into the second round of the election. Instead, the public’s sympathy lied with Alexander Van der Bellen, independent and former leader of the Green party in Austria, and Norbert Hofer of the far-right Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ). Whereas Van der Bellen, himself from a family of refugees, argued in favour of a “pragmatic humanism” in asylum policy, Hofer’s campaign was based on anti-immigrant and Eurosceptic sentiments, portraying refugees as a threat to national security – a rhetoric that the tabloid media readily embraced. As the event of incoming refugees touches upon identity-establishing characteristics of individuals, it is often misused as a profiling, polarising tool in election campaigns across the EU and beyond. At the end of a head-to-head race that has lasted more than half a year Van der Bellen emerged victorious. Albeit he dubbed his win as “a strong red-white-red signal for Europe”, Austria continues to hit the headlines with intensified border controls. Border controls within the Union are quick fixes of a nation’s difficulties to deal with change and are not sustainable. Migration will never stop. A cross-border issue by definition, it should be approached through cooperation.


Capital: Vienna
Location: Central Europe
EU-member since 1995
Currency: Euro
Population: 8,451,900
Min. wage:
Poverty line:
Population under poverty line:


IWB researchers

Elena Schigirev

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"The unprecedented rise in asylum applications to European Union Member States calls for evaluation of existing approaches and formulation of a framework that fits the unique character of the Union. I joined the IWB for Refugees project because I want to learn more about the legal situation relating to the status of refugees in the EU and explore alternatives as part of a network of European thinkers dedicated to human rights."