STA, 16 November 2018 - Slovenia and six other EU members have called on the European Commission to check whether Austria's legislation set to reduce dependent child allowance for foreign citizens working in Austria complies with the EU's legal order.
Slovenia has joined the protests by Bulgaria, Lithuania and the Visegrad countries after Austria passed in late October legislation under which child benefits paid to foreign workers who are not Austrian residents would be calculated to correspond to the cost of living in their respective countries as of 1 January.
Slovenia's Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs, Family and Equal Opportunity said that the letter calls on European commissioner in charge of employment, social affairs, skills and labour mobility Marianne Thyssen to look into the legislative changes and take appropriate action.
The ministry also said in a statement for the STA that minister Ksenija Klampfer had expressed objections to the Austrian legislative changes on a number of occasions.
"By passing this, Austria is violating one of the key principles of the EU's legal order: equality." The changes adopted amount to discrimination, the ministry added.
It is unfair that children of workers who contribute to Austria's prosperity and are not the country's citizens should be punished with lower child benefits, the ministry said.
However, soon after the legislation was passed, Slovenia's Foreign Minister Miro Cerar said during a trip to Vienna that it was up to the European Commission to say whether Austria's new legislation amounted to discrimination.
The European Commission confirmed for the STA that it received a letter from the seven countries on Thursday and that it would look into the matter.