MEP Monika Vana
Debriefing on the Austrian Coalition Agreement and Government
The Austrian Greens have reached an agreement with the Austrian conservatives ÖVP to form a government, which was then approved by 93,18 % of the Greens’ national party congress. For the first time in Austria’s history, the Greens will be in government. Given that Austria has a Green President since 2017, there are growing opportunities for the Greens to shape Austrian politics.
In September, the Greens achieved 13,9 % in the national election, while the conservatives were the clear election winners with 37,5%. Finding an agreement with the conservatives was therefore a highly challenging task that included difficult compromises. The fact that the extreme right-wing party FPÖ had enough votes to re-establish the previous ÖVP-FPÖ coalition, and was eager to do so, was a further factor that made these negotiations more difficult. Given the political line of Sebastian Kurz, (ÖVP), the Austrian Greens are also well aware of the risks this coalition includes, which we will need to manage.
Then negotiations delivered the most comprehensive climate protection program that Austria has ever had. The program includes the largest transparency and control package in recent decades. There are strong improvements in the areas of party funding, freedom of information, transparency and audit rights of the Court of Justice. In the field of social policy, we will relieve people with low and middle incomes, fight low wages and expand support for families. A strong green social minister will focus on poverty reduction and the future of care.
Internally, it needs to be mentioned that in its role as junior partner the Greens could often just prevent the worst proposals of the conservatives in many areas, rather than implement our own policy ideas. The establishment of this government, it is about setting the course for Austria and Austria’s course in Europe. By entering government, we counter the extreme right’s advances. In contrast to the previous government, this coalition agreement is no longer an antiEuropean program, it is pro-European, and our Green government members will work for proEuropean politics in the EU Council. Moreover, we will do everything possible to make Austria a pioneer in climate protection and we will be represented by excellent and highly capable Green politicians. In addition to the coalition agreement, how our government members appear and speak publicly will play a central role - it will make a huge difference how green government members talk about human rights, migrants and the weakest in our society.
The following are the Green lighthouses in the coalition agreement:
Contract for the climate: Austria commits to climate neutrality by 2040 by - Introducing a climate check for all legislation, the “best bidder principle” will account for climate protection - Annual Austria-wide public transport ticket for three Euros per day - switch the entire power supply to renewables by 2030 - Investments of 1 billion Euros into local and regional transport each. - Commitment to exit from oil and coal in heating. This should be specifically regulated in a federal law. Something similar is planned for the replacement of gas heaters.
MEP Monika Vana
A further Green success is the establishment of the super Ministry for Environment, Energy and Infrastructure, which will be led by Leonore Gewessler (Greens).
Transparent republic instead of transparent citizens: the Austrian government commits to providing information instead of official secrecy and will introduce freedom of information. We will strengthen the Court of Auditors: it is already allowed to check companies with 25 percent state participation, evaluate the orders of board members and examine party finances more closely than before - with the Court's direct control right and significantly stricter sanctions for violations.
Eco-social tax reform: - Step 1: To protect the environment and the climate we will reduce wage taxes, toll, and commuter allowance. We will create incentives for citizens - those who drive clean will be rewarded. The Austrian federal railways ÖBB will pay fewer taxes for electricity. On the other hand, flying will be more expensive. No more cheap "tank tourism": We no longer lure the diesel stinkers here to pollute the air. - The second step will be taxation of CO2 emissions, which is currently being worked out under Leonore Gewessler’s and Werner Kogler's leadership.
Our ministries for the rule of law and justice: Alma Zadić, our Minister of Justice is a top lawyer with a remarkable resumé, who will focus on the rule of law.
Our educational policy is social policy: We will increase the capacity of kindergardens and all-day schools. With Rudi Anschober as Minister of Social Affairs, we have an experienced supporter of social justice. We will increase the support and social work in schools and start a pilot project for 100 schools with special needs. A general contract will bring minimum wage for everyone and we will provide 40 percent women in public companies.
Key points on Europe in the coalition agreement
Strict conditions for trade agreements (e.g. social standards, environmental and climate protection) => Rejection of the MERCOSUR trade agreement in its current form
commitment to transparency and proximity to citizens (e.g. Strengthening local initiatives such as European municipal councilors and establishment of regular Citizens' dialogues) => Commitment for all young Austrians to travel to Brussels during their education/training to get to know EU Institutions
Regional policy: Expansion of participation opportunities of cities and municipalities in decision-making processes the EU, protection of public services, simplification of processing of EU funding, strengthening of partnership principle, sustainability and transparency in EU
MEP Monika Vana
cohesion policy 2020+, gradual process towards phasing out of investments in climatedamaging projects
Conference on the future of Europe: Commitment to a right of initiative of the European Parliament and extension of ordinary legislative procedure
International Taxation: - Commitment to CO2 tariffs on international and European level, taxation of kerosene and marine diesel on international or European level; - Introduction of a Financial Transaction Tax (FTT) at EU level - Continued efforts to implement a digital tax for large international corporations on international or European level and commitment to fight against tax fraud and tax avoidance
Implementation of a clear EU accession perspective for the Western Balkans.
Austria will push among other things for civil conflict prevention and solution through PESCO and the Civilian Compact of the EU
Problematic compromises in the coalition agreement
In particular on the topic of migration and asylum, we prevented even worse policies from being included in the agreement. However, the wide grounds not covered on the issue allow for the conservatives to join forces with the far-right party to legislate on this particular issue. (see for further analysis https://www.derstandard.at/story/2000112893130/aufregereinsperren-ohne-verbrechen-und-ausweichen-auf-tuerkis-blau). Another point we could not prevent is the establishment of the asylum agency, which will handle both administrates and executes the asylum procedures, while also offering legal council for asylum seekers through agency staff. Through the Ministry of Justice, the Greens will however ensure that the experts and NGOs offer independent legal advice.
The coalition agreement also includes the introduction of “confinement upon suspicion of pending criminal acts,” with even stricter rules for asylum seekers who are obliged to leave the country. In addition, the prohibition of heads scarf for girls up to 14 years of age is a tough compromise for the Greens in the agreement. A decrease of the corporate tax rate to 21% is another compromise we had to make. With regards to EU topics, no intention on future Austrian contributions to the EU Budget were included. We plan to make the most of the remaining policy space that is not covered by the coalition agreement.
MEP Monika Vana
The Austrian government team will be composed by 9 women and 8 men upholding the following positions:
Chancellor Sebastian Kurz (ÖVP) - Federal chancellery and media agendas Vice-chancellor Werner Kogler (Greens) - Minister of Sport, Public Service and Art and Culture
Green Ministers and State Secretary: Leonore Gewessler (Greens): Ministry of Environment, Energy and Infrastructure Alma Zadic (Greens): Ministry of Justice Rudolf Anschober (Greens): Ministry of Social Affairs Ulrike Lunacek (Greens): State Secretary for Art and Culture at the Ministry of Sport, Public Service and Art and Culture
ÖVP Ministers and State Secretary:
Gernot Blümel (ÖVP): Ministry of Finance Karl Nehammer (ÖVP): Ministry of Home Affairs Alexander Schallenberg (officially without party, long career in ÖVP cabinets and is considered a confidant of Sebastian Kurz): Ministry of External Affairs Margarete Schramböck (ÖVP): Ministry of Economic Affairs Elisabeth Köstinger (ÖVP): Ministry of Agriculture Karoline Edtstadler (ÖVP): Ministry of Europe (as part of the federal chancellery) Heinz Faßmann (officially without party, close confidant of Sebastian Kurz): Ministry of Education Susanne Raab (ÖVP): Ministry of Integration Klaudia Tanner (ÖVP): Ministry of Defence Christine Aschbacher (ÖVP): Ministry of Labor and Family Affairs Magnus Brunner (ÖVP): State Secretary at the Ministry of Environment, Energy and Infrastructure
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