Pellegrini: Austria Should Pay Same Child Benefit for Same Taxes

Slovak Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini (left) and Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz (stock photo by TASR)

Vienna, May 7 (TASR-correspondents) – Slovakia disagrees with an Austrian bill aimed at adjusting the level of child benefit for people working in Austria to the cost of living in their home countries, TASR learnt on Monday.

“If someone pays the same levies and taxes in a particular country, that person should be entitled to the same benefits in that country,” stated Slovak Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini (Smer-SD) after meeting Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz in Vienna.

According to Pellegrini, the bill aimed at changing the level of child benefit “might not be fully in line with EU legislation”. The Slovak premier went on to say that he respects the attitude of the Austrian Government, however. He added that Austria through its Embassy in Slovakia will start explaining how the new child benefit system should actually work, as there is “plenty of misinformation about it, and we need more information to adopt a final stance” in this regard.

Kurz at the press conference rejected claims that the Austrian bill is discriminatory. “If Slovaks work in Austria and their children live in Austria, they’ll receive the same level of child benefit as any Austrian, Dane or Czech,” he said.

Last week, the Austrian Cabinet approved a bill aimed at changing the level of child benefit for people who work in Austria but whose families remain abroad. If it’s greenlighted by Parliament, the bill should enter into force next year.

According to Austrian statistics, in 2016 Slovak parents working in Austria drew child benefit amounting to €63 million for around 30,000 children living in Slovakia. Austria has been paying child benefit for 132,000 children living abroad in total.

There are currently around 40,000 Slovak nurses and carers working in Austria, with up to 40 percent of them said to be considering leaving the country if child benefit is cut. The Austrian Opposition has warned that the possible departure of Slovak nurses and carers could unpredictably affect the Austrian health-care system as well as care services.