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Austrian report Austrian report
by Euro Reporter
2012-04-05 07:52:01
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Austria rejects bank bonds backed by rescued Euro members

The Austrian Central Bank will join Germany’s Bundesbank in rejecting as collateral bank bonds guaranteed by member states receiving aid from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund. “We will do that as well,” Christian Gutlederer, a spokesman for the Vienna-based institution, said by phone today. “We are talking about minimal amounts. It will have very little impact on overall collateral.”

The Bundesbank was the first of the region’s central banks to make use of a change in European Central Bank collateral rules announced on March 23. The ECB no longer obliges members to accept bank bonds guaranteed by governments “whose credit assessment does not comply with the benchmark for establishing its minimum requirement for high credit standards.”

While the decision means banks in Europe’s three bailed-out countries -- Greece, Portugal and Ireland -- will no longer be able to use such bonds to obtain funding through subsidiaries in Germany and Austria, the banks typically seek the loans via their own central banks. The Bundesbank currently has less than 500 million Euros ($658 million) of those bonds on its balance sheet, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported on March 30.  Thomas Costerg, an economist at Standard Chartered Bank in London, said countries other than Germany and Austria might also have reservations about accepting such collateral.


Austria to spend 160 mln Euros to close Kyoto gap

Austria will invest 160 million Euros ($213.4 million) in climate protection projects in Europe to cover the gap it faces to meet commitments under the Kyoto Protocol, Environment Minister Nikolaus Berlakovich said on Wednesday. He said the money would go towards "green investment scheme" projects in other European countries.

Austria needs to buy the equivalent of 32 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) to meet its carbon reduction requirements under the Kyoto accord, he said in a statement. While the price for certificates was 15 Euros per tonne a year ago, it was now around 5 Euros, he added.

"We have to act now for reasons of thrift and utility. A year ago the cost of permits for Austria was estimated at 600 million Euros to even 1 billion Euros. If we pay now we will save over 440 million Euros. That helps the budget and the climate," he said. A top official had said last month that Austria would buy 2-4 million emission permits this year to help it meet its goal to cut emissions under the Kyoto Protocol, but the country could buy millions more if it revised its purchase programme.


Integration secretary plans home visit initiative

Social workers will visit badly integrated foreigners at home to help them learning German, People’s Party (ÖVP) Integration Secretary Sebastian Kurz announced yesterday (Tues). Kurz said his office planned to expand a successful Viennese pilot project concept based on programmes in Switzerland and Australia to several other Austrian towns and cities in the coming months. The project has a budget of 300,000 Euros, according to Austria’s first state secretary for integration who was sworn in around one year ago.

Kurz explained the plan was to send out social workers with migratory backgrounds to chat to immigrants in parks and on the street. A special focus would be set on mothers with poor knowledge of the German language and their kids, he said. According to Kurz, the teams of social workers would also meet with the immigrants at home to provide them with learning materials. Kurz said both, parent and child could benefit from the cooperation. The new project’s target is to improve people’s integration by raising their German skills. Kurz said he was convinced of the concept since it would concentrate on children of pre-school age. This strategy might be of help in accelerating kids’ integration in kindergarten groups and school classes, the state secretary said.

The new initiative by Kurz – whose office is part of the interior ministry – received acclaim by the Greens. The left-wing opposition party, which is often highly critical of the integration policies of the government coalition of Social Democrats (SPÖ) and ÖVP, said the project might lead into the right direction. Greens integration spokeswoman Alev Korun said she welcomed the state secretary’s decision to turn a concept she discussed with him some months ago into reality. Korun called on Kurz to adapt the ÖVP’s immigration agenda. She said that a slogan like "integration through achievement" was misleading and unfair. Korun said the government must try to break down the various barriers foreigners were still confronted with on the Austrian job market and as far as bureaucratic issues were regarded. She said the interior ministry must no longer deport well-integrated people.

Statistics show that more than 40 per cent of foreigners living in Austria had been unemployed at least once in the past 10 years. The number of foreign job seekers rose by 11.8 per cent from March 2011 to the same month of this year while the overall jobless rate edged up by just 4.4 per cent. Almost 12 per cent of the 1.5 million people with migratory background residing in Austria are out of work at the moment.

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