December 18, 2017 / 11:56 AM / 8 months ago

Factbox: Key policies of Austria's conservative/far-right coalition

VIENNA (Reuters) - Ministers from Austria’s main conservative People’s Party (OVP) and the anti-immigration Freedom Party (FPO) were sworn in on Monday, making it the only western European country with a far-right component in its governing coalition.

Austrian president Alexander van der Bellen, Head of the Freedom Party (FPOe) Heinz-Christian Strache (R) and head of the People's Party Sebastian Kurz react during the swearing-in ceremony of the new government in Vienna, December 18, 2017 REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger

Below are some of the policies that new chancellor Sebastian Kurz’s OVP and Heinz-Christian Strache’s FPO have already agreed on.

For the entire program in German please click [here]

EUROPEAN UNION

** Oppose deeper political integration among EU members states, seek to have more powers returned to national governments. Oppose Turkey’s bid to join the EU.

** Rule out a referendum on Austrian membership of the EU.

** Move some departments that deal with European affairs, including the task force preparing Austria’s EU presidency in the second half of 2018, to the chancellery headed by Kurz. (The FPO will take control of the Foreign Ministry).

** Push for more relaxed relationship between West and Russia.

    LAW AND ORDER

** Introduce tougher minimum sentences for violent and sex crimes.

** Make fighting political Islam a priority.

** Secure Austria’s borders nationally to stop illegal immigration until the EU has secured external frontiers.

** Put around 2,100 more policemen on the streets.

BUSINESS AND PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION

** Extend the maximum working day to 12 hours from 10.

** Facilitate immigration only for qualified workers in sectors that are struggling to find suitable Austrian employees.

** Simplify administrative framework in highly federalized Austria.

** Support construction of third runway at Vienna Airport.

EDUCATION

** Focus on improving test results in basic skills such as reading, writing and numeracy, allow children to start school only if their German is good enough.

** Cut social benefits for parents who fail to comply with certain requirements, like ensuring attendance and that their child speaks German well enough.

BUDGET AND TAXES

** Cut public spending to fund tax cuts. Kurz and Strache repeatedly said during their campaigns that they planned to cut public spending by around 12 billion euros ($14.1 billion).

** Reduce corporate tax burden, for example by exempting profit reinvested in Austria.

** Not introduce wealth or inheritance taxes.

** Introduce public “debt brake” in the constitution.

** Push, also at a European level, for higher taxes on online transactions with foreign companies.

SOCIAL AFFAIRS

** Block newcomers from accessing many social services in Austria in their first five years in the country.

** Cap the main basic benefit payment at 1,500 euros a month for families and provide refugees with a “light” version of regular benefits.

** Cut benefits for refugees and turn cash payments into benefits in kind so as to minimize what they say is a “pull factor” attracting immigrants to the country.

** Reform the state pension system to reflect Austria’s ageing population.

** Give families a tax cut worth 1,500 euros per child per year.

** Merge Austria’s 22 public health and other social security funds into five entities to cut administrative costs.

ENVIRONMENT

** Produce 100 percent of Austria’s power from renewable sources by 2030, compared with roughly 33 percent at present, and keep the national ban on nuclear power plants.

DIRECT DEMOCRACY

** Gradual introduction of legislation to allow a referendum to take place if at least 900,000 voters support the issue.

** Rule out referendums on Austrian membership of the EU; support the European-Canadian trade deal CETA.

SMOKING

** Overturn a ban on smoking in bars and restaurants that is due to come into effect in May 2018.

($1 = 0.8497 euros)

Reporting by Shadia Nasralla; editing by Mark Heinrich and John Stonestreet

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