Open Borders Postponed

Specialized employees from non-EU countries to the East will remain closed out of the Austrian labor market for at least another year, according to a a report in the Austrian daily Der Standard Apr. 30. The decision, handed down in the National Assembly the previous day was in response to growing public anxiety following the May 1 opening of the labor market to the eight newest EU members states.

Qualified workers would received a “red-white-red card” reflecting specialized immigration status and favoring three categories: highly qualified labor, key employees (earning over 2,100 EUR per month), and the so-called “labor in shortage” occupations. A new list, to be passed in May 2012,  replacing the current one, that names about 60 occupations for which shortages have been identified and that has allowed 18,000 workers to enter the country.

The decision to postpone the introduction of the new list resulted because of pressure from the Association of Trade Unions (ÖGB) and the Workers Chamber (Arbeiterkammer), who want to make sure workers originating from the eight new EU countries, would have the first opportunity.

The red-white-red card allows a highly qualified work force from non-EU countries, such as managers and scientists, to come into Austria. For key employees, every job application needs to be reviewed individually and accepted, as long as there is no suitable Austrian for the job.

– Sarah Rabl

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