Learn German or you're out, Austria tells immigrants

Foreigners in Austria will be forced to learn German or face deportation, under new legislation passed yesterday.

Non-EU citizens who arrived in Austria after 1 January 1998 will be obliged to attend 100 hours of tuition in German language and culture. Those immigrants who can prove they already have German language skills, and high-ranking managers and other professionals who stay for less than two years can be excused.

Participants will be obliged to pay half of the estimated €350 (£230) cost of the course. The state's contribution drops to a quarter after 18 months for foreigners who do not comply with the regulations, and to zero after two years. After three years, anyone who has not completed the course will be fined and after four years of non-compliance their residence permit will be withdrawn.

The "integration contract" has been heavily criticised by the opposition Social Democrats and Greens.During the parliamentary debate on the Bill, the Greens' migration spokeswoman, Terezija Stoisits, appealed for MPs to vote "no to the de-integration package, yes to integration".

But the centre-right People's Party, which governs in a coalition with the far right-wing Freedom Party, argued that the government was merely addressing the concerns of ordinary Austrians.

Peter Westenthaler, the Freedom Party's parliamentary leader, described the new law as "one of the most modern pieces of legislation on foreigners in Europe".

In autumn 1999 there was an international outcry when the Freedom Party ran an election campaign with posters calling for an end to Überfremdung ("being swamped by foreigners"). Several months later, diplomatic sanctions were imposed on Austria by the EU when the Freedom Party entered national government.

Now, the party is relishing the swing to the right in recent European elections. The party's de facto leader, Jörg Haider, said such election results were "the best confirmation" of far right-wing ideas.

Recent ideas from within the Freedom Party include paying new immigrants only as much social security benefits as they would receive in their home country, and making asylum-seekers clean up dog faeces. With general elections due next year, this is probably just a taste of what is in store.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £45,000

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is a solutions / s...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £45,000

£18000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive is required t...

Recruitment Genius: Test Development Engineer

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you inspired to bring new a...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Motor Engineer

£14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific