In a nation where pessimism often rules, Austria's attitudes towards migration and integration, as revealed by extensive surveys from the Austrian Integration Fund, paint a concerning picture. The 'refugee years', which began in 2015/16, have exacerbated fears and a sense of crisis, with no viable solutions in sight. Meanwhile, the Freedom Party of Austria (FP"O) has capitalized on these crises, identifying a common denominator – the failure of the so-called elites.
Antisemitism on the Rise Across Europe
The European Commission recently unveiled measures to combat hate crimes, particularly against Jewish and Muslim communities, as antisemitic incidents in Austria have risen by a staggering 300% compared to 2022. To protect public places and places of worship, the Commission plans to augment its fund with €30 million in 2024, dedicating €5 million specifically to fight antisemitism. However, the European Network Against Racism (ENAR) urges a more comprehensive approach, one that encompasses racism and includes monitoring mechanisms to prevent further systematic impact on marginalized communities.
EU Citizens Seek Action Against Poverty and Social Exclusion
As the European Parliament elections draw near in June 2024, European citizens express their priorities through the Eurobarometer survey. The fight against poverty and social exclusion tops the agenda, with 36% of respondents prioritizing it. A concerning 73% of respondents anticipate a deterioration in their living conditions in the coming year.
Migration Concerns Prompt Extended Border Controls
Germany's internal border controls with Czechia, Poland, and Switzerland will extend until mid-December due to concerns about irregular migration and smuggling. In October alone, authorities apprehended 2,245 migrants attempting to cross the German-Swiss border. Other Schengen Member States, including Austria, Poland, Czechia, and Finland, have also implemented border checks.
As these issues continue to shape political discourse, the Austrian public's concern over migration and integration remains a significant factor in the country's social and political landscape. Yet, the rise of antisemitism, the struggle against poverty and social exclusion, and the extension of border controls underscore the urgent need for viable solutions to these pressing concerns.