A number of integration measures have already been implemented in the course of the refugee crisis, including for instance the adoption of the Integration Plan setting out fifty action points for implementation by the Federal Government, the coordinated expansion of the range of German classes offered, the nationwide implementation of Values and Orientation Courses, and the adoption of a law that facilitates recognition of skills and qualifications acquired abroad. Building on this substantial number of measures, the Austrian Integration Law will thus mark the next step.
“We need to reduce the influx of migrants to Austria, while at the same time integrating those who are entitled to stay in Austria in the best possible manner “, Integration Minister Sebastian Kurz highlighted. “The principle of integration based on performance is thus firmly enshrined by the Integration Law.”
With a view to facilitating this process, Integration Minister Kurz had already presented a draft integration law in August 2016. This bill provides for the further development and expansion of the range of German Language and Values Courses, while at the same time providing for a ban on symbols of a counter-society including full-body veils or Salafist Koran distribution campaigns.
Another key aspect addressed is the fact that the success of integration depends essentially on the number of persons who are to be integrated and that respect for our social order and values represents a sine qua non for integration. Persons entitled to asylum or subsidiary protection will therefore have to sign an Integration Agreement and commit themselves to compliance with the binding declaration of fundamental values governing the legal and social order in Austria. This thus includes the obligation to attend and successfully complete mandatory German language courses as well as Values and Orientation Courses.
Furthermore, the law will contain a reform of the Integration Agreement for third country nationals who are legally established in Austria. More specifically, it includes the mandatory requirement to pass a standardised ‘integration exam’, consisting of a language and a values part. The bill also provides for stricter fines (between 500 and 2,500 euros) for non-compliance and/or violation.