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EU ramps up action against Austria over child benefits

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The European (EU) Commission intensified action against Austria on Thursday over controversial rules tying family benefits for children living in other EU states to living costs in that country.

Under the rule, which took effect on Jan. 1, family benefits were calculated according to an index of national purchasing power levels, meaning workers whose families live in neighbouring EU countries such as Hungary and Slovakia are to receive less than before.

“Equal treatment is a fundamental principle of the EU, said EU Social Affairs Commissioner, Marianne Thyssen.

“EU citizens who work in another member state than their own and pay taxes and social security contributions have a right to the same family benefits.”

The commission had first called Vienna out on the law in March, sending a letter of formal notice.

“Having thoroughly analysed the arguments put forward by Austria, the commission has concluded that the concerns have not been addressed, the EU’s executive wrote in a statement on Thursday.

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