Weekly Briefing: Bilateral Agreements Could Replace EU-wide Green Passport

More+ ♦ Published: May 14, 2021; 13:00 ♦ (Vindobona)

In a number of bilateral talks, Austria has emphasized the need for an EU-wide travel solution for the summer. In case Brussels is not picking up pace, bilateral agreements with European countries could replace the European "Green Passport". Find out more about this week's developments.

Take five minutes to catch up on this week’s essential news! / Picture: © Wikimedia Commons / Filip Nohe [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5/deed.de)], modified and edited

Travel in Summer and Covid-19

In bilateral talks with the Czech Foreign Minister as well as at the Central Five meeting between the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Slovakia, Hungary and Austria all representatives demand an EU-wide solution for travel in the summer. However, bilateral agreements could be implemented rapidly and could replace an underperforming "Green Passport".

In bilateral talks with North Macedonia and Albania, Austria's Minister for European Affairs Karoline Edtstadler has additionally expressed her wish to include the Western Balkans in an EU-wide "Green Passport".

A requirement for both the EU-wide solution and bilateral agreements is a vaccination, negative test result or a recent recovery from a Covid-19 infection. With regard to the vaccination, Austria has now administered Covid-19 vaccines to one-third of the eligible population.

International Relations

At the EU Social Summit, Austria's Chancellor Kurz and Labor Minister Kocher were rather sceptical about possible EU-wide minimum wages. The summit, however, also brought forward a joint committment by all countries to intensify the fight against social injustice.

The NATO will open a new liaison office in Vienna. This was agreed upon by Austria's Foreign Minister Schallenberg and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

During the same trip, Schallenberg had also discussed cooperation with regard to the fight against the climate change with his European counterparts and U.S. Special Envoy John Kerry.

U.S. Embassy Chargé D'Affaire Dunnigan has portrayed the goals of the Biden administration for the relationship with Austria. As area of close cooperation, she highlighted Austria's exemplary climate policy but also pointed to disagreements such as the Russian pipeline Nord Stream 2.

Austria's Economy

The rating agencies Fitch and Standard & Poors have affirmed their AA+ rating for Austria although noticing the country's high spending for Covid-19 measures and assuming weaker economic recovery compared to the eurozone.

With a new location strategy, the Austrian government wants to strengthen the Austrian economy and further increase its attraction for international businesses. Especially in the segments of greening and environmental technology, Austria wants to realize economic leadership.

Vienna's start-up event ViennaUP'21 has come to an end. With 25,000 participants and more than 10 million views online, the event is seen as a huge success.