IV demands focus on industry in crisis

The general secretary of the Federation of Austrian Industries (IV) has appealed on Europe’s political leaders to strengthen the continent’s industry.

Christoph Neumayer told the Kurier that the European Union (EU) should concentrate on creating ideal circumstances for its industrial sector. Neumayer claimed such a strategy would help in getting through the economic crisis.

The IV general secretary claimed that states with high industrial levels did better in the crisis. Speaking about competition from Asia, he said Europe’s businesses must ensure being quicker and more innovative. Neumayer made clear that the continent stood no chance in a possible fight with China for the business location with the lowest incomes.

Referring to environmental issues, Neumayer warned from slowing economic growth down by introducing “painful” bureaucratic barriers. He said industrial firms must not be scared away with exaggerated environmental regulations. Neumayer also said that the European Investment Bank’s (EIB) funds should be increased to create higher private investments.

Neumayer said new growth “must not be bought by making new debts” – a point of view which strongly contradicts the one of France’s new President Francois Hollande and some of the most influential representatives of the Austrian Social Democratic Party (SPÖ).

Salzburg’s SPÖ Governor Gabi Burgstaller said the EU’s state and government leaders must take the opportunity and use the “momentum” created by Hollande’s election triumph. Hollande said fiscal agreements should be altered to add impulses for growth. SPÖ Upper Austria head Josef Ackerl said the EU might have to postpone plans to implement stricter rules on member states’ budgets. Ackerl said the fiscal pact should not be passed if it lacked measures aimed at economic growth in Europe’s economically challenged regions.

A Karmasin poll shows that EU states’ debts are the second-biggest fear of Austrians. Around 41 per cent of voters interviewed for the research named the issue as their main European concern. Just 12 per cent said weak economic growth was what concerned them the most. Unemployment (43 per cent) was identified by the study as Austrians’ biggest fear in terms of economic developments in the EU. Almost 321,800 residents of Austria were out of work in April, up by 6.7 per cent compared to the same month of 2011.

Meanwhile, an investigation by KMU Forschung has disclosed that seven in 10 of Austria’s small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) want to keep their workforce level unchanged this year. Twenty-six per cent of Austrian SMEs consider hiring additional employees this year. The sector managed to increase its turnover by 1.2 per cent from 2010 to 2011, according to KMU Forschung statisticians.