Austria to ask EU for right to hire locals ahead of other EU workers

Austrian chancellor Christian Kern delivers a speech on the future of Austria in Wels, Upper Austria, on 11 January Image copyright AFP
Image caption Chancellor Christian Kern says Eastern Europe is "exporting joblessness" to Austria

Austria's centre-left chancellor has said he will ask the EU to let local employers hire Austrians before other EU citizens, unless there are no suitable candidates.

Christian Kern made the pledge at the launch of a 10-year economic plan focussing on job creation.

"These eastern European countries are exporting their joblessness to Austria," the Social Democrat said.

He was speaking in Wels, run by the far-right Freedom Party (FPOe).

Fears over immigration and unemployment have put the FPOe ahead in the polls.

The pledge is seen as a bid to win back support to the Social Democrats, who last year were eliminated in the first round of the presidential election, along with their traditional mainstream rivals, the centre-right People's Party.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The move is said to be an attempt to draw voters away from Austria's far right, whose presidential candidate Norbert Hofer came second last year

An independent candidate eventually won over the far-right nominee.

Mr Kern's party is supported by roughly 27% of voters, polls suggest.

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