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Austria's State Goals: A Great Illusion?

State goals Austria

The state sets goals. But that's it. Because despite the state's goals of "comprehensive environmental protection" (1984) and "sustainability" (2013), a climate change request is required - and again and again the Constitutional Court.

In a coup d'état, in 2018 and also in the following year, a new state goal “competitive business location” in Austria was attempted to become constitutional. The reason for this was the decision of the Federal Administrative Court in 2017, which rejected Vienna Airport's application for a third runway - for environmental reasons, among other things. With the business location in the constitution, this would have priority - probably over pretty much everything. Thanks to pressure from domestic civil society, the plan for Austria's new state goal was canceled.

The third runway was nevertheless given the green light: the environmental impact assessment has now been successfully concluded. And apart from the previously failed climate protection strategy: what about Austria's state goals?

State goals are actually mandatory

On the occasion of the previous article on collectivism an overview of Austria's national goals was not to be missed. However: Even on the Internet, we were not able to find a current list of these. The media service of the Parliamentary Directorate an interesting technical dossier was sent to you. The fact that this was apparently created as an information brochure for the initially mentioned business location state goal should not bother us.

The statements in it were much more interesting: “The task of constitutions was largely limited to securing the state organization and the rights of individuals in the state. However, this view has changed in the practice of constitutional law in almost all of Europe since the 1970s. [...] Jurisprudence and science have reacted to this by working out basic principles of constitutions. It has also been shown that fundamental rights not only protect individuals against the state. They also oblige the state to provide the framework necessary to exercise these rights. State goals are legally binding. They oblige the state organs to act in a certain way."

State goals: a big illusion?

Now, as a perhaps naive citizen, it could rightly be assumed that the state and its democratically elected government pursue the set goals accordingly and take them into account in action and legislation.

However, reality shows that only an objection by the Constitutional Court (VfGH) is necessary to uncover a contradiction to the constitution. An event that seems to be piling up. The dossier of the parliamentary directorate rightly poses the question - with regard to the reasons for state goals: “States are only individual actors among many. International organizations or large commercial companies are sometimes attributed more power and influence. This raises the question of what tasks democratic states still have to do."

So if the state goals are the “new” tasks of the states, why are they almost negated? Why is there a need for a people's vote in the climate when Austria has two suitable government goals?

The position of the parliamentary directorate on this and on the subject of the third landing runway: "In previous case law, the courts of law have dealt with the state objective of comprehensive environmental protection and sustainability several times. In its decision on the third runway at Vienna Airport, the VfGH explicitly referred to its long tradition of using the Federal Constitutional Law on Environmental Protection (BVG) to review laws and regulations. ”

And further: "The VfGH emphasized that an absolute priority for environmental protection interests over other decision criteria, which the administration has to consider, cannot be derived from this state goal. According to constitutional law, however, comprehensive environmental protection should be included when interpreting the interests to be safeguarded under the Aviation Act (LFG). Likewise, this must also be done with the subsequent weighting of these interests. However, this inclusion could not expand those interests that must be observed under the LFG. That was one of the reasons why the VfGH overturned the Federal Administrative Court's decision to refuse to approve the third runway for climate protection reasons. ”

INFO: The state goals Austria
Equal treatment for disabled people - Art 7 para 1 B-VG 1997
Equal treatment for men and women - Art 7 para 2 B-VG 1998
Protection of the ethnic groups - Art 8 para 2 B-VG 2000
Comprehensive national defense - Art 9a B-VG 1975
Macroeconomic balance - Art 13 para 2 B-VG 1987
Actual equality between men and women in the budgetary management of the federal government, the states and municipalities - Art 13 para 3 B-VG 2009
Social partnership - Art 120a para 2 B-VG 2008
Education - Art 17 StGG 1867, BGBl 210/1958
Enduring neutrality - BVG of October 26, 1955
Prohibition of National Socialist re-employment - BGBl 152/1955
Broadcasting as a public task - Art 1 BVG Rundfunk 1974
Comprehensive environmental protection - BVG 1984-2013
Sustainability - § 1 BVG sustainability 2013
animal welfare - § 2 BVG sustainability 2013
Ensuring water and food supplies - §§ 4 and 5 BVG sustainability 2013
Research - § 6 BVG sustainability 2013
Source: Directorate of Palaces

Would a survey be worth it: "Do you have the impression that Austrian politics strives to achieve Austrian state goals through its work?" An example: Austria saved the airline AUA in the wake of the corona crisis.

Photo / Video: Shutterstock.

Written by Helmut Melzer

As a longtime journalist I have long asked myself the question, which would actually make sense from a journalistic point of view. My answer to that you can see here: Option. To show alternatives in an idealistic way - for positive developments of our society.
www.option.news/ueber-option-faq/

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