Austria Report



In terms of administrative structures and processes, the formal WGA level coordination/cooperation at the top level is ensured in Austria by the weekly sessions of the federal cabinet – officially known as the Council of Ministers – and, more specifically on security matters, by the National Security Council (NSC). This central advisory body to the government in matters of foreign, security and defence policy is composed of ministers, members of parliament, and designated liaison officers.
In all ministries, intra-ministerial coordination mechanisms exist to discuss WGA-relevant topics, including external conflicts and crises. Inter-ministerial working groups serve as platforms for information exchange as well as the preparation and negotiation of strategies regarding countries, regions or specific topics. Specific coordination units and structures are in place within and among relevant ministries (especially the BMEIA, the Federal Chancellery, the BMI and the BMLV) to prepare coordinated positions and instructions for discussions of crisis and conflict situations in the relevant council.
Regarding crisis management, the formal format of the National Crisis and Disaster Management (SKKM) panel includes representatives from all federal ministries, all federal provinces, and the rescue and fire services (BMI n.d.). Meetings of this body, which is housed within the BMI, are convened in the event of major incidents or trainings. Based on the Ministerial Council Decision of 20 January 2004 (BMI 2004), the National Crisis and Disaster Management (SKKM) framework had been reorganised and put under the guidance of the BMI’s director-general for public security. Supplementing the WGA is the ‘SKKM Penta++’, an informal gathering of the SKKM panel that brings together senior civil servants from the BMI, the BMEIA, the BMLV, the Federal Chancellery, the Vice Chancellery, the Cabinet Office of the head of state, and one of the federal provinces. This group meets regularly (at least once a month) to be briefed on and to discuss related matters, including (potential) external conflicts and crises. Furthermore, procedures related to responding to cyber-crises are regulated by Austria’s Network and Information System Security Act (NISG) (National Council 2018). The tasks within the coordination structures are shared between the Federal Chancellery and the BMI and supported by two (inter-ministerial) coordination committees: IKDOK (Inner Circle of the Operational Coordination Structure) and OpKoord (Operational Coordination Structure) (BKA, BMI, BMLV and BMEIA 2019).
In more horizontal terms, there is extensive formal and informal coordination and cooperation between executive and legislative powers. For example, regular coordination takes place in parliamentary committees (e.g. the Foreign Policy Committee or the Defence Committee). Austrian contributions to international crisis management and peace missions require formal approval by the Main Committee of parliament. Parliamentarians are also regularly involved in annual 3YP preparations, which has led to some criticism regarding the separation of powers.
According to the Austrian Development Act (EZA-G) (National Council 2019) and the updated 2012 Austrian Mission Statement of all stakeholders as an integral part of the 3YP (BMEIA 2019a: 24–25), as well as in line with the Vienna 3C Appeal (ADC 2010), consultation processes are run throughout the year and include NGOs and other Austrian civil society actors. In this regard, since 2011, a 3C conference has been organised annually on WGA-related topics at both the policy and operational levels.
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