Austria

II - Changes to the Budgetary Process

Budgetary process 
II.1

Describe the main characteristics of the budgetary process (cycle, actors, instruments, etc.) in Austria.

The ‘budget’ is an anticipated list of incomes and expenses of the state on the federal level for one ‘financial year’ (Finanzjahr). It binds the administration. It cannot be invoked in order to breach financial obligations with private parties.[1]

According to Art. 51 (1) B-VG (in its 2013 version), the National Council decides about a Federal Financial Framework Law (for one plus three years) and within its boundaries the Federal Financial Act (for upcoming financial year) on the basis of a proposal by the government. The content of these laws (and how they are supposed to be made) is determined in Art. 51 (2) to (13).

General change        
II.2
How has the budgetary process changed since the beginning of the financial/Eurozone crisis?

In 2008, a complete reform of the Federal Budget Law has been decided on constitutional level. In a first step, in 2009, amendments of the existing budget law came into force and a “Financial Framework Law” in which the legislator would fix spending limits for specific “clusters” (such as e.g. “Law and Security”) – around 5, “subdivisions” – around 30 and “global budgets” – around 70[2] for the financial year and also for the three subsequent years.[3] In a second step, the Federal Budget Law was completely substituted by a new one, the Bundeshaushaltsgesetz 2013 (BHG 2013). This new law contains the provisions from the 2009 amendments and several entirely new principles and provisions.[4] One of these new principles is the “output orientation” of the administration – costs should be related to output. The budget should further be better structured which is why the above mentioned new divisions were introduced.[5] All together it should be a “best practice” example of “steering instrument” that lays out not only resources but also effects and measures (to be) taken.

Institutional change   
II.3
What institutional changes are brought about by the changes in the budgetary process, e.g. relating to competences of parliament, government, the judiciary and independent advisory bodies?

The major innovation is the financial framework law that obliges the National Council to set limits for expenditures for four years (see question II.2 for further details).

Change of time-line       
II.4

How has the time-line of the budgetary cycle changed as a result of the implementation of Euro-crisis law?

See questions II.3.

Miscellaneous
II.5
What other information is relevant with regard to Austria and changes to the budgetary process?

No other relevant information.

[1]              Öhlinger, 2009, p. 208.

[2]              Austrian Stability Program, (see section VI, note 4), p. 37

[3]              Öhlinger 2009, p. 208.

[4]              Explanations by the Government for their proposal of the Federal Budget Law 2013 (Bundeshaushaltsgesetz BHG 2013) at the National Council, December 9, 2012, at http://www.parlament.gv.at/PAKT/VHG/XXIV/I/I_00578/fname_174362.pdf.

[5]              Presentation of the Federal Ministry of Finance to explain the new budgetary law, at https://www.bmf.gv.at/budget/haushaltsrechtsreform/Workshop__Die_neue_Budgetsteuerung_im_Bund_%28Stand_8.10.2012%29.pdf?3vtkfo.