Sebastian Kurz was born in 1986 in Vienna. Since 2003, he has been actively involved in the Young Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP), before he became Chairman of its Viennese branch in 2008, and in the following year was elected as Federal Chairman. In 2011, Sebastian Kurz was appointed State Secretary for Integration. By focusing on the new approach “integration through performance”, he achieved not only significant improvements in the integration area but succeeded also in de-emotionalising the public debate thereon. His guiding principle and its underlying concept of "promote and demand" have changed integration policy in Austria substantially. On December 16th 2013, he was sworn in as Austrian Federal Minister for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs. At the same time, Sebastian Kurz further enhanced Austria’s position as an international bridge builder and a venue for dialogue by hosting major international conferences - such as the Syria Peace Talks or the Iran Talks. He also initiated a structural reform in the ministry, allowing a broader spectrum of interested academics to pursue a career in the diplomatic service. In 2014, Sebastian Kurz was Chairman of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe and acted as Chairperson-in-Office of the OSCE during the Austrian Chairmanship in 2017. Besides this global agenda, he also served as Chairman of the Political Academy of the Austrian People’s Party, a think tank and political training institution from 2015 to 2018. In 2017, Sebastian Kurz was elected federal party leader of the People’s Party. This was the beginning of a new movement, which, relying on proven forces and innovative change at the same time, became the party with the most votes (31,5%) in the National Council elections 2017. Sebastian Kurz served as Federal Chancellor from December 2017 to May 2019, before snap general elections were held on 29 September 2019 in which the New People’s Party achieved a historical electoral success of 37,5%. Sebastian Kurz was (again) sworn in as Federal Chancellor on 7 January 2020.
Will the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) suffice as the main vehicle for a post-COVID19 recovery, and what are some other instruments key to recovery? What are the cornerstones of national strategies for post-COVID19 recoveries? History has shown that successful recovery spending – at the EU level and at home – is a high-stake challenge: how can the implementation bottlenecks be overcome to place the region of Central Europe on the trajectory towards sustainable, green and intelligent growth?
The policy response to the pandemic has been hotly debated among EU capitals since spring 2020. A shared solution materialized a rescue package five times larger than the Marshall Plan, with the aim of providing relief and increasing EU economies’ resilience. EU capitals have been hard-pressed to submit detailed recovery plans with implementation milestones to Brussels to access their fund allocations and begin rebuilding. The hope has been that by pushing through unpalatable reforms together with sizeable funds underwritten by 27 member states, that the EU economy can be jumpstarted. Twelve months fast-forward, the jury is out to openly evaluate progress made towards the coveted resilient EU.