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Austrians Need Constitutional Right to Pay in Cash, Mahrer Says

Austrians should have the constitutional right to use cash to protect their privacy, Deputy Economy Minister Harald Mahrer said, as the European Union considers curbing the use of banknotes and coins.

“We don’t want someone to be able to track digitally what we buy, eat and drink, what books we read and what movies we watch,” Mahrer said on Austrian public radio station Oe1. “We will fight everywhere against rules” including caps on cash purchases, he said.

EU finance ministers vowed at a meeting in Brussels on Friday to crack down on “illicit cash movements.” They urged the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, to “explore the need for appropriate restrictions on cash payments exceeding certain thresholds and to engage with the European Central Bank to consider appropriate measures regarding high denomination notes, in particular the 500-euro note.”

Ministers told the commission to report on its findings by May 1.

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