THURSDAY 23 MARCH
The city of Luxembourg is uncertain on how to implement a proposed begging ban. During the City Breakfast earlier this week, details were still unclear, as Mayor Lydie Polfer stated that people can still sit on the ground but may no longer ask for money. Mayor Polfer and First Alderman Serge Wilmes stated that a general ban would also affect those not part of an organised network of beggars. They stressed that doing nothing against “organised gangs” is not an option either. They also noted that there are “other services” that help people in need.
Another issue discussed at City Breakfast was the installation of 24 cameras at Hamilius. The project will be voted on by the city council next Monday. If approved, the cameras are expected to be operational by the summer. Initially there had been cameras installed after the redevelopment of the bus station but they were later removed.
The University of Luxembourg will introduce new nursing degrees as the country continues to rely heavily on cross-border healthcare workers. Four new courses in specialised nursing sciences will be available the next academic year, and three more will be offered in 2024 The new bachelor degrees will be available to anyone who has already completed a degree in general nursing. The country has had a nursing shortage for several years.
Around 70% of people living in Luxembourg City are foreigners and around 90% of them have not yet registered to vote in the local elections, according to Mayor Lydie Polfer. Overall, around 13% of the 257,000 foreigners living across the country had registered, Family Affairs and Integration Minister Corinne Cahen said earlier this month.
In related news; the Chamber of Deputies has passed another amendment to the election law that allows non-Luxembourgish nationals to vote in municipal elections. Previously, officials working for the European institutions or agents of international organisations based in certain countries were still unable to vote. This is because they have a “legitimation permit” rather than a residence permit. Legislators have stressed that it had not been the intention to exclude people and this is why the amendment was passed.
WEDNESDAY 22 MARCH
Violations of labour laws resulted in nearly four times more fines last year than in 2018. In response to a parliamentary question, Labour Minister Georges Engel said yesterday that the Inspectorate of Labour and Mines issued nearly 2,400 fines, totalling 10.5 million euros. A lack of medical examinations, failure to pay wages and failing to record working hours were the most frequent labour law infringements. The increased number of fines issued is the result of the inspectorate hiring significantly more staff – currently 220 people including 112 work inspectors.
The Alternative Democratic Reform Party has demanded the creation of an independent committee to review the government’s management of the pandemic crisis. The ADR accused the government of shortcomings regarding vaccinations and put forward a list of 20 demands for the government in relation to the pandemic, with vaccine damages considered the “most important subject.” The party also questioned whether there were procedures in place regarding reparations for vaccine damages.
The fast train to Paris will not be available for the 2024 Olympic Games because railway works will block the direct connection. Construction work at the Bettembourg station from mid-July to mid-August is anticipated to affect the journey between Luxembourg and the French capital where the Olympic Games will take place between 26 July and 11 August 2024. Routes between Luxembourg, Metz and Esch will also be affected. In December, Transport Minister François Bausch revealed that almost one in ten trains in Luxembourg were delayed or cancelled in 2022.
The Research Luxembourg COVID-19 Task Force has been awarded the ‘Science for Society’ Prize for 2022. The Task Force, a collaboration of Luxembourgish research institutes, advised on key government decisions, such as the large-scale testing scheme by regularly providing data during the pandemic. The collective’s role in “bringing evidence-based research findings to the public’s attention in educational and informative ways” was also highlighted. The Science for Society Prize jury is made up of independent members of the research community, the technology sector and the press and the award also delivers a €5,000 cash prize.
TUESDAY 21 MARCH
As orders decline and prices rise, construction companies want the government to intervene and save jobs. Rising interest rates have altered Luxembourg’s real estate market, with the housing market currently in limbo, according to construction company chiefs. The Luxembourg Federation of Construction and Civil Engineering Companies will advise the government to pay partial unemployment as less work means fewer workers are needed. Construction companies also want the government to encourage home buyers by allowing an exemption from registration fees, reducing VAT, and increasing tax credits.
Luxembourg’s unemployment rate stood at 4.8% or 15,650 jobseekers in February. According to ADEM, Luxembourg’s employment agency, this figure represented an increase of 310 people. The number of new jobseeker registrations also rose by 446 people compared to February 2022. 67 registrations were refugees or beneficiaries of temporary protection. During February, employers declared 3,389 vacancies to ADEM, a drop of 3.4% compared to February 2022. The total number of available positions stood at 11,271.
Luxembourg’s army has improved its screening process after hiring a doctor with a criminal record. This follows the hiring of a Senegal-born doctor who had been previously convicted of fraud and is currently on trial in Belgium for falsifying covid certificates for money. Responding to a parliamentary question from the CSV, Defense Minister François Bausch said new army contractors will have to show their criminal records before signing a work contract. Medical certificates issued by the doctor during the two days he worked for Luxembourg’s army were found to have no irregularities, Bausch added.
Luxembourg has fallen three places and now ranks 9th in the ‘World Happiness Report’. Marking yesterday’s ‘International Day of Happiness’ US researchers published the 2023 edition of the report which calculates people’s average happiness from six factors: social support, income, health, personal freedom, generosity, and absence of corruption. Countries in the top ten scored close together with a gap of just 0.7 points separating the first and tenth positions. Finland, Denmark and Iceland grabbed the top three spots.
MONDAY 20 MARCH
The Commercial Union of the city of Luxembourg (UCVL) approves the banning of beggars. In a press release, the union says the high number of beggars in the city centre made the commercial areas less attractive for visitors, and therefore had a negative financial impact for the businesses. Last Friday, the aldermanic college of the city submitted a proposal to ban begging from 7am to 10pm in the city’s parks, public squares and certain streets. The City Council will vote on the proposal next week.
Luxembourg’s GDP dropped for the first time since the start of the covid-19-pandemic in 2020. In the fourth quarter of last year, the GDP fell by 2.2 %, the national statistics agency Statec reports. The financial and the insurance sector as well as industry counted the highest losses. For the whole year of 2022, Statec estimates a positive growth of 1.6%
The trade union OGBL supports the strikes of Belgian supermarket chain Delhaize employees. Some 9.000 employees in Belgium oppose the company’s plan to run all its supermarkets as franchises with independent managers in the future. The company with this move wants to foster investments and become more flexible to adapt to the consumers’ needs, they say. During this transition, 280 employees will lose their jobs. The OGBL fears similar moves for the Luxembourg Delhaize supermarkets in the future.
From next school year on, a new humanities section will be added to three secondary schools, Education Minister Claude Meisch announced. Pupils at the Lycée Belval, the Lycée de Garçons in Luxembourg City, and the Lycée Classique in Diekirch will have the possibility to choose the “P”-section. They’ll focus on cognitive science, communication science as well as humanities and social science. Students shall learn about the role of the individual in a technologically developing society. Minister Meisch says these topics are lacking in the regular school curriculum. This lack has often been criticised by students themselves. Many have voiced the wish to learn more about society and humanities in school.
FRIDAY 17 MARCH
Two former Hesperange municipal officials were sentenced to prison yesterday for embezzling public funds. The main defendant was sentenced to 7 years in prison, and fined 50,000 euros. The other was sentenced to 5 years in prison, and fined 30,000 euros. A merchant, also involved, was sentenced to one year in prison and fined 15,000 euros. The officials will also have to pay the municipality over 7 million euros in damages. Finally, property seized during the investigation will be confiscated. Defendants have 40 days to appeal.
Prime Minister Xavier Bettel met Google representatives during his business mission to California and the planned construction of a data centre in Bissen was discussed. In an interview with RTL, Bettel said that the results of the talks were a disappointment. Because the data centre in Luxembourg is currently not a priority for Google. The reason for this is the geopolitical situation and the question of energy supply. However, Luxembourg previously announced the establishment of a new offer for data security and Google is interested in establishing itself in the Grand Duchy in this context.
The ruling party coalition in Luxembourg City is proposing to put an end to the presence of beggars on certain streets. The Democratic Party – CSV majority will propose at the next municipal council meeting to ban begging on specific streets in the city centre, Bonnevoie and the Gare district, between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. Depending on the season, there are up to 200 beggars.
Schieburg Tunnel will not reopen as planned, CFL said yesterday. Train traffic will continue to be interrupted for at least another seven weeks due to unstable rock slopes in Burden, delaying the reopening of the tunnel beyond its planned Easter deadline. The tunnel has been closed since a landslide in August 2022. Replacement bus services have been put in place between Ettelbruck and Kautenbach as well as between Kautenbach and Wiltz. Travellers are advised to consult the CFL website for more information.
THURSDAY 16 MARCH
Charity organisation Caritas has criticised the government over its plan to put more than 70 refugee children in one shelter. Public broadcaster 100.7 reported yesterday that the refugees – aged between 16 and 18 – who arrived in Luxembourg unaccompanied will be placed in the shelter despite not providing round-the-clock care and security. Caritas says the number of refugee children exceeds the capacity for the facility located in Luxembourg City. The government dismissed the concerns and called the situation “provisional”.
Since the Animal Welfare Bill was implemented in 2018, Luxembourg’s authorities have recorded over 270 offences involving animal abuse. In response to a parliamentary question, Minister of Justice Sam Tanson and Minister of Agriculture Claude Haagen said 65% of the cases concerned farm animals and 35% domestic animals. In the last five years, 13,700 farm animals have been killed by the State to end their suffering as a result of animal abuse. Most animal welfare violations concerned inadequate animal housing, a lack of adequate food, drink, or care.
Prime Minister Xavier Bettel’s office has disputed the Grand Duke’s recent statement concerning staff mistreatment at the House of the Grand Duke. Grand Duke Henri denied he had agreed to a special meeting with Prime Minister Bettel during a press conference in Riga, where he is on a state visit. However, the Secretary General of the Government Council said a special meeting was still planned after Bettel had spoken to the royal couple in January. No date has been fixed but the meeting is expected to happen soon.
The government reported space firm Spacety Luxembourg to the public prosecutor’s office this week after allegations that its parent company supplied satellite images of Ukraine to the Russian Wagner mercenary group. In January the US Department of the Treasury added Spacety’s parent company into the Specially Designated Nationals List. The list contains individuals and companies owned or controlled by, or acting for or on behalf of, Russia. Spacety has denied the claims, but Luxembourg’s economy and foreign ministries filed a complaint for possible violations of EU sanctions against Russia and export controls.
WEDNESDAY 15 MARCH
The Luxembourg Confederation of Christian Trade Unions has again demanded “concrete and swift actions on a national level” to address the shortage of certain medicines. Patients are struggling to obtain commonly used drugs such as cough syrups and the head of the Association of Luxembourg Pharmacies recently told RTL that he had never seen anything like this before. The union accused the government of “burying its head in the sand” and Minister of Health Paulette Lenert and Minister of Social Security Claude Haagen were accused of waiting for the problem to solve itself. The LCGB demands a list of all medicines that are regularly out of stock be compiled, the establishment of a national drug reserve, and a clearly defined national action plan.
Instances of euthanasia in Luxembourg have reached a record high in the last two years. According to a new report presented to the Chamber of Deputies yesterday, doctors carried out 58 assisted suicides in 2021 and 2022. In the previous two years, 41 employed euthanasia with most cases related to the over-60s and people who had terminal cancer, followed by neurodegenerative diseases. The higher numbers are attributed to greater public awareness about the issue. The report also noted that the national health fund, the CNS, has yet to agree on the cost of charging patients for services related to euthanasia.
Railway company CFL announced yesterday that bad weather has caused unstable rock walls along the tracks. Rail traffic has therefore been halted between Ettelbruck-Kautenbach and Kautenbach-Wiltz. CFL said a company is analysing the risk and undertaking stabilisation works but could not say how long the interruption will last. Replacement buses have been provided and the municipality of Ettelbruck will make 350 parking spaces available to travellers, for free, at the Däich car park from today.
Three speed radars on the A7 motorway will become fully operational today. The devices will become operational in the Stafelter, Grouft and Gousselerbierg tunnels on the A7 motorway following a test phase that began in December. The maximum speed within the tunnels is 90 km/h, although the cameras will adjust automatically should this be changed because of roadworks, high traffic volume or an accident.
TUESDAY 14 MARCH
The Chamber of Deputies’ health commission yesterday agreed to end the remaining coronavirus measures by the end of this month because of the current situation. The Christian Social People’s Party reasoned that the Omicron variant is less pathogenic than expected, that infection numbers remain low meaning that keeping these measures no longer makes sense. The president of the health commission suggested that the compulsory wearing of masks within the health and care sectors might be continued but would no longer be regulated by law. The latest amendments to the pandemic law still need to be submitted to the Chamber of Deputies before the end of this legislative period.
Luxembourg has purchased 14 armoured ambulances for the Ukrainian military to use. The defence directorate said in a press release the vehicles formed part of Luxembourg’s defence support for Ukraine. The vehicles were refurbished and modified after previously being used by the British army in countries such as Afghanistan. The Luxembourg-based organisation LUkraine has taken eight ambulances to Ukraine. The remaining six will be delivered directly from the UK via Poland to Ukraine.
Luxembourg has sent 27 military personnel to Romania, to participate in NATO’s enhanced Vigilance Activities. Luxembourg’s participation anticipates a maximum of 30 army members, for a total duration of 28 months. Their mission is to participate in light reconnaissance with a Dutch/Belgian company, as well as operational, administrative, logistic or medical support positions. Luxembourg’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence, François Bausch, thanked the Luxembourg soldiers and said their presence sends a signal of deterrence and of the will to defend the Euro-Atlantic area together.
Luxembourgers’ eating habits were criticised at a recent conference organised by the Ministry for Consumer Protection and the Ministry of Agriculture, Viticulture and Rural Development. Cardiologist Dr Philippe Müller claimed Luxembourg residents ate too much fat, too much sugar, and too many calories and called it an “epidemic” comparable to the one in the United States. Dr Müller believes that people must fundamentally change their eating habits by reducing consumption of meat, dairy, and processed foods. Caritas however say that a healthy diet is tied to financial means and that a growing number of people in Luxembourg are facing poverty.
MONDAY 13 MARCH
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is concerned about the steady increase of Luxembourg’s public expenditure. IMF representatives spent two weeks in Luxembourg to evaluate the public finances. In a press conference, two experts concluded that Luxembourg’s economy is in a good condition in general, with Luxembourg being one of the few countries that still have some flexibility. However, they’ve also observed several measures lacking efficiency. The IMF representatives fear that the tripartite measures to support the households amid high inflation, could make the prices rise even more, and that the energy subsidy would keep people from saving energy, and therefore foster climate change. The experts suggested a number of measures to make Luxembourg’s public finances more resilient.
The home care and assistance provider heem.lu is preparing to file for bankruptcy, RTL reports. The company couldn’t pay the employees’ salaries last month due to the seizure of company assets. The seizure happened in the frame of an investigation launched by the public prosecutor. The company heem.lu and its manager have allegedly been involved in fraud and money laundering. The anti-fraud service of the National Health Fund (CNS) has filed reports about the company having billed for additional services that the staff didn’t deliver in the homes of clients. The 150 patients and large parts of the staff have already been transferred to different other care providers, heem.lu’s lawyer told RTL.
The Green Party dei Greng has nominated Sam Tanson and Francois Bausch as their top candidates for the legislative election in October. Sam Tanson is the current Minister of Justice and Culture. Francois Bausch is vice-prime minister and minister for mobility and public works. The green party’s statutes oblige them to appoint two lead candidates – to achieve gender equality in the party leadership.
The Luxembourg-based consultancy firm LuxMobility presented Luxembourg’s first ambulance drone to the public. LuxMobility is a partner in the European project “Airmour” that aims to develop and distribute medical drones for first aid. The drone can carry one to two passengers. It could be used to transport personnel or emergency equipment to the scene of an accident for instance without being held up by traffic. The drones will also be open for commercial use. Paperjam reports that the European Union member states are about to define their air spaces open for drones with and without a pilot and the actors that will be eligible to get an authorisation.
WEDNESDAY 8 MARCH
The government, trade unions, and employer representatives signed the latest tripartite agreement yesterday. This agreement, the third in less than a year, is intended to lessen the economic effects of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Among the measures agreed, the state will compensate businesses for the wage indexation which is expected to be triggered in autumn. Households will continue to receive reduced energy prices until the end of 2024 while the energy grant for people on the cost-of-living allowance will also be extended. The government will adjust the tax table by 2.5 wage indexations in 2024 and introduce a tax credit equivalent in 2023 worth two indexations.
Former Minister for the Environment Carole Dieschbourg can now testify in court over the so-called ‘Garden Shed Affair.’ 59 MPs voted to pass a resolution that authorised the former Green Party minister to “take all possible measures to bring the truth to light.” The president of the Chamber of Deputies, Fernand Etgen, announced the decision yesterday which also allows for Dieschbourg’s home to be searched and requires that she cooperate in the gathering of expert evidence. The resolution also allows for a pre-trial judicial investigation.
The birth rate in Luxembourg has risen within the last five years, the health ministry announced this week. The birth rate grew by 3.1% between 2017 and 2019 in Luxembourg. According to the ministry’s triennial report, written with the Luxembourg Institute of Health, the birth rate grew by 3.1% between 2017 and 2019. This is attributed to a rise in the number of foreign nationals giving birth in the Grand Duchy, bucking the EU trend which has seen rates drop over the last five decades. Luxembourg’s rise defies the EU trend, where birth rates have consistently fallen since 1970, according to the World Bank.
Film Fund Luxembourg announced this week that the film ‘Rebel’, a co-production between Belgium, France, and Luxembourg, has received an award at Belgium’s Magritte Awards. Co-produced by Callach Films in Luxembourg; ‘Rebel’, by directors Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah, won the Magritte Award for Best Original Score. Previously previewed at the Cannes Film Festival in 2022, the film follows two brothers from Belgium who are forcibly enrolled to fight jihad in Syria.
TUESDAY 7 MARCH
Luxembourg’s Left party has filed an appeal to ban private security agents from patrolling the streets of the capital. The private guards are set to return to Gare and Bonnevoie on 15 March. Security agents were removed at the end of 2021 following a disagreement between Luxembourg City Mayor Lydie Polfer and the government over who should maintain public order on the streets. However, the court of administration dismissed the complaint as the judge argued that it lacked justification.
Women in Luxembourg on average are now earning more per hour than men, even though men still have higher annual wages, a study by STATEC shows. In all other EU countries, this hourly wage indicator remains in favour of men. On average in Europe, men earn 12.7% more per hour than women. To date, Luxembourg is the only EU Member State where equal pay has been achieved. One reason behind this is that women are generally better educated than men, leading to a so-called “education gap”. Furthermore, women are strongly present in high-wage industries but still remain under-represented in very high wage positions
Luxembourg is constructing a Cyber Defence Cloud to be used both by Luxembourg and other NATO countries according to Defence Minister François Bausch. The partner countries will be responsible for the content of the cloud, but the Grand Duchy will provide the structure and ensure its safe connectivity. The project will run for over 12 years and has a budget of €250 million. The cloud is expected to be ready for use in two years.
A new scam that aims to divert salaries to criminal accounts is surging in Luxembourg. The scammers contact employees in companies who are responsible for payroll processing – on behalf of another employee of the company. Then they inform the person responsible about an alleged change in their “own” account details and give a new bank account to which the salary should be transferred in the future. The scam affects both small and large companies and has increased significantly in the Grand Duchy in recent months.The public prosecutor’s office is appealing to companies to “urgently” check account changes directly with employees. In the event of fraud, call the police immediately.
MONDAY 6 MARCH
Luxembourg will invest 1 billion euros to combat inflation until the end of next year. This is the result of the latest tripartite negotiations between government, employer representatives and labour unions. The cap on energy prices and the energy subsidy for low-income households are being extended until the end of next year and companies will receive compensation for the indexation payment. Two wage indexations are announced for this year, the first is due in April, it was postponed from last year. The government further agrees to the labour union OGBL’s proposal to adjust tax brackets to the level of two and a half indexation payments. The measures should keep inflation at 2.8 percent. Without these measures, inflation would reach nearly 5 percent, the national statistics agency Statec had predicted.
Luxembourg has the lowest inflation rate in the eurozone, new figures published by the European statistics office Eurostat show. With 4.8 percent, Luxembourg ranges ahead of Belgium and Spain. Inflation is highest in the Baltic countries. Estonia recorded 20 percent, and Lithuania and Slovakia more than 17 percent. With the eurozone’s medium inflation rate ranging at 8.5 percent, the European Central Bank is likely to raise interest rates again.
Luxembourg continues to reduce gas and electricity consumption, energy minister Claude Thurmes said in a press release. In February, Luxembourg consumed 22 percent less natural gas than the average of the previous five Februarys. Luxembourg consistently meets the goal set by the European Union. In July, last year, the member states committed to decrease natural gas consumption by minimum 15 percent to prevent potential disruptions to gas supply. Electricity consumption has also dropped by nearly 9 percent in February compared to the average of the past five years.
Together with 200 volunteers, the NGO Greenpeace on Saturday planted a so-called Tiny Forest in Mertzig. They planted 600 trees of different kinds to improve the local climate according to the Miywaki method. With three trees per square-metre, this dense micro-forest shall reduce pollution and noise better and absorb more CO2 than traditional tree plantings.
THURSDAY 2 MARCH
A prominent anti-vaxxer has this week been fined 1,500 euros for comparing Luxembourg’s Covid-19 vaccine policy to Nazi medical experiments on prisoners. In another tweet from 2021, Jean-Marie Jacoby appeared to endorse hanging to punish politicians. In court, Jacoby claimed he never asked anyone to hang Prime Minister Xavier Bettel and Justice Minister Sam Tanson, but the prosecution said his claim that politicians wanted to carry out human experiments qualified as an outrage.
Prosecutors will investigate the causes of Saturday’s leak from a biogas plant in Beckerich that polluted three nearby rivers near the border with Belgium. An estimated 1,000 cubic metres of manure is thought to have polluted the rivers as a result of the spill. The Ministry for the Environment, Climate and Sustainable Development yesterday acknowledged that the source of the spill has yet to be determined. The Ministry also noted that thorough safety analyses were being planned to reduce the risk of potential spills from biogas stations in Luxembourg.
In Schifflange, the source of a bad smell that has affected the area over the last few days has been identified. Speaking to RTL yesterday, Schifflange Mayor Paul Weimerskirch verified that a local canal had been contaminated by a chemical leak. A special team from the Grand Ducal Fire and Rescue Corps identified the source of the contamination after residents had complained about a smell of gas in the area. Authorities gave the all-clear after a team cleaned up the canal over the course of yesterday.
The Luxembourg-based European Public Prosecutor’s Office helped seize cash and property, worth 360 million euros in 2022 from suspected criminal operations. A recent report by EPPO claims its investigators were working on nearly 1,120 active cases by the end of last year with a combined value of over 14 billion euros. That figure includes over 2 billion euros from their largest case, which has links to Luxembourg, and has been ongoing for years without authorities connecting the dots until the EPPO’s participation.
WEDNESDAY 1 MARCH
Twenty-five Luxembourg soldiers will be sent to reinforce NATO’s frontline in Romania in the next two weeks. Prime Minister Xavier Bettel confirmed the deployment this week during a visit by Romanian President Klaus Johannis. Parliament approved the mission in Romania as part of a multinational battalion including French, Dutch and Belgian soldiers. Luxembourg ended the duties of troops on an EU training mission in Mali in December.
The Alternative Democratic Reform Party has demanded an independent inquiry into the government’s management of the coronavirus pandemic. The ADR expressed concern yesterday that the Luxembourg government has not yet declared the pandemic over and accused the government of restricting freedoms. The party is asking for an inquiry with an independent commission to review the measures and their application. The patients’ representatives association have also recently called for an independent inquiry.
The government estimates that nearly 5 million euros of old banknotes have not been redeemed. Finance Minister Yuriko Backes claims that more than 864,000 of the 100, 1,000 and 5,000 Luxembourg franc notes have yet to be exchanged for euros. However, Minister Backes warned that a deadline is approaching although the Central Bank of Luxembourg is still redeeming notes bearing the image of former Grand Duke Jean. The central bank’s web site displays images of Luxembourg banknotes that are still refundable.
Luxembourg City mayor, Lydie Polfer, has confirmed that the International Women’s Day march can gather at Place Hamilius. Rumours had circulated that Abu Dhabi’s sovereign wealth fund, which has a 75-year lease to redevelop the area, would not allow the march to gather. However, Mayor Polfer stated this week that Place Hamilius is a public square and a demonstration is a constitutional right that does not have to be approved. The International Women’s Day march is scheduled for Wednesday March 8.
TUESDAY 28 FEBRUARY
Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, Jean Asselborn, was admitted to hospital with a flu infection on Sunday night. In a press release, the foreign ministry said yesterday that Asselborn is being treated for a type A influenza infection. Minister Asselborn’s immediate trips have been cancelled and will be postponed to a later date.
The Luxembourg Confederation of Christian Trade Unions yesterday demanded fast and definite action to fight medicine shortages. In their statement, the LCGB claim they have warned the government since last November about the issue of medicine shortages in Luxembourg. Affected pharmacists say the shortages are not only linked to disruptions of the supply chains, but also to Luxembourg’s dependence on other countries, especially Belgium. The LCGB claims Belgium has decided on restrictions on the export of medicines and urges the government for transparency and concrete measures to tackle the problem.
The Hospital Federation of Luxembourg Hospitals has unveiled the six key themes of its 2030 vision for the hospital and healthcare sector. By 2030, the FHL believes that hospital medicine should be centred on the patient; the sector should use more digital tools; and that patients should be a true partner of healthcare professionals. Furthermore, the FHL thinks the sector should bolster data management, contributing towards “smart hospitals”; better forecasting of the skills required by the sector; a future financing model that encourages value creation.
Non-profit organisation ASTI has announced a new online tool to raise awareness about the many elections in Luxembourg. Called ‘LetzVote’, the online tool lets users discover the different aspects of national, European and municipal elections through animations, multiple choice quizzes and filling out a mock ballot. The website is available in French and English, with Luxembourgish, German and Portuguese set to follow. LetzVote is aimed at new voters, including young people and people who recently acquired Luxembourgish nationality. More information can be found at www.letzvote.lu.
MONDAY 27 FEBRUARY
The mayor of Diekirch Claude Thill has appealed against last week’s ruling to abandon the increase in property tax, RTL reports. Thill says the increased tax is the right choice considering the urgent need for housing. Three years ago, the municipality of Diekirch adopted the increased property tax for unused land, with the approval of the Ministry of Interior. All unused land located within the building perimeter has since been taxed 20 times higher. Last week, the administrative court ruled in favour of 15 affected people who filed a complaint against the increased property tax.
A large leak of biomass was reported at the Beckerich biogas plant on Saturday. The three rivers Millebaach, Näerderbaach, and Pall are likely to be polluted. A team of firefighters and agents of police, the Nature and Forestry Administration and the Water Management Administration (AGE) has installed pumps and other devices to limit the impacted zone. The AGE took water samples to assess the impact. The biomass leaked from a pipe of the Beckerich biogas plant directly into the Millebaach. Biomass is organic material such as plants or animal and food waste, that can be converted into biogas.
A solidarity march for Ukraine attracted around 600 protesters on Saturday. The association LUkraine called for more action to support Ukraine, one day after the anniversary of the invasion. Ukrainians and supporters marched through the city of Luxembourg to show solidarity.
Real estate prices are about to drop by 2.3 percent this year, the national statistics agency Statec predicts. The demand has been low lately due to the high interest rates for loans. All banks reported a drop in real estate loans at the end of last year. Nevertheless, the banks benefit from the high interest rates. Statec’s report shows that the interest margin for Luxembourg’s banks increased by 37 percent last year.
THURSDAY 23 FEBRUARY
Luxembourg is strengthening its humanitarian support for people affected by the recent earthquakes in Turkey and Syria. A directorate within Luxembourg’s Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs has donated 8,000 sleeping bags, 2,000 hygiene kits and twelve electric generators. The Directorate also paid the transport costs of in-kind donations collected by the Turkish Embassy in Luxembourg. The donations include over 200 pallets of medical consumable items provided by Luxembourg’s Ministry of Health and the Luxembourg Hospital Federation. The donations are being flown by two charter flights operated by Cargolux. The first flight took place yesterday morning.
Trade unions have called in a public mediator to try and resolve a dispute with state-owned Cargolux. The LCGB and OGBL trade unions argue that Cargolux workers are not being sufficiently recognised for their efforts over the last three years. The workforce has helped Cargolux get through the pandemic and deliver record-breaking financial results for three consecutive years, the unions claim and are demanding a better work-life balance, more stable working hours and improved career prospects for staff. They say they have called in the National Mediation Office because Cargolux management is not prepared to engage in genuine and serious negotiations.
The government sent parliament a draft law this week that authorises investing €195 million into 11 satellites to strengthen NATO allies’ communication capacity and security. The satellites, run by Luxembourg-based space company SES, will be stationed at an altitude of 8,000 kilometres above the earth’s surface and will be operational by year-end, the draft law says. The satellite constellation will receive co-funding from the US that exceeds Luxembourg’s contribution, but the draft law does not specify an amount. Defence Minister François Bausch will present the bill to parliament on Thursday.
A new government brochure for companies regarding gender equality in companies was published yesterday. Presented by the minister for equality between women and men, Taina Bofferding, and the minister for labour and employment, Georges Engel, the brochure is intended as a practical tool to encourage companies to make further progress on this issue. The brochure provides tips and advice and is a reminder that gender equality is a strategic issue for any company.
WEDNESDAY 22 FEBRUARY
The number of asylum seekers and unaccompanied minors in Luxembourg nearly doubled in 2022 from the previous year. Foreign Affairs Minister Jean Asselborn said yesterday that Luxembourg registered over 2,200 asylum seekers in 2022, which equaled the EU average of 51%. Half of total asylum seekers were Syrian while others were from Eritrea, Afghanistan, Turkey and Venezuela. Another figure that has doubled are those asylum seekers requiring accommodation. Accordingly, the national reception office for asylum seekers is building new accommodations and a new temporary housing structure was opened last week in Frisange.
Luxembourg’s three major unions have requested an additional meeting with Prime Minister Xavier Bettel ahead of next month’s tripartite meeting. Yuriko Backes claimed this week that adjusting the tax table to inflation would “not be responsible” thereby opposing one of the main demands made by unions. The unions argue that although employees get a 2.5% gross increase with each indexation, this results in a 1.75% net increase. Unions say that employees’ purchasing power continues to decrease with each indexation and called for an end to the creeping and hidden tax pressure.
Nearly 200 people were tallied as homeless in Luxembourg City on a single day in October of last year. A study carried out by the government and the charity Inter-Actions saw over 60 social workers count the homeless population in the capital from 5pm to midnight on October 26. The results, released yesterday, show the vast majority of the homeless were sleeping on the streets of the capital, and that over 80% were men. Only a quarter were Luxembourgish and over half had been homeless for more than a year. Additional surveys will be done in May and December this year, the government said.
A recent white paper from the Pharmacists’ Syndicate contends that customer service should be expanded. Up to 2,000 people visit Luxembourg’s pharmacies daily, mostly to collect medicines. The Syndicate say pharmacists should also help manage long-term treatments, and want to introduce consulting pharmacists who can help patients set up a medication plan. The Pharmacists’ Syndicate also regrets that pharmacists were only allowed to vaccinate people against Covid-19 and claim they could administer the regular flu shot.
TUESDAY 21 FEBRUARY
Luxembourg’s unemployment rate edged up to 4.9% last month, an increase of 0.1% from December, according to ADEM. The number of job openings climbed 60% over the same period. The Grand Duchy’s unemployment rate remains well below the EU average, which fell to a new record low of 6.5% in December.
Less than 12% of foreign residents were registered as of the end of last month to vote in the next municipal elections to be held in June. The purpose of these elections is to appoint municipal councillors for a period of six years. Women are slightly ahead of men in terms of voter registration, according to the Ministry for Family Affairs and Integration. Senior residents are more interested in the municipal elections than young people. Interest also increases according to residence duration and EU citizens are generally more represented than people from outside of the Union. For more information on how to register, go to ICanVote.lu
Adjusting the tax table to inflation would “not be responsible” at the moment according to Minister of Finance, Yuriko Backes. With only two weeks before the upcoming tripartite meeting with the government’s social partners, the DP politician made it clear that she does not support one of the main demands made by unions. In an interview with RTL Radio yesterday, she elaborated that Luxembourg is currently in an economic crisis and that from a structural point of view, the proposed adjustment would cost “more than €1 billion”. This would burden the state budget for years to come. The minister still supports the targeted tax credits that she proposed last month.
Luxembourg has made little to no progress over the past year in improving the rights of the LGBTQ+ community. The Grand Duchy placed fifth out of 49 countries as one of the most progressive places according to a report by the international alliance published yesterday. The country dropped from third place the previous year for issues such as not banning conversion therapies, a lack of education on sex, no gender and sexual diversity in school programmes, and no recognition of a third gender or non-binary gender. The lack of safe spaces for the community is an area that is being addressed with the arrival of the Rainbow Center in Luxembourg City, with LGBTQ+ association Rosa Lëtzebuerg.
MONDAY 20 FEBRUARY
The Chamber of Skilled Trades and Craft (CDM) calls for more political engagement to solve the housing crisis. The situation is worsening, as a declining economy in the construction sector leads to a lesser number of new building projects. According to the CDM’s press release, during the first nine months of last year, 28 percent less apartments were built than in the previous year. The cost for material remains high and the demand is declining due to high interest rates and general financial insecurity. The CDM fears for the existence of construction companies and, among several other demands, urges the government to increase the amount of affordable housing.
The youth party of the Greens demand a crisis package for organic farmers as they are particularly hit by the soaring inflation. Amid increasing prices, people are less willing to pay the higher cost of organic products. The young Greens call for a reduced VAT for organic products, targeted financial aid for organic farmers and those who want to make the transition from conventional to organic farming. Further, they accuse the minister of Agriculture Claude Haagen of not having stood up to the government’s action plan for more organic agriculture. The plan aims at extending the share of organic farming to one fifth by 2025. According to the press release, to date, 6.3 percent of Luxembourg’s agricultural surfaces are worked organically.
The expansion of the A3 motorway will be completed by 2030, three years later than initially planned, RTL reports. The first stretch of work between the Gasperich cross and Berchem should be completed this autumn. Due to the rising cost of materials, the project budget is likely to increase by €100 million to a total of €450 million. The A3 has been under construction to add an additional lane for the past year with speed being limited to 70 km/h on restricted lanes.
THURSDAY 16 FEBRUARY
Luxembourg secured over 13 million euros in military contracts for Ukraine in 2023. Defence Minister François Bausch revealed that this equals 17% of Luxembourg’s total annual defence budget. Minister Bausch also said he would rather supply Ukraine with ammunition than with fighter planes, because pilot training and maintenance take too long. Luxembourg has also recommitted to an aid package of 1 million euros each to Bosnia, Moldova and Georgia, due to the invasion of Ukraine.
The government, employers, and trade unions will meet on 3 March to consider the tripartite measures taken last year. Prime Minister Xavier Bettel said last week he would convene a new tripartite meeting due to the latest inflation figures published by STATEC. All parties will meet to agree on a coordinated execution of the tripartite measures. Compensation for the third index tranche will also be agreed.
The European Commission is taking Luxembourg to the European Court of Justice for not adopting a whistle-blower protection law. The move comes a day after Luxembourg was fined for breaching the human rights of Raphaël Halet, the whistle-blower in the Luxleaks tax scandal. EU countries were required to adopt the directive before December 2021 but Luxembourg, and seven other member states, failed to do so. Separately, the European Court of Justice will pass judgement on Luxembourg for not following EU rules regarding the manufacture of alarm and signal weapons that can be converted to real weapons.
Several Luxembourg car dealers committed consumer code violations during the Autofestival. The Ministry of Consumer Protection said it found some car prices displayed in the showroom differed from website price, and several dealers failed to display the licence, labour rates and the prices of products sold as accessories. The Ministry reported that most resellers rectified the situation immediately. Another check by Ministry agents and Police is scheduled for this week.
WEDNESDAY 15 FEBRUARY
One in six Muslims experienced religious discrimination in Luxembourg in 2021, according to a new report from the Islamophobia Observatory. The report also claims that women are more likely to suffer Islamophobia than men. One in five Muslims said they had witnessed islamophobia which represents a 9% decrease compared to the year before. The report also alleges that Muslims in Luxembourg are subject to less hate than those in other countries. Furthermore, victims of Islamophobia are more willing to report it, the report says and Muslims are feeling more integrated in the Grand Duchy.
Luxembourg blocked the freedom of expression of the Luxleaks whistleblower, the European Court of Human Rights has ruled. Raphaël Halet had received a criminal fine of €1,000 in 2021 for leaking documents to a journalist. However, the upper chamber of the European Court of Human Rights yesterday declared that the public interest in the disclosure of that information outweighed the detrimental effects arising from it. The court ordered Luxembourg to pay €15,000 in damages and to cover Halet’s court fees of €40,000.
Luxembourg’s government has spent billions of euros to protect consumers from rising energy costs. According to think-tank Bruegel, the Grand Duchy, alongside Denmark and Germany, provided the highest support per capita in Europe, allocating €2.4 billion since September 2021. The report was published as Luxembourg reached ‘Overshoot Day’, the day when the country’s consumption of non-renewable resources exceeded what the earth can generate in that year.
The Chamber of Commerce and the Chamber of Trades say they are opposed to the reform of the renting law. Last year, housing minister Henri Kox presented the government’s amendments to the bill claiming it would lead to an effective rent ceiling and give tenants protection against extortionate rents. However, the Chambers argue that the amendments will have very little positive impact on the evolution of rents and believe they will reduce the attractiveness of investment in new rental property.
TUESDAY 14 FEBRUARY
Luxembourg residents are travelling again. According to the latest Statec tourism survey, residents made 916,000 trips abroad during the 2022 summer holidays. This is a 36% increase compared to 2019, the last summer of reference before the pandemic. The automobile is the preferred way to travel with the most popular destinations including Belgium, Italy, Spain, France and Germany.
An Iranian protester is on hunger strike in front of parliament. Amir Labbaf, a former political prisoner and opponent of the regime in Iran has been protesting with other activists in front of the Chamber of Deputies. Activists have been protesting for the last eight days to pressure Luxembourg’s government to declare a special military agency defending Iran’s regime as a terrorist organisation and to sanction leaders of the Islamic republic.
Authorities in the City of Luxembourg are removing thousands of ‘fake residents’ from population rolls. This clampdown is targeting people who falsely claim to be living in the city to receive higher welfare payments and other financial benefits. Since last year, new residents must now provide proof of an address in the capital, such as a lease agreement, the council said, after it expunged almost 5,000 people falsely registered as living in the city from population records in 2020 and 2021. Penalties for fraudulent registration at the commune can include a fine of €251 to €125,000, or imprisonment of between one month and three years. The city did not provide details on how many people had been sanctioned.
The funeral of Princess Marie-Gabrielle, godmother and aunt of Grand Duke Henri, will take place on Saturday February 18 at Ledreborg Castle, near Copenhagen. The princess died Friday at the age of 97. She was the daughter of Grand Duchess Charlotte of Luxembourg and Prince Félix. The Grand Duke will attend the funeral.
MONDAY 13 FEBRUARY
Parliament members call for a revision of the pension fund’s investment strategy. During the plenary last week, several MPs argued in favour of a revised strategy which is in line with global environmental and climate objectives. A majority showed support for a motion signed by the government coalition parties LSAP, DP and the Green Party. The motion wants to ensure that the investment strategy stays in line with the Paris Agreement and encourage investment in ecological transition. The debate in parliament was sparked by several environment protection NGOs that criticised the investment strategy 2023-2027 in the beginning of last week.
For employees in Luxembourg, work-life conflicts have increased by 40 percent since 2014. This is one of the results of the Quality of work Index 2022, presented by the Chamber of Employees last week, Delano reports. Further the study shows that employees were less satisfied with their salaries than before and they state a lack of autonomy and participation in decisions. The study also shows that half of all employees prefer a hybrid form of working in which a part of the working time is spent in the office and the other part in telework. The Chamber of Employees calls for the right of two telework days per week for all employees.
Luxembourg is among the world’s fastest countries to reach the “Overshoot Day”. The Council for Sustainable Development (CSDD) presented a study made by the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology LIST. If the global population lived like Luxembourg, humanity would have used all the biological resources that Earth regenerates during the entire year, on 22 February – whereas the Global Overshoot Day is calculated for 27 July. The CSDD calls for extensive measures to improve Luxembourg’s carbon footprint.
Last Friday, the yearly memorial service for deceased homeless people was held in the church Notre Dame in Bonnevoie. The Mass commemorated the 20 homeless people who had passed away last year. Bishop Leo Wagner called for more solidarity and empathy with the vulnerable people in society.
FRIDAY 10 FEBRUARY
The profits of Luxembourg’s largest steel company ArcelorMittal have dropped by over a third – due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The invasion impacted automotive, construction and other customers’ growth plans, the company said yesterday. The Luxembourg-based steel giant has seen some positive signs recently suggesting that the bottom of the current cycle is past. Global steel consumption outside of China is expected to rebound this year and to grow by about 5% compared to last year.
Cancer was the leading cause of death in Luxemburg last year, the Ministry of Health said in a press release. With slightly more than a quarter of all deaths in Luxembourg, the most common for men was lung cancer. For women, breast cancer is followed closely by lung cancer. Cardiovascular disease is the next leading cause of death. Covid was the third leading cause for a second year in a row. The average age of death among men was 75, while for women it was 81.
Covid cases increased by one third in the last week. More than half of the cases were reinfections. Two new deaths linked to Covid have been recorded. The vaccination centre in Limpertsberg will be closed from tomorrow on. The pop-up vaccination centre in Belval is due to close on 17 February. People who still wish to obtain a coronavirus vaccination are advised to consult the “impfen.lu” website in order to find alternative locations for the jab.
14 Luxembourg establishments received the “EcoLabel Luxembourg” and “bed+bike” labels yesterday. These distinctions were bestowed by the Minister of Tourism, Lex Delles, and the Minister of the Environment, Climate and Sustainable Development, Joëlle Welfring. In total, 43 places throughout the country have this label.
THURSDAY 9 FEBRUARY
All salaries and pensions in Luxembourg are set to rise for a third time this year. Inflation will trigger a 2.5% rise of wages at some point in the fourth trimester this year, Statec said in a press release yesterday. It would be the third automatic salary bump after one was triggered in February and a second one will be paid out in April. Following these latest economic developments and in accordance with the last tripartite agreement, Prime Minister Xavier Bettel said he would call a meeting with trade unions and employers to discuss the automatic pay rise.
Sarah Bisdorff has been found guilty of the death of her daughter Bianka. The Luxembourg City Court handed down the verdict yesterday in the case of the missing infant. The judges sentenced the mother of the baby, who has been missing since July 2015, to 30 years in prison. The sentence handed down by the court was twice as high as the one requested by the prosecution.The defendant has 40 days to appeal the verdict.
Parliament lifted immunity for government ministers under a new law passed yesterday. The new law allows former minister Carole Dieschbourg to be interviewed over the granting of an illegal building permit which led to her resignation. It was unanimously approved by deputies and will allow similar cases to be decided by the judiciary. The law will be valid until July 1 this year, when a new constitution will come into effect.
Luxembourg households spend 9% of their budget on food and non-alcoholic drinks. This is the second lowest after Ireland. On average, EU households spent 14.3% of their budget on these products in 2021 according to Eurostat, the European statistics bureau in a recently published study.
WEDNESDAY 8 FEBRUARY
Luxembourg’s population has increased by 25 percent in the past ten years. The national statistics agency Statec yesterday presented the results of the 2021 census. Luxembourg has reached almost 644.000 residents. Luxembourg’s increase is enormous, as the population in Europe has only increased by 1.7 percent over the past ten years. Especially the active population between 25 and 65 years has increased in Luxembourg, with the average age being 40 years – one year older than ten years ago.
Parliament yesterday approved the so-called Dieschbourg-bill that allows ministers to be heard at court. Government members and former government members will be held responsible in front of regular courts just as any other person. The draft bill has been in the waiting line for almost a year. It was designed to allow former environment minister Carole Dieschbourg to be heard by the court in relation to the so-called garden shed affair.
40 percent of children in Luxembourg get in touch with the internet before their fourth birthday. This is one of the observations made by the association Bee Secure in their annual report. This first contact with smartphones, tablets or computers usually happens within a video call with family or to watch videos on the device. 84 percent of the children get a smartphone at the age of 12 years or younger – usually to enable children to call and be contacted when they go to school. The report stresses the need to supervise the children’s use of the smartphone so that risks can be detected early.
TUESDAY 7 FEBRUARY
The railway section between Clervaux and Kautenbach should reopen after the Easter holidays, according to national railway company CFL. The work in the collapsed tunnel has been progressing well. A new access point had to be created so that equipment and machinery needed for the restoration could be transported into the tunnel. The geological analyses of the rock stability have been completed and the first stabilisation work has already begun. Officials explained that drilling work of up to 75 metres were necessary to pour concrete and reinforce the structure. In the meantime, replacement buses will continue providing a link between the two stations.
Tiny houses will be authorised in Luxembourg. Tiny houses usually have a surface area of around 20m² and have seen a rise in popularity in countries facing housing difficulties. In a response to a parliamentary question, Taina Bofferding, Minister of the Interior stated that the drafting of three “Model regulations” is in process. Once completed, “standard regulations” will be made available and will serve as a model that can be integrated into town planning regulations. As soon as municipalities develop new provisions, “tiny houses” “may be approved” in residential areas where they are currently excluded due to more restrictive provisions.
NGOs Greenpeace and Third World Solidarity Action have demanded that investments of Luxembourg’s pension funds be thoroughly revised. The latest investment strategy of the Compensation Fund does not do enough for climate or human rights protection, say both NGOs. The strategy will be debated in the Chamber of Deputies on Thursday. Greenpeace acknowledges that the new strategy is an improvement but say the Paris Accords have not been firmly retained.
A Luxemburger has won more than 7.8 million euros in the lottery over the weekend. According to the National Lottery, two people won the jackpot this weekend. Both winners will share the prize and receive half of the jackpot, which was over 15 million euros. The lucky winner in the Grand Duchy now has 60 days to make themselves known to the National Lottery and claim their prize.
MONDAY 6 FEBRUARY
The Luxembourg ministry of foreign affairs and NGO Handicap International have signed a five-year funding agreement, which includes funding for Afghanistan for the first time. This was agreed following a visit to Afghanistan last year by the NGO. The 18.75 million euros budget supports 16 countries in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and the Caribbean. The Luxembourg government will contribute funds of 15 million euros while Handicap International has committed to raising the remaining amount. Projects will concentrate on rehabilitation, inclusive education and economic inclusion services.
Luxembourg has the highest household heating and cooling greenhouse gas emissions in the EU. Eurostat’s latest publication compares the environmental impact of housing per person across the EU in 2021. The report shows that each resident emits an average of 1,600kg of greenhouse gases from their home. The European average was more than half that figure per EU inhabitant. One of the reasons stated is Luxembourg’s failure to incorporate renewable energies into its national network.
The Grand Ducal Fire and Rescue Corps has confirmed that a radioactive particle was discovered on a worker at the Cattenom nuclear power station. The worker had been working in a reactor currently shut down for maintenance. External contamination was detected on the worker’s cheek during a safety check. Subsequent inspections did not show any trace of particular contamination and the incident was considered to be an occasional contamination. Management declared the event to the Nuclear Safety Authority, because it exceeded the annual regulation limit for a skin dose.
A petition requesting more family leave has collected enough signatures making it eligible for public debate. The petition demands an increase in family leave for parents of children between 0 and 14. Workers in Luxembourg are currently allowed 12 days of sick leave for a child aged up to 4 and 18 days for an older child. The petitioner justifies the increase by arguing that a young child is sick more often. The parliamentary commission will check that all signatures are valid before inviting the petitioner to present their argument in front of the chamber of deputies.
FRIDAY 3 FEBRUARY
The Christian People’s Party CSV named Luc Frieden the lead candidate for the general election in October. Yesterday, Luc Frieden resigned from his post as president of the Chamber of Commerce. Frieden served as Minister of Finance, Justice and Defence from 1998 to 2013. Since 2016, Frieden has chaired the Board of Directors of the BIL bank. Since 2019, he has been president of the Chamber of Commerce. The CSV hopes to finally get back in government again this year, after 10 years in the opposition.
The environment ministry plans to spend 790 million euros on nature protection until 2030. The minister Joelle Welfring yesterday presented the government’s new nature conservation plan. The plan aims to improve the condition of natural habitats. The ministry’s data show that half of the natural habitats are in bad condition, another 18 percent are in unfavourable condition. Natural habitats shall be restored and more zones receive the protection status. By 2035, the ministry aims to reduce the surface that is yearly covered in concrete by half.
Reactor 1 of the Cattenom nuclear power plant is producing energy again. After 16.000 security controls and maintenance works, operator Electricité de France (EDF) reconnected the reactor this week. It had been shut down last year for security concerns, as well as the other units at the Cattenom plant. EDF had found traces of corrosion. Three of the four reactors are operating again. The Cattenom power plant is located in France, 10 kilometres from Luxembourg’s border.
THURSDAY 2 FEBRUARY
The protection of architectural heritage will be on the parliament’s agenda once again, after the petition handed in by the activist association “Luxembourg under destruction” reached the quota of 4.500 signatures. The petitioners demand that all buildings constructed prior to 1955 get the protection status automatically. Who wants to modify or demolish the building, needs to prove that it is not an architectural heritage. The activists already handed in a similar petition in 2020. It is the first time that two petitions with the same demands are discussed in parliament twice.
The workers’ union OGBL calls for an extensive tax reform instead of new tax credits. At their press conference, OGBL-president Nora Back reaffirmed their claim for an adaptation of the tax rates to inflation. She said the promise of tax credits made by Finance Minister Yuricko Backes was dishonest, arguing that state revenue was up because of people paying more taxes. Yuricko Backes on Monday announced potential new tax credits as the state’s deficit is 500 million euros less than was estimated, namely due to the increased income from the value added tax due to high inflation.
The new digital platform eMint will help communication between communes and the ministry of Interior. Minister Taina Bofferding and the communes union Syvicol yesterday presented the tool at a joint press conference. The eMint platform is similar to the MyGuichet one and has now entered the pilot phase. From next year, all communication between municipalities and the ministry shall be done digitally via this platform. It is one of the key elements of the reform on communes that entered into force yesterday. The aim of this reform is to facilitate administrative procedures.
WEDNESDAY 1 FEBRUARY
All wages and pensions increase by 2.5 percent today. The national statistics agency Statec yesterday triggered the first wage indexation of this year. According to their estimates, inflation stands at 4.8 percent at the end of January. The minimum wage for unskilled workers increased by around 60 euros to 2.447 euros. The next wage indexation is already set for April. It was postponed from July last year.
Luxembourg is among the top ten of Transparency International’s global corruption ranking. In the so-called Corruption Perceptions Index, Denmark ranks first, followed by Finland, New Zealand and Norway. In comparison to the previous year, Luxembourg dropped by one spot. Transparent International told Delano that the reasons for the drop might be that Luxembourg serves as a hub for dirty money, and that restricted access to beneficial owner registers had made it harder to track down illicit funds. This development concerns other European countries as well, as it followed a decision by the Court of Justice of the European Union for more privacy of beneficial owners of companies.
The Green Party demands targeted measures to address inflation, the housing crisis, and the climate crisis. Specific aid should target low and medium incomes. This demand follows the Minister of Finance Yuriko Backes’s announcement of tax relief measures on Monday. She presented last year’s public finances, saying that the state deficit will be €500 million less than was estimated. The Minister announced tax reliefs in the form of tax credits, if further analyses confirm the surplus. Previous tax credits however have been criticized as they don’t target specific households with low income, but give money to everyone, including those who don’t need it.
TUESDAY 31 JANUARY
The workers union LCGB calls for more telework days for Belgian cross-border workers. The union in a press release demands 56 telework days per year, instead of 34, arguing that cross-border workers should have the same rights as employees based in Luxembourg. According to the European Union’s regulation, cross-border workers have to pay into the social security system of their country of residence, as soon as they telework more than 34 days per year. The LCGB wants to increase this threshold.
The Luxembourg-based Chinese company Spacety denies all allegations of involvement in theUkraine invasion. In a statement, Spacety Luxembourg S.A. assures that they don’t supply satellite images to the Wagner Group and that all their products and services are designed for civil and commercial purposes, not for warfare. The statement further says that Spacety fully complies with the international sanctions imposed on Russia. Last weekend, the U.S. placed the satellite-producer Spacety on their sanctions list. The company is accused of having provided satellite images to the Russian Wagner mercenary group.
Municipalities must answer requests for renewable energy installations within three months. The Ministries for Energy and Home Affairs in a joint statement informed municipalities of a respective EU regulation that has been in place since December. The regulation concerns the installation of solar energy equipment as well as co-located energy storage facilities. In case municipalities fail to grant or deny a request within three months, it will automatically be considered granted. In the past, applicants have often waited several months for a request to be answered.
Luxembourg failed to implement the European Union’s directive on tax evasion on time, Delano reports. The European Commission has issued respective infringement decisions. The member states had until the end of last year to incorporate the EU Directive on Administrative Cooperation aimed at combating tax evasion into national law. Luxembourg and 13 other countries have failed to do so. The legislation is meant to oblige individuals selling goods online to pay taxes on their income.
MONDAY 30 JANUARY
Until 2030, Luxembourg’s labour market will require 300.000 more workers, the business association UEL said in a press release. Their survey shows that all sectors are facing labour shortages. The UEL calls for adjustments in the organisation of work and the tax system to attract talented workers to Luxembourg.
The Justice Ministry aims to reduce the storing of personal data and make it more transparent. Minister of Justice Sam Tanson last week presented a draft bill. Communications providers for instance will have to delete certain data after a specified time. To-date, many providers simply store all meta data, including information about the costumers’ location and online traffic. The Ministry aims to comply with the EU’s legal framework on data protection.
The US has placed the Luxembourg based company Spacety on their sanctions list – over alleged involvement in the Ukraine invasion. According to the US Treasury Department, the company has supported the Russian private military group Wagner by supplying satellite images that have facilitated attacks on Ukraine.. Spacety Luxembourg S.A. produces small satellites, its parent company is based in China. Luxembourg’s government has created an inter-ministerial working group to examine Spacety’s activities and decide potential consequences, the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Finance and Economics said in a joint press release.
Women hold only 18% of the jobs in the sports sector, the national statistics agency Statec reports. In 2021, only 16 percent of the coaching staff and 15 percent of athletes were women. In the administrative positions, women made up half of the staff. More than one third of the jobs in the sector are within football. Among the members of football clubs, only 9 percent are female.
FRIDAY 27 JANUARY
The former director of the “Kind Lion” nursery was sentenced to three years in prison yesterday with a two-year suspension. The woman was accused of intimidating and mistreating 15 children, as well three former staff members. Magistrates also imposed a €3,000 fine, and awarded moral and material damages. The nursery was closed by the Ministry of Education in October 2017.
The legal framework governing Luxembourg’s pension fund will change to allow the exclusion of nuclear or fossil fuel companies. Lawmakers, the government and the Fond de compensation debated how the fund can reduce its carbon footprint and make greener investments. The Fond has long insisted that it cannot exclude entire sectors of industry.
Members of parliament are also set to discuss the fund’s investment into real estate. They will investigate its role in lessening Luxembourg’s housing crisis by injecting cash into the construction sector.
The Sûre river was polluted by an oil leak this week. A spill along the Belgian border on Tuesday poses no threat to water reserves, insists Luxembourg’s water management agency. Floating barriers were put in place to try and prevent the spread of the pollution, but those attempts have been unsuccessful due to the high river flow, the agency said in a statement yesterday.
Three vegetarian cheeses sold under the “Jay&Joy” brand may be infected with Listeria monocytogene. The Luxembourg Food Authority announced the cheese was sold at the Pall Center in Oberpallen, but may also have been sold in other supermarkets.
THURSDAY 26 JANUARY
The regulation that allows for the reimbursement of psychotherapy has no legal basis, according to the Council of State. Minister of Social Security Claude Haagen set a fixed reimbursement sum of €144 per hour through a Grand-Ducal regulation after the Federation of Associations representing Psychotherapists and the National Health Fund failed to reach an agreement. The Council of State also declared that the regulation violates the constitution.
A petition demanding the right to work from home two days per week was debated in the Chamber of deputies yesterday. The petition had gathered nearly 14,000 signatures, indicating the public’s enthusiasm for the topic. Petitioner Katia Sabrina Litim believes teleworking for residents and cross-border workers would significantly reduce traffic jams and improve the well-being of employees.
Former finance minister Luc Frieden will lead the Christian Social People’s Party in Luxembourg’s national elections this year. Frieden, aged 59, has also previously been a justice minister under governments led by former Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker. RTL reported that Frieden’s nomination, which was put forward by CSV co-leaders Claude Wiseler and Elisabeth Margue, still needs approval from leading party members in a vote scheduled for next week.
The State has not yet purchased any private real estate projects, for which €192 million has been allocated, but discussions continue. Housing minister Henri Kox had claimed such purchases would stop developers from pausing projects for too long and making workers unemployed. Speaking to RTL, the housing ministry declined to say which developers and projects it was considering.
WEDNESDAY 25 JANUARY
Psychotherapy will be reimbursed from February 1. Minister of Social Security Claude Haagen has set the rate of 144 euros. For the time being, psychotherapy services will be reimbursed on presentation of paid invoices.
More resources will be invested in special-needs children. A new report stated that twice as many resources have been invested into special-needs children over the past five years. The report presented by the Minister of Education, Children and Youth Claude Meisch also said that it takes ten months on average before care of a special-needs child starts, but the issue of time management is still to be improved. He acknowledged, the diagnostics process is also too long and it is hoped a new draft law will reduce waiting times to three months. To achieve these goals, a National Service for Inclusive Education is to be established.
Carmakers are phasing out price negotiations in Luxembourg. Local dealers are increasingly becoming sales intermediaries, with carmakers setting the price and making the sale to the public. This is called an agency model. Stellantis – the group that includes Peugeot, Chrysler, Citroën, Opel and Fiat – has made Luxembourg one of its pilot markets to test the new system. The group terminated its contracts with its Luxembourg dealers in June according to the Luxembourg Wort.
Luxembourg director Cyrus Neshvad’s film “The Red Suitcase” has been nominated in the best live action short film category at this year’s Oscars. Filming for the film took place over six days in 2021 at Findel airport according to the Luxembourg Film Fund. The short was produced by Cynefilms and will also be shown at the Luxembourg City Film Festival.
TUESDAY 24 JANUARY
Nine of Luxembourg’s political parties signed an agreement yesterday that will regulate both of this year’s election campaigns. The parties pledged their campaigns would be factual, would not contain personal insults against opposing candidates, and would not participate in disinformation campaigns. The nine parties’ electoral promotion will not exceed €100,000, including press, internet, radio, and cinema advertising. Further rules concerning paid advertising were also agreed. The Communist Party of Luxembourg and the Conservatives were absent from the signing.
Prosecutors yesterday demanded an eight-year prison sentence for two former employees of the Hesperange council’s technical service for misappropriating €5 million of public funds. The Luxemburger Wort reported that half of the sentences would be suspended while prosecutors also asked for an unspecified “appropriate fine”. One of the defendants, named Jean-Paul F, claimed he was easily persuaded, did not know about the extent of the fraud and had wanted to turn himself in several times. Prosecutors doubted that account, saying the fraud went on for 19 years. The other defendant, Claude G, is expected to testify today.
Prosecutors will present recorded phone conversations as evidence that employees at a Trier brothel brought sex workers to illegal home visits in Luxembourg. Three drivers, a senior receptionist, the current brothel owner and one other woman have been on trial for pimping, human trafficking and money laundering. The Luxemburger Wort reported that the number of illegal visits is likely to be greater than initially thought as only the telephone communication of a few brothel workers were monitored. While prostitution is legal in Luxembourg, customers who employ minors or victims of human trafficking can be prosecuted.
Cycling associations yesterday claimed that soft mobility in Luxembourg should be prioritised and should form part of the campaigns in the upcoming elections this year. Figures show that over half of the commutes of the country’s residents are less than five kilometres while transit traffic continues to block town centres. Non-profit organisation, Bicycle Dudelange, recognise that their town has been made more accessible for cyclists but believe there is still room for improvement with many dangers to cyclists still needing to be addressed.
MONDAY 23 JANUARY
Contraception will be free of charge for everyone in Luxembourg. The Government approved the plans on Friday, paving the way for a grand ducal regulation. This doesn’t require a vote in parliament. In future, the national health fund CNS will cover several subscription contraceptives such as pills, patches and injections, intrauterine devices as well as sterilisation and vasectomy. Currently only a few contraception types are reimbursed to a maximum of 80 percent and only for women under the age of 30.
Deputy Prime Minister Paulette Lenert will run for Prime Minister in the legislative elections. She announced her candidacy on Friday. Paulette Lenert is the main candidate for the workers and socialists party LSAP. Lenert has served as Minister for Health, Minister for Social Security, and Deputy Prime Minister after Etienne Schneider’s withdrawal in 2020. Polls show that she is the most trusted and popular politician in Luxembourg. Her success mainly roots in her way of handling the pandemic.
The pension fund reserve grew by nearly ten percent in 2021, Social Security Minister Claude Haagen told a parliamentary committee last week, according to Luxtimes. The fund’s reserve increased to 26 billion euros in 2021. By 2027, net returns on investments made by the fund are expected to reach four percent. The pension fund is under pressure due to the ageing population. Last year, Claude Haagen said the reserves could be exhausted by 2047 and contributions will have to rise.
FRIDAY 20 JANUARY
Tourism in Luxembourg is slowly nearing pre-pandemic numbers. The capital’s tourist office counted almost 103,000 visitors in 2022, bringing tourist numbers closer to 2019 figures. The majority of visitors hailed from Germany closely followed by tourists from France and the Netherlands. Luxembourgish residents still accounted for 7% of the tourists in the capital, according to the tourist office. The reopening of the Casemates de la Pétrusse was the key event of 2022 and the Grand Ducal palace guided tours continue to be very popular.
Minister of the Interior Taina Bofferding presented two draft laws earlier this week which will see four municipalities merge to make two new communes. From the 1st of September, the total number of municipalities will be 100. Grousbous (gross buus) and Wahl (val) will combine to make a new municipal council and will receive government funding worth 5 million euros. Bous (buuus) and Waldbredimus (val braid e mus) will receive around 6.7 million in government aid as part of the merger. The council size for the two new municipalities will be set at 12 and 11 councillors respectively.
Xavier Bettel yesterday promised more transparency for journalists to access information from the government. The Prime Minister, who holds the position of Minister for Communications and Media, admitted to the press that there was room for improvement in terms of the government allowing access to certain information. He added that it had not always been done correctly, but said the government was in the process of working on improvements.
Luxembourgish employers are in favor of employees working from home according to a survey conducted by the Luxembourg Employers’ Association. Nearly 83% of companies that already practice teleworking “would like to be able to offer their employees 2 days of working from home or more per week, with complete tax and social security neutrality”. Of these same companies, 40% also say they have lost potential candidates because of limits set on working from home.
THURSDAY 19 JANUARY
More than nine out of ten foreigners in Luxembourg City have not registered to vote in the council elections on June 11 despite being eligible. Mayor Lydie Polfer said yesterday that just 5,500 non-Luxembourgers have registered, being only 6.7% of the foreign population qualified to vote. Over 75,000 foreign citizens still need to register online or at the city’s town hall by April 11. Social media and billboard campaigns encouraging non-Luxembourgers to register, and vote will continue, Polfer added.
Prices climbed in Luxembourg last month by 6.2%, the second lowest year-on-year inflation rate in the EU. Eurostat – the statistical office of the European Union – announced yesterday that Spain had the EU’s lowest inflation rate at 5.5%, while the highest belonged to Hungary at 25% and Latvia at 20.7%. Eurostat’s figures are higher than Luxembourg-based statistics agency STATEC’s due to the different methods used for measuring consumer prices. The highest impact to the EU’s inflation rate in December was from food, alcohol & tobacco, followed by energy, services, and non-energy industrial goods.
Luxembourgish MEP Marc Angel was officially appointed vice-president of the European Parliament yesterday. Angel, a member of the Luxembourg Socialist Workers’ Party (LSAP), won after a second round of voting with 307 votes in his favour. He is now one of the 14 Vice-Presidents of the European Parliament, and the second Luxembourger to hold this position following Nicolas Estgen in 1979.
Cross-border commuters travelling from France should expect major disruptions today due to a nationwide rail strike against pension reform. French unions called for a day of strike action and demonstrations in opposition to President Emmanuel Macron’s plan to raise the minimum retirement age from 62 to 64. French railway operator SNCF announced that one in ten TER trains, which connect Luxembourg with cities such as Nancy, Metz and Thionville, will run today. The French government advised that cross-border employees should consider “teleworking where possible”.
WEDNESDAY 18 JANUARY
Minister for the Environment, Climate and Sustainable Development Joëlle Welfring this week confirmed that water bills in Luxembourg could increase by €80 per year. Responding to a parliamentary question from the Alternative Democratic Reform Party, minister Welfring added that currently only a third of local municipalities charge customers enough to cover providing the service meaning some water bills could be higher still. The rise of 15% in water prices is higher than the annual inflation for food which stood at 11% in December.
Pirate Party MP Sven Clement yesterday criticised Minister for Housing Henri Kox’s rent reform plans, claiming they were disastrous and would disproportionately favour long-term homeowners. Speaking to RTL, Clement said tenants and landlords would be “antagonised” and that the reform “ultimately would not help anyone. The Pirate Party instead advocates that lowering interest rates would help people in the current situation, that the state should buy houses “on a massive scale” and suggests a stimulus package for the construction sector.
Nora Back – president of the Chamber of Employees – this week criticised the government for not fighting inequality and poverty. Speaking at the CSL’s New Year’s greeting, Back also accused the government of being unable to curb building development that benefit speculators while the housing crisis worsens, adding that the rent law reform is “counterproductive” and that the property tax reform “falls short of expectations.” Back claimed the actions decided at the tripartite meeting last year, especially regarding inflation, were successful but not enough. Back suggested that businesses, currently enjoying a rise of 37% in profits compared to an increase of only 25% in payroll expenses, should be made to contribute more.
Finance Minister Yuriko Backes has announced that Luxembourg will bid to host the EU’s proposed new anti-money laundering watchdog. The proposed Anti-Money Laundering Authority will act as a central oversight body for the EU, with the power to directly oversee financial institutions considered risky. Germany, France, Italy, Lithuania, Latvia and Austria have also declared an interest in hosting the new agency. Responding to a parliamentary question from the LSAP, Minister Backes pointed out that hosting the AMLA would be a natural fit as the European Public Prosecutor’s Office is already headquartered in Luxembourg.
TUESDAY 17 JANUARY
Almost one in every two job seekers in Luxembourg has been out of work for over a year, according to figures released by the country’s Employment Ministry yesterday. 6,500 people who were registered with the Grand Duchy’s job agency, Adem, in September last year were classified as long-term unemployed – 46% of all jobseekers. The number of long-term unemployed has doubled since 2007, statistics showed, although there has been a drop since January 2021, as job vacancies have surged to record levels in Luxembourg and companies struggle to hire staff.
The cost of building houses in the Grand Duchy has risen by 16% in one year, according to Statec – the highest annual increase since April 1975. Higher prices for energy and building materials were behind the increase with prices for roofing work up almost 5 % over the second half of the reporting year, and steady growth for insulation, sealing, zinc work and tiles. Windows with solar shading, garage doors and facades, showed the biggest growth at 9.5%. Building companies expressed concern that people might cancel plans for new homes or renovation works due to higher price tags as costs continue to rise while many people have also stopped looking for a home to buy.
Luxembourg’s share of revenue from environmental taxes in 2021 was the lowest anywhere in the EU, according to data released by Eurostat yesterday, despite the country’s pledge to reduce carbon emissions. Only 3.5% of all tax revenue collected by the Grand Duchy in 2021 came from green taxes, such as levies on energy and transport. It is a drop from 4.5% the previous two years. The average share across the EU was 5.4%. The Eurostat report noted that within the EU, Luxembourg stands out with the largest share of the energy tax revenue (53%) collected from non-residents, largely due to non-resident purchases of petrol and diesel.
The rating agency Fitch confirmed the “AAA” credit rating for Luxembourg with a stable outlook. This highest rating reflects the Grand Duchy’s good governance indicators, the good performance of public finances and the country’s economic resilience despite the current uncertain context. Finance minister Yuriko Backes commented in a press release that this was excellent news and illustrated the resilience and performance of the Luxembourg economy, even in these times of polycrisis.
MONDAY 16 JANUARY
One in four buses of the RGTR fleet is equipped with a cabin or wall for the drivers’ security, Minister for Mobility Francois Bausch said. Bus drivers have repeatedly asked for security installations in the buses, such as panic buttons or security cameras. At least 15 physical attacks on bus drivers were recorded last year.
The Ministry of Environment aims to reduce the household waste by half. According to their latest analysis, households threw away 163 kilograms of waste per person last year. Half of this waste could be avoided by recycling, waste sorting and less food waste. The amount of waste being thrown in the black bin has already decreased by 27 percent within the last decade. A large part of the waste however still consists of food leftovers and unopened packaged goods. Several communes across the country charge the residents fees based on the weight of waste thrown out. According to the environment administration, around 52 percent less waste ends up in the grey bin in these communes.
The national museum of history and art MNHA wants to return looted artefacts to Tanzania, Delano reported. The MNHA plans to display all pieces with questionable provenance online to allow foreign historians and curators to request the return. Last year, the MNHA hosted an exhibition on Luxembourg’s colonial past and displayed items given to Luxembourg by a German cartographer. He is known to have looted several artefacts in the territory of today’s Tanzania. The MNHA started talks with the country’s national museum, but hasn’t heard back yet, MNHA curator Regis Moes said.
The meteorological services warned about a potential risk of floods across the country. The yellow alert is active since yesterday and until tonight for the streams Alzette, Sure, Syre and Chiers. Meteolux as well announced a snow alert for the whole country and strong wind in the afternoon.
FRIDAY 13 JANUARY
STATEC – the national statistics agency – reported yesterday that 1,050 bankruptcies and 846 liquidations were declared in Luxembourg last year – a slight decrease compared to 2021. Some 2,000 employees lost their jobs as a result of the bankruptcies, with over a third of job cuts taking place in the construction sector. According to new statistics, however, 2022 saw an unusually high number of bankruptcy declarations in the last quarter. It remains to be confirmed over the coming months whether the phenomenon will increase over the next few months, or was just a pure catch-up due to ending of government subsidies.
In response to a parliamentary question, the Minister of Mobility, François Bausch confirmed that some municipalities east of Findel airport had experienced issues with noise pollution. This is due to aircraft following the new route introduced by the Air Navigation Administration. As a result, more residents are affected by the noise pollution, despite the fact that the minimum flight altitude was increased from 1,700 to 2,200 feet. Minister Bausch explained that the new take-off procedures were required following security measures imposed by military airspace in Saarland, Germany, where the US military uses a restricted area for aircraft training. He added that the authorities are currently working alongside the administration in order to determine whether the minimum flight altitude would benefit from an increase as part of a solution to the noise issue.
The official inauguration of the third and final extension of the House of BioHealth took place yesterday in Esch-sur-Alzette. The House of BioHealth is designed to host biotechnology and digital health technologies companies. In attendance were His Royal Highness the Hereditary Grand Duke of Luxembourg, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Health, Paulette Lenert, Minister of the Economy, Franz Fayot and other dignitaries. Minister Fayot announced that the Ministry of the Economy, the National Research Fund and Luxinnovation will launch a second “Joint Call HealthTech” request for projects, which will be open from 1 February 2023 via the Luxinnovation-managed digital platform: https://research-industry-collaboration.lu/.
The first peak of the influenza epidemic seems to have been reached according to the Ministry of Health. For the week of January 2 to 8, the number of cases reported decreased by 54% compared to the previous week. The number of coronavirus cases also dropped in the same time period. In hospitals, 23 new admissions of Covid-positive patients took place in the normal care unit, while in intensive care, the number of occupied beds is 5. The average age of hospitalised patients is 70 years. Seven new deaths were recorded with the average age of the deceased being 81.
THURSDAY 12 JANUARY
Health Minister Paulette Lenert said yesterday Luxembourg is close to permitting the production and sale of recreational cannabis. Speaking to radio broadcaster 100,7, Minister Lenert added that the new law might not be finalised during this legislative period or before elections later this year. Cannabis has been legal for some medical uses in Luxembourg since 2018 and started the process towards complete legalisation in June last year. Minister Lenert said the process had been delayed due to Covid-19.
Marc Angel, a member of the European Parliament for Luxembourg, confirmed yesterday he will run to become one of the fourteen vice-presidents within the institution following a corruption scandal. Eva Kaili, a Greek politician, and MEP for the Socialists & Democrats group left the position after her arrest regarding alleged bribery involving the Qatar Gulf state. Angel – an MEP for the Luxembourg Socialist Workers’ Party – said that he wants to set up an ethics body within the S&D in the wake of the scandal. Other groups within parliament can forward candidates and a vote in the plenary is expected next week.
An annual report which outlines the scale of suspicious transactions and suspected money laundering in Luxembourg will be delayed by several months this year. The report was expected at the end of last year, but will now be released in April, the country’s Financial Intelligence Unit said. No reason was given for the delay, and Sven Clement, of the Pirate Party, criticised the late publication, saying the report should be released “as soon as possible”. The previous annual report showed that the CRF froze assets of just over €29 million connected to money laundering in 2020, and that the unit received more than 40,000 suspicious activity reports.
The Luxembourg Institute of Health, with the Ministry of Health yesterday announced Colive Cancer, an online feedback system that aims to improve the quality and efficiency of the national cancer healthcare system. Official figures show that every year roughly 3000 new cases of cancer are discovered in Luxembourg and approximately 1100 people die from the disease, about a quarter of all annual deaths nationwide. The online survey is confidential and can be accessed via smartphone or laptop and is available in four languages: English, French, German, and Portuguese. Participation is limited to adult patients, including patients currently or formerly treated for cancer in Luxembourg within the last five years. Further details can be found at colivecancer.lu/en/
WEDNESDAY 11 JANUARY
Local human rights groups and activists have claimed that Iran tortured a Luxembourg resident to gain a confession for his alleged crimes. The man was arrested with other protestors for alleged involvement in the murder of a member of the security forces, Luxembourg Times reported. Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn spoke about the matter with his Iranian counterpart in December when it was feared the man had been sentenced to death, but local activists say his final sentence had not yet been pronounced. Activist groups and the government are withholding the identity of the man at the request of his family for fear of further reprisals.
A recent report from Eurostat – the statistical office of the European Union – reveals that housing prices within the European Union experienced an average increase of 49% between 2010 and 2022. However, the published data also showed that housing prices in Luxembourg increased by a massive 140% over the past 12 years – nearly three times higher than the EU average. Only Hungary and Estonia were higher than Luxembourg with housing price increases of 174% and 199% respectively.
As figures reveal that many more speeding fines were issued to drivers last year, plans have been announced for new radars to be installed on the CR 181 outside of Bereldange and on the N8 somewhere between Saeul and Brouch. Last year, permanently installed radar devices caught 215,000 minor violations – 40% more than 2021, the Transport ministry reported. 90,000 more speed violations were caught by the seven mobile radar units around the country, police claimed. Overall, speed cameras resulted in over one million fines between 2016 and 2020, officials said.
A study recently published by the global investment firm, Henley & Partners, has shown that the Luxembourgish passport is one the five most “powerful” passports in the world. The study placed Japan at number one, whose passport holders can visit 193 out of 227 destinations without a visa. Second place was shared by South Korea and Singapore who can visit 192 destinations, while Germany and Spain are third place with 190 destinations. At fourth place, the Luxembourgish passport allows its holders to visit 189 destinations that are accessible without a visa. Afghanistan is ranked last with a score of 27 destinations accessible without a visa.
TUESDAY 10 JANUARY
Eurostat – the statistical office of the European Union – reported yesterday that Luxembourg’s unemployment rate remained steady at 4.6% in November. However, figures revealed that youth unemployment was at 19.1% in November, and 19.4% in October, considerably higher than the EU average of 15.1%. Additionally, the Red Cross reported last week that the number of young people relying on social services to meet basic needs has risen while Caritas advised that there had been an increase in young people using the subsidised grocery shop to feed themselves.
STATEC – the national statistics agency – reported yesterday that Luxembourg’s annual inflation rate fell by 0.5 percentage points to 5.4% in December, owing to a substantial reduction in petrol and diesel prices. Drivers paid 11.5% less for a litre of diesel and 12.3% less for a litre of petrol than in November while the cost of heating oil dropped by 18% compared to the month before. Meanwhile, food prices rose by 0.5% in December compared to November, and were 11% higher compared to December 2021.
STATEC also predicted two wage indexes within 2 months with the rescheduled indexation due in April, following tripartite meetings between the government and unions, to be preceded by another wage index in March. STATEC said that indexations would depend on the effect of fuel prices and the sales regarding purchasing power. The outcome of the two indexations would see wages rise by 5% compared to their current rate.
Transport Minister François Bausch has announced that three new car parks will open this year. Speaking to RTL, minister Bausch said parking for 2,000 cars at the Cloche d’Or next to the new national football and rugby stadium, will open by the end of this year. In April, Rodange will open 1,600 new parking spaces near the town’s train station while 400 new parking spots by the Mersch train station will be ready by the end of this year.
MONDAY 9 JANUARY
From today, everyone who has stayed in China for 14 days before entering Luxembourg has to register with the Health Inspectorate. The Health Ministry will then send invitations for covid-19 testing to the people concerned. The Ministries of Health and Foreign Affairs announced this measure following a recommendation of the European Commission. The procedure aims to discover potential new variants before they spread. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs discourages non-necessary travels to China citing the overstrained Chinese health system.
The economic impact of green industries has doubled in the years between 2017 and 2020, Luxtimes reported, referring to a STATEC report. The green economy contributed 3 % to the national GDP, and more than 22,000 people have worked in the sector in 2020 – against 10.000 people in 2016. STATEC defines the green economy as companies active in the production of any environmental goods or services which help cut pollution and waste. STATEC says the rapid increase is mostly due to the state’s investment in the construction of energy efficient buildings.
Virologist Dr. Claude Muller of the Luxembourg Institute of Health said the covid-19 pandemic had come to an end. In an interview on RTL, he said the government would no longer need to provide constant intervention. Muller is confident that no new wave will arise in Europe.
The national railway company CFL will invest 400 million euros in the purchase of new railcars. Tageblatt reported. The 34 new rail cars will be delivered in the next two years. With this purchase, CFL wants to increase the capacity of seats by 46 percent until 2026.
The construction of several infrastructure projects will be concluded this year, transport Minister Francois Bausch told RTL. The inauguration of the Park & Ride at Cloche d’Or is planned for the end of the year, as well as the modernization of the train station in Mersch. The railway station in Rodange will open in April, Bausch said.
FRIDAY 6 JANUARY
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has inaugurated a new facility for refugees. The building in Kirchberg has 120 beds and is managed by the Red Cross. The first residents moved in at the end of last month. The Minister of foreign Affairs Jean Asselborn announced that four new facilities with a total of 230 additional beds are to be opened in the coming weeks. The minister issued a new call to communes to make more buildings available. The facilities for asylum seekers managed by the national reception office ONA are at nearly 88% capacity. Between March and November of last year, more than 7200 refugees arrived in Luxembourg, more than two thirds of them fled Ukraine.
The Asbl Passerell has secured the continuation of their work. The association will receive funds from the European Commission for the coming two years, and the ministry of Justice as well outlined 75.000 euros for Passerell in the state’s budget. The Asbl Passerell provides legal advice to asylum seekers. Last year, the main sponsors didn’t renew their funding agreement, Passerell feared they had to close and laid off three out of four employees. Private donations have helped to keep Passerell going until they have found new funding.
The number of respiratory infections decreased in the last week, the ministry of health said in a press release. The laboratories reported 64 percent less cases of flu than the previous week. According to the Ministry, this decrease, however, is likely due to the fact that many people travelled during the holidays. The number of new covid-19 infections dropped by more than half to 777. Six covid-19 patients have died.
Luxembourg could meet its 2030 solar energy targets as early as 2026, Delano reported citing the lobby group SolarPower Europe. According to their recent report, Luxembourg ranks fifth in the EU regarding solar power per capita, after the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark and Belgium. The high gas prices following Russia’s invasion in Ukraine have boosted the demand for solar energy. Luxembourg subsidises photovoltaic systems, reimbursing 20 percent of the investment cost.
THURSDAY 5 JANUARY
Luxembourg City will welcome a new pedestrian-zone on the 9th of January for sections of rue de la Boucherie and rue du Marché-aux-herbes according to a press release. Municipal authorities want to “increase the attractiveness of the city centre and its shops by calming motorised traffic in favour of soft mobility”. Those affected will be granted access to the zones along with authorised deliveries between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m. Cyclists will be able to ride in the area from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Despite a cold December, Luxembourg cut its gas consumption by 18% compared to the same month of 2021, above the 15% target set by EU countries. These statistics were shared by Minister for Energy Claude Turmes at a press conference yesterday. The industrial sector did particularly well, cutting 45% of gas consumption compared to the last five Decembers.
In related news: Luxembourg ranks fifth in the EU when it comes to solar power per capita, according to an industry report released last month. At the current pace, the Grand Duchy would meet its 2030 solar energy targets as early as 2026. The Netherlands topped the list, followed by Germany, Denmark and Belgium. Luxembourg offers a subsidy of 20% of the investment cost on photovoltaic systems, with some communes offering additional benefits. With the 2023 budget, the government also introduced a super-reduced VAT rate of 3% for solar panels, down from 17% previously.
Blood donation stocks are too low, the Luxembourg Red Cross warned yesterday. The blood donation centre told RTL that donations are almost 50% of what is needed for the Grand Duchy, probably due to many people having been off on holiday or bedridden with the flu or Covid. The organisation is appealing for donors to come to the Red Cross in the next couple weeks. Ideal donors are between 18-60 years old, weigh more than 50kg and are in good health. No particular blood group is sought. The transfusion centres are located in the capital and in Esch. You can find more information by phone at 27 55 4000 or at www.dondusang.lu
WEDNESDAY 4 JANUARY
Findel Airport now offers one third less air routes than before the covid-19 pandemic, Luxemburger Wort reported, referring to Europe’s air traffic control agency. Their data show that airlines cut numerous flight routes after 2019. In Europe, only Finland and Lithuania have cut a similar percentage of offers. All other countries performed better or at least got back to a more diverse offer last year. Most route cuts in other European countries involved destinations in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. Findel Airport has recovered from the pandemic as last year the airport recorded just 9 percent fewer flights than in 2019.
The Commission on the Access to Documents (CAD) has criticised public institutions for not handing out official documents. According to Luxtimes, a panel has found two new cases of violation of the transparency law. Interest groups had requested official documents from the city of Luxembourg and the National Housing Fund. The transparency law obliges them to hand the requested documents out within one month. The bodies did not comply, the Commission said. Last year, the European Commission criticised Luxembourg for the lack of public access to government documents and “selective” disclosure of information, Luxtimes reported.
The federation against addictions – Letzebuerger Suchtverband – has announced the Dry January challenge. This campaign invites people to stay away from alcohol for a whole month. The Suchtverband, together with the Cancer Foundation aim to raise awareness of alcohol consumption. Not drinking for 31 days will show the positive effects for physical and mental health. Alcohol is among the top ten causes for cancer diseases.
TUESDAY 3 JANUARY
The Government Council has approved the preliminary draft regulation that enables reimbursement of psychotherapy fees. Three codes will be added for invoicing psychotherapy sessions: SP01 for the initial session, SP02 for support sessions and SP03 for longer treatment. After a five year-long disagreement between the CNS and the psychotherapists’ association, minister for social security, Claude Haagen, set the cost per psychotherapy session at 144 euros in December. The reimbursement will be available from spring.
Companies and self-employed people no longer need to pay social security contributions in advance. This measure, agreed by the tripartite in September, entered into force with the new year. According to the Ministry of Social Security, the abolition of the advance payment improves the financial support for employers and self-employed persons. They will now pay social security contributions two months later therefore January is due in March.
The Council of State has rejected a draft bill to protect whistle-blowers in a recently published opinion, RTL reported. The Council of State criticised the bill for its lack of precision and raised 13 formal objections. The bill aims to provide whistle-blowers with a recognized status to define their rights and responsibilities. The implementation of such a bill became mandatory for all EU member states one year ago.
2022 was the second hottest year on record. Luxembourg had an average annual temperature of 11.2 degrees centigrade. Only 2020 was hotter, with 11.3 degrees. Last year’s lack of rain also figures in the statistics. It was the driest summer in 75 years.
MONDAY 2 JANUARY
The minimum wage has increased as of yesterday in line with the inflation rate. Untrained workers aged over 18 are now paid 2.378,40 euros gross per month. That is around 130 more than before. Qualified workers will get 2.864,88 euros.
A petition for family allowances has passed the 4.500 signatures mark and will therefore be debated in parliament. The petitioner calls for financial compensation for parents who choose to educate their children at home instead of sending them to public kindergartens or schools. The petitioner argues that families should be able to decide whether they want to place their children in public institutions or home-school them.
The number of flu infections increased by 84 percent during the week of Christmas. The flu arrived earlier than usual this season. Meanwhile, around 1.600 people had new infections with covid-19. Paediatric services are also still struggling with the high number of bronchiolitis cases that affect mainly small children.
Smoke detectors are mandatory in all residences as of yesterday. Detectors must be installed in every bedroom and in hallways or other escape routes. Previously, installation was only recommended and voluntary. This transition period ended on 1st January. Landlords are responsible for installation in rented properties but there is no penalty for not installing a smoke detector.
On New Year’s Eve, the emergency services recorded more than 330 calls and firefighters were in action all night long, helping nearly a hundred people as several small fires broke out around the country. Only one person however had reportedly suffered fireworks-related injuries.