FRIDAY 22 SEPTEMBER
Luxembourg will donate €8m to help cities across the world fight climate change, Delano reports. The grand duchy entered a joint €50m agreement with Germany to contribute to the European Investment Bank’s City Climate Finance Gap Fund. The fund, launched in 2020, financially supports cities around the globe in developing climate action plans. With Luxembourg and Germany’s contributions, it has now reached its €100m goal. So far, the so-called gap fund has helped projects in 183 cities across 67 countries, among which Mombasa in Kenya and Pristina in Kosovo.
The grand ducal police have recruited 780 people since 2020, minister Henri Kox announced yesterday. Kox presented the numbers in a conference yesterday, where he outlined the progress made over the past five years, as well as future plans ahead of the October elections. The security minister underlined that 25% of the recruits were women, a success in his eyes, and that training and upskilling had improved too. As RTL reports, the ministry aims to add another 160 people to the ranks of the grand ducal police in the next year.
Just outside of Beaufort in luxembourg, on the German border, a tornado tore through the territory yesterday afternoon. While The weather phenomenon did not cause any injuries, it damaged many houses. Some houses saw their roofs completely fly off, writes L’essentiel. This tornado comes about four years after the one that had ravaged parts of Petange and Bascharage.
Swimmers keen on enjoying the lakes of Luxembourg before the end of the swimming season this Saturday, will be able to do so, the water administration announced. After monitoring the cyanotoxin levels in the water, authorities found that they had dropped to a safe level. The blue-green algae had bloomed in the area due to seasonal climate changes, RTL Today writes, leading to a ban on diving into the lakes for health reasons. The sharp decline in algae did however arrive just in time for the end of the bathing season.
THURSDAY 21 SEPTEMBER
The European Commission has submitted a proposal to extend the use of glyphosate for another 10 years. Luxembourg MEP Tilly Metz is part of the deputies of the European Parliament to heavily criticise the proposal. The chemical is used in agriculture but has been demonstrated to be dangerous by a recent study published by the EU authorities for food safety, as RTL underlines. Metz says that Luxembourg, which had banned the product in 2021 before the country’s decision was overruled in 2023, is a pioneer and that the grand duchy had proven that it was possible for the sector to thrive without the chemical product. The proposal is to be discussed tomorrow.
In Luxembourg, unemployment went up last month, the Luxembourg Times reports. Just ahead of the October elections, the country’s unemployment rate went up by 0.1%, reaching 5.3% for August. While the numbers have only increased minimally each time, they have done so steadily since last summer. Jobseekers under the age of 30 or with the highest set of qualifications saw their ranks grow most. As it was the case in July, the number of vacancies published by Luxembourg companies decreased last month.
However, just as unemployment went up minimally, so did the hours Luxembourg workers work during an average week. A study by European statistics bureau Eurostat showed that in Luxembourg, people worked an average of 38.1 hours, slightly above the EU average of 37.5. As l’Essentiel points out, if all of the country’s active population was considered, women worked 5 hours less than men, though this is due to women taking part-time jobs more often. If only full-time positions were taken, men worked 41.5h on average and women 39.9, and Luxembourg residents all worked more than in 2008.
In the construction sector, the federation of craftsmen FDA yesterday wrote an open letter to sound the alarm. In its text, the federation said it had warned the government several times about its dire condition, and called for the state to implement help faster. The state in June had announced it would support the construction sector with €150m. The FDA also demanded that government institutions and communes rely on construction companies for projects, instead of relying on internal staff.
WEDNESDAY 20 SEPTEMBER
Luxembourg’s proportion of renewable energy production increased from 3.5 to 15% over the past ten years, energy minister Claude Turmes revealed yesterday. The minister during a press conference presented an assessment of what the DP-LSAP-déi Gréng coalition government accomplished during its mandates. Heatpumps, aids for sustainable renovation projects and other political decisions were lauded, with the minister also mentioning plans for the future, should the party be part of a future government again.
The grand duchy at the start of 2023 counted 660,000 residents, some 15,000 more than last year, the national statistics bureau Statec announced in a survey. The continued increase can be linked to immigration of workers to the country, as close to 32,000 moved to Luxembourg last year, and only slightly more than 17,000 left the grand duchy. The yearly report also noted that there are slightly more men than women in Luxembourg, as well as more residents above the age of 40. Foreigners made up 47.4% of residents.
The agency for competition is launching a platform to allow whistleblowers to report wrongdoings related to competition. Whistleblowers have seen their protection increase thanks to an EU directive that translated into national laws for the grand duchy. Due to this, those who have noticed their company infringing on existing rights will be now be able to notify the competition authorities of Luxembourg online and anonymously. The website was launched yesterday.
People coming from Portugal or African countries to Luxembourg are more likely to encounter discrimination when looking for work or accommodation, a report by the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance shows. As the Luxembourg Times writes, the survey found that these newcomers are also discriminated against in school. However, while some progress has been noted, the commission, like other reports before it, found that Luxembourg authorities did not have an effective system in place to better report any incidents against minorities.
TUESDAY 19 SEPTEMBER
Almost half of the adult population in Luxembourg suffers from some type of allergy, according to a study by the Luxembourg Institute of Health. Allergies from grass and tree pollen are most common. The results, according to the researchers, show an allergy epidemic, therefore they demand that resources are made available to respond to this problem. They recall that allergies not only have a negative impact on the population’s overall health but also on healthcare systems, costing over 60 million euros per year. For the study, they collected their data from more than 1400 people.
ADR International vice-president Anne-Marie Yim announced her resignation and her withdrawal from party membership, RTL reports. The resignation follows revelations of links between the ADR and France’s far-right Civitas movement. ADR-MP Fernand Kartheiser denied links to Civitas although a Civitas representative had been invited to a conference hosted by the ADR. The invitation came from Anne-Marie Yim. After her resignation, Kartheiser told RTL, the ADR would not launch an investigation. France’ fundamentalist Catholic party Civitas, which supports candidates like Eric Zemmour, is under observation and risks being banned in France for promoting anticonstitutional ideologies.
The Bascharage Bypass won’t cross the Bobesch forest according to the new plans, presented by the transport ministry yesterday. The new version is intended to calm down traffic in the region while avoiding too much impact on nature. The new planned route will run along the railway tracks. According to the press release, it only affects the edge of the forest. Local groups and climate activists have been demanding for a different solution in order to protect the Bobesch forest.
As of July 2025, inland waterway skippers will no longer have to pay duties when using the Moselle River. Luxembourgish, French and German politicians signed an amendment to this effect in Schengen yesterday. Ending the charges will hopefully lead to more cost-effective river transport in future and thus create an incentive for a shift to “this sustainable mode of transport”, as transport minister François Bausch said. The Moselle Treaty, created in 1956, was created by the three countries to expand the river from Koblenz in Rhineland-Pfalz to Thionville in France and to ask charges for the use of it.
MONDAY 18 SEPTEMBER
Cargolux employees have returned to work after the airline’s management and the trade unions agreed on a pay raise. Salaries will be increased by 5.5% over 4 years and teleworking conditions will be reviewed. The agreement puts an end to the strike that had kept all Cargolux aircrafts on the ground since last Thursday, with the support of the two largest national trade unions OGBL and LCGB.
More than 240 people asked for asylum in August, the highest number of requests since October last year. The ministry of foreign affairs has published these figures. More than half of the requests, the ministry processed in August have been denied. In total, 1500 asylum seekers have arrived this year – as well an increase compared to last year. More than a third of them are Syrian, followed by Eritrean nationals.
The number of parliamentary questions doubled in the current government term compared to the 2013-2018 period. In the past five years, MPs have submitted nearly 8.200 questions, Paperjam reports referring to the Chamber website. One in five questions came from the Pirates, with Sven Clement and Marc Goergen asking most parliamentary questions.
FRIDAY 15 September
Luxembourg’s GDP went down by 0.1% during the second quarter of 2023, Delano reports. Compared to the same period last year, it shrank by 1.7%, a worrisome trend for Statec, the national statistics bureau in charge of publishing these observations. It is especially the trade, transport, accommodation, and food services sectors that have been affected, while the financial sector only witnessed a minimal drop. Water and energy distribution, part of the industry sector, dropped by 3.4% while construction—as the recent high number of bankruptcies and job vacancies show—plummeted by 3.3%. As Delano notes, this is the third quarterly decrease in the past 6 trimesters.
700 workers joined the labour unions LGCB and OGBL outside the Cargolux headquarters in Sandweiler yesterday. At the heart of the conflict between the company’s leaders and the staff are wage increase demands… which Cargolux’s director general considers unrealistic at 6%. While employees have recently received generous bonuses, they consider these to not be part of the wage agreement. The workers feel like they are not taken seriously, leading to a strike that kept over 11 cargo planes on the ground.
Bisphenol A has been found in all Luxembourg participants of a European study. Bisphenol A, also known as BPA, is a hormone disruptor thought to be at the origin of many issues, like breast cancer and infertility. It was commonly found in many items like plastic bottles for instance, before being banned from certain types of uses. The study, as Virgule reports, took samples among 11 EU countries and over 2,700 adults. While 92% of the average European population is thought to carry traces of BPA, in Luxembourg that number reached 100%.
The university of Luxembourg yesterday celebrated its 20th anniversary, in Esch-Belval. In an interview with L’Essentiel, its rector Jens Kreisel revealed that the university now welcomes 6,000 students and that it is expecting this number to reach 8,000-10,000 over the next couple of decades. Talking about the current housing crisis that also affects students, Kreisel revealed that 150 new accommodations were set to be built for 2027. He did however also acknowledge that the change is only a midterm solution.
THURSDAY 14 SEPTEMBER
Earlier this week, the CGDIS rescued a man from a crane after he had a heart attack, the organisation reported on social media. The worker had been operating the engine at a 30m height when he became unwell. Agents of the CGDIS’ specialist unit GRIMP climbed up the structure to reanimate the man in his cabin before bringing him down for further treatment at the hospital.
Luxembourg residents should soon see the launch of the immediate direct payment system at their GPs and dentists, RTL reports. The long-awaited IT system allows patients to only pay their share when they visit the doctor, instead of having to pay in full and then recover the reimbursement from the national health fund CNS. While the system should become operational next week, on the 20th of September, the extent and speed at which the service will become available will depend on medical software companies and doctors. The association of doctors and dentists, known as AMMD, continues to doubt the new system, as they believe it isn’t as digitally ambitious as their own project, the Digital Health Network. The traditional system–where one sends in their bills to be reimbursed–will continue to function.
In other news, the government also revealed more mobility projects to come. Close to €3bn will be spent on connecting the capital and the south of the country. Two billions should be going towards a multimodal highway, including dedicated lanes for carsharing and public transports, for instance. As Virgule says, the third billion will be dedicated to soft mobility projects. In other words an express tram line connecting Luxembourg City to the University of Luxembourg’s Belval Campus in thirty minutes. To complete this though project, the government estimates it will need until 2035.
Some changes in schools as the new academic year begins: education minister Claude Meisch yesterday presented four new academic options in secondary schools. Aside from the traditional sections–which include the literary, science and maths sections, there will now be a P section, for cognitive sciences and humanities, an R section around politics and sustainable developemnt, as well as a section dedicated to technology, sports and health, and one for natural sciences, computer sciences and maths, as RTL reports.
The General Court in Luxembourg is backing the Luxembourg-based European investment bank’s €1.5bn loan towards financing the TransAdriatic Pipeline. The court, which is the second highest court in the EU, rejected the complaint filed by an Italian organisation, as Luxembourg Times writes, citing too long delays in challenging the environmental impact of the project. The group, known as the Associazione Terra Mia Amici No Tap, was ordered to pay the bank’s court costs too. As for the project, which will link Albania and Italy and represents the final step of the Southern Gas Corridor, the EIB continues asserting that it has undergone thorough assessment to quantify its environmental impact.
WEDNESDAY 13 SEPTEMBER
Private schools are bleeding out in Luxembourg, while public international schools see their numbers increase drastically, the education ministry reported this week. The grand duchy’s public international schools–situated in Differdange, Junglinster, Mondorf-les-bains-Clervaux, Mersch and the capital–were initially introduced to help students who had a hard time in the national school system. Over 4 years, the number of students in public international schools went from 1,800 to more than 4700. for primary schools, this went from close to 1,100 pupils in 2019 to more than 2,400 at the start of this school year. As LuxTimes writes, this news is celebrated by politicians in the government coalition, however, opposition politicians have raised concerns about these types of schools creating a divide.
One in ten job openings in the grand duchy are in the construction sector, according to the national employment agency Adem. Despite the pressure the sector is currently subjected to, there were close to 900 vacancies listed on the agency’s website in July, Luxembourg Times reports. Electricians, masons and concrete mixers were among the profiles most looked for.
As the Schueberfouer comes to an end, so do incidents on the Glacis site in Luxembourg city. This year’s edition had emergency services intervene 286 times at the fair. As RTL reports, 45 of these saw visitors transferred to a hospital by ambulance, while 14 were taken care of by medical teams. Despite this and some of the technical bugs on some of the rides, there were no technical interventions by the CGDIS.
370 construction sites stood in the way of drivers on the streets of the grand duchy this summer, transport and mobility minister François Bausch confirmed in an answer to a parliamentary question. The minister explained that they took place over the summer as they would inconvenience fewer people–as people traditionally leave the country during the hot months. There were also 36 road closures due to the Velosummer initiative that allows cyclists to discover the country on their bikes.
TUESDAY 12 SEPTEMBER
Luxembourg ranks 2nd in keeping homes warm. Eurostat reported yesterday that just over 2% of households in Luxembourg said they were unable to keep their homes adequately warm last year. This was far below the European average of more than 9%. Only in Finland fewer people said they struggled to keep their homes heated. The Grand Duchy’s aid schemes are estimated to have cost around €2.4 billion since September 2021, the highest support per capita in Europe, according to an analysis by a Brussels think-tank.
The government defends the Education Ministry’s campaign ‘Not sharing is caring’. In response to a parliamentary question by ADR-MP Fernand Kartheiser, the ministers of Police, of Education and of Justice recalled the aim of the campaign. It was launched in July to encourage witnesses of violence to not to share violent videos out of respect for the victims’ privacy. Instead, they should report the incident directly to the police. Kartheiser in the parliamentary questions asked why the awareness campaign didn’t focus on deterring the perpetrators.
Luxair has interrupted all flights to Marrakech until October, according to RTL. The airline said that 152 of their clients are currently in Morocco, after the earthquake in Morocco that killed more than 2.500 people. A return flight to Luxembourg is scheduled for tomorrow.
MONDAY 11 SEPTEMBER
The smartwielen tool went online, exactly one month before the parliamentary election. With 44 questions to answer, the tool helps users to find out which party best represents their personal interests. The questions among others cover issues such as housing, economy, labour and taxes as well as civil rights and immigration. The tool is available in Luxembourgish, French and English on the website smartwielen.lu.
The Christian Social People’s party CSV faces accusations of not caring about foreigners. President of the CSV International section Clara Moraru resigned from her post in protest, a month ahead of the elections. She said the CSV failed to integrate foreigners into the party, and ignored the members of the international party section CSI. According to Moraru, the CSI had suggested several candidates with dual nationality, but none of them were considered for the election. CSV-president Claude Wiseler rejects the accusations, according to the paper Contacto, saying the CSV had many foreign or dual nationality candidates, and that candidates were selected based on previous election results and their chances to win.
Luxembourg financial institutions have frozen a total of 6.2 billion euros in Russian assets, the Luxembourg Times reports referring to the finance ministry. That represents about one-fifth of the 30 billion euros of Russian assets frozen across the European Union. In the latest rounds of sanctions, Russian assets frozen increased by 44% in the past 15 months in Luxembourg.
Blue-green algae have ended the bathing season in the lakes of Upper Sure and Weiswampach. The National water management administration has implemented a ban on swimming at the two lakes in the north, following Lake Remerschen last week. The water is contaminated with high concentrations of cyanobacteria, commonly known as blue-green algae. Contact with this bacteria causes nausea, headaches, skin itching, and in the worst case respiratory difficulties.
FRIDAY 8 SEPTEMBER
Over fifty workers in the Luxembourg branch of tire manufacturer Goodyear could lose their jobs, according to the Luxembourg Times. The company is currently planning for restructuration and intends to cut about 1,200 jobs worldwide. Though Goodyear did not confirm the claim, labour unions in the grand duchy say that 55 local administrative workers would lose their job. The firm employs 3,500 people in Luxembourg alone.
The Council of Europe heavily criticised Luxembourg in a recent report, for the living conditions of children in the country’s main prison and youth detention facility. Inspections of various detention sites among others brought to light unacceptable living arrangements in the Centre Pénitentiaire de Luxembourg in Schrassig that did not clearly separate children from adult prisoners. The youth facility in Dreiborn also received its share of damning remarks. Providing constructive feedback and urging authorities to fix existing issues, the report also pointed to the excellent conditions in the new prison in Uerschterhaff.
There has been an uptick in car break ins in the grand duchy over the past week, the grand ducal police reported yesterday. As RTL writes, Lorentzweiler, Diekirch, Bereldange, Luxembourg City and Helmdange reported one or more incidents over the past few days. Most of the cases involved damage to the car and small thefts of items like headphones and cigarettes.
Ahead of the weekend, and after several days of sun, weather forecast agency MeteoLux yesterday sent out a yellow alarm for the south of the grand duchy for today. Temperatures are set to exceed 30C. The agency therefore asks residents to be cautious and take cover from the heat, in particular between 2pm and 7pm.
THURSDAY 7 SEPTEMBER
Luxembourg’s inflation rate went up in August, reaching 4.2% and triggering an indexation for September. The increase from 3.7% in July can be blamed on end-of-summer sales in Luxembourg, as LuxTimes explains. However, as Statec numbers also showed, food prices over one year increased by close to 10%–with olive oil seeing the biggest price evolution,at 5%. Clothing went up by close to 7% and heating fuel went up by 19% compared to the previous month.
The grand ducal police yesterday announced it has arrested a man suspected of being a drug dealer in the Gare district of Luxembourg City. As RTL retells, agents patrolling in the rue de Strassbourg on Tuesday night had been made aware of the man’s movements. Following a control during which drugs were found, the man was arrested and taken into custody.
26,000 parking spaces–that is how many parking spaces the current ministry of transports foresees on park’n’rides in the future. Answering a parliamentary question submitted by the Pirate party, transport minister François Bausch stated that the government intended to double its capacity in comparison to 2018, in order to encourage workers to leave their car behind at least for part of their commute. Several park’n’rides are in the making, namely in Frisange, Ettelbruck and Mamer. Currently, there are 17,000 available throughout the country, though an additional 2,000 spaces should become available at the Cloche d’Or later this year.
Luxembourg actress Vicky Krieps is set to be awarded a special award at the Toronto International Film Festival this coming weekend, organisers announced yesterday. Krieps will be awarded the TIFF Tribute Performer Award for her dedication to her craft and ability to embody diverse roles, as Luxtimes reports. This makes her one of the few actors to receive the award: previous laureates include Kate Winslet, Sir Anthony Hopkins and Meryl Streep.
WEDNESDAY 6 SEPTEMBER
A woman reported missing a few days ago was found dead on Monday night, the grand ducal police announced yesterday. Authorities had been notified that the 52 year old had been missing since 23 August, and had launched an appeal for witnesses. An investigation surrounding the circumstances that led to her death is currently on the way but preliminary observations ruled out involvement of a third party.
More of Luxembourg’s homeowners living close to the Findel airport will be able to ask for subsidies from the state to help soundproof their houses. In an amendment to a legislative project, announced in a press release on Tuesday, the government will allow more people to benefit from the subsidy, ranging from up to €8,000 for flats to €16,000 for houses, a subsidy to help protect locals from noise pollution caused by planes. Over 2,600 houses are eligible under this amendment, according to RTL.
A month before the national elections, it is current prime minister Xavier Bettel who seems the most likely to lead the next government, according to an opinion poll published yesterday. The survey, relayed by LuxTimes, also showed that the current DP-LSAP-déi Gréng coalition could survive into the next legislation, unless participants to the poll change their mind. The difference, however, compared to the last elections, is that LSAP stands as a coalition leader ahead of Bettel’s party. The election will take place on 8 October.
Finance minister Yuriko Backes yesterday took to the stage to present Luxembourg’s financial situation. The minister, who was sworn in at the start of 2022, looked back positively on the government’s management of the economic crisis, saying that many people and companies were supported by state measures. However, Backes also underlined the importance of a reform of the tax system–a promise the current coalition was criticized for failing to do from 2018 to the present.
TUESDAY 5 SEPTEMBER
The state is buying five housing projects on the private market whose construction has stalled due to a lack of buyers, Tageblatt reports. In total, the state pays 69 million euros to buy 114 apartments located in Luxembourg City, Differdingen, Ell, Ettelbrück and Steinsel. With this investment, the government aims to ensure the continuity of construction activity and preserve jobs in the construction sector. The apartments will increase the stock of state-owned affordable housing units.
Profits of the BIL bank have surged by half in the first half of the year with the bank reaching over 100 million euros net profit in June, Luxembourg Times reports. In the first six months of last year, the bank recorded a profit of 68 million euros. In its half-yearly results, the bank claimed strong commercial revenues were the reason for the surge in profit. Luxembourg’s banking sector as well benefits from the high interest rates set by the European Central Bank to tackle inflation. Since July, the ECB’s core interest rates have reached a record high of 3.75 percent.
Gas consumption dropped by one third last month, the energy ministry said. In August, Luxembourg consumed 33 percent less natural gas than in the average August of the past five years. This latest drop in gas use has followed similar decreases in June and in July. Luxembourg is well ahead of the European Union’s goal to reduce gas consumption by 15 percent. The EU had set this target following the impending energy crisis due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
MONDAY 4 SEPTEMBER
Palliative patients and people wishing for euthanasia will get better access to care. The Health ministry and the family ministry in a joint press conference presented a three-year-action plan according to which healthcare personnel and family members be better informed about the procedures and the patients’ rights. The government aims to foster a public discourse about death and assisted suicide to break down the taboo. Euthanasia has been legal in Luxembourg since 2009.
The new wage indexation, entering this month, is the third tranche of the year, adding up to a 7.7 percent increase of all salaries and pensions this year. The minimum wage for unqualified workers has increased by 157 euros this year, to 2.570 euros this month. Due to the high inflation rate, the national statistics agency Statec has already announced the next indexation for the second trimester of next year.
Luxembourg’s landlords avoid rent-to-buy schemes, Luxembourg Times reports referring to reasearchers of the Luxembourg Institute of Socio-Economic Research (LISER). While the so-called lease option agreements are common in France and Britain for example, such contracts don’t exist on Luxembourg’s private housing market. Such schemes would allow tenants to purchase their leased property for a lower price in future.
This year’s bathing season at the lake Remerschen has ended, The national water management administration has prohibited bathing in the lake Remerschen since last Friday, due to the presence of cyanobacteria. Cyanobacteria, commonly known as blue-green algae, spread fast in warm water with low oxygen rates, emitting toxins that cause sickness in animals and humans, including skin itching, stomachache, and vomiting. Particularly children can as well suffer from breathing difficulties.
FRIDAY 1 SEPTEMBER
Only 803 mail-in ballots were sent abroad ahead of the national elections in October, RTL reports. Luxembourg citizens living abroad can cast a vote in the elections, so long as they hold a valid passport and request a mail-in ballot. However, among the 133,500 eligible voters living outside of the grand duchy, like Brasilians–who count 26,000 Luxembourg passport holders–, the interest to participate in the country’s future remains low. To blame are in part administrative issues, according to those concerned.
From April next year on, Luxembourg residents will be able to travel to Manchester directly thanks to Luxair. The grand ducal airline will offer three direct flights a week to the English city. This route in the past had been serviced by Flybe before the company became defunct.
Philippe Coulon, former AirBnB Europe head of B2B and B2C, has been placed at the helm of the Luxembourg startup Fiveoffices, Paperjam writes. Fiveoffices sublets offices from one company to another–a business it wants to develop more not only in its native Luxembourg, but also in Paris and London. Starting in July, Coulon takes over from Carolyn Prestat.
Luxembourg artist Marc Henri Reckinger has passed away at the age of 83. Reckinger. Reckinger belonged to the generation of artists that revived artistic life in Luxembourg in the 1960s and co-founded Luxembourg’s two main protest art movements in the sixties and seventies. Earlier this week, the artist had been selected as the prizewinner of the Lëtzebuerger Konschtpräis 2024. He was active until his passing.
THURSDAY 31 AUGUST
The next automatic indexation on Luxembourg wages will take place on Friday. The national statistics bureau Statec confirmed the news in a post yesterday, announcing that wages will go up by 2.5%. With inflation expected to average at 3.9% for this year and 2.5% for next year, the next indexation after september is expected for the third quarter of 2024.
Big Four company KPMG will invest in a new headquarters in Luxembourg City’s Kirchberg district. The building will replace the bank BGL BNP Paribas’ current building on the JFK avenue. The project is set for 2029, as the deconstruction of the previous building starts in 2026. The new building will welcome about 1,800 people, Virgule says.
Luxembourg’s population is set to rise by 10% by 2032, according to Eurostat predictions. As Delano reports, the European statistics bureau has calculated that the grand duchy will have the second biggest increase in population, after Malta, over the next decade. This year alone, Luxembourg is expected to have 1.5% more inhabitants than last year.
A woman driving under the influence is at the origin of an accident involving several cars on the A13 in direction of Sanem. The incident took place on Tuesday night, when the driver drove into a tunnel in the wrong direction, colliding with three cars. The other drivers were only lightly injured, but the woman saw her driving license revoked after her alcohol test came back positive.
WEDNESDAY 30 AUGUST
Acts of vandalism against state property have gone up drastically since 2019, new numbers revealed by the grand ducal police show. As the Luxembourg Times states, the report indicates a 44% increase in cases between 2019 and 2022. In the first seven months of 2023 alone, over 300 cases were recorded, the police say. The acts range from graffiti to stolen parts and damages to public playgrounds.
Further developments are taking place in a case surrounding Luxembourg’s Council of State. As RTL reports, the Ethics Committee has now been enlisted to weigh in on conflict of interest allegations dating back to July, when a member of the council had shared a confidential document with his client Flavio Becca. The leftist party Déi Lénk in the meantime has called for the abolishment of the council of state in its current form.
Numbers of cases of child and youth abuse and juvenile delinquency are likely to blow up this year in comparison to last year, says deputy prosecutor at the youth protection unit of the public prosecutor’s office, David Lentz. Talking to RTL, the man said that as of the start of August, 1,200 cases of this kind have been opened since the start of 2023. In comparison, there were 1,500 new files last year. According to Lentz, while abuse cases are up by 44%, the increase could in part be explained by a better prevention system and more reporting.
A 14-year old girl has been reported as missing, the police shared yesterday. The girl, Angie Gina Pettinato, has disappeared in Luxembourg. Any sightings or information should be shared with the Museldall Police at +352244701000 or by messaging their e-mail address firstname.lastname@example.org
TUESDAY 29 AUGUST
More and more Portuguese residents sell their properties in Luxembourg to move back to Portugal, Contacto reports. They quote a banker saying he had never before seen that many many first or second-generation Portuguese couples considering moving back. Many invest the capital generated from the sale of their Luxembourg homes, in real estate in Portugal. Although the property crisis is a problem in Portugal as well, real estate prices are still low compared to the Luxembourg standard.
The first days of the Schueberfouer have been successful. The president of the National Federation of Fairground Traders Charel Hary said taking stock of the first days. Visitor numbers have reached pre-covid levels, despite the rise in prices and the unsettled weather. Hary added that the prices were still lower than those at other European fun fairs.
Artist Marc Henri Reckinger will be awarded the Lëtzebuerger Konschtpräis, the Luxembourg art award 2024. Culture Minister Sam Tanson said in a press release, the award is meant to honour Reckinger for his arts, his career and his contribution to social dialogue as his resolutely contemporary work encourages to reflect on the world while keeping an open, tolerant and critical mind. Marc Henri Reckinger belongs to the generation of artists that revived artistic life in Luxembourg in the 1960s. He co-founded Luxembourg’s two main protest art movements of the late ’60s and early ’70s. He continues to work on political topics. The prize will be awarded in October next year.
MONDAY 28 AUGUST
In total, the government has paid 4.6 million euros to the communes affected by the 2021 floods. The municipalities however have claimed a total of more than 30 million euros in damages, interior minister Tania Bofferding said. Two thirds of the claims came from the municipality of Echternach which suffered the highest losses, 39 other municipalities and municipal syndicates have claimed smaller amounts.
The Left party Dei Lenk demands the abolition of the Council of State – following an investigation by reporter.lu. Reporter.lu highlighted the lack of democracy and various cases of nepotism and conflicts of interest among Council members. déi Lénk wants to abolish the Council of State in its current form by replacing it with a body representative of civil society that advises parliament. The Council of State is an independent consultative institution that is called on for its opinion on draft bills and other legislative changes. The 21 council members are appointed and dismissed by the Grand Duke following proposals made by the Government, the Chamber of Deputies, or the Council of State itself.
Tourism in Luxembourg is nearly as strong as before the pandemic. In the first half of this year, hotels and other tourist accommodations have recorded 6 percent more bookings than last year. Tourism minister Lex Delles adds that July and August are projected to be strong as well. Delles considers his claim for investments in tourism infrastructure more justified than ever.
FRIDAY 25 AUGUST
The East West United Bank in Luxembourg winds down activities, plans to hand in its banking licence. The East West United Bank’s management and Board of Advisors have decided to do so due to the unlikely changes in the near future of the war between Russia and Ukraine and related sanctions against Russia. The East West United Bank specializes in interactions with Russian speaking clients. This information originally came from reporter.lu.
Yesterday, sirens across Dudelange perplexed inhabitants, l’essentiel reports. Reason for alarm, literally speaking, was a minor accident on the ArcelorMittal site. Water vapor was released at the steelwork’s oven level. Safety protocols were followed and workers evacuated the site. The situation was remedied to quickly. There was no material damage.
A lone wolf roams the East of Luxembourg. RTL acquired videographic material that shows a wolf walking near a forest, looking at the camera, then going its way again. The Nature Administration and French experts give it the stamp of approval. It is a real wolf. The source of the video remains anonymous. The exact location of the spotting is undisclosed as well. This was the fifth wolf sighting in Luxembourg this year.
In Belgium, police sue party-goers. In April, three guests of the Minister of Justice Vincent Van Quickenborne’s 50th birthday party are to have urinated against a nearby police vehicle, which now brought the opening of a legal case. The affair is mildly controversial to our neighbors to the West.
THURSDAY 24 AUGUST
Rental prices on Luxembourg’s real estate market continue to surge, with some rents going up by 20 to 25%. A result of higher interest rates on loans, which demotivate potential buyers, the high demand on the rental market is causing havoc among real estate companies. Indeed, the lack of demand in real estate transactions has caused them to crash by 90%, RTL reports. Construction permits have also gone down over the past twelve months, by 33%.
Police minister Henri Kox has been downplaying staffing issues at the police station in the Gare district of the capital, the Luxembourg Times writes. Kox acknowledged that the station around the Central Station had had to close due to staff shortages for a short, temporary time. However, it has been revealed that the station was closed twice over the course of ten days, as police officers called in sick and surrendered their weapons in response to the arrest of four agents for police brutality. The incident has also called into question Kox’s double status as housing and police minister, with some demanding for a reform of the position.
As residents are enjoying time abroad during the quiet month of August, burglars and police agents are busy in the grand duchy. The grand ducal police indeed reported that 7 break ins were signalled to authorities on Tuesday. Houses and apartments in Dudelange, Munsbach, Crauthem, Heisdorf and Olm were broken into. The police also noted that more and more garages and basements were broken into by burglars and asked residents to secure these spaces too.
Home affairs minister Taina Bofferding and mobility minister François Bausch yesterday presented a new roadmap to ease the burden of traffic on residential neighbourhoods of the country. Through much lower speed limits and deviations, the new directive wants to improve the quality of life of locals, as l’Essentiel writes. The plan however, is not meant to work against cars, Bausch stated.
WEDNESDAY 23 AUGUST
The number of women participating in the national elections in October is down from 2018. The candidate lists for the upcoming national elections was posted yesterday for residents to consult. Analysing the data, officials note that, about 42%, or 278 candidates are women, respecting the 40% minimum imposed by a 2016 law. However, they made up over 45% of participants in 2018, compared to 34% in 2013. The study also remarks that the 649 candidates this year were between 18 and 84 years old, averaging at 46 years old.
Luxembourg firms are less confident in their businesses. A phenomenon witnessed across the Eurozone too, RTL remarks. The construction, service and industry sectors in particular are affected by this shortage in optimism. Recent numbers published by national statistics bureau Statec had shown that these sectors also suffered the most from unemployment and a cut in job openings. The construction sector especially is suffering from insufficient contracts, leading to increased anxiety among businesses.
Young people in the grand duchy feel like they are lacking in financial knowledge, a study by Quest showed yesterday. As LuxTimes reports, 85% of respondents below the age of 35 wish they had a better financial education. The study showed that women felt less confident than men, and that young people were more open to taking on a loan–even to go on holiday. Only one in five estimated they were prepared well enough by their schools to face future financial responsibilities.
Weather agency Meteolux put out another yellow warning for the whole of Wednesday. The south of the country especially could be in a potentially dangerous situation as temperatures continue to climb. They could potentially reach 30C in the afternoon, the agency said.
TUESDAY 22 AUGUST
The number of unemployed people registered with Adem has increased by 13% compared to the same period last year. More than 16.000 jobseekers registered with the National Employment Agency (ADEM)last month, Statec revealed in a report. Meanwhile, job vacancies declined by 17 percent last month compared to July of last year. Activities like catering, accounting and secretarial work have seen a higher increase in unemployment too. The country’s unemployment rate remained at 5.2% however, the same rate as June.
Construction workers returned to work yesterday. The collective leave of the construction sector came to an end amid increased concerns about the future of the sector. Many companies fear bankruptcy as fewer contracts have been flowing in. As Tageblatt reports, employers’ representatives say the planned state’s aid is insufficient. In June, the government announced a €150m package to stimulate the sector, by investing in new public construction and renovation projects.
Two new express bus lines will connect Luxembourg to Belgium from next Monday on. The Belgian towns of Bastogne and Florenville will be directly connected to Luxembourg-City, Virgule reports. The new lines are part of the Wallonia region’s public transport network TEC and aim to motivate commuters to leave their car at home. The express lines will take close to 1h and 50 minutes to get from Cloche d’Or to Bastogne or Florenville.
MONDAY 21 AUGUST
Luxair’s customers have possibly been victims of data breaches. The airline has issued an alert, urging customers to stay attentive of potential phishing attempts. The data breach resulted from insufficient security measures at Luxair’s external service provider. The provider’s cloud server, where sensitive customer data was stored, was inadequately protected. The airline hasn’t disclosed the name of the external company but confirmed that the provider’s services had been suspended.
Residents of the Gare district get organised to protest the lack of security. More than 200 residents have joined the whatsapp group “Quartier Gare – sécurité” founded to address concerns over security issues and to foster exchange of ideas and solutions. The residents are concerned about the lack of action to increase security in the neighbourhood, and demand increased police presence and actions against drug dealers. Members of the group have announced a protest march for 23 September.
Several Luxembourg-based companies and residents have been fined for illegally dumping waste across the French border, Contacto reports. Police could trace some of the offenders back to Luxembourg as addresses and names have been found in the waste. The French communes Rédange and Audun-le-Tiche have struggled with illegal waste dumping for several years. Half of the fines have been issued to Luxembourg residents over the past two years. People who dump their waste illegally, risk fines of up to 1.500 euros.
FRIDAY 18 AUGUST
250 tonnes of waste have been illegally accumulated near Luxembourg’s border. The citizen’s group j’aime la forêt told Contacto about the heaped waste in the French town of Redange, near Belval. According to the collective, Belgian companies Mondial and Jost have been disposing of industrial and household waste in France since 2019. A fraction of the waste is said to come from Luxembourg. Connected underground streams risk polluting the Alzette. Both Belgian companies find themselves in an ongoing lawsuit while the French government does not clean the landfill as it is on private grounds. Cleaning costs are estimated between 180 and 230 thousand euros. The landfill is at odds with the Basel Convention, which states that individual countries are responsible for disposing of their waste.
Belgian cinema conglomerate Kinepolis announces record revenue. The first half of this year saw revenue go up by one fourth as opposed to last year. The absolute figure thus amounts to 285 million euros, of which 9 come from Luxembourg’s two cinemas. Their press release names Avatar 2, the Super Mario movie as well as Barbie and Oppenheimer as big catches. Kinepolis has also announced plans to put an Imax screen into Kinepolis Kirchberg, though a fixed date has been set as to when movie goers will be able to enjoy the wider screen.
Big white letters asking „Wiem gehéiert dëst Haus?“ – “Who owns this house?” can be read on a poster wrapped around a house entrance in the Gare district. The Left party Déi Lenk with this action denounces that many residential buildings are vacant amid the housing crisis. Déi Lenk had previously exposed a poster reading seven measures to be taken to fight the nation’s real estate crisis at the same address. That was done one and a half years ago. The building in one of the Gare district’s most prestigious streets could host three families or thirty people, but remains vacant.
THURSDAY 17 AUGUST
A detainee at the Givenich penitentiary centre denounces the alleged mishandling that led to the death of a fellow prisoner in July. The person confirmed to Tageblatt that the man had been visibly ill and had needed medical care the days before his death. He contradicts Justice Minister Sam Tanson’s declaration that the man hadn’t shown any signs of illness the eve of his death. He denounces a failure of the social services and the justice system. His fellow inmate who was found dead in his cell the morning of the 3rd July, had passed the medical exam to determine whether he was healthy enough for detention.
Troubles at the Cattenom nuclear power plant don’t seem to be solved. Reactor 3 had to be taken off the grid again on Monday, for the second time within one week. The reactor was disconnected due to a “malfunction on an electrical panel located outside the nuclear zone,” operator Électricité de France (EDF) said in a press release. An investigation is ongoing and the reactor will be reconnected after a series of safety controls. The Cattenom power plant is located some 25 kilometres from Luxembourg’s border. The reactors had to be taken off several times in the past year due to security concerns.
Luxembourg’s winegrowers expect a strong harvest this year, Luxemburger Wort reports. Last month’s heavy rain helped speed up the blooming of the vines. The Moselle vineyards are in top shape, the national Wine Institute told Luxemburger Wort. Winemakers are now hoping for a sunnier end of the summer, before beginning harvest mid-September.
WEDNESDAY 16 AUGUST
Luxembourg’s young graduates have good chances to find a job. According to the European statistical office Eurostat, Luxembourg, along with the Netherlands, is the European Union country with the highest employability rate. 93 percent of Luxembourg’s recent university or secondary school graduates have found a job. Young graduates from Italy, Greece and Romania have the EU’s lowest employability rates.
Luxembourg’s young drivers however are less successful. More than half of applicants for a driver’s licence fail the practical driving test. The figure continues to rise, from 45 percent in 2018 to 52 percent in 2022, Transport Minister François Bausch (déi Greng) explained in response to a parliamentary question from CSV-MP Nancy Arendt. One of the reasons, according to Bausch, is that the car is less common for adolescents nowadays as mobility habits have changed, and that they don’t get used to the automatic reflexes.
Tourism is on the rise in Luxembourg-city. The Luxembourg City Tourist Office has counted around 2000 visitors per day, RTL reports. The Casemates and the Grand Ducal palace are especially popular sights, also among Luxembourg-residents. Most visitors come from Germany, France, the Netherlands, Spain and Portugal.
Yesterday’s storm disrupted power supply in the west of the country. According to energy supplier Creos, residents in the towns Redange, Rambrouch and Ell were left without electricity in the early morning. The issue was finally resolved after two hours.
FRIDAY 11 AUGUST
Two drivers lose their lives at the Nürburgring. On Wednesday, on the famed Nürburgring racing track, 39 year old Luxembourg sportsman Christian Frank and an unnamed Goodyear colleague, were test- driving a Porsche and Goodyear tyres at well over 200 kilometers per hour when one of the wheels exploded.. This according to RTL and Wort. Christian Frank was named Luxembourg’s motorsports personality of the year in 2015 and was a highly respected figure in racing circuits. The Goodyear company expressed sorrow about the accident and said they will support the local authorities in their investigation. According to German police, 77 accidents occurred at the Nürburgring last year, and one person lost their life. The track is used by professionals and amateurs alike.
Yesterday morning, Cattenom Reactor number three was disconnected from the power grid by technicians. The EDF – électricité de France – reports that some fault set off the turbine’s protection mechanism. An investigation into the matter has been launched. The nuclear power plant’s reactor number three started to produce electricity again in April after close to a year of repairs. Reactor number one experienced multiple shutdowns last year and remains inactive, though it is close to restarting. The Cattenom power plant, which can be seen from Luxembourg, remains a point of contention between the Luxembourgish and French governments. France has a long-running history with nuclear power production. As of this year, France is Europe’s the biggest power exporter, though its power plants run at about 50% capacity.
A mysterious hole erupted on a Belgian street. On Wednesday evening, a four meter deep and six meter wide hole opened up just outside of the city of Tielt, the newspaper De Standaard reports. Drivers were able to avoid the hole and firefighters were on the scene very quickly. Though the cause of the hole remains unclear, mayor Luc Van Nieuwenhuyze suspects it had to do with the underlying canalisation.
THURSDAY 10 AUGUST
Luxembourg’s inflation rate for July stood at 3.75%, national statistics bureau Statec revealed in a publication yesterday. As Delano notes, while inflation is only slight up from the previous month, the core inflation remains around the 4.5% mark. On an annual level, the inflation rate stands at 2.9%. Despite expected price increases linked to current climate phenomena, Statec expects the inflation rate to return to the 2.5% target in 2024.
Statec yesterday also announced two possible wage indexations over the next few months, as RTL reports. The national statistics office presented two scenarios: in the best case, workers will see their wages adapted to inflation rate thanks to the automatic wage indexation mechanism twice: once in September of this year, and once during the second quarter of next year. In the worst case, there will only be one increase this coming October.
Those flashed by the fixed speed radar just outside Bereldange should soon see fines delivered to their home. As l’Essentiel reports, the speed radar, which entered its test phase in June of this year, will grab a picture of anyone going above 50kmh. There is a 3kmh or 3% leeway, depending on the speed of the driver, according to authorities.
The youth prison of Luxembourg, officially known as the State Socio-Educational Centre CSEE, has recently gathered public attention after shocking allegations came to light. As RTL Today reports, youths are able to consume and deal drugs in these facilities. Rumours of sexual relations not only among detainees but also between underaged detainees and educators have also spread, and were corroborated by former staff that wanted to remain anonymous. The directorate of the CSEE has reacted to the allegations, stating that the drug trade was a true problem in the centres and that any rumours of illegitimate relations were investigated.
WEDNESDAY 9 AUGUST
Vianden and its visitors will have to wait a couple more years before the completion of its youth hostel. Culture minister Sam Tanson yesterday gave an update on the project, a project which has run for a few years already and suffered a few delays on the way. In a parliamentary answer relayed by l’Essentiel, Tanson indicates construction works should be completed by the end of 2024 or start of 2025, despite being planned for 2023. Once it does open, the youth hostel will offer 120 beds in shared rooms.
The government yesterday afternoon announced it would extend the duration of a subsidy scheme for private e-car charging points. First introduced in 2020 to improve Luxembourg’s green mobility, the subsidy pays 50% of the purchasing and installation costs for electric vehicles bought for private use. As the government announced, the scheme has been extended by 18 months and will now run until 31 December 2024. Since its implementation, 3,500 demands for this financial aid have been granted.
Luxembourg-based media group RTL has seen its profits halved during the first six months of this year, the Luxembourg Times reports. In a year-on-year comparison, profit crashed from €304m in 2022 to €132m for the first two quarters of this year. Its overall revenues–€3.1bn–went down by 5% compared to the last months of last year too. To blame are in part a drop in ad revenue, the company said. Prior to these results, the group had forecast its adjusted earnings before interest and taxes for 2023 to reach between €1bn and €1.05bn. Now, it expects it to reach €950m. The German market and branches of the firm have dealt with the shock more intensively than Luxembourg.
All Luxembourg forests, regardless of the ownership they’re under, will now be accessible to the public, RTL reports. After the draft law was voted in by lawmakers in July, the ministry of the environment announced that owners of a forest space now will not be able to stop people from walking through the woods. In addition, people will now be able to forage for forest products–so long as they only take enough for themselves and not to start a business. Under the new law, private owners will not be held responsible for any incident happening on their forest lands if they were not implicated either. Plants protected by nature conservation laws and wood can also not be taken from the forests–this will remain the responsibility of the forest manager.
TUESDAY 8 AUGUST
Just outside of Luxembourg, in Forbach, a German woman was taken in by the police after she had allegedly been held and tortured for 12 years. The 53-year-old woman was found naked and with a shaved head after she notified German authorities who then contacted their French colleagues. According to the woman, her husband had held her captive since 2011. The 55-year-old man, also from Germany, will now be investigated for aggravated rape, sequestration, torture and barbarity, RTL Today reports. Since the discovery, authorities have however said that it could be possible that the woman wasn’t held captive as no traces of injury were found. Instead, it could be a case of patient neglect.
In Echternach, a man wielding a knife was arrested by the Gare station. He had been drinking and raising concerns, which prompted a visit from the police. Showing himself uncooperative, he was taken in and placed in a cell to sober up. Meanwhile, In Petange, three suspects attacked a taxi driver with a knife and robbed him in the late hours of Sunday. According to l’Essentiel, the driver had been called to pick up customers in Petange. Three men then threatened him and stole his wallet before fleeing the crime scene. The suspects were however caught by the police and arrested.
500 employees at the flooring company Tarkett will be saved from unemployment for at least nine months, the Luxembourg Times reports. According to the newspaper, the company signed a job retention plan with labour unions to ensure the safety of the workers. This will help prevent layoffs and keep the Clervaux site running. The flooring company also has a site in Wiltz.
A Luxembourgish national completed the 20 bridges swim around Manhattan in New York. The woman, Paule Kremer, from Walferdange, swam 46 km in 8 hours and 13 minutes through the three rivers that run around the district. This makes her the first Luxembourgish woman to complete the challenge. She had also been the first Luxembourgish female athlete to swim across the English Channel.
MONDAY 7 AUGUST
The next wage indexation could come earlier than expected, the latest forecasts by the national statistics agency Statec suggest. While electricity and gas prices have fallen considerably in the past months, food prices continue to fuel the general rise in prices. Food inflation remains high at more than 11 percent in July. With the annual inflation rate standing at 3.2% for July, the next index-linked tranche could be triggered in August or September.
More severe punishments for discrimination, hate speech, mobbing and violence – this is the demand of a recent petition. These offences, according to the petitioners, are often not taken seriously enough by the prosecutors, so that charges are often dropped and offenders stay unpunished. The petitioners condemn this neglect amid increasing cases of hate speech on the internet and mobbing in schools. The petition has already reached one third of the signatures necessary to be debated in parliament, one month is left to sign.
The new political movement Liberté Fräiheet has presented their candidates for the northern district to finalise the list of 60 candidates for the upcoming parliamentary election. Founder Roy Reding himself will run within the central constituency, he recently confirmed to RTL. MP Roy Reding founded the movement Liberté Fräiheet following his departure from the Alternative Democratic Reform Party (adr) six weeks ago.
FRIDAY 4 AUGUST
The Audiovisual Regulatory Authority issues a reprimand to RTL for broadcasting an hour long interview with Green Party minister François Bausch before the election. This interview, aired less than twenty-four hours before the local elections in June, is thus to have breached the impartiality rules and pre-election media silence of politically affiliated content outside of agreed-upon, evenly balanced electoral advertisement. RTL argues that deputy Prime Minister Bausch was not running for the local elections and did not attempt to influence the outcome in his statements, arguments the ALIA finds invalid. The Minister is to have given visibility to his affiliated party, déi gréng, visibility the other parties lacked. A reprimand is the mildest sanction the ALIA can give.
Natural gas consumption in Luxembourg down by over a third, the Ministry for Energy reports. The figure is relative to 2017-2022 references. Doing so, Luxembourg far exceeds the EU’s suggestion to members to reduce natural gas consumption and demand by 15% amid global supply insecurity as to the upcoming winter.
No noteworthy changes as to this year’s orientation rates from primary to secondary school. Among the 5507 pupils who finished primary school this year, 18 are held back to repeat a year. Close to forty percent of graduates will go to the so-called classique secondary school system and 28% will go to the so-called général (formerly technique) system. 12% will go to preparation class. The Ministry of National Education, Children and Youth states that teachers and parents in nearly all cases agreed as to the orientation of the children. In the case of disagreement between teacher and parent, an orientation committee takes the final decision. 25 cases went through that procedure, with the orientation committee siding with the suggestion of the teachers 22 times. Traditionally, lycée classique education prepared pupils for University while lycée technique also taught more practical skills, though the line between both systems and their outcomes has been further blurred by the educational reforms of the last decades
THURSDAY 3 AUGUST
Luxembourgers have the highest emergency spending stash in Europe, according to a Eurobarometer. As Virgule reports, nearly half of Luxembourg residents put enough money aside to cover six months of expenses if they were to lose their source of income. One in five inhabitants had enough to at least survive three months without a salary. About half of the people who responded to the survey in Luxembourg also said they thought about whether they could afford something before purchasing it. They were also more confident in their financial stability once retired, than other Europeans.
However, at the same time, Luxembourgers appear to be more pessimistic about their financial outlook in the coming months. A Banque Centrale du Luxembourg survey from July found that consumers in the country were more wary and cautious about the well-being of the national economy. Luxembourg Times writes that optimism has been falling since October 2021. Companies are on the same page as households in lowering their expectations for the country and their own economic situation.
The trade lobby group Fédération des Artisans yesterday attacked economy minister Franz Fayot in an open letter after he publicly supported a report suggesting construction companies to keep housing prices up. The federation said the implication that trades and construction companies were invested in keeping housing prices artificially high was unfair, and a distraction from the government’s responsibility in the matter, as the LuxTimes reports. Fayot had backed a study published last month by the competition authorities, which had said that certain employers ‘may have colluded to keep prices up’.
The grand ducal police yesterday reported on several incidents that happened across the country earlier this week. For one, a man was arrested in Esch while carrying a loaded gun. He had allegedly shot twice, narrowly missing passerbys. In Ettelbruck, a 71-year-old woman was hit by a car while crossing the road. She passed away from her injuries while getting treatment in hospital. On Tuesday night, a heavily injured man was found in Remerschen. The man had been stabbed several times when he was jumped by three suspects and was taken to the hospital after being found by agents.
WEDNESDAY 2 AUGUST
Luxembourg’s unemployment rate stood at 5.1% in June, increasing slightly compared to May. The most sought out jobs are in hospitality, but also accountants, IT specialists and bank employees, Luxtimes writes. Despite seeing its numbers of jobseekers increase, the grand duchy remains below the EU’s 5.9% rate of jobless residents.
Luxembourg weather organisation Meteolux yesterday set up a yellow alert for today’s weather forecast. Heavy rainfall could lead to a cumulative rainfall of 25 litres/squaremeter, it warned. Strong winds are also expected. The weather could be dangerous, it added. The alarm covers the hours between 4am and 4pm.
Luxembourg deputies over the past five years spent over 1200 hours in 310 parliament sessions, a record according to l’Essentiel. With a pandemic, energy and economy crisis, the lawmakers were busier during the current legislative period ending in October than during the previous one. In contrast, members of parliament between 2013 and 2018 only spent 888 hours debating in parliament. The number of draft bills and parliamentary questions also exploded over this legislative period, the chamber of deputies shared in its review.
A government work scheme for disabled workers had not been used in the past four years in Luxembourg, labour minister Georges Engel said yesterday. As the Luxembourg Times explain, the programme aims to help people with a disability return to work. Under the scheme, an assistant issued by Adem would help companies define the special needs a disabled employee has and work out a plan. In its four years of existence, it hasn’t been requested by private companies. Reasons cited by employers were among others an intensive administrative procedure or the lack of need for an assistant for disabled people currently employed in their company.
TUESDAY 1 AUGUST
After a two-year trial, the government has decided to not impose the Nutri-score label on Luxembourg companies, Paperjam reports. The rating system, already adopted in seven countries among which France, Belgium and Germany, indicates the health score of a food or drink on packaging. While the state’s study found that younger people were more influenced by the colourful label and its A to E rating system, with 93% of them finding it reliable, only half of the people above the age of 55 believed it. A survey among producers came up with inconclusive results. The government therefore decided to keep the Nutriscore label a voluntary measure and said it would wait for an EU-wide directive before imposing it.
Luxembourg’s annual inflation rose to 2% this July, the Luxembourg Times reports. According to the European statistics bureau Eurostat, the grand duchy’s inflation rate doubled to reach the same rate it had in May. However, prices are rising more slowly than in other eurozone countries, LuxTimes notes. With this, the grand duchy is now hitting the European Central Bank’s inflation target.
60 euros – that is what Luxembourg residents spent on average on fairtrade products in 2022. As l’Essentiel writes, consumption of fairtrade products increased by 13% compared to 2021. This translates to €39m in sales revenue for the Fairtrade label. While part of the increase could be ascribed to inflation, the volumes sold–both for consumables like cocoa and bananas–and for other goods–like textiles–increased sensibly over 12 months.
The government is set to buy 90 properties off private real estate developers, Luxtimes reports. While information about the housing wasn’t made public, they will be situated in the capital and south of the country, housing minister Henri Kox (déi Gréng) told deputies in parliament last week. The sale is expected to cost tax payers €55m, LuxTimes says, but would be handled by the national housing fund and the national society for affordable housing. The agreement between the state and property developers comes as Luxembourg’s housing market struggles to attract buyers due to high interest rates on loans.
MONDAY 31 JULY
The government has committed to subsidise the installation of e-car charging stations for companies. Companies are about to install 246 new e-car charging points across the country, the Energy and Economy Ministries said in a joint press release. The state will cover half of the installation cost, in total 5 million euros. A variety of companies have applied for the funding scheme, including petrol stations, shopping centres and industrial companies. The subsidy will be granted to 17 businesses. Most of the points will be installed on private premises, 70 will be accessible for the public.
The carbon tax will continue to rise. The government council has approved a draft law to increase the carbon tax by 5 euros per tonne CO2 every year, until it reaches 45 euros in 2026. To mitigate the impact of this increase on low-income households, Finance Minister Yuriko Backes has introduced in the same bill an increase in the additional CO2 tax credit of €24, bringing it up to a ceiling of €168. The CO2 tax was introduced in 2021.
Luxembourg’s businesses plan to increase salaries by 3.4 percent next year, Delano reports referring to the advisory firm WTW. For their most recent salary budget planning report , nearly 180 Luxembourg-based companies responded that they plan pay increases to stay attractive for employees. 14 percent of the companies plan to recruit new staff; in information and communications technology two thirds of the companies want to hire.
The Vëlosummer was launched on Saturday. For one month, cyclists have more roads to themselves. The Ministry of Mobility and the General Directorate for Tourism announced the launch of the fourth edition of the “Vëlosummer” event, opening 12 circuits with a total distance of around 500 kilometres. This year, four new circuits are available, with two crossing the Belgian and French borders.
FRIDAY 28 JULY
The Ombudsman for children and youth condemns the imprisonment of minors in the adult prison. Public advocate Claudia Monti stresses that the incarceration of minors is inconsistent with human rights practices. Last Saturday, a 13-year-old girl spent a night in the Schrassig penitentiary centre. She was sentenced for attacking another minor with a broken bottle. She did not stay at Dreiborn Security Unit, as initially planned. The institution saw eleven of its twelve rooms occupied and one under renovation because of sustained damage. Measures to prevent contact with other inmates of the women’s section were applied. One night later, a room in Dreiborn opened up. In Luxembourg, it is not as of yet illegal for minors to be placed in adult prison, though upcoming laws will address the topic.
Details on case of police brutality emerge. The Luxembourger Wort has further contextualized the beating of a drunk jail detainee by three police officers on the night of the ING marathon. The detainee suffered from serious injuries recorded in writing by a doctor who arrived later that night to examine the detainee’s physical state. At least one police officer tried to mudden the story as to the origin of the injuries. A supervisor pressured a present junior officer to falsify his report. Inconsistencies during reviews of the documents by the Bureau à Connections (BAC) led back to the junior officer, who has since come forward as to what happened. His supervisor is accused of forgery. The three police officers are accused of involvement in police violence. Lawyers and legal counsels of persons involved have refused to comment when contacted by the Wort.
Dog death traps scattered around Olm. On Wednesday morning, the commune of Kehlen updated its website to draw attention to the presence of bits of sausages with cutter blades inside near the cemetery. The commune, which has motioned an action to pick up the traps, recommends dogwalkers be vigilant and considers the possibility that further traps be laid elsewhere.
THURSDAY 27 JULY
In Luxembourg City, a man saw his driving license revoked when he went to report a crime. The man went to the police after being the victim of a mugging in the early hours of Wednesday morning. Having offered a ride to a stranger, the man was made to stop and threatened with a sharp weapon. A second suspect is said to have arrived at that time. The victim was injured and robbed of his laptop. However, the agents registering his complaint suspected the man was driving under the influence. A test confirmed this and led to his driving license being revoked. An investigation surrounding the mugging is still on the way.
A number of Post customers were the targets of a larger phishing scam last week, RTL reports. According to the news site, a victim told them they had been robbed of a 5-digit-amount after providing information to the scammers. The postal and banking company later on confirmed that several cases had taken place, though it did not provide a number. The scam took place through e-mails that looked like they could be from Post or LuxTrust, authorities shared, before reminding that the firm doesn’t send out e-mails to request customer logins.
The Findel airport is one of Europe’s most stressfree airports, a study published by SchengenVisaInfo and relayed by RTL revealed. According to the survey, the grand duchy ranked second after Benmark’s Billund Airport. Lithuania’s Vilnius airport completed the podium. With over 4m travellers in 2022, Luxembourg did well in terms of its distance to the city centre and the number of restaurants it had.
The grand duchy’s public sector continues to attract workers from the private sector–something that could cause issues for the latter in the face of a workforce shortage. The Luxembourg Times presented this news, stating that councils, with a better pay and less stressful working conditions, poached craftspeople that would otherwise work for construction companies, for instance. This would put a strain on the private sector, as there is a disproportionate number of state-employed positions compared to the number of residents. According to the Chamber of Trades, one in three jobs is now in the public sector.
WEDNESDAY 26 JULY
Two Luxembourg co-productions have been selected for the 80th international film festival in Venice. Belgian director Fien Troch’s feature film Holly, and Juanita Gonzaga’s VR film Floating With Spirits have been chosen to be part of the competition. Both films were co-produced by the Luxembourg company Tarantula Luxembourg. The festival, also known as the Mostra of Venise, will take place from 30 August to 9 September.
The grand duchy’s spending has gone up by close to 18% in 2023 compared to 2022, Delano reports. In a press release, finance minister Yuriko Backes presented the country’s financial situation, highlighting that revenue had increased by €665m, or more than 5%, in a year-on-year comparison. Higher expenditures could be explained through the increase in subsidies to Luxembourg households in light on the inflation and energy crisis. The minister also underlined that, while Luxembourg’s public debt was above 27% at the end of June, it has since decreased to 24.7% of the GDP thanks to the repayment of a €2bn bond issuance.
A scammer, who took about €750k from a Luxembourg family has been sentenced to 4 years in prison by the district court of Trier in Germany. According to l’Essentiel, the woman had pretended to be a palmreader and had, over the course of a decade, demanded payments from the Luxembourgish family to ward off ill fate. Not only did the 55-year old get arrested, but her husband, son and daughter-in-law were also sanctioned.
A damning report shows that the government misled deputies about the cost of a satellite project–pushing them to accept a €170m price that climbed to €300m. Luxembourg Times reports that the military satellite ran 80% over budget after it was initially tabled in 2018. The lawmakers’ report shows that the project was adopted in a rushed manner, before a feasibility or proper cost could be determined.
TUESDAY 25 JULY
Luxembourg construction business Manuel Cardoso will be declaring bankruptcy in the coming days, the Luxembourg Times reports. The firm, which currently has about 120 workers, announced the news in an internal letter–a week after the first signs of financial troubles became known. Workers had also complained about unpaid bonuses and late wage payments. As Luxtimes explains, workers will have to register with Adem but the LCGB labour union is looking to dispatch some of them to other companies.
Luxair continues to fly passengers to the island Rhodes in Greece, according to the Luxtimes. While the southern areas of the island struggle with wildfires, leading to a mass evacuation of tourists, the Luxembourg company has not yet cancelled flights, despite evacuating around 80 people from the Greek Island. The company has said it would assess the situation as it evolves, and that passengers to this destination until Thursday can change their tickets.
The train connection between Luxembourg and Troisvierges is back on track. This news comes after a collapsed tunnel stopped trains from circulating between the capital and the north for close to a year. Frequent users of this line, who have seen their commute grow longer, will however only be able to rejoice for a short while. The national railway company CFL will be closing the path again from 20 August to 10 September for modernisation works.
The grand ducal police yesterday sent out a call for a missing person: the man, Yalcim Özkaz, has been missing around the Rollingergrund neighbourhood since Sunday–a disappearance that has been described as worrying. The 34 year old man, who speaks French and Turkish, is of slim build, between 1.60m and 1.70 tall and was wearing a black t-shirt, a dark pair of joggings, and black crocks at the time of his disappearance. Information or sightings can be reported to the police on the following phone number: 00352 244 40 1000.
MONDAY 24 JULY
Parliament has passed two bills within the government’s scheme for affordable housing. If landlords take on tenants at a rent below market prices, the government will pay the difference. Those housing units will be classed as ‘affordable housing’ where rents will be capped at around a third of household salary. Further, first time buyers of newly built homes will be eligible to receive a 20000 euro grant from the government.
The town of Echternach continues to struggle with the financial impact of the floods two years ago, as the Ministry of Interior refuses to provide more financial support to the municipality, Virgule reports. As part of the government’s aid package, the Ministry of the Interior had paid out €900,000 to the municipality, “just a drop in the ocean” according to Echternach’s mayor Yves Wengler. The municipality had sent a stack of 800 invoices to the ministry. However, most of them do not fall within the criteria for flood compensation, the ministry told Virgule. The damages caused by the floods in Echternach have an estimated cost of 7 to 8 million euros. The government’s aid and the insurances together cover 3 million, which leaves a heavy financial burden for the already over indebted municipality of Echternach.
Reckless drivers face higher fines, according to the bill approved by parliament. The fine for using the phone while driving will be increased from 145 to 250 euros, and offenders will lose four points on their driving licence, twice as many as before. The new bill also foresees higher penalties for damaging speed cameras. Who blocks the view of speed cameras, damages or destroys them, can now face a prison sentence and a fine of between 251 and 5.000 euros.
FRIDAY 21 JULY
It will take another two years for police officers to be equipped with body cameras, Minister Henri Kox estimates, after parliament passed the law earlier this week.Said law will allow for the training and specific use of body cameras by police officers. Since its first proposal in 2018, the law fell under the scrutiny as several organizations raised issues of privacy and access. The proposal underwent numerous changes. Police officers themselves will not be able to edit footage, though an administrator picked by police will have access. This remains troubling to human right groups. The government highlights that the use of body cameras can be deterrent to violence against both citizens and police.
Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg jointly acquire old American tanks to pass on to Ukraine. The tanks in question are M113s, first deployed in the Vietnam war. They have been reconditioned to allow for their weapons to be controlled from distance. Machine guns can be potentially affixed. In the US army, M113s have long been replaced by Bradleys, which have only been sent to Ukraine by their government. According to multiple Ukrainian media, the M113s are suspected to come from a base depot in Belgium, which stocks several hundred more. The Benelux countries have not specified how many tanks they are talking about, nor their monetary value.
Luxembourg’s railway company CFL is Luxembourg’s biggest employer, Amazon takes second place and as such and now employs more people than national mail and telecommunication service POST. The national statistics agency STATEC released a new report that ranks Luxembourg’s biggest employers. They employ between and 4500 and 4800 people. Then follow facility management complay Dussmann, Cactus, BNP Paribas and ArcerlorMittal.
Survivors of child abuse can legally pursue perpetrators up until thirty years after their turn eighteen. The parliament approved the rise of the statute of limitations regarding child sexual abuse from age 28 to age 48. In deeply severe cases such as rape, the statute of limitations can be omitted completely. Even with this new legislation, the Luxembourg law is a far cry from its British, Georgian, Belgian, Irish, Danish and Cyprus counterparts, which have undone the statute of limitations regarding child sex offenses altogether.
THURSDAY 20 JULY
The competition authority yesterday published a study on the Luxembourg real estate sector–a study that has drawn a lot of attention both from political figures and sector representatives. In the report, the competition authority found that revenues for real estate firms increased by 2.7% over 10 years, reaching €2.4bn. As Paperjam writes, the report notes that while the number of properties on the market didn’t increase drastically, prices did, leading it to conclude that real estate agents reaped bigger profits. Aside criticism of the current situation, the report also provided recommendations: these included implementing regulations to better oversee the standards of agents, and abolishing the current 3% commission rate. Economy minister Franz Fayot has reacted to the report saying he would present it to the government council.
A male corpse has been found in a pond in Hoscheid-Dickt in the north of the grand duchy two days ago, the grand ducal police announced yesterday. As RTL reports, the identity of the man has already been investigated. An autopsy to determine the cause of death has been commissioned.
Deputies in parliament yesterday approved a series of changes to ease the entry into the Luxembourg labour market for third-country citizens. While those without a residence or work permit still won’t be able to apply for jobs, procedures will be put in place to help new arrivals with a right to work fill certain positions. As RTL reports, people who come to Luxembourg to reunite with family will have access to work too. Stricter sanctions were also voted in to curb forced and illegal labour in the country.
Travellers can look forward to flying from Charleroi again: the shuttle bus from Luxembourg to the Charleroi airport should run again from 31 October, the bus company Flibco revealed. The line had been shut down due to the covid-19 pandemic and had not made a comeback after travel restrictions eased up. However, from the end of the year on, 9 daily trips will connect the two destinations, much to the delight of those booking flights flying from the Belgian city.
A draft law foresees stricter sanctions for reckless driving habits, l’Essentiel reveals. According to the newspaper, driving while using a smartphone, tablet or other device with a screen could cost the driver 4 points on their driving license as well as a €250 fine. Using the car’s control panel would still be allowed. However, people who have taken drugs or medication that make them high or sleepy, could lose their permit if caught. Furthermore, those driving without a valid permit more than once could see their vehicle taken away. Lastly, cyclists can look forward to not losing licence points or their driving license altogether if they’re caught breaking the highway code.
WEDNESDAY 19 JULY
Health minister Paulette Lenert (LSAP) yesterday presented the National Mental Health Plan for 2024 to 2028. The strategy, part of the coalition promise of 2018 and announced for 2021, took much longer than anticipated. With 26 objectives, the plan hopes to prevent mental illnesses to impact people’s lives too much when possible and treat those who suffer from it not just in accute situations but also once they have left existing treatment structures. The plan also puts an emphasis on training up people in contact with the public, like teachers, for instance, to recognise mental health struggles when they arise, as well as aims to hire more professionals to deal with the existing demand.
Luxembourg is the European country that invests the most in its railway per capita. With €575 per inhabitant going towards the train network in the grand duchy, the country again topped the annual ranking organised by the NGO Allianz Pro Schiene. Transport minister François Bausch (déi Gréng) commented on the news, saying that he “is very pleased” with the results. “Our transport policy priorities are to invest in infrastructure to drive the transport revolution,” he added.
From Friday, residents of the grand duchy will be able to grow and smoke weed in the privacy of their own home. The law allowing inhabitants to plant 4 cannabis plants per household was approved by the majority of deputies last month, and from Friday on will be applicable. The legal text also reduces fines relating to carrying the drug in public: in the past, holding on to up to 3g of weed could cost €2,500–now the fine is set at €145.
Luxembourg’s pension fund has suffered from a sharp decline, reports RTL. The fund, put in place to manage and invest pension funds, reported a negative return of €11.93% last year, which led the funds to go down by €2.54bn. The fund has however implemented a new strategy and investment attitude, which it hopes will allow it to better adjust to the high inflation that dug deep into the pension fund’s resources. If it doesn’t manage to respond to the demand, it could bleed out by 2047.
TUESDAY 18 JULY
Luxembourg could abolish the reflection period that precedes an abortion, the Luxembourg Times report. The three-day period was originally put in place to give women time to think about their choice, but was abolished in several European countries a few years ago. Health minister Paulette Lenert in an answer to a parliamentary question said she was in favour of reducing the window to the minimum possible–or the day after the first consultation. In Luxembourg, women can request an abortion until the 12th week of gestation. While sexual health advocates applaud Lenert’s position, the national gynecologist association has warned that it could have severe impacts.
The Villa Louvigny in Luxembourg City will be renovated to host cultural activities, a plan that is set to cost around €70m. The building, which in the past was used by RTL and the health ministry, was listed in 2018. According to the culture ministry’s press release published yesterday, the villa louvigny will home cultural institutions like Kultur lx, as well as a restaurant, an auditorium, a recording studio, and a rehearsal room for spectacles, among others. Renovation works should end at the end of 2029.
US broadcaster CNN has named the Vianden Castle as one of the most beautiful castles in the world, RTL reports. The popular tourist attraction in the north of the country, built between the 11th and 14th century, attracts around 90,000 visitors in the summer. CNN describes Schloss Vianden as “the most spectacular” of the 50-odd castles on the grand duchy’s territory. Also on the news agency’s top ranking are the Himeji Castle in Japan, the Palace of the Grand Master of the Knights of Rhodes in Greece, and Neuschwanstein in Germany.
A kids event taking place later this month in Esch has attracted so much hate and debate that equality minister Taina Bofferding has had to publicly address the matter. At the event, drag queen Tatta Tom is meant to read books to children, a concept that has garnered hateful and discriminatory comments online. As Virgule reports, Bofferding is said to be “very shocked” by the “vehemence” with which people “refuse tolerance and acceptance”. The city of Esch has also spoken out too, saying the event is meant to promote inclusion and diversity. The hateful comments posted online could potentially have legal consequences, the newspaper added.
MONDAY 17 JULY
The Luxembourg District Court has sentenced a former volleyball coach to five years in prison, three of them suspended. The 50-year-old was accused of producing, possessing, using and distributing child pornographic material as well as sexual assault and violating the private and intimate sphere of minors. The former volleyball coach secretly photographed and filmed girls in the shower and changing rooms for years. Investigators have seized thousands of pictures and films. The offenses date back several years. Police investigators exposed the former volleyball coach back in 2018, after they had found his photographs and videos in possession of a second person who was subject to investigations.
The new movement Liberté, founded last week by MP Roy Reding, is going to present a list for this year’s parliamentary election. Ex-ADR-MP Roy Reding announced his participation on Saturday on Facebook, saying he already had a complete candidates’ list for the district north. Reding founded the movement only last week, shortly after having been kicked out of the candidates’ list of the Alternative Democratic Reform Party (ADR) which made him decide to leave the right-wing ADR.
The University of Luxembourg will keep its Confucius Institute open despite recent criticism, RTL reports. The university however told RTL that the rectorate tries to minimize the risks associated with collaborations with Chinese universities. In recent years, Confucius Institutes have faced accusations of spreading Chinese propaganda and being engaged in scientific and economic espionage. They have come under increased scrutiny in Germany lately where the ministries of education and research called on universities to revise their collaboration. The Confucius Institutes under the authority of the Chinese Ministry of Education aim to promote Chinese languages and cultural exchange worldwide. The institutes are located at partner universities worldwide, the Luxembourg Confucius Institute was established in 2018.
FRIDAY 14 JULY
1,338. That’s the number of jobs lost due to bankruptcies so far this year, according to the national statistics agency STATEC. This figure is about 45% higher than in the middle of last year’s. Similar job loss figures were last reached in 2016. Since the end of last year, Luxembourg companies face high inflation and energy prices. The largest chunk of the 556 businesses declaring bankruptcy are holding companies or investment funds. They are followed by the trade sector and the construction sector. The latter has appealed to the government for financial support. Casa do Brill has also closed shop. The butcher shop chain had existed for 37 years and was highly popular among the Portuguese community.
Dropping out of school under the age of 18 is now prohibited. The Luxembourg government has raised the minimum age of compulsory education from 16 to 18 years old. This was set in motion by education minister Claude Meisch and approved by the parties in government. Opposition MPs all voted no. Meisch so wishes to reduce the possibility of youths leaving school without a diploma. Pirate Pary MP Sven Clement has criticized that, though the resolution would improve statistics, it does nothing to address the actual reasons for dropping out of school. Every year, 500-600 youths leave school before the age of 18. Many struggle to enter the working force.
Nicolas Didier of the Luxembourg Science Center (LSC) is said to owe 730,000 euros, the Inspectorate of Finance finds. Didier is the founder and director of the LSC. The 730,000 debt applies to both the LSC and his private company GGM11. The LSC was co-funded by the government until the Education Ministry broke ties with the institution to get Didier to accept new terms that would allow the government to be part of the decision-making process. The Inspectorate of Finance also finds mismanagement in Didier’s personal accounting, as well as that of his family and his American business IP Finance. The Inspectorate recommends that the LSC agrees to the government’s terms and that all further transactions be overseen by an auditor.
THURSDAY 13 July
Deputies yesterday voted to change the grand duchy’s leave system, LuxTimes writes. Aiming to align its legal texts with an EU directive on work-life balance more closely, parliament approved a new law allowing more people–like self-employed workers and the second partner in a same-sex couple–to take ten days of paternal leave when their child is born. If they have twins, they will be entitled to 20 days of leave to adjust to the newest additions to the household. Further leaves voted in allow workers to take one day off in exceptional and unpredictable cases relating to family matters, or five days to look after a family member. The changes should come into force in a few weeks, Luxtimes reports.
The Bank of London is set to hire 300 people for its new Luxembourg branch, it confirmed yesterday. The UK-based lender will also invest €200m over a 5-year period, in part to hire people in a variety of sectors including compliance and management. The bank opened a hub in Luxembourg shortly after the Bank of America did in May of this year.
On the French side of the border, reactor number 4 of the Cattenom nuclear plant once more had to be turned off. As Tageblatt writes, the reactor had to be cut off only one month after running again. It had already been stopped several times due to corrosion and maintenance issues. With this recent development, only one out of the four reactors of the power plant is currently running.
Over the course of six months, a stationary speed radar in Hollerich has flashed more than 50,000 drivers. This represents close to 300 infringements a day for the period running between the 1 of December of last year and the 31st of May. The speed radar, which makes cars drive at a maximum of 50kmh, has been protested by some, who demand a 70kmh limit. The ministry of mobility in a parliamentary answer has however stated that the current limit was put in place after two grave incidents that took place in 2018 and that it would not be changed.
The mystery behind what caused a hecatomb of fishes in the Dippach river on Monday has been solved. That day, around 60 kg worth of fish had been found dead in the river, according to RTL, news that had been reported on by several media in the grand duchy. The water administration has since identified the cause of death: the river had been contaminated by water coming from the Esch canal. The administration has since installed pumps to improve oxygen levels in the water.
WEDNESDAY 12 July
Luxembourg prime minister Xavier Bettel (DP) continues to oppose the swift admission of Ukraine to NATO. On the first day of the NATO summit in Vilnius yesterday, Bettel explained that including the wartorn country now–like its president Vladimir Zelenskiy has been advocating–would mean all members of the bloc would have to go to war with Russia, as per the agreement. Bettel however told RTL that the grand duchy would continue supporting Ukraine until peace is restored, after which the country could hope to be included in the alliance.
Luxembourg schools will not see a nationwide restriction on smartphones anytime soon–that is what the education ministry shared yesterday. As RTL reports, after the Lycee Ermesinde put restrictions on the use of mobile devices in schools, questions around their presence in school were raised. The education ministry does not however see this action as an absolute necessity. It will however observe how the experiment in Lycee Ermesinde develops, it has said.
Former ADR politician Roy Reding yesterday presented his one-man political group. After leaving the ADR over policy rifts–something the ADR has since denied–the right-wing politician has founded Liberté Chérie, as the Luxembourg Times revealed. Reding thanks to this will be entitled to financial support from parliament amounting to e47,000, the newspaper said, and will also have an allowance for a secretary.
560 businesses have had to call it quits in the first half of 2023, according to RTL. The increase in new bankruptcies was especially noticeable in the construction secteur. The hospitality sector however continued to hold the highest number of cases.
TUESDAY 11 JULY
Three policemen were arrested in the grand duchy yesterday on suspicion of violence towards a drunk person, l’Essentiel reported yesterday evening. The officers allegedly hurt the person during an intervention, though not much has been revealed about the extent of the victim’s injuries and the circumstances of the attack. They do remain innocent until proven guilty. The general police inspectorate is however continuing its investigation, it said.
The organic goods market has been suffering under the cost of living crisis in the grand duchy, national statistics bureau Statec has found. Consumers in Luxembourg last year bought 8% fewer organic goods, despite the demand increasing by 10% every year in the years prior to 2022. In an answer to a parliamentary question, agriculture minister Claude Haagen (LSAP) revealed that while this part of the agricultural sector hadn’t recorded any layoffs, the number of customers had reduced for farmers selling their goods directly too.
A Luxembourg-Belgian national was murdered in the German town of Bad Hönnigen on Saturday. The 55-year old woman, Claudia Maraite, was stabbed to death, while another 30-year old man was injured. The man is currently hospitalised. A 37-year old male suspect, who is said to have chosen his victims randomly, was arrested. Maraite leaves behind three children.
Housing prices in Luxembourg continue going down, while rentals are going up, Delano confirmed in an analysis yesterday. The trend, noticed a few months ago, can be ascribed to high mortgage rates that cut off many potential buyers who have to rent property instead. While residential properties were on average 6% cheaper last month than in June of last year, they do remain high and overvalued. As Delano underlines, their cost increased by 88% between June 2015 and June 2023. The current trend could however prove interesting for those looking to buy, but will be much less exciting for those who want or need to rent.
MONDAY 10 JULY
Esch-sur-Alzette became the most colourful place of the entire country on Saturday as the Luxembourg Pride week was concluded. The LGBTIQ+ community and all their supporters celebrated pride week with a large street parade. The equality march is an occasion to exhibit queer culture, and as well to protest for LGBTIQ+ rights.
Four parties presented their candidates’ lists for the chamber elections. The socialist workers’ party LSAP confirmed Paulette Lenert the head of the list. The democratic party DP have confirmed prime minister Xavier Bettel on the top position and finance minister Yuricko Backes at his side. The Christian social people’s party csv used their national congress to present the 60 candidates that are going to support Luc Frieden in the legislative elections, for the first time with a dual leadership in each region. The green party Dei Greng on Friday presented their list, led by culture and justice minister Sam Tanson and transport minister Francois Bausch.
Students at the European schools perform better than those of many other public schools, a Luxembourg University study finds. According to the researchers, students of the six state-run European Schools have a higher pass rate and achieve better results in maths. One factor however might be the fact that the average European school student has a more favorable socio-economic background. Education Minister Claude Meisch considers the results encouraging. He says that they highlight the need for a more diverse education landscape to adapt to the students’ needs. The European public schools offer a more flexible approach to language learning, and have been established in an effort to adapt to the diversity of the students’ profiles.
FRIDAY 7 JULY
Luxembourg taxpayers to pay a quarter billion euros for the new ArcelorMittal headquarters, Luxembourg Times reports. The 257 million euro figure covers half of the construction cost. The parliament narrowly voted in favor of the co-financing of the new Kirchberg megasite dubbed K22. Prime Minister Xavier Bettel and ArcelorMittal Chairman Lakshmi Mittal congratulate each other on the deepened historical cooperation between the steel giant and the government.K22 is scheduled to be completed in 2026.
The young french crossborder worker Aimène Bahouh remains in a coma, l’essentiel reports. Last week, twenty-five year-old Bahouh was shot in the head by French tactical unit police, as he was driving in his car in the vicinity of his home in Mont-Saint-Martin near Luxembourg’s border. His brother Rochdi rejects any association of Bahouh and the current unrests in France. Bahouh’s blood-stained car, which has been seized for investigative purposes, shows no items that could connect him to the ongoing agitations.
Anyone with information relating to Jully Seven Martins Braz is to contact the Capellen-Steinfort police. The fifteen year old was last heard of Wednesday at 2:40pm. Jully was wearing a dark hoodie, a chestnut-brown cap and jeans. She is between 1.60 and 1.70m tall and of slim build. Information about the place of disappearance has not been relayed. The Capellen-Steinfort police can be reached per telephone at 244-301000. That’s 244-301000.
THURSDAY 6th of JULY
Luxembourg’s next wage indexation should take place at the end of this summer, according to the national statistics bureau Statec. As l’Essentiel reports, the third automatic indexation should be triggered as had been predicted earlier this year. The annual inflation rate is however also going down, from 3.6% in May to 3.2% in June–inching its way to the 2.5% target. In its report, Statec also noted that food prices on average went up by 11.4% compared to last year, while fossil fuel products became 17.4% cheaper.
€14 million. That is how much cross-border workers coming to Luxembourg were paid in total in 2021. This number, also provided by Statec, was accompanied by the wages Luxembourg residents working abroad made the same year: two million. Belgian and German workers tended to make more money than their French counterparts–a difference explained by the fact that French residents often are more attracted to the commercial and hospitality sector. Statec also noted that an average of 290,000 crossborder workers came to work in Luxembourg everyday, a crowd that grows by 4% every year.
From 1 August, co-owners of a building will have to set up a fund for construction works. The law from june 2022 enters into force next month and serves to ensure a fair distribution of costs among co-owners. The amount different owners have to pay depends both on the size of their property and its energy class. A class A+ apartment will only cost €3 per square meter in contribution to the fund, while an F class can cost €6 per square meter. Included in the fund’s coverage are works to fix, improve or maintain the building, works to improve common areas, and works to provide sustainable energy in the common areas.
The Luxembourg education and youth ministry yesterday launched a new campaign to raise awareness around sharing violent incidents among minors online. The campaign called “Not sharing is caring” wants to make young people aware of the negative impact sharing content depicting violence can have on them and the victims. It also aims to encourage teens to become involved in stopping such situations rather than just being bystanders. The campaign comes only a few weeks after a video of a Luxembourg student being harassed by other students in school went viral on social media.
WEDNESDAY 5 JULY
The commune of Beaufort will have a second go at organising local elections. The municipality in the east of the country had seen its election results cancelled after the administrative court of Luxembourg annulled the results published on 11 June. At the origin of this was a complaint from some of the commune’s candidates, who contested the presence of some residents on the lists. Candidates can only be put on the list when they have been residing in the commune for more than six months, which wasn’t the case for one of the candidates, Tageblatt explains. Beaufort will therefore have to organise a new round of local elections, as per the administrative court’s order.
Two people were injured on a construction site in Esch yesterday. As the CGDIS reports, an incident took place on the site in the morning. An ambulance was sent to the incident site to procure help.
After the deadly fall that led to a child’s death in Mullerthal last weekend, signs indicating dangerous parts of various trails should be planted in the area, RTL reports. The mayor of the commune and a forester are set to come together to determine which spots are to be marked. Still according to RTL, the nine-year-old boy who fell to his death on Sunday was a French tourist who was visiting the area with two adults and three other children.
5,500 households are currently on the waiting list for affordable housing, the national housing observatory reported yesterday. As the economic crisis hits budgets more severely, the trend has been up, compared to 2020, where 3,800 candidates were on the list. Single people made up the majority of candidates, followed by single parents and large families. As the observatory pointed out, the issue is likely to become worse, as the current private real estate market excludes more and more people as rent goes up.
TUESDAY 4 JULY
Yesterday, seventy people, among which a majority of children, were held in isolation in Rosport, after bags containing an unidentified substance were found. The suspicious packages were found in a school bus, and authorities were called to the scene. The police and CGDIS, who conducted tests on the contents of the bags, determined the substance wasn’t harmful. The children, who were held for several hours, were able to start going home at around 8.30 last night.
The number of drug overdose deaths in Luxembourg is going down, a report on drug usage in the grand duchy has found. The so-called RELIS report noted that in 2021, there had been 5 instances of drug abuse killing a resident, when in 2000, there were 26 over one year. Victims were on average 41 years old. However, the report also revealed that the number of people consuming cocaine had gone up considerably, with the number of users taking cocaine exceeding that of those using heroin. the number of users diagnosed with HIV also went up from 6 new diagnoses in 2020 to 8 in 2021.
Luxembourg’s troops are set to leave Mali, after the United Nations decided to put an end to the stabilisation mission Minusma. The mission, originally put in place to maintain a level of security after French troops retreated from the north of the country, will conclude at the end of the year. According to RTL, Luxembourg’s foreign affairs ministry regrets the UN’s decision, saying the departure would cause the situation in Mali to get drastically worse. Luxembourg has two soldiers stationed in the country, where they coordinate efforts with armies from other countries.
1,000 private landowners who hold the biggest surfaces of buildable land in Luxembourg, own over 40% of it. That is what the Luxembourg research institute LISER revealed yesterday. According to Luxtimes, the ten biggest companies and real estate firms in the country own 48% of all land held by companies too. Liser noted that the cost of the land itself remains a major contributor to the increase in real estate prices in Luxembourg.
MONDAY 3 JULY
The new constitution entered into force on Saturday, with a ceremony held in front of the chamber of deputies. Chamber president Fernand Etgen in his speech said: “Luxembourg now has one of the most modern constitutions in Europe.” The new constitution strengthens the means to political participation through the right to present a draft bill via a people’s initiative. The judiciary is recorded as the state’s third power next to executive and legislative. The role of the head of state has been defined and the duties of the parliament strengthened.
Since Saturday, plastic packaging for fruits and vegetables is banned by law. Grocery suppliers have to use alternative packaging or sell their products without packaging. The ban concerns fresh, uncut fruit and vegetables sold in packages of up to 1.5 kilogram. The regulation is one of the environment ministry’s five new laws within the circular economy package intended to foster the transition towards a more sustainable consumption. The Luxembourg Federation for groceries and distribution however told Tageblatt it was nearly impossible to ask all international food suppliers to offer plastic free packaging for Luxembourg. The supermarket Delhaize further complained towards Luxtimes that more fruit and vegetables would be thrown away because conservation of fresh fruit worked less well without plastic.
A prisoner of the Givenich penitentiary centre was found dead in his cell yesterday morning. The judicial authorities have ordered an autopsy to investigate the cause of death. According to Tageblatt, fellow prisoners said he was drug addict and in a bad health condition. Already before his death, fellow prisoners had questioned whether he was fit for a custodial sentence.
A nine-year-old boy died in a tragic accident in Müllerthal yesterday. He fell several metres down a canyon near Berdorf, and died at the scene of the accident of his injuries. The public prosecutor’s office has launched an investigation.
ADR-MP Roy Reding is no longer member of the party, he wrote on Facebook. With his resignation, Reding reacts to the party having excluded him from the list for the parliamentary election in October. Reding hasn’t been taking his duties as an MP serious and has been absent at half of the chamber’s sessions in the past years, the right-wing party justifies their decision in a press release. The ADR will present their candidates list on 21 July.
FRIDAY 30 JUNE
Police reports a 12-year-old girl went missing. Norah Hames has been missing since Tuesday. She was last seen in Esch-sur-Alzette in a light blue denim jacket, a beige short-sleeved top, grey sports pants, white sneakers and glasses. Anyone with related information should contact the Dudelange police.
Customs seized 3.5 kg of hashish. On the southern border, a nineteen-year old French man disobeyed customs instructions and took flight. A car chase ensued. The chase saw the driver exceed speed limit and cut a red light before ending in an accident in Rodange. Nobody was hurt. Sniffer dog Balto picked up on an expertly hidden stash of 3.5 kilos of hashish. The drugs and car – the driver’s licence being invalid – were confiscated. The young man was arrested. Although these events happened on the 5th April, the police had not made the information public until yesterday. The communication was postponed out of legal reasons.
The University of Luxembourg ranks among the best 26% percent of Universities worldwide according to the 2024 QS World University Rankings. This would make it the 381st best in the world and 260th best in Europe. The internationally respected QS World University Rankings reaches its verdicts based on nine criteria graded on a scale from 1 to 100, 100 being the best. The Uni LU’s international dimension is deemed full grades, 100/100. Over half its students and 80% of its staff are non-Luxembourgers. The Uni LU also scores high on research. The Uni LU is no stranger to high rankings. Further recent rankings put it among the 250 or 800 best Unis worldwide. The University will celebrate its 20th birthday this year.
100,7 shares Christine Schweich will not sit in Mondercange city council as part of of the DP. The voted-in politician had announced in the beginning of the week she will leave the LSAP – who she says she does not identify with anymore politically – to join the DP. This post-vote switch being questionable as to the wishes of voters, Schweich has accepted the CSV suggestion of sitting in the council as an independent politician.
THURSDAY 29 JUNE
Around 3,000 healthcare workers left the sector between 2018 and 2022, Paperjam reports. This information was revealed by education and childhood minister Claude Meisch (DP) in answer to a parliamentary question from DP deputy Marc Spautz. Of these, 350 changed career paths entirely, while others retired, passed away or have left for unspecified reasons. Luxembourg currently has three doctors for every 1,000 inhabitants, and could be facing a serious shortage by 2029.
In other news, police have opened an investigation following the discovery on Tuesday of a lifeless body in a forest close to Howald. First observations have so far not picked up any evidence of external interference, the public prosecutors’ office has opened a case to find out more about the circumstances of the man’s passing as well as his identity, RTL reports.
Luxembourg lawmakers yesterday passed a law allowing households to grow cannabis plants. Residents over the age of 18 will be able to plant up to four cannabis plants per domestic community. The adopted text also lowers fines for those caught with the drug in public spaces, Delano says. Though smoking weed remains illegal in public and for minors, people carrying less than 3g of cannabis for personal use will now be fined up to €500 instead of €2,500. The draft law was proposed by the government coalition in 2018 but had encountered some hurdles. In the end, it was adopted with the support of 38 deputies from the DP, LSAP, déi Gréng, ADR, déi Lénk and Pirate Party, while the CSV and one ADR deputy voted against it.
The Knuedler square in the centre of Luxembourg City over the summer will turn into an open-air cinema space, l’Essentiel wrote yesterday. With construction works finally over, the space in front of the palace will pass the baton to the place Guillaume II. Film fans and others will be able to enjoy the City Open Air Cinema’s selection of films from 21 to 28 of July. The square should be able to host around 750 spectators per screening, which include classics like Ghostbusters and Top Gun, as well as Charlie Chaplin and Alfred Hitchcock films.
WEDNESDAY 28 JUNE
Luxembourg property buying prices drop as purchases are on a 15 year low, the Housing Observatory confirms in a new one-year data analysis. The downward buying spike of the last twelve months is most prevalent for flats under construction, down over 70%. Already existing flats, houses as well as building land are acquired 40% less often. This record-breaking low is not expected to change soon. Meanwhile, as renting continues to become more popular, rent prices rise dramatically higher than the inflation rate. Renters under a long time contract have not yet been affected price-wise in proportion to the drastic change. Real estate buying behavior is not expected to change anytime soon.
Luxembourg and Belgium yesterday signed the Joint Declaration on Living Wages and Incomes, RTL Today reports. Thereby, the countries follow the footsteps of previous signatories Germany and the Netherlands. The Declaration aims for the implementation of living wages on a global scale. With this, the countries aim to ensure that every worker in the supply chain of a business or product sees their rights respected. The Joint Declaration on Living Wages and Incomes through this hopes to curb global scale problems such as poverty, climate change and child labour.
In Limpertsberg, on the Boulevard Emmanuel Servais, the Intersex-Inclusive Progress Pride Flag has been hoisted above the American Embassy. Chronicle.lu witnessed the gathering of political and LGBTQI+ who’s who at the embassy. While the rainbow flag could be seen every year since 2015, it is a first for the Intersex-Inclusive Progress Pride flag. This new Pride flag includes a broader spectrum of diversity, making place for persons of color, transgender persons and intersex persons. The flag will continue to fly under the American flag for the remainder of American Pride month, as well as during July and Luxembourg’s LGBTQI+ festivities.
Statec yesterday revealed the Value-added tax reduction put in place to curb the impact of inflation did not lower prices as hoped, Paperjam reports. Different industries have incorporated the tax cut differently. Communication services prices have not changed, while prices of hotel stays, catering and hairdressers only fluctuated minimally. Prices in supermarkets, on the other hand, have dropped in relation to the measure. If all companies had willed to lower their prices, the consequences for the cost of living of residents and consumers would have met the government’s goals. The exceptional tax cut measure is to due to expire in January 2024.
TUESDAY 27 JUNE
Luxembourg residents have rediscovered a taste for the lottery, as the sum spent towards winning the jackpot went up by nearly 25% between 2021 and last year. Presenting the results for the Loterie Nationale yesterday, the organisation’s director Léon Losch also revealed that profits after tax for the company went up by more than 7% in those 12 months. Euromillion tickets in 2022 continued to attract the majority of hopeful buyers. From the €158m spent by people in Luxembourg on lottery tickets, winners took home a total of €94.7m. Close to €29m went to the Loterie Nationale of which €23m went to the charity organisation Oeuvre nationale de secours de la Grande-Duchesse Charlotte.
Luxembourg’s transport sector is suffering from decreased activity, says national statistics bureau Statec. According to a publication posted yesterday, less cargo was transported by plane, train and waterways in Luxembourg in 2022, compared to 2021. when it came to boat transportation, Statec said the reduced volume of wares transported could be explained by the low water levels following the drought and heatwave of the summer last year. However, as RTL points out, employment went up in the sector despite this–the number of passengers on planes also returned to pre-pandemic levels.
The teacher union ACEN yesterday demanded equal wages for all teachers in Luxembourg alike. The union, which represents stand-in teachers–known as ‘chargéën’–says it is unfair that stand-in teachers earn far less than teachers who have the public servant status, despite holding over one in four secondary school classrooms in the country. As the Luxembourg Times reports, teachers with a civil servant status can earn more than €90,000 a year if they have more than 15 years of experience. In comparison, stand-in teachers would allegedly work every fifth week for free, the union said. While ACEN demanded change, the education ministry responded that “chargéën” did not have the same responsibilities and work conditions as civil servants. Chargéën could however be made civil servants if they worked in this role for 15 years, the ministry added.
Luxembourg tax payers have paid over €15m towards the monarchy in 2022, reports the Luxembourg Times. This is 25% more than in 2021–a budget change that can be explained by the increase in activities and obligations following the end of the pandemic. Of those €15.6m, €14.5m went towards staff salaries, travel and operating expenses. €1m was spent on energy and water bills, the report also showed. This report is only the second ever to give an insight into the expenditures of the monarchy.
MONDAY 26 JUNE
Transport minister François Bausch is concerned about last year’s rise in fatal road accidents. 36 people died in road accidents last year, Bausch said presenting the latest statistics on road safety – 12 more than the previous year. In total, more than 1100 people were injured in road accidents last year. Excessive speeding remains the main cause for accidents, followed by drunk driving, and risky behaviour. Minister Bausch says more awareness-raising and punitive measures were needed to increase road safety.
Female characters are largely underrepresented in school textbooks, a new Luxembourg university study finds. For the first time, researchers examined the representation of the different genders in primary and secondary school textbooks. Nearly 3 in 5characters are male whereas 1in 5 is female. The others don’t have a specific gender. The researchers found the biggest difference in history books and in French and German language manuals. The analysis further shows that only one to two percent of all characters don’t have a white skin colour and that non-white persons are generally shown as belonging to a different society.
Luxembourg-City’s new parking app Indigo Neo allows tracking of the users’ parking position, Paperjam reports. According to their investigation, people can easily track someone’s parking position by entering the other person’s number plate in the app. When a user enters a car park, the barriers scan their license plate and open automatically. The app sends a notification to the phone whenever the license plate is scanned, upon entering or leaving a car park. If a second person downloads the app entering another person’s plate number, the app sends the notification to this person allowing them to track the entering and leaving. The company confirmed to Paperjam that fraudulent use was possible but relies on the customers and their communication department and to notice suspicious activities. Luxembourg City council stated that it had “no knowledge of the facts”.
THURSDAY 22 JUNE
Calls to the police about domestic abuse increased by 7% last year compared to the year before. In its annual report on the matter, the ministry of gender equality yesterday presented the numbers for 2021. It observed that the police were called for interventions in domestic abuse cases two to three times a day on average. As RTL underlines, 60% of the victims were women, and 70% of the perpetrators were men. One in four victims was also a minor.
From 1 of July, remember to bring your reusable bags to the supermarket, if you do your shopping in Luxembourg, the environment administration says. In a press release, the administration announced that from that day onwards, certain fruit and vegetables will not be sold in plastic packaging anymore if they weigh less than 1.5kg. They will either be sold loose or in plastic free wrappers. Among the items targeted by the initiative are pineapples, cherries, lemons, figs, apples, garlic, carrots and onions to name but a few. The aim of this effort is to bring down the amount of plastic waste in the grand duchy.
A Luxembourg lawyer has been found to be implicated in hiding Russian oligarchs’ wealth following the sanctions on Russia, the Luxembourg Times reported yesterday. The lawyer, Michael Dandois, is said to have helped hide part of the riches of friends of Russian president Vladimir Putin. Dandois did not respond to the allegations made by investigative journalists, which include the Luxembourg newspaper Reporter.lu.
Spuerkeess has been named as Luxembourg’s best employer by work agency Randstad. The firm revealed that, in its study Randstad Employer Brand Research, 52% of the 1,500 participants in the grand duchy, had found the bank an attractive company to work for. National railway company CFL and airline Luxair ranked second and third respectively, as Paperjam reports. Last year, Luxair had been at the top spot, with Spuerkeess sitting on the third seat. The study also revealed that about 40% of participants considered a compelling salary to be a good reason to switch jobs, while over 30% would be ready to quit their jobs because of the length of their commute to and from work.
WEDNESDAY 21 JUNE
The unemployment rate in Luxembourg last month crossed the 5% threshold the country had successfully managed to stay under despite the economic crisis. According to the national statistics bureau Statec, the number of jobseekers in the grand duchy slightly went up between April and May, reaching 5%. There are thus over 15.100 jobseekers in Luxembourg at the moment, more than 1200 more than in May of last year. Meanwhile, the number of job openings has gone done by 25% compared to the same period last year.
The government yesterday presented new measures for teleworking. The employer will now have to declare if an employee is working from home, as the transitional period following the covid-19 pandemic runs out on 1 July. If an employee spends between 25% and 50% of their time remote working, employers will have notify the social security centre. There are certain conditions to respect too, notably that only employees who live in a member state that has signed an agreement with Luxembourg, can telework and they can only do so from their home country. Employers will have until the end of June 2024 to notify the CCSS of any teleworking activities undertaken by their employees between 1 July and then.
The ministries of housing, SMEs and economy yesterday presented a new package in the hopes of supporting the country’s struggling construction sector. With few orders coming in, the sector is having a hard time facing the economic crisis, leading the government to put together the set of initiatives. One of the measures will raise the maximum amount a project can cost before it’s subjected to a parliamentary vote from €40m to €60m, for instance. Further measures of the package look to financially support communes and various education infrastructures, including companies looking to replace their infrastructure with more renewable alternatives. Meanwhile, training opportunities to install said alternatives will also be funded. The package is estimated to cost around €150m, the ministries said.
The grand duchy is rapidly losing in attractivity, a global ranking on competitiveness published yesterday revealed. The World Competitiveness Yearbook every year looks at how countries around the world adapt to remain relevant and attractive–through their economic performance or the quality of living. Luxembourg this year ranks 20th, seven rankings down from last year, reports Paperjam. According to the Chamber of Commerce, the issue lies with the country’s lack of rebound following the pandemic. Other issues highlighted were the usual suspects, namely the cost of labour and housing, and the country’s struggles to attract and retain talent.
TUESDAY 20 JUNE
Residents living in the centre of the grand duchy, on average tend to have a larger salary, Statec revealed yesterday. According to the national statistics bureau, the residents of communes Niederanven, Schuttrange and Kopstal had the highest average wages, going north of €6,100 for an average monthly salary, zhile the communes of Echternach, Reisdorf and on the lowest rank, Wiltz, recorded monthly wages ranging from around €3,100 for Wiltz to almost €3,300 for Echternach. To blame for the inequality of distribution between central Luxembourg, the north and the southwest is that people working for EU institutions, financial firms and multinationals based in and around the capital, tend to live in that area too, whereas more rural areas don’t necessarily attract these types of profiles.
A gruesome accident on Luxembourg’s roads last weekend that killed a motorcyclist is gathering continued attention, as it became known that the victim was a 31-year-old councillor from Weiler-la-Tour. Bob Wagner, who, on top of being alderman of his commune, was a professional and volunteer firefighter, passed away following an accident on Saturday night. The motorcyclist had collided with a vehicle after his attempt at overtaking a lorry sent him on the opposite highway lane. Since his identity has been revealed, tributes have been published, notably by home affairs minister Taina Bofferding (LSAP) and the firefighter organisation CGDIS.
A few British nationals residing in Luxembourg have not yet submitted their paperwork to renew their residency in Luxembourg after Brexit, Delano reported yesterday. Though the number of people who have yet to renew their permit is unknown, the ministry of home affairs has said it would look into this. Following the UK leaving the EU, British residents of Luxembourg have had to apply for residency to be able to continue living and working in the country. The government has extended the deadline to submit the form several times. The final deadline will be on June 30th.
The country’s biggest opposition party, CSV, has already began positioning itself on certain topics ahead of the national elections in October. During a press conference yesterday, top candidate Luc Frieden has presented the ten key points of his party’s campaign programme. The Christian democrats among others want to reduce taxes for everyone, improve public transports and reform the education system in the country, RTL reports.
Crossborder workers’ hopes of one day not having to pay to take public transports to and from work were crushed yesterday. As Paperjam revealed yesterday, mobility minister François Bausch (déi Gréng) in an answer to a parliamentary question said that Luxembourg would not take over transport costs for passengers outside of its territory. The minister argued that the country should focus on collaborating with its neighbours to improve the quality of public transports rather than ticket costs.
MONDAY 19 June
Minister of Economy Franz Fayot rejects accusations he had wasted taxpayers’ money on expensive meals and whines during official trips. In an interview on RTL, he justified the expenses saying that they were part of diplomatic missions. He said he had spent the government’s money carefully and that these trips weren’t vacation. Last week, the investigative magazine Reporter accused Fayot of mixing up professional trips with private holidays by spending taxpayers’ money for pleasure. Following the publication, the government has decided to establish rules for the expenses, Fayot said further.
The Luxembourg city college of aldermen files a complaint in court to push through the ban of beggars in the city centre. The majority of DP and CSV city council members approved this decision. One month ago, the Minister of Interior Taina Bofferding had stopped the city’s plans to ban begging in the city centre, saying the ban would violate human rights. The city will now oppose this decision in court.
Police don’t confirm rumors of child kidnapping in the south of Luxembourg that have been spread on social media. According to a post that has been shared more than 2000 times, a white van had been circulating in Niederkorn to kidnap children and two girls had already been taken. The police have been informed, a spokesperson told the Luxemburger Wort, the rumors however couldn’t be confirmed. No children have been kidnapped.
The Luxembourgish co-production “The Siren” was honoured with the award for the best film music at the Film Festival in Annecy, in France. The French Jazz-trumpeter Erik Truffaz composed the music for the film by the Iranian director Sepideh Farsi. The animated cartoon has been co-produced by the Studio de la Fabrique d’Images in Luxembourg and co-funded by the Luxembourg Film Fund. The cartoon tells the story of the youth living in war torn Iran.
FRIDAY 16 June
Members of the DP and the CSV in the capital met yesterday to start coalition discussions after both parties achieved success in the municipal elections. The two parties have spent the last six years ruling the capital’s municipal council. Mayor Lydie Polfer of the DP and CSV alderman Serge Wilmes emphasized the harmonious nature of the discussions and revealed that urban development was a key topic for the talks. The new municipal council is expected to be presented in mid-July.
Meanwhile in Diekirch, after the CSV and the DP parties each gained one additional seat in Sunday’s elections, they decided to join forces and end the twelve-year-long majority rule of the LSAP party. In Esch, coalition discussions have begun but according to the old and new mayor, there is nothing yet to be announced.
Luxembourg residents hoping to legally grow cannabis at home might not have to wait until after the national elections, after Parliament announced it will vote before the end of the month on a bill calling for legalization. The law will “have to be debated and voted on in public session during the week of June 26”, an article on the Parliament’s website said. The bill stipulates adults can legally grow up to four plants. The plants must not be visible from a public space and consumers must not use cannabis products outside their residence. People who hold, transport or acquire cannabis products for their personal use would be allowed to carry up to three grams. Violators would risk a fine of €251 to €2,500.
Following the announcement that the DP’s southern representative Max Hahn would replace Corinne Cahen as Minister of Family and Integration, it has been confirmed that he will be replaced in parliament by Barbara Agostino. Agostino told RTL her swearing-in ceremony was set to take place on 27 June in the Chamber. She was elected to the municipal council in Pétange on Sunday, ranking first on the DP’s list of candidates as they won two seats in the elections.
In response to the current weather conditions, the Ministry of the Environment and the Water Management Authority earlier this week urged residents to reduce their water consumption and avoid unnecessary wastage. Despite a relatively high amount of rainfall during the spring, groundwater replenishment during the winter months declined by 30% compared to the previous period. A recently published flyer provides guidance on reducing water consumption, providing recommendations that include:
- Avoiding excessive lawn watering.
- Watering garden plants in the morning or evening using rainwater whenever possible.
- Showering instead of taking a bath.
- Running washing machines and dishwashers only when they are fully loaded.
THURSDAY 15 June
Close to one in four voters registered for the local elections on Sunday did not hand in a valid vote. This is what came out after all voting ballots were checked. In numbers, this means that around 76,300 voters either didn’t turn up to vote or did not correctly fill in the document, RTL remarks. Of these, around 50,000 did not make it to the voting office, though this number included people over the age of 75 who do not have to vote. 11,000 ballots were left blank, and close to 14,500 did not meet the criteria to be validated.
Almost 20%, or one in five, households in Luxembourg live under the poverty threshold, a study by Statec revealed yesterday. At the end of last year, when the study was conducted, the average income was set at an annual €42,000, and the poverty threshold lay at €25,500, the Luxembourg Times says. The national statistics bureau asked survey participants among others how they would respond to an unexpected bill, of if they can pay to replace goods, heat their home or go on holiday. 16% of households said they found it somewhat difficult to make ends meet at the end of the month, while 4% found it difficult and 1 in hundred found it impossible. Single parents suffered the most from inflationary trends, while pensioners struggled the least.
An Air rescue plane en route for Palma de Mallorca yesterday had to make a u-turn following a technical issue. As the company stated in a press release, the A/C system suffered from an overheating problem, leading the pilot to immediately return to the airport in Luxembourg. Nobody was harmed in the incident and a replacement plane took off in direction of Spain shortly after to complete the rescue mission.
Luxembourg’s chamber of deputies yesterday adopted a bill giving employees the right to disconnect from work outside of their working hours. Under the new legislation, employers may not contact employees for work-related matters outside of their contracted working hours. The law foresees sanctions in the shape of fines ranging from €251 to €25,000 if employers disregard it. The aim of the legislation to come into force soon is to allow workers to have a clearer separation between their professional and their personal life.
WEDNESDAY 14 JUNE
A new fixed speed radar in Bereldange today will enter its test phase, the mobility ministry shared in a press release yesterday. Found at the beginning of the village, the radar will flash anyone going over 50kmh, though a 3kmh leeway has been permitted so long as the driver does not exceed a speed of 100kmh. During the test phase, those caught speeding will not be fined, though the ministry has yet to announce when speeding tickets will be introduced.
In the aftermath of the local elections on Sunday, more mayors have been appointed. In Lintgen, Louis Pinto will be at the head of the commune, while Fred Ternes will lead Niederanven. Minister Corinne Cahen has also announced her resignation of her position in the government in order to be part of the Luxembourg-City council. Guy Altmeisch from the LSAP has been chosen as the mayor of Differdange, as l’Essentiel reports. Esch-Alzette, in the meantime, will continue under the DP, CSV and déi Gréng, despite LSAP gathering most votes.
An investigation has been launched following a major bullying incident, RTL revealed yesterday. Authorities decided to look into a case after a video depicting a Luxembourg teenager being harassed went viral on the internet. The young girl in the video is seen humiliated by other teens. Though the perpetrators under Luxembourgish law can’t be prosecuted for the crime, they could however be given community hours or be sent to one of Luxembourg’s youth detention centres. Rumours around the motives of the perpetrators–an alleged act of vengeance against the victim–have circulated on social media, though the public prosecutor’s office in charge of the investigation has yet to confirm this information.
After the Kiem2050 neighbourhood project presented last week, the ministries of housing and public works yesterday presented yet another construction project in Kirchberg. This project, called JFK Sud, will be located along the Boulevard Kennedy and the tram line. Construction began last March and should conclude at the start of 2028, the ministries said. Two-thirds of the accommodations built are set to be affordable, with 40% up for sale, and 60% up for rent.
TUESDAY 13 JUNE
Food prices are set to continue increasing in 2023 and 2024, but will do so less steeply, Statec stated yesterday. In an analysis of Luxembourg’s current economic landscape, the national statistics bureau shared that, while inflation grew less quickly than anticipated at the start of the year, core inflation remains more stubborn. This led Statec to estimate the cost of food prices to grow by 3.9% in 2023 and 2.5% in 2024. This brings Luxembourg closer to the 2% inflation rate target, RTL Today remarks. Wages should also go up as the next automatic wage indexation is expected to show up on pay slips during the third quarter of the year. Unemployment however could go up ever so slightly due to a slower economy, Statec also put forward in its analysis. It could reach 5.3% by 2024, compared to the current 4.9% witnessed in the grand duchy.
DP politician and Luxembourg minister Corinne Cahen is likely going to be the future alderman in Luxembourg-City, Delano stated yesterday. The politician at the head of the family and integration as well as the Greater Region ministries, during the local elections on Sunday attracted over 11,300 personal votes, placing her fourth on the DP candidate list. Aldermen in Luxembourg City are responsible for collaborating with the mayor–Lydie Polfer–in overseeing various tasks like municipal works, legal actions, municipal staff, and the finances of the commune, for instance. If Cahen chooses to take on the position, she will resign as a minister.
Luxembourg’s national railway network CFL reported a lower timeliness rate in 2022 compared to prior years. In its annual report, the company said 90.5% of its trains had arrived less than 6 minutes late. While this represents a positive score, it is lower than in 2021, where 92% of trains were punctual. As Paperjam reminds, strikes in neighbouring countries Belgium and France were in part to blame for this lower score. World War Two bombs found on-site had also caused significant delays last year. The number of passengers travelling by train has also gone down, the company notes. From 25m in 2019, the company since the start of the covid-19 pandemic has been struggling to bring people back on public transports. Last year, 22 m travelers took the train.
More than half of Luxembourg companies resorted to remote meetings to conduct their business, according to Eurostat. The statistics bureau in a study analysed how the different EU member states continued to respond to the implementation of remote work after covid-19. The EU on average hit an exact 50% rate, meaning the grand duchy had a slightly higher than average rate of telemeetings. Nearly 80% of companies in Sweden and Finland used online meetings too, while in Bulgaria this number stood at 28%.
MONDAY 12 JUNE
The preliminary results of yesterday’s Municipal elections include LSAP winning by just 36 votes over CSV in Esch sur Alzette. In the capital, DP remained on top and in Dudelange, LSAP held onto their absolute majority.
Nationwide, CSV retained the lead in terms of the overall number of seats won, at 193 across the country. However, they also lost the most seats compared to the last elections, with 16 less. LSAP remained unchanged from 2017, with 155 seats. DP was the biggest winner, gaining 26 seats for a total of 134. The Green Party also faced a challenging municipal election, losing 13 seats for a total of 64.
The preliminary results are available to view on elections.public.lu. However, the results are only considered official once the votes have been certified by the Ministry for Home Affairs, which is done after 15 days if nobody has issued an appeal.
From January 1, the maximum value for a meal voucher will increase to €15, according to Finance Minister Yuriko Backes. A digital voucher will replace the paper version which will be phased out entirely by the end of 2024. The current employee contribution of €2.80 per voucher will remain unchanged, with the employer – which will be free to decide whether to participate – covering the remaining cost. At a press conference, Backes said their use will also be limited to food purchases to prevent past abuses such as employees exchanging vouchers for items such as TVs. Around 80,000 employees in Luxembourg receive meal vouchers as an additional benefit on top of their salary, according to the finance ministry.
Luxembourg City is the eighth most expensive European location for expats, according to an ECA International report published last week. This is up two spots from the 2022 ranking, in which the grand duchy’s capital was the 10th most expensive city in Europe.
The report also noted that 61% of locations within the eurozone have risen in the global ranking due to high inflation. The top five most expensive European cities for expats have retained their rankings from last year: Geneva, London, Zurich, Bern and Copenhagen.
The Council of Government under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Xavier Bettel has given the go-ahead for several significant projects, including the establishment of an additional European School in Junglinster. The Council also approved the creation of a national purchasing and logistics centre. This centre is expected to serve as a storage facility for essential medicines, among other items. Furthermore, the Council has approved the construction of a youth hostel at the Ettelbruck Exchange Hub. This new establishment is set to provide ample space for organising larger events, such as conferences and exhibitions.
FRIDAY 9 JUNE
The Schiebourg railway tunnel, which collapsed due to a landslide last August is finally set to reopen. The announcement comes a year after the incident, marking the end of a challenging period of stabilisation and repair work. CFL confirmed the news yesterday, saying that the tunnel will reopen on 5 August. The reconstruction process proved more complex than initially anticipated, leading to several delays. However, once the tunnel reopens, the next phase of engineering works will begin between 20 August and 10 September on the line. The upcoming phase will involve the complete renewal of around four kilometres of track.
Cattenom’s reactor 4 was taken offline yesterday following a stoppage in a turbine generator, located “in a non-nuclear part of the plant” according to operator EDF.
The fault is currently being assessed and the outage had no impact on the safety of the plant or personnel. It is the latest in a series of shutdowns over the past year at the nuclear site. Reactor 3 is the only one which is currently operational, with the other two offline for maintenance.
Former intelligence operative Frank Schneider is presumed to be on the run. The public prosecutor’s office in Nancy, France, confirmed his disappearance yesterday, according to radio station Radio 100,7. Schneider is accused of fraud and money laundering in the “OneCoin” case, a fraudulent cryptocurrency case which defrauded its users of several billion dollars between 2014 and 2019. He is considered by the American justice system as one of the masterminds of the business. Schneider was due to be extradited to the US soon and had been on house arrest prior to his disappearance. A warrant for his arrest has yet to have been issued.
The Ministry of Consumer Protection yesterday reminded consumers of the terms of “door-to-door” sales that say if the consumer has not fixed an indication of refusal of solicitation at their home, they accept that a professional can spontaneously offer goods or services. The professional must nevertheless at all times respect the consumer’s refusal to be contacted. The Ministry advises to take the necessary time to check, among other things, the following elements before any commitment: registration in the Trade and Companies Register, a valid business permit for the activity carried out, the professional’s liability insurance and a detailed estimate, mentioning the costs and deadlines for completion. “No peddling” stickers are available on request at email@example.com. People who have been victims of such practices are asked to report the facts to the competent authorities and/or to seek advice from the ULC or CEC Luxembourg.
THURSDAY 8 JUNE
The government yesterday announced that those holding a residence card or permanent residence permit will need to check if their document remains valid. Paper documents will not be valid for much longer anymore. The country has been introducing new biometric smart cards since 1 June 2021, and said any card issued before then would have to be replaced with a new document after the 3rd of August of this year, if they have an expiry date going past this day. Persons concerned by this should have received a letter from the immigration department, but if not, should contact them as soon as possible.
Luxembourg could risk seeing some of its companies leave the country for greener pastures, a study published by the chamber of commerce revealed yesterday. The so-called baromètre de l’économie surveyed 611 companies in the country to better understand their thoughts on the current economic situation. Out of the study came among others criticism of the complexity of administrative procedures, as well as a closing gap in terms of advantages compared to neighbouring countries. As Paperjam reports, the head of the Chamber, Carlo Thelen, said the multiple signals he saw companies emit was worrying and that more needed to be done to recruit better and review existing tax systems.
Food prices continue to go up steeply in Luxembourg. A Statec study comparing the prices in April of 2022 and April of this year, found that they had increased by 12% in twelve months. Food and non-alcohol drinks saw the biggest price growth, with vegetables being close to 20% more expensive than last year. Dairy, eggs and cheeses went up by nearly 17% and sugar by more than 12%. Some downwards trends were noticed too: liquid fuel prices went down by 44.3% over 12 months.
The Fonds du Kirchberg fund yesterday presented a new housing development project. A mixture between affordable accommodations, professional work spaces and businesses, the neighbourhood in the Kirchberg area of Luxembourg City, will make sustainability one of the key concepts at its heart, both in the building process and the infrastructures offered. Around 425 inhabitants could share the space, and 135 apartments will be more affordable than what exists on the private market. The Kiem 2050 construction project should begin at the end of 2024 and be completed at the beginning of 2027, reports RTL.
WEDNESDAY 7 JUNE
A new bill presented yesterday could allow Luxembourg athletes who aren’t elite sportsmen and women to receive more sports leave. The bill would allow those belonging to a club affiliated with a sports federation, as well as accompanying staff and volunteers to get the so-called congé sportif to attend events for instance. Currently, only professional elite athletes are entitled to the 90 days of paid time off. The aim of the draft law is to encourage more volunteering in the Luxembourg sports scene.
In Luxembourg City’s court of justice, the trial against a volleyball coach accused of producing and diffusing paedopornography continued yesterday. As RTL reports, the prosecution seeks a prison sentence of eight years with partial suspension, highlighting the fact that the accused was close to one of the victims and her family. The man over several years had recorded minors attending the volleyball club in their lockerrooms and showers. 18 additional victims have spoken out as civil parties since the trial began. The coach’s defense attorney has requested five years with full suspension.
The grand duchy should sign a deal with its neighbouring countries, to make remote working more accessible for cross-border workers. Under the new deal, these employees could potentially work from home 50% of the time, without being taxed in their home country, says l’Essentiel. While Germany and Belgium said they were ready to sign such a deal, France has remained silent on the matter. Currently, Belgians and the French are allowed 34 days of teleworking a year, while German cross-border workers get 19 days out of the 230 days Luxembourg employees work every year.
The education ministry yesterday presented a bill to improve the integration of immigrant children and teens in Luxembourg’s school system. The new service, called Service de l’intégration et de l’accueil scolaires–or SIA–would offer new arrivals in the country holistic and individual counseling as they navigate their way through school, a press release shared by the ministry explains. The project should be voted on by parliament before the end of the summer.
TUESDAY 6 JUNE
The trial of a Luxembourg volleyball coach who has been arrested on suspicion of recording and propagating child pornography for years has begun. The man, who was caught at the start of 2020, not only filmed and took pictures of minors attending the volleyball club while they were in the shower or their locker rooms, but also allegedly sent underage persons inappropriate texts and propositions. Initially arrested for a few months, the man was released and could return to work. According to one of his victims, interviewed by RTL, the man had snapped 3,000 pictures and videos of her alone. As l’Essentiel reports, a second defendant will be called to the stand, though his involvement remains unclear.
Over 13 burglaries and attempted break-ins were reported to the grand ducal police over the past weekend. According to a communication shared by the authorities, perpetrators were very active from Friday to Sunday. The cases took place all over the country, with some reported in Bettembourg, Dommeldange, Luxembourg-City, Dudelange, Mamer, Remich, Mersch, Schifflange and Beggen. Charges were filed in all cases, says RTL Today.
Luxembourgers’ working hours were 7% longer than in neighbouring countries in 2022, reports Delano. According to the newspaper, the grand duchy counted an average of nearly 1,500 hours a year per employee, which was higher than in Belgium, France and Germany, yet 3% less than the eurozone average. Workers in Luxembourg are also seeing their working hours decrease less quickly than in the past: between 1995 and 2022, the country saw its total of work hours decrease by 7.8%. Between 2018 and 2022, it only went down by 1.6%. Luxembourg ahead of the elections is witnessing a polarising debate on the reduction of working hours. A study commissioned by labour minister Georges Engel published in April, had found that the benefits of reducing working hours was dependent on a lot of parameters. It had attracted criticism for being inconclusive.
Luxembourg had the lowest inflation rate among European member states, a recent Eurostat study found. With a 2% inflation, the country was far below the EU average of 6.1%. Inflation has risen less steeply both in the grand duchy and the European Union. For April, luxembourg had a rate of 2.7% and the EU 7%. To credit for the slowdown are a drop in energy prices as well as more moderate food price increases, RTL remarks.
MONDAY 5 JUNE
The Luxembourg Consumers’ Union (ULC) calls for progress on the draft law that shall facilitate class-action lawsuit. In an Open letter, the ULC urges the Minister of consumer protection Paulette Lenert to continue the work on the draft bill 7650, which has been sitting in the State Council’s drawer for almost a year and a half. The revised dossier was submitted in January of last year, with the State Council’s opinion pending since. The proposed law aims to introduce a collective legal protection mechanism in Luxembourg’s consumer law, allowing a group of individuals affected by the same breach of law to file a class action lawsuit. The ULC highlights the importance and benefits of this new procedure and calls for swift action.
The recent Cargolux incident could not have been prevented, the overseeing authority says concluding their investigation, RTL reports. The report names sudden shifts in wind conditions as the primary cause of the landing complications. In April, the Cargolux aircraft experienced turbulence upon landing, one of the engines scratched the runway and parts of the landing gear broke, before the pilot managed to safely land the plane.
The number of millionaires declined last year, according to the latest World Wealth Report, published by the IT company Capgemini. The report reveals that nearly 46 thousand residents were millionaires in 2022, representing a decrease compared to previous years. The report defines people as millionaires who have at least one million dollars in investable capital, excluding real estate and other investments. The number declined in most countries worldwide, due to last year’s economic uncertainties.
FRIDAY 2 JUNE
Prime Minister Xavier Bettel represented Luxembourg at the European Political Community summit in Moldova yesterday. Participants included the heads of state from 47 countries and several EU Institutions. According to Bettel, the purpose of the summit was to facilitate discussions and assess the current state of affairs. He stressed that “no one is expecting concrete decisions” from the summit, further explaining that countries have bilateral talks all year long and this was more about spontaneous exchanges.
Life satisfaction rebounded in 2022 in Luxembourg, according to data published yesterday by Statec, but continues to deteriorate overall, especially among young people. In 2022, residents of Luxembourg gave their lives a score of 7.2 out of 10, compared to 7.6 in 2018 and 2019. During Covid however, this figure had fallen to 6.8. In the latest data, Luxembourgers say that they are less satisfied with their free time, have less trust in other people and feel lonely more often.
Housing prices dropped significantly across Luxembourg last month where the price of a house dropped 14% in the capital. Prices for both apartments and houses have fallen across all five regions so far in the second quarter of this year compared to the same period last year, real estate agency atHome said in a press release. The average price for a home is still over €1 million in Luxembourg’s east, west and centre. The least expensive region is the south where the average property costs around €750,000, followed by the north at €770,000.
In a reversal of the situation just a year ago, bike shops are offering discounts in an attempt to sell bikes. According to the Luxembourger Wort, prices jumped sharply as demand for bikes exploded during the pandemic, but supply chain bottlenecks caused delays of six months or more for customers. The supply of new bikes and parts has almost returned to normal. Meanwhile, rising inflation since last autumn has caused demand to drop, leading suppliers to slash prices to clear warehouses sitting full of stock.
THURSDAY 1 JUNE
A tax credit for Luxembourg workers and pensioners should be voted by lawmakers before the summer, reports the Luxembourg Times. According to the news site, finance minister Yuriko Backes (DP) said a text implementing a tax credit worth two indexations of tax brackets should be adopted soon. The text will apply retroactively from 1 January, according to Backes. With parliament going into recess on 20 July, it should be voted before then.
Employers in the construction sector aren’t doing enough, Luxembourg industry trade unions said during a press conference yesterday. The OGBL and the LCGB, two of the country’s biggest labour unions, yesterday expressed their concerns regarding a new collective agreement between construction sector employers and employees. As RTL reports, the trade unions said they felt frustrated at the lack of urgency in the employer’s decision making process. Among the demands of workers are salary reviews, more time off and more training. Discussions between the social partners and businesses owners has been ongoing for 20 months, but no serious proposal has been issued by employers. “This is unacceptable,” said the OGBL’s Jean-Luc de Matteis during the conference. Once an agreement has been found, around 20,000 employees active in the construction sector will be affected by this new deal.
In Luxembourg, mothers are more likely to receive custody of their children than fathers in the event of a divorce, justice minister Sam Tanson revealed yesterday. Answering a parliamentary question submitted by DP deputy Carole Hartmann, Tanson explained that when parents divorced, they could choose between an alternate custody or a full one. Observations by the ministry showed that women were more likely to keep their child, especially when the child is young, the number of children who chose to live with their father increased when the child was older. It remains however marginal compared to the number of cases where children chose to remain with their mum. In 2022, 1,243 divorces took place in Luxembourg, many of which involved children.
Tobacco prices are set to go up again. A pack of twenty cigarettes bought in Luxembourg will cost at least €4.70 from 1 July on. For 60 cigarettes, a consumer will have to shell out €14.10. Though prices continue to increase, they remain far below the prices seen in neighbouring countries, as the numbers shared by the finance ministry on World No Tobacco Day yesterday showed. The biggest difference in prices exist between Luxembourg and France, where the difference for a small cigarette pack is close to €6. A tobacco pouch is also more than €17 more expensive in France than in Luxembourg.
WEDNESDAY 31 MAY
In Luxembourg, the majority of young people have a college or university degree, making it the member state with the second highest number of degree holders in the European Union. According to a Eurostat study published yesterday, 61% of young people aged between 25 and 34 in Luxembourg completed tertiary education, compared to the EU average of 42%. More women than men had a diploma too, the study found–in the grand duchy, 68% of tertiary degree holders were female. In the EU, they made up 48% compared to 37% for men.
In another Eurostat study, Luxembourg again came out second, this time in the number of passenger cars per 1,000 inhabitants. The country counted close to 700 per 1,000 people, a number only exceeded by Poland. Luxembourg was however one of the EU member states with the slowest annual growth rate. compared to the biggest increase of 5.4% in Romania, Luxembourg only saw its passenger car fleet increase by 0.4% between 2001 and 2021.
Drivers in Luxembourg could soon have a digital driving license, reported l’Essentiel yesterday. The ministry of digitalisation told it it was soon going to present a so-called digital wallet for residents and citizens to keep virtual ID cards and driving licenses in. Part of the government’s effort towards the digital transition of the country, the driver’s license would be as valid as a physical permit in the case of a police control, allowing for more flexibility if a driver forgot their card. Though the wallet project should be presented soon, the mobility ministry has stated that a digital driving license would not make its way into the grand duchy just yet. Instead, there needs to be a uniform European model to follow, they said.
Researchers from Luxembourg in a collaboration with Japanese scientists have made a new discovery in the diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease. As Paperjam reports, members of the Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine of the University of Luxembourg, as well as staff from the Luxembourg institute of health and the national health laboratory, were able to identify a biomarker that could reflect the presence of the disease. The scientists from Luxembourg and Japan observed over than 900 patients living with the condition for 9 years to make this discovery.
TUESDAY 30 MAY
Luxembourg is preparing to welcome refugees from Sudan. According to l’Essentiel, the national immigration directorate is expecting refugees from the African country to come to the European Union in the coming months, and is getting ready to shelter a part of asylum seekers. The country has seen conflicts escalate in April–since then, around a million people have fled to surrounding countries. How many will make their way to Europe in the coming months is uncertain yet. The grand duchy between January and March of this year already received 476 requests for temporary protection.
Luxair passengers over the weekend experienced delays and cancellations, due to technical issues with the Luxembourg airline’s fleet, says Le Quotidien. According to a press release published by Luxeair on Sunday, a Boeing 737-800 of Luxair’s fleet is taking longer to be repaired due to certain parts coming from the US. The replacement engine, borrowed from German Airways, was also having technical issues.
Luxembourg recorded one of the lowest shares of children with unmet medical needs in 2021, reports Eurostat. As the European statistics bureau details, 0.4% of children living in Luxembourg households with children were lacking the medical treatments they needed. This rose to 0.6% for dental care. Luxembourg with this, is one of the EU member states with the lowest number of unmet medical needs for children. As Eurostat notes, the EU however has seen the share increase across the union by 2%. On average, 3.6% of EU children aren’t able to visit medical professionals as needed.
Reactor number one of the Cattenom nuclear plant in France on the other side of the Luxembourg border, has been shut down during the weekend. The reactor was put on halt to allow French energy supplier EDF to replace parts of the structure in order to fix corrosion issues that became known last year. The company will take the opportunity to check some works done on the reactor last year as well as do some maintenance, EDF said. As l’Essentiel reports, two of the four reactors are fully functioning, while two are under maintenance.
FRIDAY 26 MAY
The Grand-Ducal Fire and Rescue Corps CGDIS conducted more than 70.000 operations last year, seven percent more than the previous year and an all-time record high. The CGDIS board yesterday presented their annual report. The emergency number 112 was dialed nearly 250.000 times, in most cases however the callers just asked for information and were not in an emergency situation. The CGDIS asks people to call this number only in case of emergency to allow fast help for those who need it.
Potential beneficiaries of affordable housing can’t afford to buy these properties anymore. The National Affordable Housing Company (SNHBM) published their report yesterday. Although more than 8.700 people applied for affordable housing last year, numerous dwellings couldn’t be sold because the banks have refused credit applications. Additionally, the prices for the dwellings have increased due to increased construction costs. Since last year, the average price per square metre increased from 4.200 to more than 5.000 euros.
Stadtbredimus and Nommern are the first two communes that have already chosen a mayor – without the need for a municipal election in June. The Stadtbredimus council chose Robi Beissel, a 54-year-old council employee, who has been an alderman for the past four years. In Nommern, 24-year-old Sophie Diderrich becomes the youngest mayor ever in a Luxembourg commune. Stadtbredimus, Nommern and four other communes don’t need to vote, because the number of candidates is lower than the number of seats in the municipal council. Those who submitted their candidacy, are automatically accepted.
Parking in public spaces should become more expensive. Transport minister Francois Bausch yesterday presented the national parking strategy, recommendations for the communes and employers. To encourage people to use public transport instead of the individual car, prices for long-term parking should be increased significantly. According to the ministry, particularly cars that are parked within the public space during a whole workday, are a non-efficient use of the available space. Their analysis shows that more than 900.000 parking lots exist across the country.
THURSDAY 25 MAY
Luxembourg’s public service and internal security ministers don’t care enough about the country’s police agents. That is what the trade unions OGBL and ADESP expressed in an open letter published yesterday. While the police union recognises some of the efforts made by ministers Marc Hansen and Henri Kox, they also criticised their lack of action when it came to applying a 2019 agreement that aimed at compensating shift workers. As RTL reports, the unions now want the government to act fast and implement compensation measures as soon as possible and retroactively to 2019.
Luxembourg hospital group CHL yesterday launched a campaign to raise awareness around the topic of childhood diabetes. Around 250 children are seen by diabetes specialists at the Robert Schumann hospital each year, and 450 receive follow-up treatment, RTL said in a documentary yesterday. The CHL through the campaign wants to make parents and professionals working with children aware of the symptoms of childhood diabetes. Leaving the condition untreated can lead to dangerous health consequences down the line, warned the hospital group. As it explains, children who drink a lot, need to go to the bathroom frequently, sleep often and a lot, and inexplicably lose weight, should be tested for the condition. The CHL will distribute information to doctors’ offices and schools among others.
Those who like to have a stroll through the centre of Luxembourg-City can start looking forward to visiting the market on the Knuedler square in town. According to mayor Lydie Polfer, works on the large square should be completely over soon. The area had been closed off for construction since the start of 2021. Works should end soon, and the market–which had been exiled to the Hamilius area since the beginning of the project, will be able to present their goods to passerby’s from mid-July on. As always, the market will take place on Wednesday and Saturday mornings, the mayor confirmed.
Teenagers and young adults in Luxembourg are more likely to smoke, a study presented by the health ministry and cancer foundation yesterday reveals. According to the survey, published in advance of World No Tobacco Day on 31 May, 28% of Luxembourg’s population smokes either every day or occasionally. Those aged between 16 and 24 represented the biggest part of the smoker population of the country too. To blame are among others products like vapes, which can be bought by minors and lead to a more important nicotine consumption over time, the ministry said. It also said it wants to reduce the attractivity of certain tobacco products among young people. It plans on organising awareness campaigns, neutral packaging for tobacco products and higher prices to discourage young people from buying the products.
WEDNESDAY 24 MAY
Those buying a house in Luxembourg will see their tax credit increase this month under new rules, reports Delano. The so-called Bëllegen Akt was adopted during the tripartite meeting in March in a bid to counter high inflation and the rising cost of living of residents. Under this new measure, residents buying a house will receive €30,000 instead of the usual €20,000 to pay for registration and transaction costs.
The mayor of Ukrainian city Mariupol will meet with Luxembourg entrepreneurs on Friday to talk about future collaborations and the reconstruction of the city. This was reported by Paperjam yesterday. Mayor Vadym Boytchenko will come to the grand duchy on a work visit to attend a networking event organised by non-profit organisation Lukraine and the Ukrainian chamber of commerce. Mariupol since the start of Russia’s attack on Ukraine in February of last year, was seized by Russian forces, who have begun to rebuild the ravaged port city. Boytchenko, who was exiled, has been planning a strategy to fully rebuild the city if it is ever freed, and plans to present it to a Luxembourg audience on Friday.
Five criminals suspected to be part of a gang responsible for the bombing of several ATMs, were arrested yesterday, as RTL reveals. The gang is suspected to have been behind the bombing of the cash machine in the Luxembourg commune of Schüttringen too. The five people were taken into custody in the Netherlands during an international investigation. The suspects, aged between 23 and 38 and of Moroccan-Dutch nationality, are thought to be guilty of stealing over €1m and causing an additional €2m worth of damages.
Luxembourg’s industrial sector continues to suffer this year, a report published by Statec yesterday reports. Looking at the production pace of the sector during the first quarter of the year, the national statistics bureau found that it had continued to decrease. In comparison with twelve months ago, daily production has gone down by nearly 5%, a rate worse than for most other European countries. As l’Essentiel details, a decrease in local energy, construction materials and paper production and distribution, are to blame for the poor results.
TUESDAY 23 MAY
Trains between Luxembourg and France will soon be under the supervision of police officers. As the Luxembourg Times report, police officers from both countries will be present on trains from this summer. This agreement aims to improve passenger safety , and has attracted investments of over €440m. What role the agents will fulfil remains undefined for now.
The number of job seekers registered with Adem is rising, though job openings are becoming scarcer, Statec reported yesterday. While the unemployment rate remained stable at 4.9% at the end of April, a year-on-year comparison showed that more than 1,000 additional people were registered with the national job agency last month than in April of 2022. They were more than 2,000 to register last month, of which 52 were Ukrainians living in Luxembourg under the temporary protection status. Meanwhile the new job postings have gone down by 28% compared to last year, the national statistics bureau reports. As of last month, Adem counted close to 10,000 job on its website. This downturn has been witnessed across all sectors with the exception of the trades’, transports, logistics and education sectors.
Luxembourg City has made it on the 26th spot of a ranking of the world’s best cities. L’Essentiel reported yesterday that a ranking on urban branding by consulting firm Brand Finance placed the capital of the grand duchy in its top30, and on the 13th rank in Europe. To thank for this ranking was the city’s low levels of bureaucracy and tax advantages. Luxembourg-City ranked above cities like Munich, Seattle and Brussels, but scored far less than the three top global cities–London, New York and Paris–when it came to city branding.
A fire broke out in the Auchan car park in Kirchberg yesterday afternoon. The CGDIS was notified of the incident at 4.30pm and neutralised the fire within 30 minutes, says l’Essentiel. Though no injuries were reported, the event led to traffic jams around the shopping centre. Management also closed down part of the car park. Whether further vehicles will need to be evacuated, has not yet been disclosed.
MONDAY 22 MAY
Luxembourg still doesn’t spend enough money on defence, the NATO members criticise. Defence Minister Francois Bausch had to justify Luxembourg’s strategy in front of NATO’s Parliamentary Assembly, a yearly meeting of more than 250 parliament members from 31 NATO states. Although the ministry has doubled defence expenditure following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Luxembourg is still far from NATO’s minimum requirement according to which each member state must spend at least 2 percent of their GDP on defence. With recent initiatives in the sector cyber defence, Luxembourg reaches 0,62 percent, less than any other NATO member, the Luxemburger Wort reports.
A cargolux plane on Saturday had to perform an emergency manoeuvre upon landing at Findel airport. It is the second incident for cargolux within one week, and the third within a month. Just as in the previous incident, the pilot declared an emergency because of a malfunction of the landing gear. The pilot was able to land the plane safely.
More than 13.000 runners participated at the ING Night Marathon on Saturday evening. This year’s edition saw a rise in participant numbers in all categories – from short tracks up to the main marathon of 42 kilometres. More than 1500 volunteers made the event happen and thousands of supporters came down to the city and to the start and finishing point in Kirchberg to cheer for the runners. The Kenyan runner Erick Kiptoo won the men’s main marathon in two hours and 13 minutes. His compatriot Mercy Kipkemoi claimed the victory in the women’s race, running the 42 kilometres in just over two hours and 37 minutes.
FRIDAY 19 MAY
Luxembourg government and Cargolux have separately confirmed that an independent investigation is underway by the Technical Investigations Administration into the emergency landing of a cargo plane last weekend. This amid concern over a fuel dump over the country and criticism in the media over a lack of transparency. The Cargolux plane dumped fuel in the Ardennes over a height of 10,000 feet and it is unlikely that Luxembourg territory was affected by this procedure since jet fuel evaporates completely from a height of 5,000-6,000 feet, the government said, citing a study by the United States Air Force. The aircraft, en route to Chicago, took off from Findel at around 6pm but was forced to return after the plane was unable to retract its landing gear after take-off. Routine procedures like fuel dumping are done to lighten aeroplanes in the event of an emergency, and the procedure would only be restricted above congested areas of cities or if the aeroplane is 3,000 feet above another aeroplane.
From Saturday June 3, it will be possible to carry out an MRI examination in the four hospitals in the country, announced the Federation of Hospitals, the Minister of Health Paulette Lenert, and the Minister of Social Security, Claude Haagen. The four hospitals are Centre hospitalier du Nord (CHdN), in Wiltz, Centre hospitalier du Luxembourg (CHL) in the capital, Centre hospitalier Émile Mayrisch(CHEM) in Esch-sur-Alzette and the Robert Schuman Hospitals in Luxembourg. An MRI machine has already been used on Saturdays at the Robert Schuman Hospitals (HRS) since April but now an additional device will be added, increasing the capacity for receiving patients.
Luxembourg’s Brasserie Nationale distinguished itself with two medals – silver and gold – in the 2023 edition of the European Beer Challenge. Bofferding Pils, reported to be the most consumed beer in the Grand Duchy, was awarded the gold medal in the International Style Pilsner category while Battin Gambrinus won a silver medal in the Dortmunder Export category.
The annual ING Night Marathon will be held this weekend in the city on Saturday. Coming from 42 countries and representing 120 nationalities, there will be 13,000 runners aged between 3 and 90 taking part in various events. Among them, the majority will line up for the half marathon. While the first race starts at 7pm, there will be some traffic changes earlier as more than 42km of roads will be transformed into the race course. Sections of streets located on the direct route of the marathon will be reserved for runners during the race, but will be reopened to traffic as soon as the last athlete passes. Public transport is also being adapted and shuttles will be offered. There will be entertainment along the route and food and drink stands will be available at the Glacis. More information can be found at marathon.vdl.lu
WEDNESDAY 17 MAY
Home affairs minister Taina Bofferding (LSAP) yesterday announced the ministry would oppose the begging ban implemented by the Luxembourg City municipality in March. The decision has nothing to do with politics, but rather is a question of legislation, said Bofferding at a press conference. As Paperjam reports, the ministry underlines that there is no real need to use the law to fix the begging issue, and that it was difficult to criminalise the act for public order. The city of Luxembourg yesterday afternoon responded to the ministry’s action, by announcing it had hired a lawyer and was planning to appeal the decision.
Interest rates continued to climb in March of this year in Luxembourg. According to RTL, the Central Bank of Luxembourg noted that variable rates on property loans were up from around 3.5% to 3.6% while fixed rates stopped short of 4%. In February they stood at 3.5% and 3.7% respectively.
A new bill could allow residents to influence decisions in their municipalities. The draft bill, presented by the home affairs ministry, is the third pillar of an effort to modernise communal regulation. Active citizen participation will be crucial to the project, said a press release. One of the key tools to involve residents will be the communal citizen initiative, which will allow those aged 16 and above to share their thoughts and demands so that the communal council discusses them. Referendums will also be encouraged, though, those initiated by citizens will not be binding. As RTL reports, the law will not be voted before the start of the new legislation.
Economy and development minister Franz Fayot (LSAP) yesterday published a statement that justified his fees after a newspaper accused him of getting his personal expenses covered by the government. Investigative newspaper Reporter.lu had analysed the development minister’s spending habits during official travels, and found several instances of expensive restaurant and bar bills, or taxi and souvenir costs covered by the ministry. Fayot in his statement yesterday explained that these expenses had taken place in the context of official meetings with diplomats and state representatives, and that paying accompanying staff’s part was also covered. The minister stressed that his private and public expenses were separate, but a closer analysis and revision of minister expense coverage will still take place during the next government council meetings.
TUESDAY 16 MAY
A 17-year-old boy from Luxembourg was among those injured during a shooting in the French city of Villerupt, reports RTL. The teen sustained a gunshot wound to the head and had to undergo emergency surgery as a consequence. The attack, which took place on Saturday just across the French border, left five people injured, among with three were seriously hurt. Conflicts linked to drug trafficking are likely at the origin of the shooting, said authorities. The suspected shooter was arrested in the early hours of Monday morning.
A sixty-three year old woman was found dead in her Luxembourg City apartment last Friday, the police revealed yesterday. Authorities had been notified of a possible homicide. A visit to the woman’s flat in Bonnevoie confirmed the tip-off. A thirty-four year old man, suspected of committing the crime, has been arrested since the discovery of the body. A motive has currently not been revealed.
Luxembourg politicians need to remember university students when preparing their election campaigns. That is what the Luxembourg student association ACEL said yesterday, when it presented a list of demands to the government to come. As l’Essentiel reports, the organisation pointed out inequalities in the treatment of Luxembourg students who choose to study abroad, like not getting access to certain student discounts. Students are often not made aware of certain complicated administrative procedures and lack information when it comes to internships, said ACEL. The organisation represents around 10,000 students from Luxembourg.
The Luxembourg Red Cross is calling for blood donors to register. In a press release published yesterday, the organisation said current stocks covered less than a week’s needs for Luxembourg hospitals. The many holidays in May are to blame for the shortage, as fewer donors are able to come to the centre. Keeping upcoming holidays looming in the horizon in mind, the Red Cross therefore invited anyone eligible for blood donation to visit the Blood transfusion centre in Luxembourg-City. For more information on this, potential donors can visit the website www.dondusang.lu.
MONDAY 15 MAY
At Findel airport, a cargolux plane lost parts of its landing gear during an emergency landing yesterday. Shortly after the flight departed for Chicago, the pilot was forced to return to Findel immediately after the retracting mechanism for the landing gear failed. The right landing gear fell off during landing. Noone was injured. The runway of the airport was closed the whole evening while airport staff collected the debris of the landing gear.
The National Women’s Council (CNFL) denounces the underrepresentation of women in local politics. The CNFL set up an information stand at the Luxembourg-city street market on Saturday, to inform about the lack of elected women in municipal councils, RTL reports. Only 16 out of over 100 mayors in Luxembourg are women. 1 in four municipal council members are female, Tageblatt says. The candidates for the upcoming municipal election reflect this unbalance, with nearly 1500 female candidates, and more than 2360 male candidates. The National Women’s Council calls for more and quicker progress to achieve equal representation. Access shall become easier for women who raise children, by offering child care for instance.
The youth parties of the CSV, the Greens, the LSAP and the DP jointly urge the government to tackle the housing crisis. In a joint press release, they drafted their political demands to the government, calling for action before the parliamentary election and the building of a new government in October. The youth parties of Christian-democrats, socialists, greens and liberals want the government to buy 1.500 housing units that are in construction to support the construction sector and to offer affordable rental prices. Additionally, they want the government to increase the mobilisation tax on vacant land, and strengthen the advantages for private buyers over investors to reduce speculation. To make buying more attractive, the state offered property loan should be increased as the current amount of maximum 153.000 euros is not in line with the prices anymore.
The city of Luxembourg introduces a new app to facilitate parking. On 1 June, the city together with the company Indigo launch the app called “Indigo Neo”, the city announced last week. It will allow us to manage the payment of parking lots without the need for a ticket. The app will be available for parking within the whole territory of Luxembourg city.
The national sports Night (Nuit du sport) attracted around 18.000 participants. With 42 participating communes, the 14th edition of the Nuit du sport was a real success, the sports ministry says in a press release. The youth houses, associations, sports clubs and kindergartens have proposed more than 140 sports disciplines to discover and try out. The Nuit du Sport is a yearly event co-organised by the sports ministry and the National youth service to attract youth and adults to different sports.
FRIDAY 12 MAY
The Ministry of Housing aims to accelerate the progress on the housing reform draft bill. Yesterday, the ministry and the federations and unions active for affordable housing formally launched a so-called structured dialogue. The draft bill is supposed to strengthen social housing and establish the National Registry of Affordable Housing (RENLA). Further, the law would give more responsibility to the municipalities which shall implement the Local Housing Action Program (PAL). According to the Ministry’s press release, the new platform for dialogue shall allow permanent exchange with the actors in the field.
Meanwhile, the association Mieterschutz and the trade union OGBL have announced a protest. They will gather in front of Luxembourg-City’s town hall tomorrow at 3pm to recall the urgency of the housing crisis.
Citizens shall have more means to directly participate in local decision making. Interior Minister Taina Bofferding yesterday presented the third part of the planned reform of municipal law. The law shall precisely define the tools that citizens have to participate, she says. It shall set a legal framework and allow citizens’ initiatives and petitions across all communes. The reform will also strengthen the importance of local referendums as a consultative tool for the city council.
Homo, Bi, Inter, and Transphobia appear to be on the rise in Luxembourg. According to the LGBTIQ-rights NGO ILGA Europe, Luxembourg ranks seventh in their Rainbow Europe Index. Luxembourg dropped two places since last year, and four within the last two years. According to the association Rosa Letzebuerg the drop is a consequence of a near standstill in legislative work – while other countries progress.
Luxair is back on track. The airline ended last year with a net profit of more than 1.5 million euros. It is the first positive yearly turnover since the start of the pandemic. The previous year, Luxair Group recorded a loss of more than 30 million euros.
THURSDAY 11 MAY
Luxembourg continues to be at the heart of a due diligence and spyware controversy, close to two years after the Pegasus Files came to light. A European Parliament inquiry concluded yesterday that the country was an important hub for the Israeli spyware firm NSO. NSO, which has its back offices in Luxembourg, is behind the Pegasus spyware used to tap the phones of politicians, world leaders, activists and journalists. As the Luxembourg Times report, the group has “booked more than half of its sales over the previous two years in Luxembourg”. Among the clients that bought the hacking software via the grand duchy was Hungary, which had acquired the programme in 2017 for €6m. Hungary has since denied accusations coming from EU lawmakers, who believe the state actively tried to destroy media freedom.
Prime minister Xavier Bettel (DP) and environment minister Joëlle Welfring (déi Gréng) yesterday presented a new tool to determine the sustainability of future draft bills. The so-called “Nohaltegkeetscheck” had been introduced as a part of the government programme by the 2018-2023 coalition. The aim, said the ministers yesterday, is to push those who write draft bills to better integrate the country’s sustainable development in their legislation.
Six suspects involved in a mugging case in Luxembourg City last week have been arrested, reports RTL. The police in a press release said the group had taken part in a violent theft in a municipal park in Luxembourg City, and had been identified thanks to a suspect description. The stolen objects were secured by agents while the individuals were arrested and placed in the Uerschterhaff Penitentiary Centre and the minor detention centre in Dreiborn.
The Luxembourg railway operator CFL and the supermarket chain Cactus yesterday unveiled their new retail concept, “CFL cactus shoppi”. The shop found inside the Luxembourg City Central Station is the first of a collaboration between the two firms. The grocery store will be open every day of the week and offer locally and regionally sourced products, says Paperjam. Travellers and commuters can expect to see the commercial offer in the station develop further over time, said the CFL.
The grand duchy’s pharmacies are calling for the creation of a national centralised medication stock, as they are witnessing a medication shortage. This is the position the national pharmacist union shared with Radio100komma7 yesterday. The origin of the shortage among foreign suppliers is uncertain, the union said, though it could be that producers underestimated that the demand would revert to normal levels so quickly after the covid-19 pandemic. Luxembourg, which works with suppliers from neighbouring countries like Belgium, has been struggling to obtain some treatments, the union said. While some drugs formulated for adults are easily replaceable, the shortage is especially noticeable for children’s medication. As 100komma7 reports, health minister Paulette Lenert (LSAP) last week had confirmed that progress was being made on developing a concept for a platform to centralise drug purchases. The structure could also serve to manage a national medication stock.
WEDNESDAY 10 MAY
Foreigners in Luxembourg tend to be younger than natives, Statec reported in its census published earlier this week. With more than 300,000 foreigners and 180 nationalities, close to half of the country’s population held a nationality other than Luxembourgish. This represents a 38% increase since 2011, writes Paperjam. That the immigrant population on average was close to 4 years younger than Luxembourgers and overrepresented in the 25 to 54 age group makes sense, as many arrive in the grand duchy for professional reasons, said the study. However, as Statec points out, immigrants were less represented in younger and older age brackets.
The number of STD cases detected in Luxembourg increased by more than 20% between 2021 and 2022. This is what the health ministry revealed on Monday, when it launched a new awareness campaign around safe sex. Numbers are likely more important, as many infections present mild or no symptoms, leading those infected to spread sexually transmitted diseases unknowingly. “Protection is good for us” is the slogan chosen by the ministry, whose campaign will run until July. Special awareness events around the topic will be held over the next few weeks, with the first one taking place at Hamilius in Luxembourg City on Friday 12 May.
In Luxembourg City, the déi Gréng party continues to demand safer and better cycling paths. The city council met to talk about seven motions around mobility in the capital. The green party is frustrated with the lack of improvement in the planning of spaces dedicated to soft mobility and motorised traffic, reports RTL. According to the news site, some of these motions were already submitted in February 2022, and remain unresolved. Déi Gréng says the majority lacks political courage. For the city’s alderman Patrick Goldschmit (DP), implementing solutions takes time.
The newest addition to Luxembourg city’s list of parks is now accessible to the general public. The Jardin du multilinguisme in Kirchberg’s European neighbourhood was inaugurated yesterday, on Europe Day. An initiative by the Fonds Kirchberg, the park found at the foot of the golden towers of the EU Court of Justice should also be used for public events, reports the Luxemburger Wort.
MONDAY 8 MAY
Police arrested one person following last week’s bomb alert in the Luxembourg central station. He allegedly told by-passers that there was a bomb in the central station. Police evacuated the building and interrupted traffic in the zone. The officers searched the premises with dogs trained to detect explosives. Nothing has been found. The person who raised the false alarm was supposed to appear in front of the examining magistrate yesterday. Details of this appointment are not public yet.
The national statistics agency Statec expects the inflation rate to decline next year. Statec estimates inflation at 2.5 percent for next year. The institute meanwhile corrected their prognosis for this year, estimating total inflation at 3.9 percent– which would trigger the next wage indexation in the third trimester of this year.
The trade union OGBL calls for improved working conditions for truck drivers. The union in a statement says drivers regularly complain about wages not completely paid and unpaid overtime. OGBL accuses the large transport companies of systematically creating branches in Eastern Europe to get cheaper labour. The transport sector is facing labour shortages. According to RTL, the companies lack about 10.000 truck drivers. The OGBL says better working conditions would solve the problem.
The Interior Ministry plans to scrap the aptitude test for applicants for jobs in the local councils. The simplification of the job entry procedure shall make local council jobs attractive for more applicants, the ministry announced in a press release. The procedure to become a public official will be faster and simpler. The so-called general aptitude test checks the candidates’ competences in abstract reasoning, numerical and verbal skills – and e-mailing.
FRIDAY 5 MAY
Defense Minister François Bausch, presented a bill yesterday to completely rebuild the military camp at Waldof. The current site dates back to the 1950s, and a redevelopment is necessary in order to meet the functional needs of a modern army, the legal requirements in terms of health and safety at work and the standards of ammunition storage management. The project will sustainably support the Luxembourg army while reducing the ecological footprint of the defense sector.
Tiny houses which previously were stymied by a lack of regulations, got a boost earlier this week. Municipal councils will now be able to make the final decision on whether they allow residents to register an official address for a tiny house and hook them up to utilities such as water and electricity. According to Interior Minister Taina Bofferding, the new guidelines aim to define tiny houses as a legal form of housing but she reiterated that the houses are “not the final answer to Luxembourg’s housing crisis. However, they can help to create additional housing on land that would otherwise remain undeveloped. Additionally for minimalist living advocates, tiny homes allow an alternative to large houses or apartments.
The crafts and trades sector is facing a challenging period as expensive raw materials, inflation, high interest rates, and geopolitical tensions in Ukraine and Taiwan continue to take their toll. The sector experienced a significant decline last year with 71% fewer businesses established and employment down 30%. These key figures for the industry were released yesterday by representatives of the Chamber of Skilled Trades and Crafts. Faced with this deterioration in the economic environment, one in five companies plans to reduce its workforce this year. More specifically these would be non-replacements of people retiring. While the situation is not yet a crisis, several indicators are in the red, with redundancies already looming, particularly in the food and construction sectors.
On the second day of the official visit by Prime Minister Xavier Bettel and Minister of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises Lex Delles to Vietnam, two memoranda of understanding were signed. At a press conference yesterday, the extension of the agreement to avoid double taxation between the two countries and an agreement to work together to fight climate change were announced. According to Bettel, Cargolux will soon receive the flight rights it wants from the Vietnamese government to land in Ho Chi Minh City. Also, the Prime Minister said the chances were good that tourists from Luxembourg would be able to enter Vietnam without a visa in the near future.
THURSDAY 4 May
The Luxembourg Regulatory Institute was evacuated yesterday after receiving two envelopes containing a suspicious substance. As RTL reports, the police closed off access to the building and decontaminated the employees who had come in contact with the packages. The IRL oversees regulatory matters and acts as a mediator in disputes in economic sectors like electronic communications, electricity, natural gas and more. An investigation on the content of the envelopes and motives of the sender has been launched.
Bullying in the workplace will no longer go unpunished. That is the message the Luxembourg labour minister Georges Engel (LSAP) sent out yesterday, as he presented a new anti-harrasment law. The draft law presents a more defined idea of what mobbing means and where the employer’s obligations lie. The text among others stipulates that employers will have to take action in the case of mobbing reports, or they could, like the harassers, be fined. Victims should also be more protected and find it easier to report such issues. As the ministry shared, 405 requests for information and 35 complaints against mobbing were filed with the labour inspectorate ITM last year.
French cross border workers will now be able to work from home for 34 days a year, announced the ministry of finance yesterday. Until now, they could only work remotely for 29 days a year without the risk of being taxed in France too. The agreement between France and Luxembourg includes public servants and will be retroactive to the 1st of January 2023.
Luxembourg is inching its way back to being part of the world’s best countries for press freedom, reports the Luxembourg Times. An annual ranking published by Reporters Without Borders put the country on the 20th spot. While this marks a slight improvement compared to last year, the ranking is far from the fourth place Luxembourg occupied before prime minister Xavier Bettel (DP) took office. The group at the origin of the ranking applauded laws protecting the freedom of expression of journalists but also criticised how difficult accessing complete information from authorities can be.
OECD representatives yesterday met up with Luxembourg deputies to take a closer look at its whistleblower protection act. The legal text voted by MPs on Tuesday aims to make it easier for whistleblowers to call out companies, both providing protection and channels through which they can report any wrongdoings. Interrogated by the organisation, the deputies highlighted that the bill goes further than what was originally required by the EU directive and that a list of relevant sectoral authorities to report to was in the making.
WEDNESDAY 3 MAY
Luxembourg’s groundwater recharge is below average this year again, confirmed the environment and home affairs ministries yesterday. In an answer to a parliamentary question, the ministers in charge explained that the extreme drought the country experienced last summer had delayed the recharge of groundwaters. The deficit compared to the average observed over the past few years is estimated at 30%. Some water sources particularly reactive to rain also presented the lowest levels recorded over the past twenty years. Environment minister Joëlle Welfring (déi Gréng) reassured that procedures are in place if there was a risk of national groundwater levels becoming low.
Over 1,300 invoices were sent out to patients who did not attend their medical appointments in 2022. In Luxembourg, patients who don’t cancel an appointment at least 24 hours in advance can be billed the full cost of the appointment. In some cases, additional inconvenience fees can be added on by the doctor. While the national health fund CNS continues to receive a high volume of such invoices, it has witnessed a 13% decrease since 2018.
The hourly cost of workers in Luxembourg is the highest in the European Union, Statec revealed yesterday. According to the national statistics bureau, an employee in the grand duchy cost around €50 an hour on average last year. This represents a 3% increase between 2020 and 2022. However, as Paperjam points out, the high cost of living, as well as the presence of certain sectors, distort the observations. The financial sector in the grand duchy reported the highest hourly wage, while hospitality and administrative services recorded the lowest rates.
The commune of Echternach will open its lake for swimming on the 26th of May. Luxembourg’s outdoor bathing season officially began on 1 May and will end on the 30th of September. The project in the east of the country, which has been seven years in the making, experienced some delays, as RTL reports, but a part of the Echternach lake will soon be able to welcome visitors. 800 parking spots will also be available around the lake.
TUESDAY 2 MAY
A bill to reform adoption legislation in Luxembourg wants to limit the age gap between future parents and children. This draft law, which was endorsed by the state council last Friday, would require parents to be less than 45 years older than their adopted child. Parents could however apply for an exemption, underlines l’Essentiel. The reform, if voted by lawmakers, would also give single parents access to full adoption. Currently, single parents can only apply for a simple adoption, where ties with the original family are kept intact.
Nearly one in seven workers in Luxembourg is at risk of poverty, a report by the Chamber of Employees CSL found. According to the Luxembourg Times, more than 40% of single parents were also at risk of belonging to the working poor. While retired people were less likely to not make ends meet, the grand duchy generally speaking did poorly compared to other eurozone countries. The study found that the grand duchy has the second-highest annual rise in at-risk of poverty population since 2005. At the end of last year, another study had found that one in five workers in Luxembourg’s capital were already below the poverty line.
A draft law submitted by finance minister Yuriko Backes (DP) to parliament last month could have a negative impact on taxpayer rights, reports Delano. While the bill aims to amend the Luxembourg General Tax Law by streamlining rules around tax procedures, it also contains some reforms detrimental to taxpayers. One such rule limits their right to appeal to twelve months after the administration hasn’t responded for six months. Existing legislation allows them to appeal at any time after the six-month window.
Weed dispensaries could become a reality in Luxembourg, depending on the outcome of the national elections, said health minister Paulette Lenert (LSAP) during a press conference last Friday. A concept adopted by the government on Friday would give out two production licences to legally cultivate pot and distribute it to 14 state-owned dispensaries, says Delano. Only adults could purchase the drug recreationally but would be limited in the quantity they could buy. The concept would still make public consumption illegal. As Lenert pointed out, this concept is not a draft law, but a step towards it and ts implementation will depend on the composition of Luxembourg’s future government.
FRIDAY 28 APRIL
The effort to reduce Luxembourg’s gas consumption as part of a Europe-wide campaign over the past winter was successful, according to a report by the Ministry of Energy. Overall, Luxembourg achieved a 26% reduction in gas – significantly more than the 15% reduction the EU demanded from member states.. The same demand will apply to the 2023-2024 winter months, although Luxembourg has a good starting position due to the diligent savings over the past few months, said Minister of Energy Claude Turmes.
The police are warning of fake messages in which people are asked to pay a fine of 49 euros. The messages either by email or SMS ask people to pay via a fake government website. The police want to remind the public that this is not police policy and that the message should be ignored and deleted.
Ballot papers can be filled in with pencil during the upcoming election, confirmed Minister of the Interior, Taina Bofferding. The Pirate Party had filed a parliamentary question over their concern that ballots could be altered if filled in with pencil asking if municipalities were allowed to ban their use. Bofferding said no ban was planned and also took the opportunity to highlight the law which declares anyone found manipulating a ballot paper can be subjected to fines from €500 to €15,000.
The largest park in Luxembourg City is set to open on 7 June as works are reaching their conclusion, first alderman Serge Wilmes said earlier this week. The new park in Gasperich has a total size measuring around 24 football pitches. A playground was installed last October and 600 trees were planted in the spring of 2022. The finishing touches have also been completed on a 7000 square meter pond. With the addition of this park, there will be a total of 170 hectares of parks in the capital.
THURSDAY 27 APRIL
Luxembourg City mayor Lydie Polfer wants security guards to start their daily patrol earlier. This announcement came yesterday, after a recent increase in muggings and violent assaults, like the one that took place in the Kinnekswiss park on Sunday night. Local residents of the neighbourhoods around the central station have also been complaining about a lack of security for a few years now. Guards currently do rounds between 5pm and 11pm. Polfer wants them to start at 3pm.
Luxembourg-based cargo airline Cargolux yesterday reported record profits for 2022. Profits reached $1.6bn, a 22% increase compared to 2021, reports RTL. The war in Ukraine and the stark increase in energy prices together with a high demand for cargo flights during the first seven months of the year allowed cargo airlines to raise their prices. The company however said it would not expect similar results for this year, as the trend has been going down since last summer.
Cyclists in Luxembourg City can look forward to a more easily accessible parking situation at the Central Station. A new underground parking lot capable of fitting around 3,500 bicycles is set to open by 2027. The national railway company CFL hopes this will make the bike-train combination easier for its customers, said RTL. The structure, which will be the country’s largest underground bike parking lot, will be constructed under the Place de la Gare. Whether users will have to pay for the service remains unknown.
Close to 10% of candidates for the municipal elections in June are non-Luxembourgers, revealed the ministry of home affairs in a press release yesterday. The majority remained natives, including citizens holding dual passports. The ministry also pointed out that men remained far more present in the communal lists, making up slightly more than 60% of candidates. Nearly 1,500 women, or 38% of candidates, also signed up for a chance at a position in the political landscape of Luxembourg’s communes. This represents a small improvement since the 2017 local elections, where around 35% of all participants were women.
WEDNESDAY 26 APRIL
The study on shorter working hours commissioned by labour minister Georges Engel (LSAP) last year was published yesterday. Its results were inconclusive in that they spoke neither for or against reducing the number of working hours for Luxembourg employees. The benefits of working less were strongly dependent on the employee’s tasks and career. The study also highlighted that reducing work hours was useless if people worked overtime. The study led by the University of Luxembourg and the socio-economic research institute Liser was met with criticism from the business union UEL before it was published. The UEL said it would not be able to prepare for the press conference without having access to at least the main findings beforehand, therefore deciding not to attend the presentation yesterday.
Luxembourg-based payment solutions provider Payconiq has been acquired by the European Payments Initiative EPI. The Belgian company aims to provide the same services as Payconiq and Digicash before it, meaning instant account-to-account transfers, but on an EU level. As Paperjam reports, the acquisition shouldn’t impact Payconia users.
Transport minister François Bausch has presented a draft law on carsharing in public spaces in the hopes of reducing the number of cars on Luxembourg roads. The bill would allow communes to allocate dedicated parking spaces for carsharing vehicles, says Paperjam. Carsharing allows subscribers to rent a car by paying a fee which includes regular maintenance and user protection. Currently, Flex and Carloh offer this service in the country, though availability can be limited to the more densely populated parts of the country. With this bill, Bausch estimates that one carsharing vehicle will replace 8 to 12 cars in public spaces.
Luxembourg drivers going through the neighbouring Rhineland-Palatinate state in Germany will have to be careful and respect the rules. The federal state is investing in so-called monocams, mobile speed cameras able to detect if drivers are on their smartphone, reports RTL. Monocams could also make their way to Luxembourg, said mobility minister François Bausch, though some legal texts could stand in the way of their implementation.
TUESDAY 25 APRIL
Luxembourg’s state budget ran an €87m deficit during the first quarter of this year, revealed finance minister Yuriko Backes yesterday. The minister presented the state of the grand duchy’s public finances, highlighting that revenue had increased by around 2% during the first quarter of the year, in part thanks to an increase in income tax, reports Delano. Measures to fight the energy crisis and high inflation, like VAT cuts, energy credits and fuel discounts have all decreased VAT revenue and increased the government’s expenditures too. Luxembourg’s public debt, a key point of discussion in the upcoming campaigns, at the end of March reached €22.2 bn or 27.2% of the country’s GDP. In a press release, the ministry reassured however that the reimbursement of a loan in July would bring the rate back down to 24%.
Luxembourg’s main labour unions OGBL, CGFP and LCGB yesterday criticised national statistics bureau Statec for a seminar it is hosting today. The event will look at the place of employment representatives in the country’s economy. The unions were particularly provoked by a lecture on labour unions called ”Will they rise again?”, which they consider is unfair towards them. In a press release, the organisations raised questions around the institution’s political impartiality as well, and criticised the fact that they were also granted less speaking time during the event.
Children under one are going into childcare later and for less time than in the past, revealed education minister Claude Meisch in a parliamentary answer. Questioned by Pirate Party deputy Sven Clement, Meisch explained that the reform of parental leave in 2016 had impacted the age at which parents put their children in Luxembourg’s so-called crèches. Whereas in the past, babies would be around 8 and a half months old, they are now slightly over 9 months old when they start attending. Parents also rely on this kind of childcare less, as children are now placed for an average of 28 hours a week if they are below one. In the past, they would be there for 33 hours. Since the reform in December of 2016, both parents are entitled to 4 to six months of parental leave, on top of maternity and paternity leave.
Luxembourg residents generally are satisfied with the services of public administrations, according to a survey by the public service ministry. The study, prepared by Ilres and published yesterday, revealed that the digital portal to administrations, myguichet.lu had witnessed a stark rise in usage compared to the previous study of the kind in 2015. The health and tax offices were most often contacted by users, the study also found. Citizens often preferred the online platform to other means of communication, and felt they could trust the information shared by the administrations. However, a significant number of participants noted that more needed to be done to improve communication by phone, as well as the customer experience and digital contact means like apps.
MONDAY 24 APRIL
European parliament member Monica Semedo intends to take the European Parliament to court. Semedo in a statement said her fundamental right to defend herself had been violated – as she was denied a hearing by the committee, together with her lawyer. Last week, the president of the European Parliament suspended Monica Semedo from the assembly for ten days, after one of Semedo’s assistants had accused the MEP of psychological harassment. She says she will bring an action for annulment of this decision before the General Court of the European Union.” Already in 2021, Semedo was temporarily suspended after an investigation found her guilty of having psychologically harassed her employees. She was then fired by Luxembourg’s Democratic party, and is in the European parliament as an independent candidate for the Renew Europe group.
Agriculture Minister Claude Haagen wants to ban most pesticides, the ministry announced in a press release. From next year on, the sale of certain herbicides, fungicides and insecticides will be banned. The step is part of the National action plan for the reduction of pesticides that aims at reducing the use of pesticides by half by 2030. Around two thirds of the products that are authorised for sale now, won’t comply with the new regulations set from next year on.
Cigarette packets will lose their design. Last week, the government council approved a bill that introduces regulations for neutral cigarette packets, without logos or images, RTL reports. The bill is part of the government’s plan to reduce tobacco consumption. Further, the tobacco prices will increase, about one cent per cigarette.
The new one-year course to become a primary school teacher upsets students of the traditional 4-year-track, Luxtimes reports referring to the teachers’ union. Education Minister Claude Meisch introduced the new 1-year-program to tackle the shortage of primary school teachers.
FRIDAY 21 APRIL
All Luxembourg civil servants will be covered by a new whistleblower law, according to Justice Minister Sam Tanson. This follows the government’s proposed series of changes to the draft bill introduced in response to the LuxLeaks tax scandal. Protection under the new law will also extend to government workers who have passed additional exams and sworn an oath to the Grand Duke as well as other state employees, including trainees, who were already covered in the first draft bill.
The government has terminated a controversial contract with the heavily state-subsidised Science Center after prosecutors launched an investigation into alleged financial irregularities. The Dudelange-based centre received €21 million in subsidies since 2017. Education Minister Claude Meisch told lawmakers the Inspectorate of Finance will finish an audit in the next few weeks. After which a new governance plan will be worked out with a six-month notice.
The trial of one of the most high-profile drug cases uncovered in Luxembourg began earlier this week. Twenty people have been indicted in a case that revolves around organised importation and trade of hard drugs, money laundering, and fraud. In 2020, police seized more than ten kilos of drugs, two houses, an apartment, luxury watches, 17 cars including a Ferrari, a BMW M5, a Mercedes G63 and a Range Rover. 80,000 euros in cash and hundreds of thousands of euros was also taken from the bank accounts of several suspects. The trial is expected to last until June.
This Saturday, Princess Alexandra will celebrate her marriage to Nicolas Bagory at the Hôtel de Ville in Luxembourg. It has been almost ten years since the last royal wedding. The only daughter of Grand Duke Henri will take place in the capital with a civic wedding at the Town Hall. At 4 p.m., the newlyweds will greet the public. The families will then return to the Grand Ducal Palace for a reception of the national authorities and guests of the couple.
THURSDAY 20 APRIL
Luxembourg recently witnessed more bankruptcies, reveals Statec after comparing numbers of the first quarters of last year with this year. 5% more businesses have closed their doors according to the national statistics bureau. The construction and trade sectors–despite struggling to keep up with demand from clients–were the most impacted by this trend. Liquidations, which mainly concerned holding companies and investment funds, saw a minimal increase of 1% compared to last year.
One in five non-nationals have signed up to vote in the local elections taking place in June, said the family and integration ministry yesterday. Over the past two months, Luxembourg’s main political parties had organised various events to encourage sign ups. The integration minister Corinne Cahen (DP) said this push had been an enormous success. 50,000 foreigners living in Luxembourg took advantage of the relaxed conditions around voter registration. This represents nearly 10,000 more registrations among non-nationals than during the last communal elections, reports Delano.
Close to €800,000 was collected during the charity run known as Relais pour la vie. The event took place at the end of March and attracted over 13,000 participants online and at the Coque sports complex in Kirchberg. The Fondation Cancer, which organises the event, told Le Quotidien the support would be crucial to finance awareness and research around the disease while supporting those impacted by cancer. In 2022, the Relais pour la vie had collected less than €600,000.
Speaking before the European parliament yesterday, Luxembourg prime minister Xavier Bettel called out the Hungarian government for the anti-LGBT legislation it had introduced. The country a couple of years ago passed a Child Protection Act, which heavily restricts the depictions of homosexuality in media among others. This triggered a lawsuit before the European court of justice, but Hungary’s position remains unchanged. As Euronews reports, Bettel said he was ashamed by Hungarian head of state Viktor Orban’s actions and that it went against the EU’s message of open tolerance.
WEDNESDAY 19 APRIL
Luxembourgers continue to leave the grand duchy, while the population keeps growing, revealed Statec. The national statistics bureau yesterday released its annual report on the country’s population. With the arrival of over 4,200 Ukrainian nationals, the country had 660,809 residents last year, a 2.4% increase. However, over 3,000 locals left the country in 2022, while only half came back. In 2021, more than 3,000 had left too. Portuguese nationals were even more likely to leave, counting over 3,500 departures over the past year. Statec also noted that foreign citizens made up 47.4% of the grand duchy’s total population.
European deputy and Luxembourg national Monica Semedo has been sanctioned by the EU Parliament’s president Roberta Metsola. Following a psychological harassment complaint filed by a former assistant last year, Semedo has been suspended for 10 days and fined up to 10 days worth of compensation. This amounts to €3,380, says RTL. This isn’t the first time Semedo has been sanctioned for harassment. In January 2021, Semedo had been suspended for 15 days for psychological harassment. She had then stepped down from her Luxembourg party, the DP, and joined Renew-Europe as an independent member of parliament.
The inflation of food and drink prices in Luxembourg has reached a historic high, said economy minister Franz Fayot (LSAP) yesterday. Asked by LSAP deputies about the price evolution over 2022, Fayot in his parliamentary answer confirmed that these products cost 13% more in February than a year ago. The government currently is not in talks about a potential price cap on food and drinks, despite the fact that they contribute to a third of the 4.3% yearly inflation.
Luxembourg city yesterday donated five buses to the city of Kherson in Ukraine. These buses will be used to safely bring the city’s students to school. If necessary, they could also be used to evacuate people in the area, whichhas been heavily impacted by the ongoing war against Russia. The donation is part of the European Commission’s “School buses for Ukraine” solidarity campaign. Luxembourg city cooperated with the EU’s Emergency Response Coordination Center for the delivery of the medium-sized vehicles to Kherson.
TUESDAY 18 APRIL
The government has reviewed its national climate and energy plan. Presented on Monday, the new PNEC aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 55% by 2030 and to reach 35 to 37% of renewable energy use. A previous version of the plan set this target at 25% though Luxembourg currently lies at 11%. The cost of the carbon tax is also set to go up, as are energy efficiency aims. The access to climate subsidies should also become easier in the updated plans. How much this revision will cost the government remains unsure, said economy minister Franz Fayot (LSAP), though he explained that inaction would end up costing a lot more.
The cost of flights increased by nearly 20% in 2022, according to the Luxembourg ministry of consumer protection. Next were outdoor recreation goods like caravans, and fats and oils. 68 categories were analysed for this study, which aims to see that the Fair Price Charter is respected. The charter, signed by Commerce, artisan and Horesca federations and supported by the government, ensures that signatories don’t use periods of high inflation to excessively increase their prices. Audio and video recording materials witnessed the biggest price drop over 2022, decreasing by 4.8%.
Luxembourg needs to address the structural problem between the demand and offer of its labour market, said EU Commissioner Nicolas Schmit yesterday. The EU granted Luxembourg €86m in funds during the covid-19 pandemic, contributing to stabilising the country’s economy, said Schmit during a visit to the grand duchy’s parliament. The funds were granted through the Recovery and Resilience Facility, which requires EU member states to present a plan to access the aid. Luxembourg made the development of skills one of its objectives but Schmit said more should be done to fix the structural issue.
Close to 42% of Luxembourg is not inhabited, according to the national statistics bureau Statec. In an exercise dividing the territory into parcels of 1 square kilometer, the institution revealed that 89,5% of the country was either unpopulated or sparsely populated. Forests occupy around a third of the country’s space, Paperjam also reports. Unsurprisingly, bigger cities host more inhabitants, with the Gare and Bonnevoie districts–with over 14,600 residents–being the most densely populated area followed by Esch-Alzette, in the south of the country, where nearly 11,200 residents live.
Luxembourg City hosts the most refugees in the country, according to the foreign affairs ministry, welcoming 2,290 refugees. Answering a parliamentary question, Foreign affairs minister Jean Asselborn confirmed that the current accommodation capacity of the National Reception Office ONA reached 94.9% at the end of March 2023. The grand duchy can welcome up to 7,060 refugees in total, of which 2,846 in structures found in the capital.
MONDAY 17 APRIL
Registration for the voters’ lists closes today. All non-Luxembourgish residents have until 5pm this afternoon to register as a voter for the municipal elections, either online at myguichet.lu or personally in the town hall. The latest numbers show that 16 percent had registered by the end of March, RTL reports. Registration for candidates closed last week. 87 percent of the candidates for the municipal councils are Luxembourgers.
At Findel airport on Saturday evening, a cargolux plane hit the runway with its left engine while landing. The aircraft was damaged and the pilot was forced to abort the landing and get back in the air, Cargolux confirmed to RTL. He managed to land safely a few minutes later. A photographer captured the moment of the aborted landing, the images were shared across social media platforms. Cargolux reported the incident to the civil aviation authority and an internal investigation is ongoing.
Luxembourg will continue to issue so-called golden visas to wealthy foreigners, the Luxembourg Times reports referring to the government. Luxembourg grants non-EU-citizens a residency permit if, in exchange, they invest at least half a million euros in a local business. The European Commission has repeatedly criticised the scheme saying it fostered money laundering, tax evasion and corruption risks. Following Russia’s invasion in Ukraine, Brussels has renewed calls to abolish golden visas fearing it could be abused by sanctioned Russians. 17 EU countries issue residency permits in exchange for investment or payments. Luxembourg received only nine applications since it was put in place in 2017 and refused two, the foreign ministry told LuxTimes.
Luxembourg’s rescue services had 132 missions in the Greater Region last year, Interior Minister Taina Bofferding said responding to a parliamentary question by adr-MP Fred Keup. 64 times, rescue services from France and Germany supported the forces in Luxembourg, for instance to help managing the blaze in Kayl in December. Luxembourg, France, Germany and Belgium have signed contracts for mutual support in rescue operations.
FRIDAY 14 APRIL
The woman accused of defrauding the American Chamber of Commerce – also known as AmCham – of more than €100,000 has fled Luxembourg ahead of a potential trial. After being released on bail from pre-trial detention, the indicted woman left the country and likely Europe, a source with knowledge of the AmCham case told the Luxembourg Times. However, a trial can still be conducted, if necessary and depending on the conditions, in the absence of the suspect.
Tax breaks in Luxembourg’s latest support package for households, including the adjusting of tax brackets for inflation, are set to cost around €660 million – around €200 million less than originally forecast. This is according to a draft law amending the country’s budget. The cost is lower than originally predicted, mainly due to a drop in the predicted expenditure on energy subsidies.
A tripartite meeting devoted to industry will take place next week in the context of recently announced layoffs, with the Minister of the Economy stating it will not be a crisis consultation. The meeting has been convened following the planned or announced loss of around 350 jobs at Husky Technologies, Dupont Teijin Films, and John Zink. It is set to focus on the short-term development of industrial companies that are cutting jobs and on the longer-term industrial policy.
Selections have been officially presented for the 76th Cannes Film Festival competition and includes two Luxembourgish co-productions. The documentary “Jeunesse ” by Chinese director Wang Bing is a co-production with France, Hong Kong and the Netherlands. The feature film “The Delinquents” by Argentine director Rodrigo Moreno, is a co-production with Argentina, Chile and Brazil. It was selected in the “Un certain regard” section. Both films were financially supported by the Film Fund Luxembourg and include Luxembourgish talent in the artistic and technical teams. Luxembourgish actress Marie Jung is featured in the film “Acid” by Just Philippot. The film has been selected among the “midnight screening” movies.
The deadline for registering to vote is Monday. Foreign residents, who are now able to vote in the local elections on 11 June regardless of the number of years they have lived in Luxembourg, have until 5pm on 17 April to do so. The municipalities of Bech, Reisdorf and Betzdorf (42.7%, 38.7% and 27.8%.) have the top rates of registered foreign voters while the capital city has the lowest registration rate at under 12%.
THURSDAY 13 APRIL
7.4 percent of pensioners live at risk of poverty, the Ministry for Social Security said responding to a parliamentary question by pirates-deputy Marc Goergen. According to the statistics, those who pay taxes according to tax class 1 and those receiving the disability pension are most likely to fall into old-age poverty. According to social security minister Claude Haagen however, exact numbers are difficult to determine, as many people receive an additional pension from abroad and the ministry does not have exact information about the height of these pensions.
The concentration of the air pollutant nitrogen dioxide NO2 is within the limits. The nature and environment administration measured the NO2 concentration across the whole country last year. In several places, the concentration are close to the limit of 40 microgram per cubic metre – for instance in Remich, Echternach, Differdange, Esch/Alzette, Hesperange and Luxembourg. Although the concentration is not critical anywhere in the country, the nature administration has launched a campaign to raise awareness about air pollution in the communes and among the citizens.
The insurance sector suffered losses last year, Luxembourg’s insurance and reinsurance association Aca says. The decline of 4.3% is mainly due to the lower demand for life-insurances. The demand for non-life insurances such as third-party insurances for the car or fire insurances however has increased. In total, the insurance sector recorded an inflow of more than 40 billion euros last year.
The dairy farmers are concerned about the drop in milk prices, RTL reports referring to the Luxembourg Dairy Board. Already last year, the margins were slim with dairy farmers earning 56 cents per litre milk, while spending 48 cents on production. As the global demand has been decreasing due to vegan alternatives, the expenses keep increasing with inflation. In the last decades, milk has been massively subsidised by the state and the European Union to keep the prices adequate for farmers. The president of the Luxembourg Dairy Board Guy Diderich however fears that from this year on the sales price won’t cover the production cost anymore.
WEDNESDAY 12 APRIL
Petitioners call for the tax class 1a for widows and single parents to be abolished. Widows and single parents shall have the tax class 2, and pay less taxes just as married couples. The petition number 2620 has convinced more than 5.000 signatories, exceeding the minimum, and will therefore be debated in parliament. Three other petitions have reached the quorum as well. Nearly 11.000 people support a petition that demands a tax decrease for singles. A petition calling for reduced weekly working hours for one parent – with the state paying the deficit – has collected around 4.700 signatures. And a fourth petition urges Luxembourg’s government to NOT ratify the EU’s directive to ban sales of cars running on fossil fuels from 2035.
The Young Democrats (JDL)’s president Michael Agostini suggests the government should free up 1 billion euros to buy existing properties. In an interview in RTL he said that the government could make more affordable housing available that way. As many other commentators have recently argued, JDL president Agostini as well calls for an increased construction rate, especially in the light of the rapid population growth. JDL is the youth section of the Democratic Party DP.
The management of the Science Centre in Differdange has been judged unprofessional. The Ministry of Education, according to l’Essentiel said that mistakes have been made in managing the facility, highlighting particularly conflicts of interest that haven’t been solved. On the other hand however, the Ministry says that the financial reports are clean and that expenses were justified. The Science Center had come under scrutinyafter the investigative magazine Reporter reported about financial irregularities.
TUESDAY 11 APRIL
Prosecutors have launched an investigation into a science centre which has received tens of millions of euros in state subsidies after media reports of financial irregularities. The probe follows articles by the Reporter news website about the Luxembourg Science Center in Differdange, which has received €21 million in subsidies from the Education Ministry since 2017. The Center’s director is also the head of a company called GGM 11, the main supplier of the Luxembourg Science Center. The articles accused the centre of paying inflated prices for materials and the director of claiming reimbursement from GGM 11 for the cost of monthly flights between Luxembourg and New York, as well as restaurant and hotel bills.
An allergen warning for Namur mocha ice cream has been issued by the Luxembourg food authority. The cups do not state that the ice cream may contain traces of hazelnuts, peanuts, nuts and soy. Affected are sundaes with a sell-by date before April 8, 2024 in all sizes. Auchan, Cactus, Delhaize and Namur have sold the ice cream. However, other outlets could not be ruled out.
The Luxembourg Grand Ducal Court costs 29 euros per resident according to The Guardian. This is significantly more per capita than similar European royal courts with the UK, Belgium, Norway and Netherlands being less than five euros per person. But with a smaller overall population, Luxembourg has the 4th lowest budget. Also comparing the expenses of European royal dynasties is not straight forward. Some monarch budgets are used to pay for palaces, servants, and security, while others simply include royal salaries. The Luxembourg royal family budget covers the maintenance of Schloss Berg, travel expenses, vehicles and other operating costs.
FRIDAY 7 APRIL
The Administrative Court has upheld that decision that Luxembourg’s ban on glyphosate is unlawful. Glyphosate has been banned in Luxembourg since 1 January 2022. In the EU, the pesticide is allowed until 15 December 2023, but an extension of the permit is possible. Bayer, the manufacturer, initiated legal action against the Luxembourg government, arguing that it was a violation of EU law. They also demanded 15,000 euros in damages from the country but the request was rejected by the judges. Today, the Ministry of Agriculture and Environment will outline the next steps now that glyphosate may once again be used in the Grand Duchy.
The Ministry of Tourism announced “Destination Camper Park(ing)” yesterday with guidelines to encourage development of high-end motorhome parks in the country. Minister Lex Delles expressed Luxembourg’s desire to take advantage of the growth of the motorhome market in Europe. In 2021, almost 2.5 million vehicles of this type were registered in Europe, up 13% compared to the previous year. While traditionally almost 80% of motorhome owners were in the 50-70 age bracket, the 30-50 age bracket has been growing rapidly for several years, the minister noted.
The police announced earlier this week that a national safety campaign focused on motorcycles will start this month. The stated goals are road safety and accident prevention. Checks will be carried out to verify the right equipment, the general technical condition and the vehicle documents are in order. Equally important is the condition of the protective clothing and the obligation to wear a helmet. These will be carried out on the roads where there are generally many motorcyclists.
The police arrested a man in Esch yesterday afternoon on the orders of the public prosecutor. He is suspected of “indecently touching” an underage girl, according to a police press release. The crime took place on a train on Wednesday – while traveling from Luxembourg towards Pétange.
THURSDAY 6 APRIL
Luxembourg’s annual inflation rate fell sharply last month, according to STATEC. The rate was 3.6% in March, down from 4.3% a month earlier. However, inflation on a monthly basis edged up by 0.3% in March, driven by high food prices, the country’s statistics agency said yesterday.
Police questioned former Environment Minister Carole Dieschbourg over accusations she illegally granted a building permit to a party colleague. This comes just weeks after parliament lifted her immunity in a scandal that led to her resignation. Police quizzed Dieschbourg last week, her lawyer told public broadcaster 100.7 yesterday. The prosecutor’s office will now decide how to proceed. She resigned a year ago, after a controversy over her granting a building permit for a garden shed in an environmentally protected area to fellow Green party member Roberto Travessini, the former mayor of Differdange.
Around 600 of Luxembourg’s milk suppliers had a successful year, with a 3% increase in profit, but 2023 has already seen milk prices falling. At a press conference yesterday, representatives of the country’s dairy farmers warned of the potential ramifications for the industry. It is feared that prices will continue to fall over the coming months, putting farmers under pressure. If production is higher than demand, suppliers’ costs will soar. They proposed a voluntary reduction in milk production, with necessary financial compensation, in order to restore balance to the market.
A bus driver in Bertrange asked a woman not to board the bus with a drink yesterday. Refusing to give up her beverage before getting on, the passenger threw the liquid at the driver who was speaking to her. A fight then broke out between the two and police were called to intervene. Even after the police arrived, they were unable to calm the woman down and she continued to attack the bus driver. The case has been referred to the public prosecutor’s office. The bus was eventually able to resume its route.
WEDNESDAY 5 APRIL
Luxembourg has largely achieved its natural gas consumption reduction targets and its electricity consumption “continues to fall,” announced the Ministry of Energy yesterday.
The total reduction in natural gas consumption is -26.3%, greatly exceeding the EU Member States’ target of a 15% reduction in natural gas demand. The EU Energy Ministers approved a one-year extension of the emergency gas savings regulation. The 15% natural gas savings target therefore stays in effect until 31 March 2024.
A campaign by déi Lénk to sign up foreign voters to take part in June’s local elections does not violate the law, the public prosecutor’s office said yesterday. The prosecutor said that for an offence to have been committed, candidates would have had to visit voters to remind them of their candidacy and with the purpose of influencing the outcome of the ballot. The complaint was filed by the Pirate Party last month.
Property prices have finally started to fall after several years of continuous increases. According to figures published by atHome.lu yesterday, advertised prices have fallen by 5.1% over the course of a year. This applies to both houses and flats in almost all regions. The only exception to this downward trend are houses in northern Luxembourg, the price of which rose by 10.2%. The decline has been linked to the rise in interest rates and the high housing prices in Luxembourg.
Frankfurt-Hahn regional airport, which has been bankrupt since 2021, has found a German buyer. The region of Hessen, which is one of the airport’s shareholders, had been critical of the takeover offer from a Russian businessman and had asked the federal government for alternatives. A creditors’ meeting in February decided against awarding the contract to the Russian and reopened the tender. Ultimately, the creditors unanimously decided to sell the airport to the real estate company Triwo AG, which operates several other airports in Germany and is owned by the entrepreneur Peter Adrian. The airport is 200 km from Luxembourg and currently operates about 15 flights a day, mainly from low-cost airlines.
TUESDAY 4 APRIL
The use of the pesticide glyphosate is again authorised in Luxembourg since the end of March, the agriculture ministry said in a press release referring to the latest ruling of the administrative court. In 2021, Luxembourg was the first EU-member state to ban the pesticide. The court however approved the producer’s claim and ruled the ban violated EU-law. According to agriculture minister Claude Haagen, the government’s council will now discuss how to handle this verdict. The pesticide glyphosate, produced by the German pharmaceuticals company Bayer, is considered to be carcinogenic.
The tax administration lacks staff and needs a restructuring towards more digitalisation. This is the result of the report provided by a consulting company. The tax administration had commissioned this analysis to adapt to the growing complexity of fiscal and judicial systems. Finance Minister Yuriko Backes presented the results of this report in the Chamber’s budget and finance committee. All present parties agreed the tax office should get more resources, however, the tax office has been struggling to find sufficient qualified staff in the past years.
More than half of all communes have been certified within the climate pact. With this label, the Ministries for Environment and for Energy certify the municipalities’ efforts for sustainability. By joining the climate pact, the communes commit to the government’s plans for a sustainable and environment friendly energy policy. The certified communes get access to additional funds to tackle climate change. 54 communes have been certified to date.
The last covid-19 restrictions were scrapped on Saturday, in all areas including the health care sector. Masks are no longer mandatory in hospitals or retirement and care homes. The medical director of the Hôpitaux Robert Schuman group, however, has advised patients, visitors and staff to continue wearing face coverings in case they have covid-19 symptoms, RTL reports.
MONDAY 3 APRIL
The national railway company CFL has signed a 7 billion euro deal with the government to invest in expanded railway infrastructure. The rail network is planned to be expanded significantly until 2035, including cross border connections. The agreement is part of the Transport Ministry’s 2035 National Mobility Plan that aims to encourage people to use the train by improving connections and introducing larger trains with more seats. The budget as well foresees investments in staff. CFL plans to hire 500 employees this year and hundreds more in the future. The financing agreement will run from 2025 until 2039.
The consumers’ Union ULC demands banks to be more transparent in their decisions. According to their press release, Luxembourg’s banks have increased the interest rates too fast and too much whereas they take a lot of time to decrease. The increases have a huge impact on the customers who have credit contracts with variable interest rates. The ULC demands the banks to lower the interest rates as fast as they increase them once the decisions are made on European Central Bank level, the Union also calls for decreased banking fees as interest rates for credits have soared and the banks last year recorded more than 4 billion euros net profit, the ULC says.
16.1 percent of non-Luxembourgish residents have registered to vote in the municipal elections in June, Delano reports. The number of registrations has increased significantly as the closing date approaches. However, 215.000 foreign nationals have yet to register. The registration is open until Thursday of next week.
The Interior Ministry for the second time stages a national test of the new emergency alert system. Every cell phone connected to the Luxembourg network, will receive an SMS. The government as well alerts via social media, the application GouvAlert and the sirens.
FRIDAY 31 MARCH
Renaturation work on a section of the Alzette river in Steinsel and on the Pétrusse in the capital, will begin in a month. The project, worth 12 million euros, benefits from a loan of 9 million euros from the EIB. After many years of concreting rivers, the trend is now towards the revitalization of natural environments. Joëlle Welfring, Minister of the Environment said the rivers will be more meandering with natural habitats for flora and fauna. The flow of water will be more natural and its speed will be slowed down, limiting the risk of overflow and flooding.
The Robert Schuman hospital group is expanding appointments for MRI scans to include Saturdays from 1 April onwards. In a press release yesterday, it was confirmed patients would be able to attend MRI appointments between 8am and midday on Saturdays at the Hospital Kirchberg or ZithaKlinik locations. In future, the hospital group plans to extend this offer to eight hours. Patients who already have an appointment for an MRI may contact the hospital to reschedule or bring the appointment forward if required.
Almost one in ten new cross-border commuters is a Luxembourg citizen, according to data compiled by the think tank, Fondation Idea, as housing prices are forcing people to look for cheaper options abroad. Seven in ten of the almost 70,000 new employees that took up a job in Luxembourg between 2017 and 2022 were foreigners, with foreign cross-border commuters being the single largest to group to add to the country’s workforce.
This news comes as Eurostat figures released earlier this week said Luxembourg had the highest rate of immigration in the entire EU in 2021 in proportion to its overall population. The country’s ratio of almost 40 immigrants per 1,000 residents almost eight times the EU average. However, Luxembourg also had the second-highest emigration rate in the EU, with 25 emigrants per 1,000 residents, only behind Malta.
Medea La Verge, a 14-year-old girl, has been missing since February 22. “She was last seen in Bourglinster and could currently be in Differdange” according to a police statement. The minor is short, thin and has long brown-blonde hair. Anyone who has useful information is asked to contact the Museldall police at 244 70 1000 or by email – Police.MUSELDALL@police.etat.lu
THURSDAY 30 MARCH
The next wage indexation is due on Saturday. All wages and pensions will increase by 2.5 percent. The minimum wage will exceed 2.500 euros for the first time. Not everyone however will notice a positive effect on their bank accounts. With the end of this month, the temporary subsidy of the energy tax credit expires. For all those earning less than 3400 euros a month, the tax credit worth 84 euros a month was higher than the plus due to the indexation. The Ministry for social security notes that particularly for many pensioners might have less than the past months. In contrast to the energy credit however, the indexation is here to stay. The indexation was postponed from last year. Statec predicts the next wage indexation will fall in the fourth trimester of this year.
The Ministry for Equality between women and men yesterday celebrated the 20th anniversary of the bill on domestic violence. In 2003, the first law to protect the victims of domestic violence entered into force. It obliges the perpetrator to leave the common flat for ten days whereas the victim has the right to stay. The Ministry yesterday gathered numerous services that support victims as well as perpetrators. During a conference, several actors of the network exchanged about the practices and needs. According to the latest data by the national statistics agency Statec, the numbers of domestic violence have dropped significantly. Nevertheless, the police still intervened more than 900 times last year in relation to domestic violence.
The Bazar International donates a record amount of 650.000 euros to charity, the association announced in a press release. The funds were raised at the past edition of the Bazar International in November. The hosting association with the profits supports four charities in Luxembourg and 39 charities across the globe. The main beneficiary this year is a medical association in South Sudan called Soeurs d’Ursuline. Each year, the Bazar International choses one organisation to get a special donation, larger than the one the others receive.
WEDNESDAY 29 MARCH
The Green Party have named Sam Tanson their lead candidate for the legislative election in October. It’s the first time that the Greens aim for the post of Prime Minister, although they have been in government for the past ten years.
In the case of the missing baby Bianka, the time-limit for appealing has passed without the baby’s mother having filed an appeal. She had 40 days to appeal against her prison sentence. In February, the mother was sentenced to 30 years in prison for child neglect. Neither she nor a lawyer assisted at the trial, and she hasn’t provided any information about the whereabouts of the child. The baby Bianka Bisdorff is presumed dead. She was last seen in 2015, a few days after her birth, together with her mother. The prosecution couldn’t prove charges of murder, but as the legal guardian of the child, she was nevertheless held responsible.
The Luxembourg city council adopted the regulation to ban begging from the capital. The DP-CSV majority approved the regulation, presenting it as a means to bring organised begging under control. So far, the practicalities of the introduction are unclear. Particularly the questions on how to enforce the ban and how to send fines to homeless people have not been answered yet. Before the adoption of the regulation, the minister of Interior has to approve it within the coming three months. The city’s opposition opposes the ban calling it unenforceable and purely symbolic – a pre-election gimmick. Social associations as well as Dei Greng politicians fear a further marginalisation of poor people.
Real estate prices continue to increase, but a bit slower. Last year, the prices increased by 9.6 percent which is less than the years before, according to recent numbers, published by The national statistics agency Statec. For an average apartment, buyers paid nearly 695 thousand euros last year, an increase of more than 33 thousand compared to 2021. Amid high inflation and raising interest rates, many people can’t afford to buy anymore. The president of the Federation of Craftspeople in an interview on RTL said the declining demand would evoke a crisis in the construction sector.
TUESDAY 28 MARCH
The National Women’s Council has published an “Appeal to political parties” ahead of the general elections. The Council demands that political parties make the issue of gender equality a priority by implementing a “targeted and transversal approach”. This includes allocating more money to the ministry and creating a parliamentary committee in charge of gender equality policies. They further want politicians to support gender research and studies, introduce mandatory training for policy makers and administrative agents, as well as use more inclusive language.
Regular direct trains to Cologne are expected to resume in 2026 according to the director of the regional German rail network. Currently there is only one service per day that takes passengers to Cologne directly–a regional connection that takes 3 and 1/2 hours. However, in comments yesterday to the Volksfreund newspaper in Trier, the director said that necessary track work will be completed in three years. The journey should take around two hours once the works are complete.
Employees in Luxembourg appear more willing to compromise on work-life balance and flexibility compared to staff elsewhere according to a global workplace survey. The Workmonitor study conducted by recruiting firm Randstand found that fewer than half of respondents (46%) said they would refuse a job offer if it would negatively affect their work-life balance. This compared to 61% worldwide. The 20th edition of the survey, revealed that the vast majority of workers (78%) in the Grand Duchy attach great importance to being able to have flexible working hours.
Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume and Hereditary Grand Duchess Stéphanie welcomed a second son to their family yesterday. Prince François Henri Luis Marie Guillaume is third in line to Luxembourg’s grand ducal throne, behind father Guillaume and his older brother, Prince Charles, who celebrates his third birthday on 10 May. Both mother and baby are said to be doing well.
MONDAY 27 MARCH
Health Minister Paulette Lenert aims to end discrimination in access to blood donation, she said in an interview on RTL. Men who’ve had sex with other men within the past year are automatically excluded from blood donation. Lenert acknowledges this regulation as discriminatory. She said “the blood donour’s sexual orientation should not matter today, What’s problematic is risky sexual behaviour, which mainly refers to having multiple partners. Luxembourg’s law on blood donations is based on data that suggests same-sex intercourse exposes men to a higher risk of HIV infections, Red Cross Director Michel Simonis told RTL. Several European countries restrict access to blood donation in the same way. Last week, Germany made a step forward, and abolished the ban for sexually active gay men.
The Pirates party has filed a complaint against the Left party at the public prosecutor’s office. The Left party Dei Lenk allegedly violated the election law in the city of Luxembourg. The law forbids election campaigning by ringing at people’s doorbells. The Left Party denies having infringed the law. They say their campaign only aimed to inform non-Luxembourgish residents about their right to vote, not to win voters for the Left party.
The Luxembourg city council will vote on the ban of beggars in the city centre today. The vote is considered only a formality as the decision has already found approval. The Green party meanwhile opposes the ban of beggars saying it would infringe the European human rights convention. Several beggars told Tageblatt, they had no alternative to begging, even if such a ban was imposed. Tageblatt quoted a sociologist saying “You can’t forbid anyone to be poor.” Last week, the aldermanic college submitted the proposal to ban begging from 7am to 10pm in the city’s parks, public squares and certain streets.
FRIDAY 24 MARCH
Only 25% of the country’s workforce is Luxembourgish and half of the employees are cross-border workers according to STATEC. French workers remain the largest nationality of cross-border workers ahead of Germans and then Belgians. The number of employees overall increased 3.3% in the last year.
Related, Luxembourg manufacturing, construction and public works companies anticipate having hundreds of jobs available in the next two years according to business lobby group Fedil. In a report published yesterday, 765 employment offers are forecast for those with technical and production skills, as well as different academic backgrounds. The number of jobs made available by the industry increased this year by 51%.. French workers remain the largest nationality of cross-border workers ahead of Germans and then Belgians. The number of employees overall increased 3.3% in the last year.
Inflation, higher energy prices and more demand by people with special physical needs are raising the cost of public transportation according to Transport Minister Francois Bausch. Three years after Luxembourg started offering a free public transport scheme, it is budgeted to cost taxpayers €800 million this year.
The Chamber of Deputies unanimously voted in favour of scrapping all remaining Covid restrictions yesterday. It was pointed out that no fewer than 30 Covid laws had been passed within the Chamber over the past three years. Citizens can still wear masks if they wish, and should follow appropriate health measures in hospitals and care homes. The latest weekly report from the Ministry of Health saw the number of people positive for covid remaining practically stable, with seventeen people in hospital but none receiving intensive care.
Contraceptives will become free of charge from the start of April and women are to be reimbursed for the morning after pill without needing a prescription, the government has confirmed. CNS Luxembourg’s national health insurance currently reimburses 80% of the cost of a limited number of contraceptives for women, up to the age of 30, but from 1 April a long list of contraceptives will be reimbursed in full without an age limit.
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.