“Dear candidates, here are everyone’s wishlists for the election!”
Ahead of the legislative elections on 8 October, many organisations have published lists of demands, suggestions and priorities. In earlier articles we have grouped these together by professional organisations and (French version only) civil organisations.
In this article, we’ve gathered together those issues most frequently cited.
Housing and VAT
Unsurprisingly, housing is on more lips than any other issue: ten out of 15 professional organisations and six out of 16 civil organisations mention it.
The Luxembourg Employers’ Union (UEL) suggests that building 100,000 homes by 2040 would address many of the 14 other issues it raises. The Chamber of Commerce, meanwhile, breaks housing into five proposals, including lowering VAT. That suggestion, in fact, is among those cited most: besides the chamber, it is also mentioned by the FDA, Horesca and the Luxembourg Confederation. Two other recurring ideas: make it easier for companies to build houses for their employees, and strengthen public/private partnerships.
For their part, civil organisations are worried about speculation (mentioned by Caritas, the OGBL trade union and the Luxembourg Consumers’ Union) and the availability of affordable or social housing. Caritas in particular is calling for the reintroduction of the super-reduced VAT rate of 3% for affordable and low-cost housing construction projects.
Talent, flexibility and training
Several professional organisations want measures taken to attract certain skill profiles to Luxembourg. Eleven of them mention it as a primary (top-three) concern. More specifically, the UEL, the Chamber of Commerce, the FDA, Fedil and the banking association ABBL say that a strategy of fiscal leverage could address the lack, felt in some industries, of job candidates with certain skillsets.
Among the civil organisations, Syvicol--the association of cities and communes--would like policies that facilitate the recruitment of competent staff in the municipalities. The Ecological Movement (Meco), meanwhile, wants to “ensure the retraining of those whose jobs are threatened.”
Regarding flexible working hours, professional organisations including the UEL, the Chamber of Commerce, the Luxembourg Confederation, the Chamber of Skilled Trades and Crafts, the FDA, Fedil and the ABBL are all calling for more flexibility. However, when it comes to overall working time, not all of these bodies say the same thing: the Chamber of Commerce, the Luxembourg Confederation and the ABBL want no reduction in working hours, while Fedil is actually calling for an increase in working time. On the other side of the spectrum are employee unions the OGBL and the LCGB, both of which want a reduction in working hours.
The issue that appears to most unite people is training. Nine out of 15 professional organisations mention a desire both for more basic training--from apprenticeships in the craft industry to training in medicine, new technologies and sustainable finance--as well as for better access to continuing training.
Several civil organisations also mentioned training, with Caritas calling for a wider range of vocational training opportunities, the OGBL for a right to continuing education and the LCGB for more apprenticeships and training. The Idea Fondation devotes a chapter of its collection of proposals to “education and labour needs,” while Médecins du Monde is seeking training options specifically for the care of vulnerable people and Meco for education in sustainability. For its part, Syvicol discusses the role of local authorities in education.
Sustainable and digital transitions
Of Fedil’s 53 proposals, nine are devoted to the energy transition and five to environmental protection; the business federation wants “intelligent incentives for environmental protection” rather than “restrictions and penalties.” The Luxembourg Confederation suggests a “super-tax deduction for investments to support environmental and energy transition activities.” The Chamber of Commerce offers five proposals for using a “business-friendly network” to accelerate the ecological and energy transitions, while Horesca, for its part, urges us “not to focus solely on green energy.” The ABBL is interested in a digital register for the energy efficiency of the buildings used by banks and notaries.
Regarding the digital transition, the Chamber of Commerce offers five proposals under the heading “laying the foundations for a competitive and innovative data-driven economy.” Fedil has thrown eight proposals under a similar category, “digitalisation and innovation.” The hospital federation (FHL) focuses on the digitalisation of healthcare as a way of reducing administrative burdens and facilitating patient care. Cybersecurity is mentioned by the Chamber of Skilled Crafts and Trades, among others.
The civil organisations take a different tone here, particularly regarding sustainability. For Meco, the vast majority of its 40 proposals relate to the environment (versus Fedil’s 14 out of 53). Caritas is pushing for a 65% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and targeted measures to combat fuel poverty, as well as a higher CO2 tax on fossil fuels. SOS Faim supports financial compensation for countries in the global south following the harmful consequences of our lifestyles here in the global north. The ULC’s proposals include, among others, aid for households in reducing their ecological impact and a guarantee of the circularity of consumer goods.
In terms of digitalisation, Caritas sets out five measures for “reducing the digital divide and implementing sustainable digitalisation,” while Syvicol talks about digitalisation of municipal administration.
Other big issues
Many of the specific requests made by professional organisations concern the attractiveness of the business world and entrepreneurship. One of these is unanimously supported: to enhance the status of the self-employed. The UEL, the Chamber of Commerce, the Chamber of Trades, the Luxembourg Confederation, Fedil, Horesca and the FTI have all devoted a few lines to this topic.
The Chamber of Commerce, the ABBL and the Luxembourg Confederation want to review the indexation system, a move opposed by the trade unions.
On the civil organisations’ side, many requests relate to purchasing power. Here again, tax reform is a recurring topic. Caritas believes it should be directed towards “greater social justice,” while the LCGB believes it should be “in favour of low and medium salaries.” The ULC is calling for class 1A to be abolished (and those affected to be reclassified as class 2) and for the tax scale to be brought into line with inflation. Revision of class 1A appears on the OGBL agenda too, while the Idea Fondation also talks about the indexation of tax scales.
Other recurring issues among the civil organisations include poverty reduction and better access to healthcare; the professional organisations tended to discuss public finances, pensions and administrative simplification.
This article was originally published in Paperjam. It has been translated and edited for Delano.