Politics weekly: due diligence, CNS reimbursement, youth delinquency

Prime minister Xaiver Bettel seated next to Google CEO Thomas Kurian during a meeting on his whistle-stop tour of tech companies in California this week. Photo: ME

Prime minister Xaiver Bettel seated next to Google CEO Thomas Kurian during a meeting on his whistle-stop tour of tech companies in California this week. Photo: ME

While prime minister Xavier Bettel and deputy premier François Bausch were both on visits to the US this week, activists in Luxembourg called for stricter due diligence rules after the disappearance of two human rights advocates in Mexico in a case linked to a firm based in the grand duchy.

These and other bite-sized politics news are rounded up in this Friday’s edition of Politics weekly.

Top stories:

-       Human rights activists in Luxembourg this week renewed calls for due diligence legislation after a grand duchy-based company was tied to the disappearance of two activists in Mexico earlier this year.

-       The environment ministry this week said that Luxembourg met its 2021 emissions targets. A closer look at different sectors, however, reveals that industry but also buildings and waste management still exceeded their carbon budget.

-       The data centre in Bissen is no longer a top priority for Google, prime minister Xavier Bettel (DP) said during a visit to the US during which he met with executives of Google’s parent company Alphabet.


-       While the national health fund (CNS) since February is reimbursing psychotherapy sessions, people seeing a psychologist still have to pay out of pocket. A debate in parliament based on a public petition failed to reach a concrete result, with social security minister Claude Haagen (LSAP) saying there is no legal framework to base the reimbursement on.

-       Another petition debated in parliament this week said that unlimited cash payments should be possible. While finance minister Yuriko Backes (DP) said there is no intention to abolish cash payments--and businesses can be fined for not accepting cash without reason--some limitations have to be in place because of anti-money laundering rules.

-       Parliament this week began talks on the role of its president--roughly the equivalent to the speaker of the house--after accusations by opposition parties that Fernand Etgen (DP) is more lenient towards members of the coalition parties, for example in case of disturbances or breaking speaking rules. The chamber’s statutes are now set to be updated to formalise the impartiality and neutrality of the office.

-       Members of parliament adopted new conduct rules, which mean they cannot accept gifts worth more than €150 and must declare all gifts received during foreign visits. MPs cannot enter into any agreements or promises that impact their work in parliament nor accept any financial or other benefit that compromises their mandate.

-       The ombudsman for children and youth (Okaju) this week said a youth justice reform should pass before the summer break. The reform has been in the making since 2018 but risks delay if it isn’t voted before the October election. Under the proposal, minors can no longer be incarcerated together with adults, and will be tried in civil proceedings rather than under criminal law. The Okaju largely welcomed the changes but said the age of criminal responsibility should not be lowered from 14 to 13.



-       The Luxembourg City branch of the LSAP this week demanded lowering the speed limit to 30km/h across the capital’s residential districts and in the city centre, saying this would reduce CO2 and noise pollution and make the streets safer.

-       The ULC consumer group this week threw its support behind a tax reform as part of its election demands. It said a reform should help alleviate the burden for single parents in particular but also other single households.

-       The CID Fraen an Gender, a women’s rights group, also published a wide-ranging list of demands for policy-makers in the next election, including better representation of women in politics, improved women’s health care, birth leave for both parents, lower tax burden for single parents and more affordable housing. Delano will report more on this story.

International relations

-       Deputy prime minister and defence minister François Bausch (déi Gréng) is in the US this week. During meeting, he re-emphasised Luxembourg’s willingness to increase its defence spending--due to reach 1% of GDP by 2028--but also that the country would not meet a 2% of GDP Nato spending pledge. Bausch, who is also transport minister, also met with transport secretary Pete Buttigieg to discuss infrastructure investment and green mobility.

In other news

Grand Duke Henri this week responded to allegations of misconduct by his wife, Grand Duchess Maria Teresa, who reportedly insulted staff during preparations for their daughter Princess Alexandra’s wedding in April. The grand duke on the sidelines of a visit to Latvia said the reports weren’t 100% accurate and also denied a follow-up meeting scheduled with the prime minister. The prime minister’s office, however, contradicted this statement and confirmed that a meeting was indeed on the premier’s agenda.