Politics weekly: Nato space project, whistleblowers, Iran

Defence minister and deputy premier François Bausch at a Nato ministers meeting on 14 and 15 February, where Luxembourg helped jumpstart the organisation’s biggest space project to date. Photo: MAEE

Defence minister and deputy premier François Bausch at a Nato ministers meeting on 14 and 15 February, where Luxembourg helped jumpstart the organisation’s biggest space project to date. Photo: MAEE

Luxembourg this week became one of 16 Nato allies to launch the organisation’s largest space project, with funding from the country laying the foundation of the initiative. This and other news are summed up in our roundup of headlines and the stories that didn’t hit the front page.

What’s the big deal?

Luxembourg was one of 16 Nato allies this week to launch the group’s largest space project to date, the Alliance Persistent Surveillance from Space (APSS). Finland and Sweden are also joining the initiative, which was presented during a Nato meeting on 15 February.

“Luxembourg’s early contribution of €16.5m has laid the groundwork for this transformative initiative,” a Nato press release said. It will bring together commercial and national space assets, such as satellites, to streamline data collection, sharing and analysis among Nato allies. The APSS project forms part of Nato’s space policy adopted in 2019.

Luxembourg in 2018 launched the GovSat-1 satellite, which provides capacity to Nato as part of a public private partnership, and is set to launch Luxeosys, an Earth observation satellite.

Top stories on Delano

·      Luxembourg found itself in trouble with the European Commission this week after failing to meet a deadline to transpose a whistleblower protection directive into national law by a December 2021 deadline. The government in January 2022 submitted a draft law to parliament but the Chamber of Deputies is yet to vote on the document. The commission has now referred the matter to the Court of Justice of the European Union.

The state council just before Christmas last year submitted its opinion, which is required for the document to move forward. The council issued several formal oppositions, its highest sanction, which means the document must be reworked. The council on several occasions said the law does not fully transpose the directive and called for more precise wording to prevent any legal uncertainty and too much room for interpretation.

·      In more whistleblower news, the European Court of Human Rights this week ruled that Luxembourg must pay one of the Luxleaks whistleblowers, Raphaël Halet, €55,000 in damages and to cover legal expenses. Halet wasn’t recognised a whistleblower by Luxembourg’s courts and fined €1,000 for disclosing company documents. The human rights court in Strasbourg, however, recognised his whistleblower status.

·      It's time for a tripartite… again. As inflation continues at a high level and with two further indexation payments foreseen this year to match salaries to price increases, social partners are set to meet again on 3 March, with trade unions and business groups already making their demands, which the government will have to bring into some form of agreement.

Graph of the week

Diplomatic relations

The foreign ministry this week said it is actively engaged in work underway in Brussels to determine sanctions against Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), which was recognised as a terrorist organisation by the European Parliament in January. The EU’s executive is now reviewing the parliament’s resolution.

The ministry in a statement said that it takes the demands by the people of Iran and the Iranian community in Luxembourg very seriously and condemns the human rights violations committed by the country’s regime.

In other news

Former justice minister Félix Braz (déi Gréng) has lost a legal challenge to his sacking from the government after suffering a heart attack in 2019. Braz in 2021 filed a complaint for unfair dismissal but a court this week threw out the case. Braz has said he intends to appeal the decision.

Next week, a housing meet of policy makers and industry players should help set out ways forward out of Luxembourg’s housing crisis, including progress on a controversial rent reform law