Politics weekly: Tax promise, corruption index, cultural heritage

The finance ministry has opened the door to introducing additional tax relief for households, but the OGBL labour union has said what’s needed is proper reform Photo: Matic Zorman / Maison Moderne

The finance ministry has opened the door to introducing additional tax relief for households, but the OGBL labour union has said what’s needed is proper reform Photo: Matic Zorman / Maison Moderne

In this week’s roundup of politics news from Luxembourg, Delano looks at indexation and a promise for tax relief measures by the finance minister, a petition to better protect Luxembourg’s cultural heritage and a new nature protection plan.

Catch up on these and other stories in our bite-sized summary of some of the week’s top stories and those that didn’t hit the headlines.

Top stories on Delano

·      Finance minister Yuriko Backes promised some tax relief for Luxembourg households after state finances fared better in 2022 than expected. The OGBL labour union, however, said a thorough tax reform was needed to ensure households have more net income in their pockets. A fresh round of indexation will be paid out from February, but the OGBL said that little of the money ends up in people’s bank accounts as tax brackets aren’t adjusted for inflation.

·      Corruption is a Luxembourg “blind spot”, Transparency International said as the country lost four points in an annual ranking and slipped from ninth to tenth place out of 180 countries assessed. Of particular concern is the close relationship between business and politics, a lack of rules on revolving doors and freedom on information laws.

·      The government is boosting its nature protection spending. While a 2017-2021 nature protection plan came with a €94.5m price tag, the follow-up edition with a horizon to 2030 will cost €790m to implement.

From parliament

·      A petition demanding a better protection of Luxembourg’s architectural heritage reached more than 4,500 signatures, required for the document to be debated in parliament. Luxembourg last year updated its cultural heritage laws, including obligations to create an inventory of historic buildings in all communes. But the petitions argue that too much is still being destroyed.

·      Another petition could be of particular interest for expat readers, as it demands fast access to Luxembourg’s labour market for accompanying spouses. The petition is open for signature for another 25 days.

·      After a decision by the Court of Justice of the European Union last year to restrict access to the register of beneficial owners, the justice ministry is working on a new legal framework for the Luxembourg database. Justice minister Sam Tanson (déi Gréng) said national authorities, banks, financial establishments, notaries and bailiffs would have access. Journalists can receive access upon request.

Tweet of the week

Diplomatic relations

·      Foreign minister Jean Asselborn (LSAP) this week chaired a special partnership meeting between Cape Verde and the EU. Asselborn and the Cape Verdean minister, Rui Figueiredo Soares, discussed projects in sustainable development, infrastructure, transport and commerce, but also the covid-19 pandemic and crisis response readiness.

·      Luxembourg in April will be hosting a conference on autonomous weapons systems. “This international public conference aims to raise awareness on the topic and offer all stakeholders a platform to discuss the risks and challenges associated with the use of autonomous weapons system,” a press release said. Luxembourg is planning to build expertise in surveillance and reconnaissance as part of plans to increase its military spending but the drones in its fleet have so far been unarmed.

·      The European Commission on Thursday travelled to Ukraine. President Ursula von der Leyen was joined by 15 commissioners on a trip to Kyiv to meet with president Volodymyr Zelensky and members of his government. Luxembourg commissioner Nicolas Schmit, who oversees jobs and social rights, was part of the team. The commission said the visit is a “strong symbol” of support and would provide an opportunity to discuss the country’s pathway to EU membership.

In other news

Luxembourg exceeded an EU target to cut the use of fossil gas by 15% by reducing consumption by 25.5% in January compared to a five-year average from 2017 to 2022. Electricity consumption dropped 9.56%.

Coming up next week is a debate in parliament and the investment strategy of Luxembourg’s pension fund and how it can become greener and more sustainable.