For Luc Frieden, the CSV's programme combines the economy, social responsibility and sustainability. Photo: Guy Wolff/Maison Moderne

For Luc Frieden, the CSV's programme combines the economy, social responsibility and sustainability. Photo: Guy Wolff/Maison Moderne

With the local elections barely over, the CSV on Monday presented the broad outlines of its campaign programme, the details of which will be announced at the end of the month. Luc Frieden, the party’s candidate for prime minister, spoke to Delano’s sister publication Paperjam about the CSV’s philosophy and priorities.

Marc Fassone: Yesterday [19 June] you announced your for the legislative elections. What is the philosophy behind this framework?

: It’s a programme that combines the economy, social responsibility and sustainability without putting one of these issues above the others. We want a balance that enables people to live better together.

Reducing the tax burden, increasing the supply of housing, supporting young families, making businesses more competitive, increasing the use of renewable energies and improving access to healthcare are the key elements in ensuring this coherence between the economy, social responsibility and sustainability.

You use the term “living together.” Do you think that society is fragmented or in the process of fragmenting?

Society is fragmenting, mainly because of the housing problem. So it’s absolutely essential that current policy is fundamentally changed. People also need to have more net income to live on, not only to be able to repay loans or pay rent, but also to cope with the rising cost of everyday living.

I would add that the growing insecurity is also partly the result of the fragmentation of society. Security must also be a priority for the next government if we are to continue to live together in harmony, both materially and physically.

Within the construction perimeter additional impact studies are putting too much of a brake on construction.
Luc Frieden

Luc Friedenhead of the CSV national list

Housing is one of your priorities. Among your proposals is speeding up procedures by limiting administrative obstacles, including environmental impact studies. Isn’t this quite controversial for a large part of the electorate that is sensitive to the issue of sustainable development?

The housing crisis is an absolute priority. If we want to solve it, we have to be prepared to make choices. We believe that within the construction perimeter--i.e., where the communes have decided that building is possible--additional impact studies are putting too much of a brake on construction. There should be no compensation measures within the perimeter.

And we also believe that we need to build a little higher and a little denser within the major urban areas. Sustainable development is not in contradiction with these objectives if we take action in terms of building materials, energy and mobility.

In my view, increasing supply, including through tax measures, is the key to solving the housing problem.

This political determination, particularly on the issue of housing, will have a cost for public finances. How can you reconcile lower taxes and higher spending to finance your priorities?

We believe that lowering taxes for both individuals and companies leads to an increase in economic activity. If you cut taxes for individuals, they will consume more. If you cut taxes for businesses--and in particular if you allow them to make tax allowances to support the ecological and digital transition--they will become more competitive.

And so, with more consumption and more investment, the country will be more attractive and therefore more tax will be paid. This is the underlying logic of our public finance project.

Less tax creates more activity. It’s a frame of reference that may have been relevant in recent years. But against a backdrop of rising inflation and interest rates, is it still relevant?

Our programme covers the next five years. And it is highly likely that inflation will return to a lower level by then. I really believe that, in particular, the tax measures to encourage housing, but also the energy renovation of existing buildings, will encourage the emergence of new activities from which the trades industry and the country’s entire economic fabric will benefit.

We want to make Luxembourg the capital of sustainable finance.
Luc Frieden

Luc Friedenhead of the CSV national list

Higher spending combined with lower taxes leads to higher debt. Is debt destined to become a way of financing the budget? And where do you set the debt limit?

Our guiding principle is to maintain our triple-A rating. And in the current circumstances, we believe that the debt ratio should remain at around 30% of GDP so as not to jeopardise it. The upward curve of debt must be stopped.

Additional debt should be limited to major challenges such as the construction of subsidised housing or the development of renewable energies, which are capital expenditure over a limited period. Debt must not be used to finance the state’s day-to-day activities.

Will you be drawing up a comprehensive tax reform?

Tax reform is urgent. It’s in our programme and it must cover all the subjects I’ve mentioned, both for individuals and for legal entities. For legal entities, it mainly involves the super-deduction for investments in the environmental and digital transition and reducing the rate of corporate tax to bring it into line with the OECD average.

For individuals, taxation should start later and increase less quickly. Special tax measures are also needed for young people starting work. Finally, more support should be given to single parents and widows or widowers by extending the period for changing tax class following divorce or the death of a partner from three to six years.

The subscription tax is widely rejected in the financial sector. Do you intend to abolish it or keep it?

We want to abolish it for all funds that invest in ESG products. We want to make Luxembourg the capital of sustainable finance.

Artificial intelligence is the social issue of the moment. Some see it as a risk for jobs, others as an opportunity. What is your position on the subject?

I’m always open to technological developments. I always see opportunities before I see risks. It’s up to those who govern to manage the risks. But under no circumstances should we block technological developments. And that goes for artificial intelligence just as it does for the various sources of renewable energy. You have to be open to everything if you want a country to evolve.

And that’s why I want to go further when it comes to digitisation. We want the state to make a great leap forward in this area.

This interview with was first published in French on . It has been translated and edited for Delano.