Ioanna Schimizzi: What is your assessment of this parliamentary year?
Sven Clement: Covid-19 has taken up a lot of time and resources, but we’re quite happy with the way the health crisis was managed, even if the situation was sometimes difficult with agendas being changed at the last minute. We’ve also managed to talk about other very important issues such as housing and taxation. We are in the process of creating a real position on taxation in Luxembourg, so I think that actions are being taken. But it is true that Covid-19 is blocking certain actions that should be more urgent, such as climate protection, which in our opinion isn’t taken seriously enough.
Would you say that the government has managed the health crisis well since the beginning of the pandemic?
The government has done, together with the chamber, the right thing. We fought in the chamber for relief, for changes to certain provisions, which were not always done. But the government has taken up its responsibilities. Has it managed well or not? I think it depends on the ministerial jurisdiction: some have managed very well while others have not, like Corinne Cahen (DP).
The family affairs minister has blocked you on Twitter. How do you feel about that?
I find it infantile. It shows her lack of respect for elected representatives. I find it very problematic that she blocks elected representatives or journalists on a channel that serves as an information tool. We had asked for her resignation following her management of the crisis in the care homes, and this new affair on Twitter confirms to me that she should no longer be a minister.
In your parliamentary record, you put a lot of emphasis on transparency.
Yes, we think that in particular we need to make the committees public, to stream them live on the internet. We also need to set up a transparency register to list all the contacts, the common lobbies. Unfortunately, today, even though the CSV claims it wants public committee, it is partially blocking the transparency register, while the DP is blocking both issues. So the party that demands the most transparency publicly is also the one currently blocking that issue the most in the chamber.
You’re also calling for the establishment of a register of lobbies?
We need a real transparency register that lists all the contacts we have with external people or organisations that could influence our work in the chamber. This subject was already on the agenda, but unfortunately the CSV and DP forced it to be withdrawn.
We need to increase taxation for those who earn more than €500,000 per year.
17% of parliamentary questions come from your political party.
Yes: if there is a lack of transparency, we need to ask more questions. If the government communicates openly from the start, we ask fewer questions. If, on the other hand, they hide information, we ask more.
What do you see as the big issues for the new year?
I would say housing, the climate and taxation.
On the subject of taxation, what do you propose in the coming months?
We must reduce taxes for low-income earners, especially those in classes 1 and 1A. At higher levels, we need to start progressive rates earlier and increase taxation for those who earn more than €500,000 per year, which means adding a new level. It will also be necessary to create a negative carbon tax, in the form of a tax credit, which would be reduced according to co2 consumption.
Is the revision of the constitution an important issue for you?
The changes we’re going to make are rather minor. Let’s say we’ll touch up the constitution a bit, but it’s not the big reform that was initially announced. It’s not really an issue that will take precedence—it would have deserved a referendum on a few specific issues, but unfortunately the government didn’t have the courage to do that.
This article was originally published in Paperjam. It has been translated and edited for Delano.