Xavier Bettel on Tuesday referred to a “crucial phase” for the future of Luxembourg in his state of the nation address.
Photo: Nader Ghavami
Xavier Bettel gave a state of the nation address on Tuesday afternoon in which he talked about recent government changes, pressing environmental and social concerns and Brexit.
Addressing members of parliament, the DP prime minister began his speech by expressing the difficulty of talking about the current state of affairs.
“It’s hard to talk about the prospects at a time when someone who has worked on the priorities for years to come cannot be with us,” he said, referring to stricken former justice minister Félix Braz (déi gréng) as not only a friend and ally but a “vital part of the foundation” which had enabled the coalition’s and Luxembourg’s success. Bettel wished him the best in his return to health. He also wished Henri Kox (déi gréng) well in his new role.
Tackling climate change
Bettel referred to the recently released United Nations International Panel on Climate Change climate report, adding that what was shocking is “even the most favourable scenario has extreme consequences for life on the planet”, but also cited Luxembourg’s spate of flooding and severe weather as part of the “phenomena that show that the climate has changed dramatically in recent years and decades.”
But we have a choice, he said, adding that the government was determined to reach goals set for Luxembourg such as greenhouse gas emission reduction of 50-55% by 2030 (compared to 2005) and increasing renewable energy by up to 25% in the next decade. Whether through expanded public transport and e-mobility and an anticipated boost in photovoltaics, Luxembourg may be doing its part but, Bettel added with a “certain frustration…the future does not depend solely on us, not on us in Luxembourg and not on us as a member of the EU.” It will require not only China and the US to be on board, but also for the more developed countries to lend a hand for those countries undergoing economic development.
Bettel also referred to the automotive campus in Bissen as a “concrete initiative taken by the government to give industry a place where brand new technologies can be developed into infrastructure that meet the criteria of the circular economy”. He further acknowledged concerns that the Google project in Bissen will have a large impact on resources, but that it should be rolled out and “operate as energy efficiently as possible”. The coalition is working on a climate protection law to achieve its goals.
Preparing for Brexit
Bettel took the occasion to reiterate his thoughts on how a no-deal Brexit was not what Luxembourg wanted, adding in no uncertain terms that he didn’t want another last-minute agreement.
“I have not yet given up hope of a Brexit agreement; I believe, however, that the main emphasis in the coming days and weeks will be that our country and its economy are best prepared for a no-deal Brexit.”
Bettel also emphasised that he wanted British citizens in Luxembourg to have “as much security and stability as possible”.
Data and security
While touting some of the advantages of data processing--in the medical field, for example--Bettel also added that "the mass of data and effort that has to be made must be tailored for the purpose". Although there is a clear legal framework and guidance from the CNPD, management of databases nevertheless could be improved.
The midyear budget had been healthy, with a €869m surplus, and deposits have risen by a mere 2.8% or €250m. Bettel added that €2.6bn had been earmarked for investment this year--over €1bn more than in 2013--but that Luxembourg had to be prepared for the future as well. He cited not only the 20% population increase over the past decade but also the strain on local infrastructure and roads, even referring to traffic jams and waiting times. To continue preparing Luxembourg to meet such demands, for the first time the level of investment in the multi-annual budget foreseen in 2023 would rise to over €3bn.
MPs will react in the coming days to Bettel's state of the nation address.