Fedil president Michèle Detaille, seen speaking at the industry federation's AGM in 2019, wants legislation to introduce shorter deadlines when companies apply to build manufacturing facilities in the grand duchy.
Photo: Matic Zorman/Maison Moderne (archives)
Soon after news broke that the Fage group had officially pulled the plug on its plans to build a yogurt production plant in Bettembourg-Dudelange, the president of Fedil, Michèle Detaille, spoke of her disappointment.
Nicolas Léonard: Fage will not build a factory in the Wolser industrial zone, which stradles the municipalities of Dudelange and Bettembourg. This is a second blow following the decision by Knauf [a glasswool insulation manufacturer] not to set up in the grand duchy. And ill winds are swirling around the Google project in Bissen. Does industry still have a future in this country?
Michèle Detaille: Fage’s decision is obviously a bad sign for industry. But it’s not the death of the industrial sector either. There will still be new investors and new projects.
Who is responsible for the death of the project?
The way in which this issue has been handled by the minister of the environment and the environmental administration is contrary to the interests of the country, and even unethical. It is not up to this department to say who should establish business here or not. This is an abuse of power. The Fage dossier has gone on for far too long and does not reflect the government’s opinion, as signalled in the coalition agreement.
The ministry of the environment was solely responsible for studying the 900 pages of the planning permission file and its notice was to follow. The minister did say that she was not personally in favour of it, but that correct legislation would be applied…
But that’s a well-known tactic. The contractors go to the officials with their projects, and they are told that to receive a “yes” we will have to change this, that, improve this…These are pure delaying tactics. Promoters do it and file, and then all of a sudden it drags on for years and the final answer is “no”.
It often involves the loss of a lot of money, but also a lot of time. What’s to be done?
Fedil and its lawyers are working on a proposal to reduce the deadlines in a case like this to no more than 6 months. And don’t tell me that I’m dreaming: France, which is hardly renowned for its administrative flexibility, has just reduced its deadlines for certain cases. In the country with responsive access, like Luxembourg, we should be able to do better!
Are you disappointed?
I am shocked, disappointed and angry. Absolutely no consideration has been given to the interests of the country, the fact that companies are closing and are going to continue close....that’s unacceptable. It is time to understand that manufacturers are competent, courageous people who are part of the country’s [economic] equilibrium.
The outcome of the Fage case is a bad blow, in every sense of the word.