The view from the opposition benches of Xavier Bettel’s speech to parliament on 11 December 2018. MPs debate the government’s policy programme throughout Wednesday.
Photo: Nader Ghavami
MPs are set to debate prime minister Xavier Bettel’s speech to parliament on Tuesday in which he outlined the new government’s policy programme.
There were no surprises in Bettel’s address as he reiterated many of the points already spelled out in the coalition agreement published on 29 November. But there are plenty of policy points that opposition parties of all colours will take issue with during the debate on Wednesday.
Bettel said the broad outlines of government policy over the next five years will include “protecting our resources, maintaining and improving quality of life, a clear recognition of diversity, multilingualism and our heritage, our history and our language…”
He listed diversification of the economy, advances in digitalisation, and investment in mobility and infrastructure were fundamental goals of all three coalition parties.
Bettel said that the free public transport plan, which has made headlines around the world, will contribute to making Luxembourg more attractive. “Nobody arriving at the airport of station will have to ask how to buy a ticket [for public transport],” he said. But the prime minister also stressed that the free travel policy will be combined with an improvement in quality of service.
The government has also set targets of becoming a zero emissions country by 2030, of having 20% of its agriculture certified as organic by 2025 and to ban the use of glyphosate in pesticides by the end of 2020.
As our colleagues at Paperjam write, the CSV, Pirate Party and Déi Lénk all found fault with Bettel’s policy declaration. The new CSV parliamentary faction chief Martine Hansen said the speech lacked vision and detail and that there was nothing about how the government would finance its plans. Bettel had “talked about growth in his introduction, but then didn’t detail anything.”
Marc Baum of Déi Lénk said that the programme held few surprises and lacked real cohesion. “It is just a list of the specific wishes of the three coalition parties,” he said.
The new kid on the block, Sven Clement of the Pirate Party likened many of the headline making policies, such as free transport, free childcare and better equipped hospitals as a poisoned chalice. The government was assuming voters were immature, Clement added. “Instead of trusting families and giving them more resources…we are providing them with services in the form of benefits.”