August 1, 2021

Free transport, cannabis, ecology and salaries in the Luxembourg agenda

Free transport, cannabis, ecology and salaries in the Luxembourg agenda

Luxembourg, the richest country in the European Union, faces the second term of the liberal Xavier Bettel leading a coalition with socialists and environmentalists and an agenda that includes free public transport, the legalization of cannabis, an increase in the minimum wage and an environmental impulse

"It is an ambitious and modern program", Bettel has defined the agreement for the next five years of government, which will start next Monday after having appointed the ministers of the so-called "Gambia coalition", by the colors of the flag of that African country and the Luxemburgish parties that support it.

After a successful first term between 2013 and 2018, the prime minister wants to continue with his progressive agenda in this country whose population does not reach 600,000 inhabitants and a GDP per capita that the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) places in $ 104,027, along with other small opulent states like Qatar, Singapore, Monaco or Macao.

In 2013, and with only 40 years, Bettel came to power by undoing with parliamentary arithmetic the now president of the European Commission, the conservative Jean-Claude Juncker, who had led the country for the past 18 years at the helm of the CSV, the Christian Democrat party He has won all elections since World War II except for those of 1974.

In its first mandate, Bettel approved the homosexual marriage and in 2015 it married with the Belgian architect Gauthier Destenay, that accompanies to him like consorte in official acts.

He left this record of the new airs that he wanted to breathe into a country with an economy that in the nineties was abandoning the steel industry as a growth engine to focus on the thriving financial sector, which in 2016 represented 26% of its gross domestic product (GDP ).

As in the 2013 elections, the Conservatives were the most voted force last October, but Bettel, now 45, has revalidated its tight coalition government with 31 of the 60 seats in Parliament (12 for the Liberals , 10 for the socialists and 9 for the ecologists).

The new Executive will have 17 ministers (6 liberals, 6 socialists and 5 ecologists) and two deputy prime ministers, although there will only be five women in the Cabinet, less than a third of the Government.

Among the most striking measures of its program is a commitment to transport that helps Luxembourg comply with the emissions reduction commitments of the Paris Agreement against climate change.

Since last August, children under 20 do not pay for transportation in Luxembourg, but the Grand Duchy now wants to become the first State in the world to extend free trains, buses and trams to the whole population and throughout the territory for 2020.

This is one of the star measures of a government also willing to raise taxes on fuel in 2019, although there is still no date or amount for a tax similar to that which has unleashed in neighboring France the wave of protests from the " yellow vests ".

Before, the Executive of Luxembourg wants to analyze how it would affect the so-called "gas station tourism", in reference to the German and French drivers who cross the border to refuel in the Grand Duchy, where filling a deposit of 50 liters is currently about 5 euros more cheap than in France.

Nearly 200,000 working in Luxembourg reside in neighboring countries such as France or Germany and cross the border each morning to contribute to the productive apparatus of a country of only 2,586 square kilometers that will close 2018 with a GDP advance of 3.1%, a unemployment rate of 5.3%, a deficit of 1.3% and a debt of 21.4%, according to the estimates of the European Commission.

Another initiative of the Government, focused on reducing inequalities, involves increasing the minimum wage by 100 euros net per month as of January 1, 2019 over the minimum threshold of 2,048 euros gross for workers without qualification and 2,458 for the most trained In addition, two more days of holidays will be agreed.

The Bettel Executive also wants to "decriminalize, or even legalize (…) production in the national territory as well as the purchase, possession and consumption of recreational cannabis for the personal use of residents of legal age", an initiative It will take time because it has the strong opposition of conservative CSV and ADR formations.


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