Deputy Prime Minister François Bausch was a guest on RTL Radio on Saturday afternoon.
Reacting to the third 'Marche Blanche' protest against the coronavirus measures on Friday, Deputy PM Bausch stressed that it is not the government's intention to pressure anyone into doing something. Bausch stated that while he could understand the concerns of the protesters, he does not agree with them. Based on scientific facts, Bausch explained, it is both evident that vaccination protects against developing a severe course of the disease, and that hospitals are not at risk of being overwhelmed once a majority of the population is vaccinated. According to the Deputy PM, the government decided to expand the CovidCheck system because of the upcoming winter season. As with every respiratory disease, the coronavirus will spread more quickly because people spend more time indoors.
For Bausch, the rules that will enter into force on Tuesday are still a "compromise" because an unvaccinated person cannot ask a vaccinated person to accept additional restrictions because the hospitals are once again overwhelmed. Bausch also argued that people should remain "reasonable", seeing as restrictions have generally been less severe in Luxembourg compared to other countries.
Positive political visions
Another topic of discussion was Prime Minister Xavier Bettel's state of the nation speech from Tuesday. Regarding the topic of climate policy, Bausch acknowledged that when it comes the consumption of fossil energies, Luxembourg is "far from where we want to be". However, the Deputy PM also stressed that the government has made some efforts, particularly in the area of renewable energies. Bausch rejects the criticism that the government lacks the courage to effectively fight climate change, stating that "if you ask ten people whether we should protect the climate, all ten will say 'yes'. But if you then present your first two ideas of what you want to do, only six or seven of the ten will still say 'yes', and depending on where you are, only one or two, with eight people saying 'no'".
For this reason, Bausch explained that he prefers to discuss the advantages a sustainable lifestyle can bring. The Deputy PM applies the same reasoning to the 'growth trap', i.e. the fact that for every pensioner, Luxembourg needs to create 2.5 new jobs. Bausch stressed that the only way to mobilise people is to offer "positive political visions", adding that this is also why he refuses to draft "anti-car policies" and prefers to campaign for "a different, better mobility". Bausch, who also serves as Minister for Mobility, announced that he intends to present a new mobility plan for the next 14 years by January 2022. The Minister plans to organise "several town hall meetings" ahead of the presentation of the new plan.
Housing and taxes
Bausch thinks that housing and taxes are likely to be the two major topics of the national elections in two years. The Deputy PM voiced his support for a "balanced" property tax, stressing that a person's primary residence should be exempt from it. Bausch is also in favour of increasing taxes on surplus values and is thus in agreement with the government's other Deputy PM, Dan Kersch. Bausch explained that, for example, if a property owner is suddenly able to build six floors instead of two because of a change in the General Development Plan (PAG), this would generate a "colossal" surplus value, with the owner having no merit in creating that value. The fact that taxes on such surplus value are so low is "not normal", according to Bausch. Another thing that the Deputy PM finds "not normal" is that citizens have so many ways of appealing against construction projects. Bausch stated that property developer Marc Giorgetti is completely right when he says that there are more procedures to build something than to fly to the moon. However, Bausch rejects the argument that the issue solely lies with the Ministry for the Environment, stating that the biggest problem is that citizens have the option to appeal at various stages of a construction project. While citizens should have the right to appeal, they should not be able to do so "four, five, six, seven times", according to the Deputy PM.
Finally, Bausch reiterated his decision to not be a part of the next government following the 2023 elections. However, he will still be a candidate for the Green Party and stated that he would be delighted if he were able to re-join the Chamber of Deputies as an MP.