Your Weekly Recap for 27 - 31 March.

Here's 5 things you should know about at the end of this week:

  • Rents are soaring on Luxembourg's housing market
  • Luxembourg is not yet banning TikTok on government devices
  • With the new indexation, the minimum wage will surpass the €3,000 mark
  • Russia's invasion exposed the West's 'double standards' towards human rights abuses
  • Trump is the first US president to face criminal charges

Important as well: Here's what will change on 1 April

5 things you should know Top Five Stories in Luxembourg this week: 1. Rents in Luxembourg are soaring 2. No TikTok bans for Luxembourg government officials 3. New minimum wage standards 4. West’s Double Standard for Russia 5. Trump becomes first US President to be indicted #luxembourgnews #weeklyrecap #luxembourg🇱🇺 #luxembourgtiktok #news ♬ original sound - RTL Today Radio Luxembourg

© Maxime Gonzales/ RTL Luxembourg

1. Rents are soaring on Luxembourg's housing market

Diminished purchasing power - With interest rates and sales prices continuing their upward trend and buyers seeing their purchasing power diminish, many residents have no choice but to turn to renting despite soaring prices or even moving across the border.

Housing market in 'free fall' - Luxembourgish developers have sounded the alarm about the construction sector, warning that "political decision-makers are not aware" of the urgency of the situation.

Compared to the fourth quarter of 2021, activities have decreased by 48%. According to the Federation of Craftspeople, half of all construction companies still have work for the next three months, but after that no more projects are planned.

Normally 3,500 houses are built per year in Luxembourg. This year there will only be 2,000.

Most concerning increase - It is on the rent front that figures are most concerning. According to the Observatory, rents have risen by 8% over the last twelve months "with a particular increase of 2.1% in the fourth quarter alone". This increase exceeds the one observed on the sales market (+5.6%), but also that of consumer prices (+6%).

Read also: Has the tripartite agreement increased the offer of the Social Rental Management?  Property market booming in France's Moselle department


© Unsplash

2. Luxembourg is not yet banning TikTok on government devices

  • After the US, the European institutions have banned the download and use of the social network TikTok on the work devices of their staff. 

  • For the time being, Luxembourg will not follow the EU's lead.

  • Minister for Digitalisation Xavier Bettel said that "the government continues to closely follow the reflections and concerns about data security regarding the TikTok app."

Still cautious Bettel went on to say that the Grand Duchy has joined other Member States in requesting additional information from the European Commission.

"I don't ban TikTok just because it's Chinese. But if I have evidence that something is wrong, I will ban it," said Bettel during last week's EU summit.

What's happening? - TikTok, whose parent company ByteDance is Chinese, has faced increasing Western scrutiny in recent months over fears about how much access Beijing has to user data. In November, the company admitted some staff in China can access the data of European users.

The ban means European Commission staff cannot use the video-sharing app on work devices and personal devices, such as phones, that have official EU email and communication apps installed.

The United States banned the app from federal government devices last year, and some US lawmakers are trying to prohibit TikTok from operating in the United States.

TikTok is disappointed - A spokesperson for TikTok said that they "believe this suspension is misguided and based on fundamental misconceptions".

Since then TikTok stressed it protects the data of 125 million users monthly in the European Union on its app and was taking steps to strengthen data security, as well as building data storage centres in Europe.

In the past - The European Union has taken a tough line on technology companies, passing two major laws to make sure social media platforms adhere to the bloc's rules on digital issues.

"As an institution, the European Commission has, from the beginning of the mandate, a very strong focus on cybersecurity, protecting our colleagues and, of course, everyone who is working here in the Commission," EU industry commissioner Thierry Breton told reporters.

Read also: Some clients facing sharp rise in monthly payments


© Unsplash

3. With the new indexation, the minimum wage will surpass €3,000 mark

Minimum wages - The monthly qualified minimum wage will pass the €3,000 mark in April, reaching €3,009.88. The non-qualified minimum wage for those over 18 years of age increases to €2,508 gross per month.

Over the years - In ten years, the Luxembourg minimum wage has increased by several hundred euros per month. In January 2013, it was set at €1,874.19 gross for an unskilled worker and €2,249.03 gross for a skilled worker.

End of 2024 - Following this wage indexation in April 2023, STATEC expects the next indexation to be triggered in Q4 2023, with a further indexation forecast for Q4 2024.


4. Russia's invasion exposed the West's 'double standards' towards human rights abuses

  • Global outrage over Russia's invasion of Ukraine last year has only served to expose the West's "double standards" towards human rights abuses throughout the world, Amnesty International said on Tuesday.

  • In an annual report, Amnesty pointed to what it described as the West's silence on Saudi Arabia's rights record, repression in Egypt and Israel's treatment of the Palestinians.

  • The conflict highlighted shortcomings in responding to abuses in other parts of the globe.

Inconsequential actions - "The West's formidable response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine underscored double standards, exposing in comparison how inconsequential their reactions have been to so many other violations of the UN Charter," said Amnesty secretary general Agnes Callamard as she presented the group's world report in Paris.

Imposing sanctions, opening borders - Russia's assault that began on February 24, 2022 "gave us an all too rare view of what becomes possible when there is political will to act" as the West closed ranks to support Ukraine.

The example of Israel -  Amnesty, fellow rights watchdog Human Rights Watch and a UN special rapporteur have concluded that Israel's treatment of Palestinians amounts to policies of apartheid, the segregation of black people and whites in white-ruled South Africa, a charge the Israeli state denies.

Last year, "successive Israeli governments rolled out measures forcing more Palestinians from their homes, expanding illegal settlements, and legalising existing settlements and outposts across the occupied West Bank," Amnesty said.

But despite this -- and Israeli forces killing Palestinians in the occupied West Bank -- Western nations failed to demand an end to that "system of oppression", it said.

Not the same - Although European countries welcomed Ukrainian refugees, they did not show the same kindness to people fleeing fighting in Syria, Afghanistan and Libya, Amnesty said.

Not just the West - Amnesty stressed the failure of global institutions "to respond adequately to conflicts killing thousands of people including in Ethiopia, Myanmar and Yemen".

Read also:  UN Security Council rejects Russian demand for Nord Stream probe


5. Trump is the first US president to face criminal charges

  • A New York grand jury on Thursday indicted Donald Trump over hush money payments made to a porn star during his 2016 campaign, making him the first former US president to face criminal charges.

  • The historic indictment of the 76-year-old Republican is certain to upend the current presidential race in which Trump hopes to regain office.

  • Trump slammed the indictment as "political persecution and election interference," raging against prosecutors and his Democratic opponents and vowing that it would backfire on his successor, President Joe Biden.

Legacy - Trump already survived two impeachments and kept prosecutors at bay over everything from the US Capitol riot to missing classified files -- only to land in court over a sex scandal involving Stormy Daniels, a 44-year-old adult movie actress.

Calling for protests - On March 18, Trump had already declared he expected to be arrested within days over the payment to Daniels -- who received $130,000 weeks before the election that brought Trump to power, to stop her from going public about a tryst she claims they had a decade earlier.

Arrest - Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg's office confirmed that it had contacted Trump's lawyers Thursday evening to "coordinate his surrender" in New York -- with the felony charges against him to be revealed at that point.

Undying support - In the Republican camp, Trump's allies and sons denounced what they say is a vendetta aimed at derailing his 2024 campaign -- while his expected challenger for the party nomination, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, slammed the indictment as "un-American."

Kevin McCarthy, the top Republican in the House of Representatives, said the indictment had "irreparably damaged" the country. Trump's former vice president and possible 2024 challenger Mike Pence called it an "outrage" that would only "further serve to divide" the United States.

What about the 2024 bid? - The historic indictment of Donald Trump is a seismic moment for the 2024 US presidential campaign, but it is impossible to predict whether the political earthquake will cause lasting damage or settle in his favor. Read more here

Read also: 'I'm not a victim': Stormy Daniels, ex-porn star in the spotlight


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