© Pedro Venâncio
On Saturday, Deputy Prime Minister François Bausch shed light on Luxembourg's pressing concerns, including pension security, taxation, digitalisation's impact on the workforce, and the challenges of traffic congestion. The Green Party politician also discussed his personal ambitions for the future.
Pension and taxes
Deputy Prime Minister François Bausch highlighted the importance of addressing pension security to avoid potential funding challenges in Luxembourg. In an interview with our colleagues from RTL Radio on Saturday, he emphasised the need to explore alternative financing systems instead of relying solely on employee contributions, particularly in light of potential job losses resulting from artificial intelligence and digitalisation. Bausch suggested a potential solution could involve implementing a supplementary tax based on a company's productivity.
He stressed the importance of avoiding the establishment of a "capitalist feudal system," in which the kings of the past would be replaced by "a small number of major capitalists or multi-nationals that own all of the wealth and thereby also control everything." He argued that such a system could not work, highlighting that he has always advocated for a fair distribution of wealth.
To achieve this, Bausch proposes relieving the tax burden on the middle class while considering the possibility of a higher tax rate for higher earners.
Reduction of working hours: A delicate debate
Bausch expressed his belief that the discussion surrounding the reduction of working hours has not been handled effectively. Acknowledging that digitalisation will transform the world of work, he stressed the importance of engaging in a bottom-up dialogue on this topic.
Bausch noted that reductions in working hours could also present "opportunities."
Government outlook and legislative elections
Bausch expressed confidence in the Green Party's place within the government. However, he cautioned against complacency, stressing the importance of maintaining the party's nine seats in the upcoming legislative elections in October.
While Bausch praised the performance of the current coalition between the Green Party, the Luxembourg Socialist Workers' Party (LSAP), and the Democratic Party (DP), he also expressed openness to working with the Christian Social People's Party (CSV).
Bausch stated that he personally was "never interested" in titles or positions, reiterating that while he will run in the legislative elections, he will not accept another ministerial position.
If elected, he will serve as an MP, Bausch said, while at the same time hinting at the fact that he would not shy away from the possibility of pursuing international ambitions either.
Luxair: Balancing state shareholding and challenges
Commenting on the delays experienced by Luxair, in which the state holds a significant stake, the Minister for Mobility recognised the complexities of intervening in a private company. Bausch acknowledged that the airline industry has faced challenges during the pandemic, including staff shortages, and stated that efforts were underway to address the situation.
Bausch praised former Public Prosecutor Robert Biever, who was appointed as mediator between Luxair management and trade unions in 2022, stating that he had done "a good job." A task force is currently working on implementing his recommendations, the Minister said.
Regarding the personal relationship between Gilles Feith, CEO of Luxair, and Félicie Weycker, Lux-Airport's newly appointed Chair of the Board of Directors, Bausch sees no conflict of interest. The Minister noted that the board of directors does not make decisions by itself. However, to ensure transparency, he has requested a legal opinion on the matter.
The future of Luxair-Cargo appears likely to involve Cargolux as the new owner. While Bausch did not provide additional details due to ongoing procedures until the end of October, he mentioned that the renovation of Luxair-Cargo's hangars would require an estimated €200 million.
Traffic challenges: collaboration and infrastructure issues
Despite the implementation of free public transport, traffic congestion persists in Luxembourg. Bausch attributed this to sometimes difficult cooperation between municipalities and the struggle of acquiring land for infrastructure development.
According to the Minister, there is also the issue of the NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) effect. While there are legal procedures, e.g., to expropriate individuals, pursuing such a strategy "would take years," with Bausch acknowledging the right of citizens to defend themselves.
The Minister stressed the need for expedited approval procedures. The Ministry of the Environment is expected to present a project before the summer break to address this concern.
Bausch also reaffirmed his support for the National Mobility Plan 2035 and urged his successor to maintain its implementation.
He emphasised the importance of proactive planning to avoid continuously playing catch-up with mobility demands through constant construction projects.
© Pedro Venâncio