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Top five stories you may have missed

Top five stories you may have missed

4 min. 17.04.2021
In case you missed them the Luxembourg Times has selected the best stories of the week for you
Staff holding up signs as EIB President Werner Hoyer speaks in December 2019. The signs read: "your staff is frustrated! What will you do please?"
Staff holding up signs as EIB President Werner Hoyer speaks in December 2019. The signs read: "your staff is frustrated! What will you do please?"
Photo credit: Staff holding up signs as EIB President Werner Hoyer speaks in December 2019. The signs read: "your staff is frustrated! What will you do please?"Obtained by the Luxembourg Times

By LT staff

EIB to gauge staff mental health after media coverage

The Luxembourg-based European Investment Bank intends to survey the mental health of its 3,450-strong staff after media scrutiny about its governance and work culture, including news stories about two suicides at the bank's premises, the bank said in an internal note on Thursday.

The EIB will start a "bank-wide psychological risk assessment" for its employees and launch a new "Mental Health plan" before the end of the year, it said in an internal message sent to staff by head of human resources Maj Theander and secretary general Marjut Falkstedt.

"The media have also raised the topic of mental health in the context of the recent tragic event ... it is a serious mistake to use two unrelated tragedies [which] occurred at the EIB premises seven years apart, to paint a picture of a dangerous work environment at the EIB," according to the note.

Waitlist for AstraZeneca jab opens to volunteers

Luxembourg will set up a waiting list for people between 30 and 54 years volunteering to receive a shot of the AstraZeneca vaccine ahead of their scheduled turn as defined in the national roll-out strategy, Prime Minister Xavier Bettel said on Friday. 

The decision comes despite advice from the country's top infections diseases body not to administer the AstraZeneca shot to people below the age of 55 because of a possible link to rare cases of blood clots occuring. The government decided not to follow the recommendation.

“It is irresponsible to put tens of thousands of doses in a refrigerator and not to use them,” Bettel said, when explaining the reason behind the waiting list, adding that “the possibility of rare side effects (of a Covid vaccine) is just as low as with other vaccines and medicines”.  

Unified global tax could hamper competition, Chamber of Commerce head says

 Luxembourg should maintain the right to offer incentives that attract innovative companies, the head of the Chamber of Commerce said on Monday, after the Finance Ministry endorsed a US proposal for a minimum corporate tax of 21% globally.

"It sounds nice from a political point of view, but countries should retain some flexibility in offering tax incentives," Carlo Thelen told the Luxembourg Times in an interview. "(Fiscal policy) is a competition," he said.

Luxembourg's nominal tax rate of almost 25% is significantly higher than the median rate of 21% in the European Union, so it would be easy for the country to agree to a lower level, Thelen said.

"We need more solidarity, we need to break the mould of many multinationals trying to reduce their taxation close to zero, and that’s been recognised by all observers: we must avoid a race to the bottom,” Finance Minister Pierre Gramegna said in a Bloomberg Television interview last week. Luxembourg is “very pleased that this discussion is taking place”, he said. 

But the head of the Chamber of Commerce argued that the uniform corporate rate would punish countries that are better at managing budgets and the companies that operate in those jurisdictions.

SES continues to build foreign government ties

Luxembourg-based SES will spend $17 million (€14 million) for a new US facility in a sign that the satellite giant is strengthening its relationship with the country and its government clients.

The hub will be based just outside Washington DC, with local government in the state of Virginia giving Société Européenne des Satellites a $500,000 grant, the governor of the state bordering the federal capital said on Thursday. A company spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment on Monday.

The satellite company will use the facility to consolidate US operations, technology, engineering and support functions. SES's business is split into two major divisions know as the Video and Network arms.

“Strong government contributions” from the US and other countries led to year-on-year underlying revenue growth for the company in 2020, the company said in its annual report. Governments made up 38% of SES's revenue in its network arm last year, the report said.

Luxembourg continues J&J rollout despite EU watchdog review

Luxembourg is continuing to administer the Johnson&Johnson vaccine, the country's health ministry said on Wednesday, despite the jab being investigated by the EU's drug regulator after rare cases of blood clotting in the US.

"At this stage, there is no change in the vaccination campaign in Luxembourg," health ministry spokeswoman Monique Putz said in an statement to The Luxembourg Times. "The Janssen vaccine has been administered in Luxembourg since this morning (Wednesday)."



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