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Luxembourg must respond if links are established between the country and an Israeli software company whose product has been used to spy on journalists, politicians, activists and lawyers, Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn said on Tuesday.
While he is already aware of two NSO Group business entities operating in Luxembourg, Asselborn described them as mere "back offices" and emphasised that none of the company's surveillance software had been exported from Luxembourg.
"I can only say that if it turns out - without being able to say it now - that Luxembourg has been used for the human rights violations committed by NSO, then Luxembourg must respond to this", Asselborn said at a press conference on companies and human rights.
He did not detail what the reaction could be, or what other proof might be necessary to prompt government action beyond the fact that some company operations are based in the Grand Duchy.
NSO Group in 2019 described itself as headquartered in Luxembourg, yet the country's government called it an Israeli company when it denied responsibility for the Grand Duchy to investigate its connection to the killing of Saudi dissident and journalist Jamal Khashoggi the previous year.
Luxembourg's prime minister is on alert about whether a Russian state-owned TV channel is trying to use the Grand Duchy to circumvent German law to broadcast its German language channel in the EU as reported last month.
German press reported in June that RT – formerly known as Russia Today – had sought a licence to stream its German language services from Luxembourg because Germany prohibits TV broadcasts from foreign state-funded companies.
ANO TV-Novosti, which owns RT, contacted Luxembourg to say it intended to stream from the Grand Duchy, Xavier Bettel, who is also Media Minister, said in response to a parliamentary question on Monday.
Under an EU directive, media from non-EU countries can fall under the jurisdiction of a country within the bloc if they use its satellite capacity. ANO TV-Novosti said it would stream its German language channel based on the criteria of this directive.
Luxembourg is set to start closing Covid-19 vaccination centres from mid-August and will allow doctors to inoculate instead, the health ministry said on Thursday.
The closure is scheduled for 14 August for the centres at Luxexpo in Kirchberg, Mondorf-les-Bains and Ettelbruck whilst the facilities at Findel will close on 21 August.
Around 76% of all adults living in Luxembourg have received at least one dose, according to the European Commission.
So far, Luxembourg has administered 665,00 doses, of which 388,000 are first doses and 277,000 second doses. Around 310,000 people, roughly half of the country's population, are fully vaccinated.
Luxembourg's financial regulator is one of Europe's most prolific when sanctioning financial firms that fail to follow market rules, but it penalised violators a puny €66,000 in fines last year, the EU's financial supervisor said.
Luxembourg's Commission de Surveillance du Secteur Financier (CSSF) ranked second after Bulgaria out of 30 countries for issuing sanctions, the report published this week by the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) found. The CSSF found 108 times last year that companies failed to comply with rules developed after the 2008 global financial crisis and in place since 2018 to protect consumers and improve competitiveness for financial services, the authority's annual report said.
But of the 23 countries where regulators imposed sanctions totalling €8.4 million, Luxembourg was 14th with only €66,000 in fines imposed for MiFID II breaches, the report found. That was well behind the €800,000 that Belgium assessed for 103 sanctions or the €210,000 in fines issued for two sanctions in Germany, according to Paris-based ESMA.
CSSF did not respond on Wednesday to requests to explain the reasons behind the gap.
Luxembourg came in third behind Italy and France in a 2019 ranking of the least overweight adults in the European Union, mostly owed to its women who are the second slimmest in the bloc, according to EU statistics agency Eurostat which published the findings on Thursday.
A total of 48% of Luxembourg's adults are overweight, with a body mass index (BMI) of over 25 - the threshold for being overweight - Eurostat said. BMI indicates body fatness, calculated based on a person's height and weight. This puts the Grand Duchy just behind Italy and France where 46% and 47% of all adults are overweight.
Yet, Luxembourg also has the biggest disparity between overweight men and women in the bloc, Eurostat found, with 59% of men and just 38% of women carrying too much weight.