Bettel is ready to be the “most-hated politician”
(CS) Outgoing Luxembourg City mayor Xavier Bettel has said that he is ready to make uncomfortable and unpopular decisions, while at the same time assuring the financial sector that the new coalition knows “where Luxembourg's prosperity comes from.”
At a lunch event hosted on Wednesday by STEP Benelux, the government “formateur” commented that nothing has been decided yet, but that the coalition partners are optimistic to present their programme by early December.
Until then, details will remain under wraps, Bettel said, but one thing, he added, is sure – there will be change. Accusing the CSV-LSAP coalition of passivity, Bettel said that difficult decisions lie ahead, but that he will accept being the “most-hated politician” if it means ensuring a prosperous future for the Grand Duchy.
Bettel wants “realistic” government
One area of particular concern for the new coalition is Luxembourg's finances, Bettel said, from taxes to banking regulations and the development of the financial centre. The government cannot “just wait” he said, adding that the country's AAA rating will be threatened if things do not move forward.
Explaining that the three parties' delegations are well aware of the importance of the financial sector in Luxembourg, he wants to form a “realistic” government, and expressed hopes that the next finance minister will come from within the industry.
The Prime Minister to-be refused audience concern, however, that the new coalition will have to prove itself on a European level, with Luxembourg's key EU players, Jean-Claude Juncker and Viviane Reding, both from the CSV.
Meanwhile, Bettel said that should Juncker aspire to a European career, he would have the full support of the new government. Somewhat hesitantly, he also hinted that the same is “not so sure” for Reding.
Challenges and opportunities for the capital
Originally invited to speak at the event as Luxembourg City's mayor, Bettel touched on some key issues that the capital needs to tackle, which read like something of a road map of problems that the new government will also need to address, especially housing and mobility.
While prestigious building projects such as the Royal Hamilius and the Ban de Gasperich are moving ahead, the City is also working on increasing the amount of available housing to bring down real estate prices.
Additionally, public transport and mobility are undergoing an overhaul, from the construction of the tram to the introduction of car sharing schemes and car-free residential zones.
The capital needs to be a modern, vibrant city, Bettel said, also to ensure that Luxembourg as a country remains attractive to businesses and highly-skilled workers from abroad.
“I'm not afraid of challenges”
After only two years in office, Bettel can show quite a track-record of change and innovation in the capital, from dealing with Rue de Hollerich night-time violence and overpriced taxis to opening shops on Sunday, introducing a new flea market and revamping the Christmas market.
“I love my city,” Bettel said, “but I know the situation of my country.” It was only after much hesitation that he decided to push forward to become a member of government, he said, explaining that complaining is easy but that the proof of the pudding is in the eating.
“I'm not afraid of challenges,” he concluded, before heading off to the Chamber of Deputies, where 46 MPs were sworn in on Wednesday.
To find out more about STEP Benelux and its events visit stepbenelux.org