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No "blind austerity politics" for Luxembourg says Juncker
Luxembourg

No "blind austerity politics" for Luxembourg says Juncker

2 min. 08.05.2012 From our online archive
In his state of the nation address, Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker highlighted Luxembourg's need for savings measures, while also addressing the eurozone crisis, reforms, housing and other social issues.

(CS) In his state of the nation address, Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker highlighted Luxembourg's need for savings measures, while also addressing the eurozone crisis, reforms, housing and other social issues.

As expected, the Premier spent a large part of his almost two-hour speech on the savings measures presented by Finance Minister Luc Frieden at the end of April.

Juncker said that it was “time to face reality” and to realise that the global, continental and national context had changed.

Amid the eurozone crisis, the Prime Minister defended the cost-cutting measures, aimed at keeping Luxembourg's state deficit at a maximum of one percent. However, he said the state was not pursuing “blind austerity politics” to please Brussels.

Savings measures vs investments

Recapping the savings measures presented on April 27 by Minister Frieden, Juncker added little to what was already known.

Instead, he chose to focus on the need for Luxembourg to invest in the future, with investments continuing at a 1.8 billion euro high.

Projects include -

  • initiatives to improve school buildings
  • the University of Luxembourg Belval campus
  • the Grand Duchy's rail network
  • Luxembourg's tram
  • the support of research and innovation

Two areas which Juncker passionately defended in his speech were the country's investments in culture and development aid, saying that cultural activities were a key part of a nation's identity, providing some 6,300 jobs. He added that it was unacceptable for one of the richest countries in the world to cut development aid, which will therefore remain constant at one percent of GDP.

Juncker despairs of real estate prices

As is traditional, the Prime Minister also addressed a series of social issues. Among them were the high real estate prices. Juncker said he was at a loss on how to grapple the problem. However, the state will introduce a subsidy of rent payments, and try to help communes tackle the problem of flats, apartments and plots being left to stand empty.

Juncker also addressed the following issues

  • the need for a comprehensive reform of the school and pension systems
  • a restructuring of the chèque-services
  • fighting youth unemployment
  • regulating Luxembourg's water price
  • adjusting Luxembourg's minimum wage

To close his speech Juncker said it was time to think about the kind of country Luxembourg wanted to be in the future, saying it should be a Luxembourg that shows a strong solidarity, but not without exposing those not pulling their weight.