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Reforms aim to give deputies more powers to probe government
Politics

Reforms aim to give deputies more powers to probe government

by Yannick LAMBERT 2 min. 16.06.2021
Parliament would require just one third of votes to form an investigate committee to scrutinise government, instead of more than half now
The proposed changes have been a long-standing demand by many opposition parties in Luxembourg's parliament
The proposed changes have been a long-standing demand by many opposition parties in Luxembourg's parliament
Photo credit: Shutterstock

Luxembourg's parliament is set to loosen existing rules to give deputies greater powers to investigate the government, with the country's legislature frequently criticised as being weak or unwilling when it comes to holding the executive to account.

If approved, the changes would mean parliament would only need one third of votes -   instead of a straight majority as is currently required - to set up an investigative committee when wishing to probe the government, according to the text of one of the draft bills aimed at reforming the Grand Duchy's constitution.

The powers attributed to a parliamentary investigative committee are similar to those of a prosecuting judge in criminal matters. The committee can call as many witnesses and experts as it wishes, and oaths need to be taken before speaking.

The proposed changes have been a long-standing demand by many opposition parties, due to the fact that the government-linked parties usually block such investigative committees from forming in the first place. 

One exception was in 2012 and 2013, when a scandal connected to Luxembourg's secret service led to parliament setting up a committee to investigate relations between the country's intelligence agency and Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker, who then called snap elections after the parliamentary inquiry issued a damning verdict. 

In the thirty years before the Juncker scandal, only four other committees had been formed, with the most prominent one revolving around corruption and arms and drugs trafficking.

The draft bill has been finalised as of Tuesday and could be put to a vote by the end of June.

The reform would also enable members of the public and non-governmental organisations to bring forward proposed legislation to parliament  - under certain conditions - in a move aimed at allowing more direct and wider involvement in the democratic process, to replace the existing, often inconsequential, public petitions.

Under the plans, deputies would also be able to directly consult the country's de facto upper chamber, the State Council, for advice on issues, a privilege currently reserved for the government.

The proposed change is being introduced alongside other reforms, which if approved would see the powers of the monarchy curtailed and the justice system reformed and given greater independence.


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