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By LT Staff
Luxembourg massive A400M army plane hauled military equipment back to Europe and will not return to the area for now, the government said on Wednesday, contradicting earlier information it had brought home 93 Westerners and their local allies from Taliban-controlled Afghanistan.
The foreign ministry had earlier said that the plane was returning from Islamabad with 93 people on board on Monday, but Defence Minister François Bausch on Wednesday confirmed earlier information from a Belgian military spokesman that the plane had carried equipment only.
"At the end of the day we returned material," Bausch said during a press conference on Wednesday, adding that “at the final moment other planes were available at the time with space for passengers”.
The change in plans came after Belgium, taking part in a three-plane squadron jointly operated with Luxembourg, managed to get a civil airplane to the Pakistani capital, making the evacuation “quicker and much more comfortable for the people," Foreign Ministry spokesman Jo Clees said on Wednesday.
"They put military material in the A400M that had to be transported to Europe and they switched the passengers on [to] the chartered passenger plane," Clees told the Luxembourg Times.
The plane, which can seat 120 passengers, will instead perform a mission in Africa next, Clees said. The Luxembourgish-Belgian air squadron also included two C130 transport to shuttle people between Kabul and Islamabad.
Women across the world were more negatively affected by the recession during the pandemic than men, a study by a Luxembourg research body said.
Luxembourg fell into a recession in the second quarter of last year, when Gross Domestic Product or GDP decreased by 7.2%, the biggest fall ever registered in Luxembourg. Many other countries in Europe and across the world also saw their economies slump as many companies put staff on furlough or laid off workers, after being forced to close to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.
But this recession was different to others in that it had more of a negative effect on women than it did on men, the Luxembourg Institute of Socio-Economic Research (LISER) said in its report.
“Nearly all modern recessions have had one thing in common: men’s employment has been affected significantly more than that of women,” the study said. “At least this was the case until 2020, with the recession caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.”
Luxembourg will receive €460,000 from Brussels to help provide food and essentials such as clothes to a growing number of people who have been unable to afford such basic needs since the start of the pandemic.
The money will come from the European Commission’s Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived programme, aimed at providing basic needs such as food, clothes and toiletries to the poorest households across the EU.
The programme has been in place since 2014, rolling out €3.8 billion to help countries support their most deprived. Countries receiving the funding have to chip in 15% in addition to the Commission’s contribution.
Luxembourg is one of the richest countries in the world, yet more than 71,600 people in the Grand Duchy have relied on the funding to receive their most basic needs over the past seven years.
Since the start of the pandemic, more people need help and the Commission will now give Luxembourg a further €460,000 to cover the additional requests.
Luxembourg spent a decade as one of the EU's laggards in providing for mutual defence and trailed only Ireland in 2019 for the lowest spending compared to its economic strength, data released on Friday showed.
The Grand Duchy spent an amount only 0.4% the size of its economy on defence in 2019 – just one-third of the EU average, the bloc's Luxembourg-based statistics agency Eurostat said. That spending commitment was slightly lower than the Grand Duchy spent in 2010 despite a decade that included wars in the Middle East and Russia's invasion and annexation of Ukraine's Crimea region in 2014, Eurostat data showed.
Under a 2014 agreement, Luxembourg and all other NATO members pledged to increase their defence spending to 2% of GDP. The Grand Duchy targeted a goal of 0.6% by last year and 0.72% by 2024.
EU members Sweden, Austria, Cyprus, Finland, Malta and Ireland are not part of the NATO alliance. Yet all spent more than Luxembourg on defence in relation to their economic capacity except for Ireland, which devoted just 0.2% of its GDP to military efforts in 2019, Eurostat said.
Luxembourg's financial watchdog slapped Alter Domus Depositary Services with a €154,000 penalty after an onsite inspection "identified severe infringements" of the country's law governing alternative investment fund managers, the CSSF said on Friday.
The CSSF did not specify the number of infringements it identified, but the problems fell into six categories, the financial regulator said in a statement.
They include how potential conflicts of interest were handled and "the sound and prudent management" of depository duties, the CSSF said. Depositary services involve an independent third party safekeeping the assets of an alternative investment fund.
Alter Domus Depositary Services was inspected by the CSSF in 2019 for the first time since the EU's Alternative Investment Fund Managers Directive was implemented in 2013, a company spokesperson said in an email to Luxembourg Times.