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Top five stories you may have missed

6 min. 22.10.2021
In case you missed them the Luxembourg Times has selected the five best news stories of the week for you
Cars on display during the Autofestival in Luxembourg
Cars on display during the Autofestival in Luxembourg
Photo credit: Lex Kleren

By LT staff

Car buyers facing waits of several months for delivery due to a global shortage of key parts, warn representatives of sector in Luxembourg

A critical shortage of materials in the car industry is causing deliveries of new vehicles to be held up by several months, and the delays could continue into next year, representatives of Luxembourg’s automotive sector warned on Thursday.

The global supply shortage initially only impacted some optional car parts but has now spread to essential parts for a “large number of cars from almost all makes”, said the House of Automobile, a group of three organisations within the industry in Luxembourg.

“As a result, the delivery dates initially communicated to clients cannot be respected and in certain cases there will be a delay of several months,” the group said in a statement. “There is a risk that this situation continues into 2022.”

A global supply shortage, mainly due to high demand from the USA and China and the knock-on effects of the pandemic, has led to both a surge in material costs and long waiting times for deliveries across many industries. The building sector has been hit hard by the shortage, resulting in some construction works coming to a standstill, either due to long delays or because some materials have more than doubled in price.

In the car industry, there is a shortage of several key parts, in particular of microchips, which is having a “dramatic” impact on car production, the Luxembourg group said. It is impossible for sellers to say when cars will be delivered because the “situation changes every day”, they added.


European Ombudsman has inspected 100 files to see how Commission handles potential conflict of interest when staff move to new roles

The European Commission has been ordered to disclose how often it has banned staff from moving to new jobs which have significant ties to their previous role and could represent a conflict of interest, as part of an inquiry into cases of 'revolving doors' by the bloc's Ombudsman.

European Ombudsman Emily O'Reilly, whose remit includes holding EU institutions to account by investigating complaints and initiating inquiries, said on Tuesday that she has called a meeting with the Commission next month to examine its decision-making process when staff apply for jobs elsewhere.

The Commission normally has to approve requests from senior and mid-level managers who want to step into a role outside the institution or who want to go on unpaid leave to undertake another activity. Commissioners have to wait two years and former Commission Presidents three years before they can start a new job with links to their work at the institution, the Commission’s code of conduct shows.

The Ombudsman initiated an inquiry earlier this year, looking into how strictly the Commission scrutinises this so-called cooling off period.

The Ombudsman has also opened an inquiry into cases of 'revolving doors' at the European Investment Bank (EIB) following a complaint from two unnamed MEPs.


Unemployment drops to near pre-Covid levels

September unemployment levels in Luxembourg were almost on a par with those before the coronavirus crisis struck the Grand Duchy, job agency ADEM said on Wednesday.

The unemployment rate stands at 5.5%, ADEM said in a press release, adding that it has "therefore almost returned to its pre-crisis level".

The last time unemployment was at that level was in January 2020 when it stood at 5.4%, figures from Luxembourg's statistics office Statec show.

More than 15,500 people registered as looking for working with ADEM in September, a decrease of more than 2,200 compared to September 2020. But half of Luxembourg’s job seekers have been looking for work for over a year – also known as long-term unemployment.

Employers posted just under 4,300 job openings with ADEM in September, a 38% increase year-on-year. The main sectors currently seeking candidates are accounting and auditing with around 1,500 vacancies, construction and crafts with around 1,490 followed by IT with 956 open roles.  

In August, the number of job vacancies reached a record high with almost 10,000 openings in a sign that the economy is recovering from the ravages of Covid-19.


Hold firms to account over human rights, protestors say

Luxembourg should take companies to task that run their administration from the Grand Duchy while performing controversial business elsewhere, demonstrators said on Thursday, after reports of human rights violations.

Around 50 protestors marched through Luxembourg’s capital city, standing in front of offices of five companies including MindGeek, which owns Pornhub, and the NSO group, best known for developing spyware used to snoop on murdered Saudi-Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The march comes a week after Luxembourg was elected to the UN Human Rights Council for the first time, giving it a global platform to urge other countries to end repressive policies.

But the protestors - from various groups defending human rights such as Solidarity with the Third World – argued that Luxembourg needs to first hold companies in its own country to account for human rights violations.

“We want to say that the state has an obligation to protect human rights,” said Antoniya Argirova, one of the organisers. “Our message for the government is that they urgently need to adopt legislation to end human rights violations by businesses. The state needs to make those companies follow human rights.”


SES's big, blazing bet on its future

Luxembourg satellite pioneer SES is ready to ignite a fiery, new chapter of its costly bet to profit from demand for instant, secure communications.

The night sky on the Atlantic coast of South America will burn fiercely when someday soon a European heavy-lift rocket rises from French Guiana carrying a massive new SES satellite that is part of the company’s big and ongoing investment plan.

"SES-17 is going to be, I would say, the anchor for our growth for the next several years," SES Chief Executive Steve Collar said during a video discussion on Wednesday.

The launch scheduled to take SES-17 and a French military communications satellite to outer space on Friday was postponed hours before take-off until a later, undetermined date due to additional ground checks, France's Arianespace said.   

The spacecraft - which is costing Société Européenne des Satellites more than €500 million to build, launch and operate – will target companies providing internet service aboard jets in flight over North and South America. The satellite’s first customer, Thales, will charge airlines to connect their passengers to Internet services, video streaming, games and live television while travelling over any spot in the Americas and out into the Atlantic Ocean, SES said during its announcement of the plans five years ago.

The launch will mark a milestone in SES's bet of billions of euros on what it believes its customers will want, said Chris Forrester, a journalist who tracks the satellite industry and edited a book about SES.

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