Politics

Top five stories you may have missed


Top five stories you may have missed

news roundup


5 min.

15.04.2022

In case you missed them the Luxembourg Times has selected the best stories of the week for you

In case you missed them the Luxembourg Times has selected the best stories of the week for you

Vladimir Yevtushenko is the chair and owner of Sistema
Vladimir Yevtushenko is the chair and owner of Sistema

Photo credit: LT Archives

Housing, cost of living main concerns in Luxembourg

The lack of affordable housing and the worsening cost of living crisis are the two most pressing issues for people living in Luxembourg, residents said in a EU Commission survey published on Monday. 

Over half of respondents said housing was their primary concern, making it the single biggest issue in the country, the survey showed. An 80 square metre flat cost buyers close to €700,000 at the end of 2021, roughly double the price at the start of 2013, putting Luxembourg among the most expensive housing markets in Europe.

The cost of living came second in the Grand Duchy, with 50% saying it was an issue, an increase of 19 percentage points compared to the summer of 2021. That concern is also shared across the EU as 41% of respondents cited high inflation as a pressing issue.

Nine in 10 residents thought the economy was in good shape, which puts Luxembourg at the top across the bloc.

Luxembourg population growth nears pre-pandemic rate  

Luxembourg’s population growth is returning to pre-pandemic levels, with the total number of inhabitants reaching more than 645,000 last year, mostly driven by immigration, the country’s official statistics agency said on Monday.

In another indication of the country’s appeal to those of working age, Luxembourg added more than 9,000 people to its population total through net immigration in 2021. The easing of travel rules linked to Covid-19 lockdowns saw population growth move back towards levels seen prior to 2020.

Net immigration into Luxembourg accounted for close to 90% of all new additions last year, with natural population growth – the difference between births and deaths – responsible for the remainder.  

In percentage terms, the population increased by 1.7%. This increase is a little less than that observed before the pandemic, when it fluctuated between 2% and 2.5%, but is higher than that observed in 2020, the first year the pandemic hit Europe with accompanying restrictions on travel, when it was just 1.4%. 

Cut to fuel prices on Wednesday as taxes lowered  

Luxembourg cut the price of a litre of fuel by 7.5 cents as of Wednesday as the government ties up a €830m package of measures to tackle the energy crisis agreed between the government, employers and trade unions in March.

Like other countries, Luxembourg has experienced a rapid increase in fuel prices over the past four months – with traditionally cheaper diesel outpacing petrol – pushing up the cost of living because of consumer price inflation.

Since the start of the year, the price of petrol has risen by about 16% and that of diesel by 24%, according to data from the ministry of economic affairs, as the war in Ukraine exacerbated already existing market shortages.

Sistema owner reduces shares after UK sanctions  

The owner of Sistema, a Moscow-based investment giant with activities and offices in Luxembourg, reduced his stake in the company to below 50% after he was hit by UK sanctions on Wednesday.

Vladimir Yevtushenkov transferred a 10% stake to his son, Felix Yevtushenkov, who is a member of the board and managing director, the conglomerate said in a press release, after the UK government imposed asset freeze sanctions on the father.   

As a result, Vladimir Yevtushenkov’s share in Sistema has decreased to 49.2%, while his son’s has gone up to 15.2%. According to EU sanctions regulations, a company owner needs to have more than a 50% share for it to be hit by sanctions. So far, the EU has not sanctioned Yevtushenko.

In Luxembourg, Yevtushenkov is listed as a major shareholder with 59.2% of Sistema Finance S.A., with the latest declaration going back to May 2020. He is also listed as an indirect shareholder of East-West United Bank with 59.2%, according to a 2019 declaration in Luxembourg’s beneficial owner register. The bank is owned by Sistema.

Free online Luxembourgish courses from September

Free online Luxembourgish classes will be launched in September to teach the country’s national language due to increased demand, Education Minister Claude Meisch said on Thursday.

The online platform, run by the National Institute of Languages, will offer free language teaching initially for beginners and will later be expanded to include advanced level students, the Education Ministry said. 

The interest in the language is partly explained by the amount of people pursuing Luxembourgish citizenship in a country where close to half of residents have foreign nationality. The government had already offered free language courses for those in the process of obtaining citizenship. 

More than a third of all job adverts posted by the country’s unemployment agency require applicants to speak Luxembourgish, Labour Minister Dan Kersch said last summer.


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