Alex Bodry, Member of the Luxembourg Parliament and President of the Socialist Parliamentary Group in Luxembourg, speaks to #ProgressiveEurope about his priorities regarding immigration, the housing market and his opinion on Brexit.
Some Europeans fear the influx of refugees because they believe their country cannot deal with that many foreigners. Yet in Luxembourg, almost every second inhabitant was born abroad. How is the country integrating those people to form a society?
Indeed, the Luxembourgers represent 53% of our current population, which is constantly increasing due to our robust economic growth. Our tradition of immigration goes back to the early 20th century with the development of the national steel industry. The integration is mainly based on our school system and a widespread civil society. It is also successful with the second generation, and has been helped by a strong creation of jobs and the immigration of people from countries with a catholic cultural background, such as those from Italy and Portugal.
The population of Luxembourg is growing, and housing seems to be a big issue: just like in many other densely populated areas in Europe, not enough apartments are available. How do the social democrats aim to counter this?
Besides the mobility question, the situation of the housing market is a great political subject. As in other urban centers, Luxembourg is facing a big increase in the price of land, apartments and houses, at a level of 6% a year. As social democrats, we want a more interventional policy by the State and the municipalities concerning the mobilisation of grounds for construction and the development of social housing projects. We are in favour of a legal limit for rents and taxation of construction fields that are not constructed within a certain time period.
Regarding another hot topic these days, Brexit, Luxembourg has strong ties to the United Kingdom. Do you believe Brexit will hurt your country?
Luxembourg was and is not in favour of a Brexit: it is not in the interest of Britain and not in the interest of Europe. In some areas, the UK was a political ally of our country. On the other hand, the financial center of Luxembourg may profit from the delocalisation of activities from London to EU financial centers. In the fields where Luxembourg is highly specialised, this could create new jobs. We do not foresee any major negative impact in the short term.
Alex Bodry is a Member of the Luxembourg Parliament and President of the Socialist Parliamentary Group.