Sam Tanson is a Luxembourgish lawyer and politician. She currently holds the posts of Minister of Culture and Minister of Justice. She was also the Minister of Housing between December 2018 and October 2019.
Please introduce your party to our audience by telling the key points your party would like our audience to know about your life history, your acquired skill set and competencies, and the values which prioritize and guide your decision-making.
I have always been a political person and joined the Luxembourg Green Party (déi gréng) in 2005. Soon after my joining the party, I became spokesperson of the young greens. I occupied this post between 2006 and 2007 and went on to chair the party between 2009 to 2015.
On a professional level, I am a trained lawyer. I have also worked as a journalist for RTL.
Green candidate for the post of prime Minister I can look back on a very varied political career, having first been City Counselor (2011-2013), then Deputy Mayor (2013-2017) of the City of Luxembourg, a Member of the State Council (2015-2018), an MP (2018), and of course Minister of Justice and Minister of Culture as part of the current coalition Government since 2018. It goes without saying that I know the Luxembourg legal system and most importantly the policy making process inside out.
But why déi gréng? Well, the world around us is changing rapidly. In order to adapt to these changes, and to tackle the big environmental, and socio-economic challenges we face as a society, we need a party with a progressive, future orientated vision for our country. The Green Party provides such a vision. We stand for a fair country, in which it is good to live and where the future is secure. A Luxembourg that enables all people to live a fulfilled, self-determined life:
- In harmony with the climate and the environment, with clean air, clear water, and healthy forests.
- In an open, diverse, and safe society, in which all people can participate equally, where we all live in solidarity – together and not alongside one another.
- With a modern state, a citizen-oriented and digital administration and a vibrant democracy that allows everyone to participate in shaping our future.
- With the certainty of having a dignified, affordable home – whether in the countryside or in the city, whether renting or as a home owner.
- With a high quality of life for everyone, regardless of how much people earn or where they live.
- With plenty of leisure activities and a vibrant, free, and inclusive cultural landscape that brings people together.
- With a strong social network that supports people in difficult times.
- With a sustainable economy and successful businesses which help protecting the climate and bet on sustainability principles
- With secure jobs at fair wages and good, flexible working conditions that leave time for family, friends, and leisure.
- With a smart, climate-friendly mobility system, that focuses on moving people, not vehicles.
- With a world-class solidarity-based national health system that focuses on preventive health measures, which promotes well-being and provides easy access to medical care.
- With strong schools, where teachers are motivated, learning is fun and all children have the same opportunities to develop.
That is what déi gréng and myself are committed to.
Please write a SWOT analysis of the current political and economic situation impacting Luxembourg.
A high GDP, a good quality of live in a multicultural society
Luxembourg ranks among the countries with the highest GDP per capita in the world. According to the OECD, the country also performs well across several well-being dimensions in the Better Life Index. Luxembourg outperforms other countries in income, health, environmental quality, safety, and life satisfaction. Furthermore, Luxembourg is a multicultural society. We are cosmopolitan by tradition. The success of our country, which has been home to people from all over the world for over 150 years, is also the success of diversity and successful integration. We can be proud of that. And we want to continue along this path without turning a blind eye to what is not yet running smoothly. In the future, indicators such as the “PIBien-être” / “GDP welfare” as well as the measurement of real costs of living (reference budget) and quality of life should therefore be given more weight in the policy making process.
Good social security and health care system
Luxembourg has great a social security system and a good health care system. Both certainly add to the attractiveness of the country as a business location. Nevertheless, the pandemic revealed some structural weaknesses that need to be overcome in the coming years.
A good education system
In Luxembourg we can be proud of a high-quality education system, contributing to a well-educated workforce and a culture of innovation. The multilingualism of our country is a further advantage of our educational system, despite coming with challenges, also.
Our dependence on the financial sector and on fuel tourism
While the financial sector is a strength, it also represents a vulnerability. Overreliance on the financial industry exposes Luxembourg to global economic fluctuations and regulatory changes. As déi gréng, we aim to make our financial centre a global leader in sustainable finance, commit to making the share of climate-friendly investments in line with the Paris climate goals, and ensure that climate financial risks are exposed and reduced. Additionally, we must continue to gradually reduce the dependence of state finances on fuel tourism by gradually increasing CO2 prices.
Our dependence on fossil fuels
The war in Ukraine and the energy crisis have shown us how much our dependence on fossil energy imports is already jeopardising our security and prosperity. As Greens we are convinced that the future belongs to renewable energies.
Taking advantage of the energy transition
The future belongs to renewable energies and Luxembourg has the best conditions for becoming a pioneer of a climate-neutral industrial society. We have a well-developed scientific landscape, a great engineering culture and a high level of environmental awareness in society. Under Green leadership, we have made a great deal of progress in recent years on the path to a clean, cost-effective, and crisis-proof energy supply. We now produce as much renewable electricity as households consume. Over the next few years, it is important to build on these successes and to promote the ecological modernisation of our energy system, industry, transport, and the construction sector.
Fostering a green economy
We are convinced: The more and the sooner our companies integrate social and environmental sustainability into their business practices and, as climate champions, open up new markets and fields of business, the more Luxembourg will be able to assert its success. Many companies in our country have long since recognised the signs of the times. Whether it is renewables, energy efficiency, environmental technologies, circular economy or sustainable construction: The green economy is booming and creating jobs. To support these developments, we need a State that makes things possible, promotes innovative entrepreneurship and helps future technologies to break through. That is what we are committed to.
Using digitalisation to our advantage
The speed at which digital transformations are evolving is enormous, and with this comes the pressure on politicians to keep pace. Large AI language models such as ChatGPT, which are currently reaching the mass market, mark the beginning of a new technological revolution. These highly automated systems offer exceptional opportunities to improve our lives, but also huge risks. déi gréng stand for a digitisation that serves people and the common good and does not discriminate against or leave anyone behind. Through comprehensive support for “start-ups” and better networking of research and business, we want to work to ensure that digital technologies contribute to combating climate change and promote the eco-social transformation.
The climate crisis
Droughts, heat waves, forest fires, torrential rain, and floods: The human-caused climate crisis is no longer something abstract, and its devastating consequences have long been felt in Luxembourg. Avoiding the climate crisis and protecting the environment is the central challenge for our generation. The good news is that the scale of the climate crisis can still be limited. It is therefore important to implement the energy transition consistently, to achieve our climate targets and at the same time to prepare our society in good time for the effects of climate change on people, the environment and our infrastructure. We can achieve this: With innovative strength and a sense of community, we have the prerequisites for coping with the socio-ecological U-turn. Not only to make our contribution to a climate-friendly world, but also to provide new prospects for our economy. With green jobs, with a greater quality of life and social justice.
Rising social inequalities
Luxembourg is a rich country, indeed the richest country in the world if based on per capita GDP. So much for the statistics. However, by no means do all people benefit from this. Some people feel that they are working hard and yet they are barely able to afford the essentials. The number of people at risk of poverty is rising in Luxembourg. The weakest among them – and at the same time the most frequently affected – are children and young people. Whether it involves education, career opportunities or health: Social disadvantage, often created in childhood, has consequences, some of which last a lifetime. That is unacceptable. And it has to change. Luxembourg cannot afford to have only more cohesion. Luxembourg needs more cohesion, more solidarity and more social justice. We all benefit from that. Because social balance and fair opportunities not only strengthen our democracy, but also our economy.
The housing crisis
An affordable house or flat in a good social environment is part a good life. Whether it is in the countryside or in the city, rented or your own house: Living in Luxembourg must be affordable for everyone. It is an existential basic need. And that is why it is now finally enshrined in the Constitution as a fundamental right. But the housing market is tense. Housing costs are becoming a burden for more and more people. The causes of this development go back several decades and have ignored by political leaders for just as long. It was déi gréng who had the courage to initiate the overdue change of course in housing policy, including the national strategy for affordable housing, record investments in public housing and the “Pacte Logement 2.0” (Housing Pact). In the coming years, we must consistently continue the offensive that we have begun. Nationally as well as on a municipal level.
[Ed. Note: Sam Tanson has decided to combine her answers to questions 3 and 4 into one.]
What are the three most priority actions your party will try to initiate in the next Chamber of Deputies? // During the first 6 months of the new Chamber of Deputies, please identify the three to 5 most priority changes your party will initiate to improve the circumstances and enhance the quality of life of the inhabitants of Luxembourg.
If we want to improve the circumstances and enhance the quality of life of the inhabitants of Luxembourg our primary goal must be to create a liveable, sustainable, and just country. To achieve this goal, we need to continue pursuing a progressive policy agenda over the next five years. This requires a strong political will for bold decisions and, above all, the right prioritisation.
For my party, there are five major priorities:
- Climate Protection
The climate crisis is one of the greatest challenges of our time. If we want to leave a liveable world to our children we must act now. Climate protection is consequently one of our top political priorities for the next legislative period. We have already taken the right steps over the past 10 years, with record investments in climate protection, the Climate Protection Act, and the measures of the “PNEC” (the Integrated National energy and Climate Plan). It is now essential to implement these measures consistently. As déi gréng, we will guarantee that this happens and that there will be no standstill when it comes to climate protection.
- Environmental Protection
Protecting the environment means protecting ourselves! In recent years, we have already achieved much in this domain. We have implemented comprehensive reforms in the areas of nature conservation, water protection, and biodiversity and have demonstrated that consistent environmental protection needs a strong Green Party within Government. Despite the progress we have already made, there is still much to do if we want to leave intact habitats, healthy forests, and clean waters for the next generation. The expansion of our nature reserves, the restoration of our streams and rivers and the greening of our cities and villages therefore remains one of our major priorities for the months and the next legislative term.
- Addressing the Housing Crisis
In addition to the climate and biodiversity crises, we will continue to address the housing crisis in our country. We will consistently drive forward the affordable housing construction initiative initiated by our Minister Henri Kox. It is our aim, to henceforth create at least 800 new affordable homes per year.
- Transport and Mobility
In the last 10 years, significant progress has been made when it comes to transport and in mobility in this country. Our Minister of Transport, François Bausch has managed to catch up on decades of backlog and finally brought the state our public transport to where it should have been a long time ago. Now, it is crucial to continue this hard work and implement the Mobility Plan 2035 with determination and without delays.
- Social Justice
Luxembourg needs more solidarity and social justice. We all benefit from this because social justice and equal opportunities not only strengthen our democracy but also our economy. As déi gréng, we will make the fight against poverty and inequality in our country a top priority for the coming months and years, ensuring better support for those who need it and addressing structural causes for inequalities in our country. This also includes empowering our children. Because a society that invests in its children, invests in its future.
- During the of the new Chamber of Deputies first 6 months, please identify the three to 5 most priority changes you will initiate to strengthen the economy of Luxembourg and increase the attractiveness of Luxembourg as an international business location in Europe.
About a year ago, the American Congress passed an $891 billion investment and tax incentive program to transform the United States environmentally and socially. It is the largest public investment program in the USA since Roosevelt’s New Deal 90 years ago. Enormous sums are allocated to expanding renewable energy production, electrifying mobility, improving railways, protecting water bodies, and providing affordable health care to the American people. In Luxembourg, we also need a similar investment package. We need the right fiscal and economic framework to successfully navigate the ecological transition while strengthening social cohesion and ensure a sustainable economy.
My party therefore advocates for a “Green New Deal” for Luxembourg. It includes:
- A multi-billion-euro investment package in sustainable mobility, secure and renewable energy, and affordable housing
Such state investments provide security for businesses. Investments in sustainable mobility, renewable energy, energy-efficient renovations, public housing construction, digitalisation, and R&D for a profound ecological transition must therefore enjoy top budgetary priority. Our investment package will secure businesses, strengthen our economy, and make Luxembourg a hub for sustainable development. It will create high-quality jobs, increase long-term tax revenue, whilst also ensuring social security.
- An ecological tax reform
This includes reducing VAT on repair work, tax incentives for households and businesses, and a socially fair carbon tax. We also aim to introduce tax incentives for households and businesses, such as a tax climate bonus for home savings plans used for energy-efficient renovations or transitioning to eco-friendly heating systems. Furthermore, we propose tax benefits for investments in innovative and sustainable startups, as well as for companies that invest in resource-efficient and eco-friendly production processes.
- Strengthening the crafts sector
A strong crafts sector is essential for a successful ecological transition. To address current challenges, including a shortage of skilled workers and rising material costs, we propose developing a strategy for the craft sector while enhancing the image of craft professions. We plan to launch a training initiative and establish a “Luxembourg Energy Transition School” to make climate-related professions more attractive and to offer training and further education for skilled workers. We want to pre-finance climate subsidies from the state. This does not just have the advantage that it makes climate protection as straightforward as possible, but ensures a steady stream of projects for businesses specializing in energy-efficient renovations or the installation of heat pumps and solar panels etc.
- Supporting innovation
In a constantly evolving economy, we need to actively engage with new technologies such as artificial intelligence. To effectively incorporate new technologies into existing processes, we will create a national competence centre (knowledge-hub) for artificial intelligence to build expertise in this area and advise businesses and state actors. We also intend to proactively promote sustainable innovation through a fund that invests in startups, developing future technologies for addressing the climate crisis in “Deep Tech” and “Climate Tech” fields. With the creation of a “Fab Lab” we will provide small and medium-sized businesses the opportunity to experiment with new technologies before investing, following the “test before invest” principle. Finally, we will support the industrial sector’s transition towards more sustainable production processes through targeted subsidies.
- If you have an additional question, you would have liked to be asked that we neglected, please identify that question and answer it.
Why should people vote for déi gréng this Sunday?
Over the past ten years, thanks to déi gréng, significant progress has been made and important decisions have been taken to guarantee a sustainable future of our country.
On October 8th, we will face a choice: to continue this progressive path that favours climate protection, and which ensures a good living environment for our children, or, to stagnate and to regress to a policy agenda of the past.
Strengthening déi gréng is a guarantee for a fairer Luxembourg where it is good to live and where the future is secure. Because a vote for déi gréng is also a vote for:
- strong and determined climate protection
- a thriving environment
- a good quality of life for everyone
- equal opportunities for our children
- affordable housing
- efficient mobility
- a forward-looking and sustainable economy
- agriculture without pesticides
With your vote you make a choice! Choosing déi gréng means choosing the future.