Housing Minister Henri Kox at the opening ceremony of Home Expo 2019; Credit: MLog

The opening ceremony of the "National Housing Week" and the "Home & Living Expo" took place on Saturday 12 October 2019 at Luxexpo The Box in Luxembourg-Kirchberg.

Their Royal Highnesses the Hereditary Grand Duke and the Hereditary Grand Duchess attended this year's opening, as did Luxembourg's Minister for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises, Lex Delles, and the newly appointed Minister of Housing, Henri Kox.

In his address, Housing Minister Henri Kox outlined the housing policy in continuity with his predecessor Sam Tanson. He stated: "In the face of increasing housing demand and rising prices, priority is being given to substantially increasing the supply of affordable public housing to create real prospects for people who are finding it increasingly difficult to find reasonably priced housing. To do this, the public rental stock will be considerably enlarged". He added: "Two planned reforms are moving in this direction: the new Housing Pact 2.0 and the reform of the law on individual aid and the subsidisation of building constructions".

Henri Kox went on to emphasise the establishment of a clear regulatory framework and announced concrete measures to mobilise construction areas. In the future, the general rule will be to ensure that 10% of dwellings in special development plans (plans d'aménagement particuliers; PAPs) larger than 25 units are reserved for affordable housing. Discussions will then look at increasing this percentage to 20% or possibly to 30%, as already foreseen in the housing sector plan. This may also pave the way for a larger percentage of affordable housing for the public.

Minister Kox similarly presented ministerial consolidation as another tool to accelerate the viabilisation of building plots: "Where it makes sense, and in harmony with the nature protection law, the construction perimeters can be extended on a case-by-case basis according to the principle of development contracts (Baulandvertrag), the implementation of which will be linked to an obligation of construction to avoid the "Baulücken" [vacant spots] of tomorrow!"

The Housing Minister also called for the collective responsibility of all those involved, arguing that: "The social cohesion of the country needs solid foundations. In the housing sector, these foundations consist in the massive construction of public rental housing. We must start there".

For his part, Minister for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises, Lex Delles, cited digitalisation as "the major challenge facing small and medium-sized businesses". Nevertheless, he continued: "Together, we will rise to this challenge with precise measurements. The Fit4Digital digitalisation program, the digital commercial cadastre and the national online sales platform "Letzshop" are just a few examples".

In addition, Lex Delles pointed out that the Ministry of Economy's General Directorate for SMEs and Entrepreneurship has strengthened the supervision of small and medium-sized enterprises by expanding its presence at the House of Entrepreneurship "to ensure a favourable environment for the creation and development of SMEs to continue to play a vital role for our economy".