# 57 2018 F E B R UARY
L U X E M B O U R G
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AF C U R R E NT BU SI N E SS LI FE STYLE
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HOW CAROLE DIESCHBOURG HALLENGE C 0 H E 2 H T G N IS MANAGI
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LETTER FROM THE EDITOR
LET’S H IT FOR EAR PRAGM THE ATISTS Pie headlinrre Gramegn Londo es with his a has made n’s fina ncial cseensible viewisnternational ntre in on the a post-B ro rexit wle of orld.
motions on both sides of the Brexit at the World Economic Forum in Davos. argument have hardly been dampened Unfortunately, in the current climate where since the momentous decision by UK dramatic statements are a godsend to media voters on 23 June 2016 to leave the Euro- with their own agenda, Gramegna’s appeal pean Union. While a few of those who for pragmatism did not make the same sort voted in favour of Brexit have expressed of splash as Trump’s statement that he buyer’s regret, the majority of the rest “would have taken a tougher stand” than seem to be full of righteous anger and Theresa May in negotiating with the EU. “Let’s try to be more positive, let’s try to bitterness. They see their desire to make a clean break being fudged by the caution dedramatise the whole negotiation,” of their own politicians and Gramegna said, while berating by EU negotiators who they those within the EU who he says are trying to punish the think are out to punish Britain. “POLITICIANS United Kingdom. He warns The remainers are equally HAVE TAKEN that weakening London as a angry and deeply concerned ADVANTAGE that the rights they have financial centre would also enjoyed as EU citizens might weaken Europe. “Let’s not OF THESE be stripped away. Politicians have London drift into the EMOTIONS in the UK and the EU, and Atlantic, let’s make sure we TO FURTHER even from across the Atlantic, have a working relationship THEIR OWN have taken advantage of these with London.” AGENDA.” emotions to further their own His words are echoed by agenda. The likes of Boris prime minister Xavier Bettel, Johnson, Nigel Farage, Jeanwho says that although he is Claude Juncker, Guy Verhofstadt and, yes, opposed to the UK being allowed to “cherry- Donald Trump have all made combative pick” terms of any post-Brexit deal, his and sometimes outrageous statements on top priority is to limit the negative impact Brexit that have been more damaging than of Brexit for both the UK and the EU. beneficial to the already strained negoti- “Pragmatism will be needed in these negoations between the UK and the EU. tiations on both sides,” he said earlier in As we approach halfway to Brexit, thank January. Luxembourg’s politicians may goodness, then, for the level head of someone well be able to afford the luxury of praglike Pierre Gramegna. The Luxembourg matism, but let’s hope that, once again, finance minister has frequently been sought the grand duchy can play the role of arbitrator out for his opinions on Brexit, and in par- in a European dispute. ticular the future of London as a financial centre. His latest pronouncement on the DUNCAN ROBERTS subject came in an interview with CNBC Editor-in-chief
ON MY MIND Luxembourg City Film Festival’s great line-up (see page 86) --trying to make sense of the cryptocurrency hype-disappointed that Food For Your Senses will not take place this year. February 2018
corporate finance economic modelling strategy & negotiation executive support fundraising
business advisory arendt.com/advisory
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Write to PO Box 728 L-2017 Luxembourg Offices 10 rue des Gaulois, Luxembourg-Bonnevoie ISSN 2220-5535 Web www.maisonmoderne.com Founder and chairman Mike Koedinger CEO Richard Karacian Administrative and financial director Etienne Velasti Phone (+352) 20 70 70-150 Fax (+352) 29 66 19 E-mail email@example.com Editor-in-chief Duncan Roberts (firstname.lastname@example.org) Desk editor Aaron Grunwald (email@example.com) Journalists Jess Bauldry (firstname.lastname@example.org) Martine Huberty (email@example.com) Contributors Stephen Evans, Sarita Rao, Alix Rassel Photography Marion Dessard, Lala La Photo, Mike Zenari, Matic Zorman Proofreading Pauline Berg, Lisa Cacciatore, Laura Dubuisson, Sarah Lambolez, Elena Sebastiani DESIGN Phone (+352) 20 70 70-200 Fax (+352) 27 62 12 62-84 E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org Director, Maison Moderne Studio Guido Kröger Creative director Jeremy Leslie Studio manager Stéphanie Poras-Schwickerath Art director Sascha Timplan Layout Tae Eun Kim (coordination)
DELANO FEBRUARY 2018 CURRENT AFFAIRS COVER STORY 16
THE STATE OF OUR WATERS
This winter has seen floods, while last summer was relatively dry. Faced with climate change and a growing population, what is Luxembourg doing to keep its water ecosystem in fine form?
Three men share their personal experiences.
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The glass ceiling in Luxembourg media.
Delano’s special report looks at real estate funds, cross-border regulation, exchange-traded funds and growth opportunities in Luxembourg.
In accordance with article 66 of the law of 08.06.2004 on the freedom of expression in the media: the company that publishes Delano is indirectly held, by a stake exceeding 25%, by Mike Koedinger, an independent editor registered in Luxembourg. Richard Karacian is chartered with daily management. Delano™ and Maison Moderne™ are trademarks used under licence by MM Publishing and Media S.A. © MM Publishing and Media S.A. (Luxembourg) COVER PHOTO
Luxembourg’s environment minister, Carole Dieschbourg. NOTE TO OUR READERS
The next print edition of Delano will be published on 18 April. For daily news updates, commentary and our weekly what’s on guide, visit www.delano.lu.
Breathable living spaces free of toxicity and designed for sustainability are essential to well-being.
THE FINAL CUT
Delano’s guide to the Luxembourg City Film Festival.
AIFM services with a personal touch: Itâ€™s all about the people.
Your Independent AIF Manager in Luxembourg. pancura.lu + Perfect Team: AIF-Services from pandomus.lu
Iulian Florin wants to share his love of blockchain technology, best known for its use in bitcoins, with a series of workshops for the public.
Local artisans were able to show off their wares at the crafty event in Kirchberg.
The managing partner at den Atelier previews the upcoming Siren’s Call festival.
LIFE AFTER BREXIT
Ever wonder where your recycling goes? Delano followed some of those ubiquitous blue bags to Bech-Kleinmacher.
MEP Viviane Reding told the British Chamber of Commerce that ordinary citizens should not suffer because of the UK’s decision to quit the EU. 44
The new University of Luxembourg rector wants his “jewel” of an institution to shine. 26
Luxembourg has scored well on several recent economic indicators. What’s looking rosy and what clouds are on the horizon? 48
DELANO DIGITAL HIGHLIGHTS
PLANNING A BREAK
Already thinking about a springtime getaway or an extended summer holiday? That’s what they were thinking about too. 74
She quit her job in journalism to launch an economic advisory firm. icon_website www.delano.lu/careers
BRITISH LADIES CLUB
The 49-year-old group isn’t just for Brits. In fact, 30 nationalities figure among its membership. Here’s a look at the BLC’s newcomers, children’s and fundraising (among other) activities. 82
The left party MP talks to Delano about the DP-CSV coalition running the capital and the upcoming general election. 34
A peek at the Tornado Luxembourg ice hockey team in training.
University of Luxembourg data officer shares tips on preparing for new EU rules. icon_website www.delano.lu/business
To truly profit from the growing fintech sector, Luxembourg will need its female workforce on-board. Here are some ideas. 54
POWER TO THE PEOPLE
A look at the grand duchy’s changing energy market. 64
How and where in Bertrange, Devorah Blachor wrote The feminist’s guide to raising a little princess. 84
What the Portuguese book addict brought from home when she moved to Luxembourg. Part of our “In my suitcase” series. 90
Sunflower crèche leaders were in Tanzania for inauguration. icon_website www.delano.lu/snapshots
How three friends have created a part-time business making 3D videos. 68
How the Festival of English-language School Theatre came about, and what’s on the bill for the end of February. 98
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SHARING A COMMON LANGUAGE When Adham Al-Sayyad isn’t researching laser welding as a PhD candidate at the University of Luxembourg, he organises traditional music workshops. Part of our “Clocking off!” series.
Delano’s advice columnist answers readers’ questions on political campaigning, the Davos summit and learning Luxembourgish in America.
Find a complete line-up of community, culture and networking events. icon_website www.delano.lu/agenda WANT MORE? Sign up for Delano’s “Noon briefing” email newsletter. Go to the bottom of our home page.
Lala La Photo University of Luxembourg Sunflower Montessori Luxembourg
THE END OF THE RACE Jeff Bauer narrowly missed out on a chance to represent Luxembourg in the Winter Olympics this year. But his journey to qualification was a race in itself.
or engineer and skeleton athlete Jeff Bauer, the last few months have been one long race to qualify for the Winter Olympics and gain nationality. The American citizen, who took up skeleton for “fun” four years ago, last year set his sights on competing for Luxembourg in the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang. Having lived in Luxembourg from the age of 6 to 17, he took a sabbatical from his job as manager with Triumph Gear Systems to focus on qualifying. “Most of my practice was in Canada,” Bauer said. As a self-funded athlete, he benefited from development packages for smaller nations, giving him track time, accommodation and
coaching in places like Whistler, Canada. “Whistler was a crash course. I thought I broke something in Whistler. I can’t believe I didn’t!” he said, adding: “At that track, I crashed more than in any period of time since starting, and by crash, I mean coming out of a corner and flipping or slamming into a wall.” He took the knocks and bruises in his stride and went on to have a strong season, recording speeds of 135km/h. So focused was Bauer on improving that before he knew it, he was close to qualifying and eventually secured a place just two weeks before the start of the games. But, that left one problem: he still needed to get
Photos: Maison Moderne Numbers sources: COSL Team Lëtzebuerg; Luxembourg Football Federation (FLF)
nationality. Bauer had grown up in Luxembourg when his father started a job here in 1981. He studied at what was then the American school and was actively involved with the sports community, playing junior basketball for the national team. But he never got the passport. When the nationality law changed on 1 April 2017, he set about taking language classes. Bauer already had a residence in Luxembourg and split his time between training and his grand duchy home to get his language level up. He secured a last-minute place in the language test when someone dropped out. Although he passed with flying colours, it was the processing of his paperwork that eventually proved to be the toughest hurdle. Despite the fact that the organisers extended the deadline three times, Bauer did not get the green light in time and his place went to another athlete.
PERSONAL JOURNEY Broken-hearted and crestfallen after learning the news just ten days from the games, Bauer’s disappointment is not only that of a natural competitor’s--competing for Luxembourg was also a deeply personal journey. Three generations of Bauer’s family have lived in Luxembourg. When he conducted family research as part of his application for citizenship, Bauer learned that both his grandfather and great-uncle were in Luxembourg during WWII, fighting on the side of the allies. His grandfather even marched through the town where Bauer has a residence, Larochette. His uncle, meanwhile, spent his convalescence from an injury in a farm in Itzig, not far from where Bauer’s family had lived in the 1980s. After the war, his grandfather returned to Luxembourg with his father to work for Goodyear from 1958 to 1961. When Bauer’s family returned to the US in the 1990s, he said his parents separated, strengthening his attachment to his time in the grand duchy. “When we talk about doing skeleton, being on the national team
for Luxembourg and then this, it’s not just doing a sport, it’s doing something more for the family heritage,” Bauer said. It means Matthieu Osch, competing in the slalom/giant slalom, will be the only athlete in the Luxembourg delegation this year. icon_website www.olympic.org/pyeongchang-2018
Text by JESS BAULDRY Photography by MAISON MODERNE
125,000 Licensed athletes in the grand duchy
MAKING CRYPTO LESS CRYPTIC Former university lecturer Iulian Florin says he doesn’t go to work for money. He does it for the love of blockchain, a technology most commonly associated with cryptocurrencies.
he Romanian national came to Luxembourg in September 2017 to work for Grant Thornton’s technology hub where he is responsible for blockchain. It’s an impressive feat considering he only began learning about it a year ago. “I started to learn because I was looking at cryptocurrencies and saw so many increases over time, I had to find out why,” he tells Delano. Florin dug deeper and discovered vast advantages to blockchain compared to traditional banking in terms of speed, cost and accessibility as well as potential applications for securely transferring other items such as documents or even votes. He was so impressed by the potential of blockchain that he decided to teach others. Last year in Romania, he organised five crash courses in cryptocurrencies and in 2018, he hopes to start beginners’ meetups in Luxembourg. “If I organise a meetup and say we’re going to talk about blockchain, no one will come,” Florin laughs, adding: “But if I organise a meetup
about blockchain and cryptocurrency, you have a lot of interested people.” His workshops introduce people of all levels to this world via a simulated wallet app. He gets them started on transactions, explaining the differences between banking and cryptocurrencies. He then explains how demand and supply will dictate the exchange rate between the coin or currency and value. The key driver for most people who take his workshops is the potential to make quick money. “Right now, there is real euphoria and you see huge increases over hours,” Florin says, warning that getting rich is not a guaranteed outcome. “I say you have to be
prepared to lose the same amount of money you want to win. It’s about gambling and gaming.” Indeed, for anyone buying virtual money, Florin’s second valuable piece of advice is to sit on your coin for at least 12 months and ride out the volatility, which he suggests is caused by a lack of education. “In my opinion, we’ve this huge volatility in the market because people don’t know enough about blockchain and cryptocurrencies and how they work.” If 2017 was the “inception year” for cryptocurrencies, the Romanian national predicts that 2018 will be the adoption year. “Not like businesses using cryptocurrencies but adoption for users,” Florin says, explaining: “We will transfer a specific amount of coin from one person to another in exchange for something. I already see a lot of announcements where people selling cars or houses are accepting payment in bitcoin.” With over 1,300 different cryptocurrencies on the market and more emerging each day, Florin says it is never too late to start buying coin, particularly in one of the emerging cryptocurrencies. And, while the technology is still some way off being able to compete with the speed of traditional financial technology, it’s just a matter of time. icon_website www.meetup.com/educoin/ icon_website www.educoin.me
WHERE YOUR RECYCLING GOES The contents of the blue Valorlux recycling bags have a few steps to go from being collected from your home to starting a new life as something else. The first is at the Hein Déchets sorting plant in Bech-Kleinmacher. Valorlux accounts for about a fifth of profits at the site, which sorts 30 to 35 tonnes for the company daily. Automated processes do the lion’s share of the work, sorting plastics from metal and drinks cartoons as the contents of the bags are emptied onto a giant processing conveyor belt. Anything it cannot recycle is incinerated to create energy. To meet recycling targets, the site will be expanded this year, increasing the capacity of materials sorted from 14,000 tonnes per year to 25,000. JB
SORTED! A. At busy times, blue bags are stored in a 2,500m2 hangar B. Each bag contains around 2 kilos of material C. The bags are placed onto an adapted conveyor belt which empties them D. This belt moves at around 3 metres per second E. A perforated drum helps to sort out small residual pieces which cannot be recycled F. Bays contain sorted plastic bottles, drinks cartons and cans G. Sorted material is packed into bails and stacked for delivery to the next stage icon_website www.valorlux.lu
Reported by JESS BAULDRY
40,000 Registered football players
CATCHING UP WITH…
STÉPHANE PALLAGE The new rector of the University of Luxembourg aims to take the institution to the next level.
een from abroad, the University of Luxembourg is a “motor of innovation and change”, said Stéphane Pallage. The 48-year-old Belgian-Canadian, whose appointment was confirmed last October, took up his post on 1 January. Pallage is familiar with Luxembourg, having spent his formative years in Malmedy, Belgium, and often visiting his grandparents from the Arlon area. A graduate of the University of Liège, Pallage earned a master’s degree in industrial administration and a PhD in economic sciences from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. As a professor at the University of Quebec in Montreal, he worked extensively on applied macroeconomics, dynamic general equilibrium models, international aid and the fight against child labour. He had been the dean of the School of Management at the University of Quebec in Montreal since 2013. He described the University of Luxembourg as “a jewel”, and one of the few places with such massive potential that it could take him away from Montreal. And he brushed aside talk of controversy regarding the university’s finances and the resignation last spring of his predecessor Rainer Klump. Rather, he praised what he called the vision by successive governments to invest in the university as a model for industrial nations. He said that 2017 had been a “balanced” year financially, and that team spirit at the university was positive. Indeed, the higher education ministry has pledged to finance the university to the tune of €766.84m over the next four years. “The 30% increase of this subsidy, compared to the previous contract, is a signal of the confidence which the government places in us,” Pallage said. Citing the fact that the university was ranked 11th among all universities in the world under 50 years old, he added that “our aim now is to make it one of the best in the world, which I think is quite achievable.” Pallage acknowledged that the university had grown rapidly--it celebrates its 15th anniversary this year--and the main challenge he sees is to take it from successful start-up to a world class institution. “Conditions are good to start my mandate.” Text by DUNCAN ROBERTS
3,500 Volunteers involved in all sports
GETTING SOBER IN LUXEM BOURG St Patrick’s Day 2018 will mark two years since an expat mum gave up alcohol. She shares her recovery experience.
racy (not her real name) began her email to Delano by writing: “It was here in Luxembourg that I got sober and eventually learned that there is no other life that I want to live except a sober life.” The British national, who sought help for her alcohol addiction 22 months ago, said she reached out to the magazine because she wanted people to know “it’s worth sticking it out”. When we met in a café before Christmas, Tracy was at ease as she recalled life before beginning her recovery. “I think I had always been one of those people who drink too much at parties,” she said, laughing. Her dependency on alcohol gradually became stronger until she noticed she was buying bottles of crémant for an evening and finishing them in 1.5 hours. “It seemed like an instant solution when you come February 2018
home at the end of a stressful day.” She said the problem became more acute after moving to Luxembourg, where alcohol was easily accessible. Tracy said she struggled to cope with the change and did not feel able to ask for help. “All the change that surrounds the move definitely had an effect. Add crémant and hey, presto!” she joked. One of the tipping points was when she realised that the dopamine “pleasure” receptors in her brain had been reduced so much that she needed to drink more to get the desired thrill. It reached the point where “nothing was fully pleasurable unless it was experienced under the influence of a bottle of wine”. Tracy sought help in early 2016. She said that talking to her GP was easier than she expected, and she first tried a medication that would allow her to drink one alcoholic drink but feel nauseous if she drank more. “The side effects made me feel a complete zombie. This was not a medication I could take long-term, no way!” The only other alternative was abstinence, a “dull, bleak” life in Tracy’s eyes but then she knew she could not go on as she had before. She discovered support group Alcoholics Anonymous online and prepared to go cold turkey. “I was intending for St Patrick’s to be my last blow out. I got food poisoning so it was my first day,” she laughed. During those first months, she said she could only see life in “24-hour periods of sobriety”. “At the beginning,
it’s like you’re holding on for dear life to those 24 hours. Later on, it’s more relaxed but it’s still 24 hours.” Tracy receives constant encouragement by attending AA meetings twice a week. By hearing the stories of other people who were able to live life to the full without alcohol and asking for help, she said she became part of a “movement bigger than my own tiny, self-obsessed universe. It was a great antidote to self-pity.” Tracy said that her family had been very supportive since joining the group, but she had received a mixed response from others. “Some people were thinking what I had chosen to do was over the top. They have this idea that these types of groups are for down and outs.” On the contrary, she says she has met a lot of “totally normal people” at her AA meetings. The support group is founded along a 12-step programme, which is spiritually anchored, though Tracy said this should not put people off and there are strident atheists in the group. Among the steps, members are encouraged to better understand and accept their flaws. Almost two years since she started the journey, the mother-of-two says she is able to enjoy social events sober and enjoy sober “conversations”. “I enjoy that element of having real interactions, even if they are not 100% wild or exciting, just normal and then I started to value that.” icon_website www.alcoholics-anonymous.lu
WANT TO PLAY SPORT? GET A LICENCE Playing competitive sport is one of the best ways to stay fit and to integrate in Luxembourg. But before you step onto the field of play, mount a horse or bike, or dive into the water, you need to get a licence from the relevant sports federation. This involves getting a medical at one of 14 centres médico-sportifs located in Differdange, Dudelange, Echternach, Esch-surAlzette, Ettelbruck, Grevenmacher, Junglinster, Luxembourg, Mersch, Pétange, Redange-sur-Attert, Steinfort, Troisvierges and Wiltz. The medical is obligatory for any athlete over the age of seven who wants to play competitive sport. After the first licence is obtained, further medicals are required during the year in which the athlete reaches the age of 12, 15, 20, 30, 40, 45 and 50. The medical is required for most disciplines, which are deemed Category A sports. Category B sports, dance, some less strenuous equestrian disciplines and archery do not require regular check-ups. And practitioners of Category C sports--the likes of darts, chess, curling, billiards, golf, jeu de quilles and table football--do not require any form of medical. icon_website www.sport.public.lu
Reported by JESS BAULDRY
1,550 Sports clubs in Luxembourg
Maison Moderne > Mike Zenari (archives)
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LIQUID INSPIRATION FOR HIT BOOK
ince 2014, Brontë Aurell has been writing about Scandinavian food and culture and has published several books, as well as appearing on TV and radio. What few people know is that she has deep connections to Luxembourg, and that the grand duchy has helped to mould her current career. Brontë currently lives in London with her Swedish husband Jonas and runs the popular ScandiKitchen, a café, Nordic grocery store and catering company, just around the corner from the BBC headquarters. “When I wrote my first cookbook back in 2014, there weren’t many Scandinavian cookbooks out there, to be honest. But as interest in Scandinavia grew, I began to write more. These days, I get paid to do the thing I love and, man, does it feel good!” Brontë, a Danish national, moved to Luxembourg when she was 16 years old and naturally has strong ties with the country she grew up in. “Every year on the Grand Duke’s birthday, I wish I was back in Luxembourg celebrating with everyone else! I miss the north of the country, swimming outside at Remich and randomly meeting friends for drinks in bars after work. That doesn’t happen in bigger cities. I am the person I am today because of where I grew up, so of course Luxembourg is important to me.” Like many young entrepreneurs, Brontë moved to London in her twenties and continued to work in finance before finding her way into startups like Innocent. Realising her heart was in food, she opened ScandiKitchen 11 years ago. “London gave me opportunities that I couldn’t February 2018
find so easily at the time in Luxembourg. Looking back now, I’m sure that many lunches in the ScanShop in Neudorf in some way inspired me to open ScandiKitchen.” Whilst London is certainly a lot larger than little Luxembourg, it is also a melting pot of nationalities, just as the grand duchy is. When she has the opportunity to come to Luxembourg, Brontë finds it an excellent opportunity to write. “I’ve been a writer all my life, just not always a published one,” she smiles. “Luxembourg is one of those places where, for some reason, for me, words flow and I find head space to write. The little outdoor space in Liquid overlooking the water is one of those perfect spots.” She has received positive notices in the international media. North: How to Live Scandinavian was listed in a New York Times article about Scandinavian writing. Her next book, Summer, will
be out in March 2018. Brontë knows how lucky she is to have a career that she loves and has words of encouragement for anyone who wants to follow their own dreams. “It’s 90% guts and 10% action. Always just go for it, because you’ll never get another life or chance to do it again,” she says. “The difference between people who do it and the people who don’t is often not a question of talent, but courage. You just need to be prepared to look like a fool, which I’m making into an art form, and take the chance.” icon_website www.bronteaurell.com
Reported by ALIX RASSEL
LESSON OF A LIFETIME A Greek-American musician living in Luxembourg is paying tribute to his former teacher: bringing his work to a wider audience by publishing his compositions.
hen prolific American composer and musician Richard Lane passed away in 2004, his protégé, Demosthenes Dimitrakoulakos, or Demo, learned he had left the rights to his life’s work to him. “The executor of the estate shipped all of his music to Germany for me to have. There were 40 legal sized boxes of music,” Demo said. He set about organising and cataloguing everything, an epic
task since everything had been hand-written. Demo discovered that Lane wrote over 500 compositions for a range of instruments and musicians of all levels. Among them is The Magician’s Shoes, a musical theatre composition that was performed by students at the International School of Luxembourg in January, where Demo now works as a teacher, and the Luxembourg Chamber Orchestra. “He wrote it in 1953 when he was 20, for his teacher, Isadore Freeman, who was the pianist at the New York Philharmonic,” the music teacher said. The piece, which had not been performed for over 65 years, is a
Best-selling author Brontë Aurell penned much of her fourth book, North: How to Live Scandinavian, on the terrace of Liquid Bar in the Grund.
musical fable about a magician’s shoes which run away. In addition to the performance, with the help of colleagues, the teacher had the story translated into French, German and Luxembourgish. “My hope is that this will be the first of many performances here in Luxembourg. Maybe Luxembourg and French schools can perform it,” he said. Demo first met Lane in 1997 during his university studies while looking for a piano tutor. “The hour lesson turned into an entire day. He was just a really warm and open, caring individual, and really genuine,” he said. Lane never charged him for lessons and remained his teacher until his death. Demo spent summers with Lane at his Cape Cod retreat and, when he moved away, Lane tutored him over the phone, sending exercises by post. “I went to study piano with him but ended up learning everything I could about music, from composition to music history and theory.” Lane was born in New Jersey, in 1933. He studied at the prestigious Eastman School of Music in New York state and later became a musician in an army band. In 1959, Lane was one of 12 modern composers invited to do a 12-month residence in a public school. He was one of only two to return the following year. During that time, he composed 74 pieces, of which 35 were for the students. Over the course of his lifetime, he also composed for several famous musicians. Yet, astonishingly, only 11 out of his 500 pieces were ever published. “He didn’t care about marketing his music. He just wanted to compose,” Demo said. “I think that played a big part in why other people don’t know much about him.” But soon they will. Demo is publishing Lane’s works through Swiss publishers Editions Bim, who have already published 100 pieces. Bim will shortly publish a biography of Lane’s life, written by Demo. What is more, royalties from these works have helped create a scholarship in Lane’s name at Eastman. icon_website w ww.editions-bim.com
Reported by JESS BAULDRY
“People are still eager to sing along.” Born 24 July 1940 in Luxembourg Career highlights 1955 Became a professional musician 1969 ‘Pretty Belinda--Ich sitze im Schlauchboot’ 1982 Fuesparty mam Fausti, in collaboration with Jang Linster 1995 Fiesta mam Fausti and ‘Zwou Bulle Mokka’, which he said, is “almost like a second national hymn” 1999 Specktakel 2014 Raschte Kanns De Dono 2015 Documentary Faustino One-Man-Show about his life
Whether it’s his belter ‘Zwou Bulle Mokka’, ‘T’ass Vakanz’, ‘Moss am Bic’ or ‘De Metti leeft dem Ketty’, chances are you’ll hear one or more of his classics at every village fest, carnival or après-ski party. The son of Italian immigrants Faustino Cima decided early on that his career would be in music. He said in an interview: “I used to run after the military music when they changed guards at the palace, all those marches--I loved them!” He plays the accordion, guitar, drums and bass, and sings in German and, since 1983, in Luxembourgish. He became a professional musician at the age of 15, playing with tango specialist Rico Truxillo in Lugano. After that, he was hired as a singer and drummer with orchestras such as those of Jempy Kemmer or Jean Roderes. He toured with The Luxembourg Singers in Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and Switzerland, and four years with his own band. Fausti’s own compositions are often cheeky, aim below the belt and often involve a play on words. But make no mistake, they are catchy. He is a true national icon, and an entertainer in the classic sense of the word. “Playing music, to me, means making people happy,” is his philosophy. For the past 20 years, Fausti has entertained passengers on the traditional Päischtcroisière, a cruise over the Whitsun holidays that caters specifically to Luxembourgers, and which is often described as a party cruise for the less young and old. In 2015, Luxembourg film director Andy Bausch paid homage to Fausti with a documentary about the singer. While critics cringe at his entertainment style and lyrics, calling him a “clown”, Fausti, for better or worse, is part of the popular culture. MH February 2018
Text by JESS BAULDRY and MARTINE HUBERTY
Photography by MIKE ZENARI and MAISON MODERNE
STATE OF Chances are you’ve been talking a lot about the weather recently--whether it’s snow, January’s floods or the milder weather. Faced with the challenges of a growing population and climate change, Delano examines the state of our water, how it is managed, and what is being done to ensure that we will still have healthy rivers and clean drinking water in the future.
A Swans swim by a flood marker near the Remich esplanade in January 2018
sk the average person on the street how climate change affects Luxembourg and most will look confused. The country has no icebergs or coastline to worry about, there is enough rainfall to irrigate crops, and rare are the days when you need to apply sun cream. But, like the rest of northern Europe, climate change is real in Luxembourg. “If you look at the evolution over time, we will have more extreme events in terms of temperature but also for precipitation,” Jürgen Junk, Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology’s senior researcher, told Delano. His team works on a national scale to assess the impact of climate change, studying observational data over an extended period for climate variations and trends. Drier summers and wetter winters are clear trends which will continue, he says. This is because as the planet heats up, more water evaporates creating more rainfall in specific regions. Extreme weather events, meanwhile, will also increase and become more intensive. “Water vapour is a very important greenhouse gas. If you have more water vapour, it’s logical that extreme events will increase because there is more energy in the atmosphere,” the climatologist explained. For Luxembourg, this means flash floods and droughts will become more frequent, placing an immense strain on the country’s water services and its economy. February 2018
HISTORIC FLOODS Selected, in cm APRIL 1983
951 MAY 1983
935 DECEMBER 1982
DECEMBER 1993 Carole Dieschbourg, Luxembourg’s environment minister
The land covered by water in Luxembourg
Total length of water courses
Note: Highest levels of the Moselle measured in Stadtbredimus for selected months. The “alert level” is 780cm. Other historic floods, along the Sûre, occurred in January 2001, January 2003 and January 2011, affecting the area around the Nordstad. Source: Service de la Navigation
“Apart from those issues, we also have the issue of loss of biodiversity, which impacts our ecosystems, and is also related to drought. Climate change will have major impacts on the health of people,” Luxembourg environment minister Carole Dieschbourg warned. “The biggest challenge is to get better water quality overall. We have been lagging behind because we don’t comply with several EU directives. The second issue is, for me, to give water the necessary space and create preventative measures against floods.” DRINKING WATER The provision of drinking water and good waste water management is a topic rarely discussed, but central to our health. While Luxembourg is currently self-sufficient in its water supply, the quality of its waters is poor. Only 2% of Luxembourg’s waters are in good condition. Currently, 50% of drinking water is sourced from the reservoir in Eschsur-Sûre, the rest comes from springs and water sources, Dieschbourg explained. Over the past 20 years, 7% of springs have been taken out of production because of pollution from pesticides or nitrates. Before 2013, the reservoir was the only protected water area in Luxembourg. Water treatment plants remove contaminants and undesirable components, or reduce their concentration so that the water becomes fit for its desired end-use. Luxembourg has been paying a fine of €2,800 per day since November 2013 to the European Commission because six water treatment plants for over 10,000 people did not conform to the latest standards. There are also over 100 smaller mechanical water treatment plants, which must be replaced and upgraded to meet modern standards. FLOODS AND DROUGHTS Floods along rivers have always happened in Luxembourg. The 2015 flood risk management plan states that they are partly due to the soil composition, which is heavily claybased. High clay contents lead to the formation of water-jamming horizons in the soil. The consequence is a change from temporary waterlogging (levels of the Minette foreland) with severe dehydration and hardening of the soil, especially on sun-exposed slopes. The change between the winter flood and the summer low water is due to the seasonal changes in evaporation losses. As a rule, the
flooding of large rivers is limited to the period between November and February, when these losses are the lowest due to the low temperatures. Geology plays a role in the discharge coefficients in the waters--variable in the winter of less than 25% (e.g., on sandstone) up to 75% (e.g., on marl). Droughts are also frequent, with the government regularly issuing water saving guidelines in the summer. Historic low levels on the Moselle were measured in 1976, 1996, 2003 and 2011. POPULATION AND ECONOMIC GROWTH Currently 590,000 people live in the grand duchy. Statec, the statistics office, has calculated various scenarios of population expansion related to economic growth in the medium and long term. Based on growth levels of 0% to 1.5%, Luxembourg’s population could reach 1 million inhabitants, while 3% to 4.5% growth would lead to either 1.1 or 1.2 million by 2060. Water consumption would certainly increase, requiring more water treatment infrastructure, more reservoirs and more tapping of sources. The environment minister said that they were anticipating the rise in water consumption, but added: “We have 180,000 cross-border workers every day, which leads to a very specific water situation. It is not just about the resident scenario. It’s important how our economy evolves, and which companies settle in industrial parks. A dairy factory needs lots of water, for example. Because of the high number of cross-border workers, we cannot just apply international models because we have fewer people in the night than during the day.” LIVING WITH FLOODS In summer, tourists flood the picturesque town of Remich situated on the Moselle river. In winter, depending on the year, the tourists are replaced by water--and lots of it. Journalists flocked to the town at the beginning of January, when days of torrential rain resulted in the river flooding shops and homes close to the water’s edge. It was an impressive sight: cars and trees submerged and water rising to the front steps of shops. But for locals it was nothing exceptional. “The ‘problem’ is all the people got used to it. Because it happens every one or two years. When I asked the hotel next door, they just said it’s business as usual,” one shop manager explained. Entrepreneurs
The river bed of the Sûre in Diekirch, pictured in January 2018, was deepened more than a decade ago to handle heavier water flows
A business in Remich, on the Moselle, is seen after flood water starts to recede in January 2018
Clean-up operation in action, January 2018
Access to boat ramps in Remich was a bit tricky on 9 January 2018
who opened businesses in Remich within the last 18 months were taken by surprise. “We were shocked when we saw it for the first time. To see water arrive and leave so quickly,” Um Schëff ’s manager Maurice Neuser said. Neighbouring business owners advised him to February 2018
move furniture and white goods to higher ground, which he did, when the waters entered the shop on 6 January. And, when the waters receded, he simply cleaned up. “We know what we can do now. We just lose four days’ worth of custom.” Further away from the centre, Zhang Yong and Wu Xuamiao, who run Ichiban, had a sleepless night. “After a few hours, we came down to watch the water rising, so we could do something to stop it damaging the restaurant,” Wu said. The restaurant also closed for four days, an expense which was not covered by insurance. In addition to costs to businesses, the last flood was costly to the local authority, whose personnel can work 24-hour shifts to pump water and manage infrastructure. “The technical service is very busy when floods come, they have to put up barriers, create diversions, take things down,” Remich mayor Jacques Sitz said. “When the water recedes, the cleaning must immediately start.” While Sitz is pinning a lot of hopes on the new flood risk management plan, which will widen the Moselle at strategic points like in Stadtbredimus, he is realistic about the challenge. “One thing is clear: you can’t stop water,” he said, adding that if another 100-year flood occurs, like that seen in 1983, the town will be in trouble. If the Moselle floods, the chances increase that its tributaries will have already risen. In Ingeldorf, in the commune of Erpeldange, where the Alzette flows into the Sûre (itself a Moselle tributary), severe floods used to occur almost every ten years. The local authority built a flood wall in 2003. “Other councils built cultural centres, while we built a flood wall,” Erpeldange mayor Claude Gleis said. It also invested in eight water pumps to remove the water that comes up into streets through the drains, and it hollowed out the river. The investment was huge and does not end there, as the infrastructure needs ongoing maintenance. It also requires a lot of manpower to close off the walls when water levels rise. While ten-year floods still impact half of Ingeldorf and some parts of Erpeldange (equivalent to 136 people), when water levels rose at the beginning of January 2018, the impact on public infrastructure was minimal. “I think our current defence system is well placed to ward off a major flood,” the mayor said. But they will be tested at the next 100-year flood, which is expected to submerge
Ingeldorf, impacting 1,554 residents. In the event of an extreme flood, this number rises to 2,445. SHIPPING Restaurants and shops are not the only businesses impacted by rapidly rising water levels. Since 1964, the Upper Moselle has served as a major highway for large-vessel ships. When water levels get too high, it is closed to traffic. The January 2018 floods forced a closure lasting 109 hours, the longest period recorded over the last five years (64.5 hours in 2016 and 77.5 hours in 2013). “A closing period of several days per year is certainly a loss for inland waterway transport and can lead to a slight decrease in river traffic in the order of 50,000 to 100,000 tonnes per year,” navigation spokesman Michel Schmitz explained. He added that the situation would be more serious if the river closure exceeded ten days, after which “shippers and charterers would be forced to turn to more reliable modes of transport (railways and roads) to supply stock. Such a situation would have a detrimental impact on river transport.” In addition to the costs of closure borne by the main river operators and stakeholders as a result of delays, the latest floods damaged land-based facilities managed by the navigation service including electrical stations. No figures were available on the actual cost, however. INSURING AGAINST THE PROBLEM In Remich town centre are a smattering of signs with dramatic photos of past floods, showing people travelling down the main street by boat. Floods are so common that the campsite on the other side of the river routinely asks tenants to remove all caravans before the end of October. While it may not happen annually, when flooding is that frequent it is complex to insure against. “It’s a tragedy that businesses have to close,” Lalux insurance agent Marc Lux said. But he points out there is little incentive for insurers to cover businesses in such a high-risk area. As a result, premiums tend to be high. Compensation for flood damage has, however, come a long way in the past two years. On 22 July 2016, freak floods engulfed homes, businesses and public infrastructure, in Medernach, Nommern, Ermsdorf and Larochette, near the Little Switzerland region of Luxembourg. Victims discovered the damage was not covered by their insurance policy. They
FLOOD SCENARIOS HQ10 FLOOD SCENARIO Happens statistically every 10 years: would affect 5,226 residents, or 0.95% of the total population HQ100 FLOOD SCENARIO Happens statistically every 100 years: would affect 14,577 residents, or 2.65% of the total population HQ EXTREME FLOOD SCENARIO Happens statistically less often than every 100 years: would affect 25,330 residents, or 4.61% of the total population Source: Flood risk management plan, 2015
15 WATERSHEDS PRESENT A SIGNIFICANT FLOOD RISK ALZETTE ATTERT PALL MAMER SÛRE WHITE ERNZ CLERVE MOSELLE BLACK ERNZ WARK ROUDBAACH EISCH OUR SYR WILTZ
appealed to the government, which responded by establishing a €30m financial aid fund (the majority of which covers repairs to infrastructure). Starting 1 June 2017, members of Luxembourg’s association for insurers, Aca, introduced a new complementary cover for floods for private individuals. It enables policy holders living in ten-year flood zones such as the banks of the Moselle, equivalent to 1% of the country’s population, to take out a complementary insurance offering compensation of up to €20,000 per year to cover buildings and their contents, per incident. Policyholders outside of this area can also take out an optional flood cover, offering the same conditions but with a higher compensation of up to €200,000 per year and per incident. Since its introduction, Aca said that 19,000 additional guarantees had been added to policies in Luxembourg. Not bad for six months’ work, but Lux suggests that people don’t take the risk seriously enough, given the fact that extreme weather is likely to become more frequent in future. “Until now, I would say 15% of customers have taken the flood cover. But people incorrectly interpret what flooding means,” the insurance rep said, explaining that it is not only homes located February 2018
next to water ways which are at risk. “It could be your house is struck by a storm which releases so much water that there is a mud slide. That’s flooding.” AGRICULTURE If wetter and milder winters and drier summers are the main climate trends facing Europe, it is not only floods that present a challenge. These conditions will also affect the development of plant diseases in certain crops and regions. Wheat leaf rust is among the most well-known fungal diseases because of the threat it poses to global cereal production. The disease was studied at two sites in Luxembourg from 2003 to 2013 and recorded in a report by Luxembourg researchers which was published in Climatic Change in January 2016. They found an average yield loss of 15% at both sites. List senior researcher
HOUSEHOLD WATER CONSUMPTION People use on average 150 litres of water a day. Flushing a toilet uses between 6 and 13.6 litres of water. A running tap uses over 6 litres per minute. An average 8-minute shower uses 62 litres of hot water. A typical bath uses around 80 litres of water. A typical laundry cycle can use between 6 and 20 litres of water per kilogram. Source: waterwise.org.uk
Jürgen Junk, who co-authored the report, said: “Trends show we will have more favourable conditions for WLR infections here in Luxembourg. It’s a common problem all over Europe.” Recommended responses to WLR include crop rotation and changing practices as fungal infestations tend to be more prominent where successive wheat crops are grown on infected stubble. But they are not perfect and under favourable weather conditions, rust spores increase and can be blown over large distances. A more common way to combat their spread is to use more pesticides and insecticides, a response which creates a knock-on effect on the population, as these chemicals enter the water system. Junk’s team is working on a research project to assess different models to enable farmers to reduce the chemical response. SHOOTING THE RAPIDS Water management is a competency of local authorities, who often run on tight budgets. Especially for smaller towns, the financial investments in waste water treatment plants, underground water pipes and flood defences are significant. They may equally not have the technical know-how of the latest standards, or see the bigger picture in water management. When the new DP-LSAP-Green coalition came to power in 2013, it moved the supervision from the interior ministry to the environment ministry. Dieschbourg, who is a Green party member, responded to the task by introducing more protection zones, renaturation projects for rivers and streams and importantly the new water law, passed in 2017. This law enables the government to subsidise 90% of the construction costs of flood defences and 100% of the research project. PROTECTING SOURCES Since 2013, the number of protected water sources has gone up from 1 to 12, and 13 more are on their way. In total, 80 protection zones will be established, Dieschbourg said. Because local councils have little autonomy on taxation, and since there aren’t floods every year, investments in other areas have been prioritised. The 2017 water law introduced a significant change: local councils can now get subsidies of up to 90% on their water management plans, whether they relate to drinking water infrastructure, waste water treatment, renaturing or flood prevention. The local authorities have to bring a project
to the ministry, which, if approved, will finance the research project and most of the costs. This is a big relief, especially for small councils. Dieschbourg stated: “We increased this budget as we want to do more about this, because weather extremes and floods happen more often.” The ministry is pushing for the modernisation of waste water treatment plants; the budget for the water fund increased from €60m to €84m. Currently, the only treatment plant (for over 10,000 inhabitants) that still needs to be updated is the one in Bleesbréck, near Diekirch. Another problem is drinking water pipes leaking; in some areas, they leak up to 30%. Good management of water infrastructure and of water reservoirs is crucial to ensuring that people can continue enjoying safe drinking water. Water towers and reservoirs are mushrooming in Luxembourg. The environment minister added: “Over the past years, water towers have become fashionable. The old ones must be replaced and adapted to current needs.” Dieschbourg is also worried about biodiversity and the ecosystems surrounding water streams and rivers. Renaturation projects, she argues, will also have some impact on floods. “For the past centuries, and especially the last century, we have taken space away from water, we embedded it in small streams in our villages, which had construction on both sides, and we straightened the course of rivers in many places. That is why today we work a lot on renaturation, on measures where water gets much more space before entering towns so that during a flood, the water can spread there.” COOPERATION Seeing the challenges people and local authorities face, it is essential that the environment ministry and local councils are on the same wavelength. Both mayors said they hardly knew anything about water management before coming into office and that it was a steep learning curve. Gleis said: “When you become mayor, in a town like Erpeldange-sur-Sûre, you get confronted with all aspects of water, whether it’s drinking water, waste water or floods. It is one of the most important responsibilities, but no one sees where the money goes. It’s all underground, under streets, in canals. It’s incredibly expensive and no one sees it.”
The Esch-sur-Sûre reservoir, seen last summer
The reservoir provides 50% of Luxembourg’s drinking water
and cling to every bit of information. It is rather dire in Luxembourg.” More could equally be done on cooperation between local authorities. “When floods come, everyone looks after themselves. We should set up […] a real emergency plan for the Nordstad [the six communes around Diekirch and Ettelbruck],” the Erpeldange mayor said.
Georges Kraus of Sebes, the organisation that runs the Esch-sur-Sûre dam, shows Delano’s Martine Huberty a model of the watershed inside the facility’s visitor centre in June 2017
Massive basins inside the dam complex filter drinking water
He found that cooperation with the ministry was going well: “The ministry does everything it can. We often get together with the water management administration. But I am sure some things can be improved, such as more intensive cooperation on the new flood risk management plan.” Dieschbourg added that since the new law has been in place, more local councils have approached them for water management plans: “Water management is always a colla boration between local authorities, who are responsible for a project, and the national authorities, which now spend a lot more money on preventative protection, restoration, flooding, but also resource protection.” However, Sitz indicated that improvements could be made for the flood update website inondations.lu, as it only provides updates every two to four hours, sometimes even less: “For those people who sit in the water, they wait
URBAN PLANNING Urban development plays a big role in paving over soil and can increase the risk of floods and flash floods. The new regulation allows construction in flood zones, but only under strict conditions and pending ministerial authorisation. Projects have to either not take away any volume where the water, in case of flooding, could spread (usually this is done by creating floodable zones or requiring construction on stilts); or if it, locally, does reduce the volume, compensation measures have to be implemented where the lost volume can go. Located between Diekirch and Ettelbruck, Ingeldorf is an attractive place to live. As such, it faces pressure to build more housing, pressure which has led to construction in flood risk areas. “We don’t ban construction on flood risk areas but it has to be factored in the planning permission. That means in future we will see houses on stilts or with garages where the water can pass through,” Gleis said. Indeed, a few stilt houses have already been built in the area. Dieschbourg said that “investing in bluegreen infrastructure is much cheaper than all other initiatives and you create win-win situations for biodiversity, the water habitat and people.” But the environment minister does not yet consider that everything is rosy for the future. She wants more prevention, an improvement of the water quality, and to see all the projects approved and implemented, which will take several years. She added that several new studies on water saving, on anticipating water requirements and supply by 2040 have been commissioned, and a new flood risk management plan is being worked out. She plans to get farmers on board and work with them much more closely on the use of pesticides. “We have to think in a connected way, and try to do something wherever it is possible to give water as much space as possible to reduce risk and improve the living spaces.”
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Text by MARTINE HUBERTY
Photography by MIKE ZENARI
While the city council does do this, it is few and far between. The problem, in general, is that we have the impression that this coalition agreement is rather meagre; they will look into things, there are many conditionals. There are not many concrete proposals and therefore it was difficult to intervene in the local council, because it was so slippery. Did the CSV, the junior NEWSMAKERS coalition partner, manage to set some policies? The CSV seems to have managed to assert itself in the area of security. I imagine the DP didn’t resist too hard. It plans to David Wagner, local councillor install more video surveillance, which in Luxembourg City and an was in the CSV’s election manifesto. MP for Déi Lénk (the left It is a controversial subject. A study, party), talks about the new published a few years ago, showed DP-CSV coalition that governs that, while CCTV cameras reassured the capital and the upcoming people, the problem of delinquency, which is not very high in Luxembourg, parliamentary elections. is not necessarily solved by them. The other portfolio of the CSV is Martine Huberty: How do you assess the priorities of the current local finances. The municipal business tax of the capital is one of the lowest Luxembourg City government? David Wagner: The needs of the in the country. Déi Lénk has always capital are generally known, starting advocated an increase. The tax bracket with the housing problem. The coa- [minimum 2% and maximum 4% lition sets it as a priority. But we have rate] is set by law, but local authorities to see what actions the DP-CSV wants have the autonomy within that bracket. to take. In our eyes, they don’t tackle Déi Lénk has advocated an increase the problem actively within the range to avoid local authorities entering into competition on this, at least between of possibilities that they do have. An example is the number of the city and its periphery. Others in affordable housing structures. The the south have done this. But Laurent law foresees that 10% of total per- Mosar [the CSV MP] keeps defending mitted building must be dedicated a strict line to keep the municipal to affordable housing. So far, “af- business tax on a low rate. fordable” was defined as 80% of the Do you think the two parties can average price. These flats or houses work well together? were then often sold as “social I think the CSV and DP agree in housing”, but very often they weren’t. principle on many things. Ideologically, The new coalition said it would they don’t have major problems. In the change this rate. Déi Lénk thinks capital, it’s almost in reverse: the CSV the council should build more houses is the appendage of the DP, while at itself and buy much more land. national level, it’s probably different. February 2018
What will be the major issues in the parliamentary elections? It looks like the discussions on the economic growth model could become a major election issue. We have to be very careful with that. If I understood it correctly, this growth discussion was launched after the 2015 referendum, and was put forward by the right: “We need to watch out, we’re being ‘flooded’. There are too many people who come to live in Luxembourg,” which was never said out loud, but implied. Put together with the debate around the use of the Luxembourgish language, it is not a very progressive approach. We want to debate what kind of economic model we want. Whether we still want a market economy, where the public sector has no say, where workers have little say and have to accept flexible work contracts. We are in this backwards trend. Now, the unemployment rate is at 5-6% according to official figures, and we have to add temporary contracts and low salaries. I hope the minimum wage becomes an election issue! We have been pushing it for a long time. The employment minister Nicolas Schmit has now also started to talk about it because of the elections, but it’s a bit hypocritical, because we introduced two motions in parliament to increase the minimum wage, and he said it wouldn’t be possible. How many seats do you hope Déi Lénk will win in the general election? I expect we will get an additional seat in the South [constituency] and we’re working towards an additional seat in the Centre, which will be more difficult, but is possible... We often hear: “In principle, you’re right, but it can’t be done.” I’ve heard that for the past 20 years, and afterwards they don’t vote for us! We need to change that.
DAVID WAGNER Wagner was local councillor in the capital from 2011 to 2014 and then again since 2017. He has been an MP for the left party Déi Lénk since 2015, when he replaced Justin Turpel. icon_facebook David Wagner
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MALE DEPRESSION: MORE COMMON THAN YOU THINK
Jan Hanrion (Maison Moderne)
We all have bad days, but depression is a medical condition often ignored by male sufferers because of the stigma attached to not coping. Three men share their personal experiences about dealing with mid-life depression.
ccording to the World Health Organisation, more than 300 million people suffer from depression. Until recently, few famous men were public about their struggle with depression, but today that list includes astronaut Buzz Aldrin, comedians Jim Carrey and Robin Williams, Prince Harry, decorated Olympian Michael Phelps, singer Bruce Springsteen and actors Brad Pitt and Alec Baldwin. You don’t have to be famous to suffer from depression. In Luxembourg, the SOS Détresse helpline received more than 3,000 calls and 600 emails in 2017, from people seeking help anonymously for grief, fear, isolation and depression. Mid-life male depression gets less of the spotlight than other forms such as teenage or post-natal depression, yet statistics suggest it is on the rise. The stigma that is still attached to depression means that the men who suffer it prefer to remain anonymous in case of repercussions in their work, family or social life. Three men living in Luxembourg have come forward. For reasons of anonymity, their names have been changed. “I felt that going about my daily life was like trying to swim through something viscous, against the current,” says 52-year-old Michael. For Frank, it started with constant problems sleeping: “I was restless, tired without energy and that stress resulted in heavy eczema,” he says. In his forties, Samuel says his experience is best described as “dysthymia” or minor depression, “but there was nothing minor in the psychological and physical manifestations”.
WARNING SIGNS Michele Engelke from Liberty Counselling Luxembourg explains that signs of depression can include feeling low and not able to find pleasure or excitement in life, insomnia or sleeping badly or too much, bingeing on carbohydrates or having no appetite. “Energy seems to come and go as it pleases, and depression sufferers often feel worthless, avoid social contact and find it hard to concentrate, make decisions or get motivated,” she says, adding: “At its worst, thoughts can turn to death or suicide.” The psychologist and director of the Luxembourg Institute for Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy, Robert Blanke, highlights the fact that 50% of major depressive episodes occur between the ages of 20 and
50. “Common precursors which usually start in adolescence include poor coping mechanisms and excessive demands,” he says. He concurs with Engelke that disturbed sleep, rumination, apathy, concentration problems, weight loss or gain, feeling sad or empty, and a loss of libido are all signs of depression. Samuel says of his experience: “I felt dead and weak inside.” He completed his university studies and started his career “pretty much under constant stress”. He found he was constantly ruminating: “I had thoughts of how worthless I was throughout the day, day in day out.” He felt severe exhaustion, persistent anxiety and eventually suffered a two-year period of insomnia. “My sleep started to break up, and I would get less than four hours sleep per night. Then I was fired from work and was unemployed, which was an immense strain on my relationship. There is a term, ‘anhedonia’, or a feeling that you can’t feel pleasure from anything. That was how I felt in my zombie-like state,” he describes. “It might have been my innate personality, I was a brainy, sensitive child, but I had an unhealthy atmosphere at home. My parents had high expectations of my academic achievements but provided low emotional support. I was unprepared for the stresses in life,” Samuel adds.
TOXIC ENVIRONMENT For Frank, the main issue was his supervisor who was controlling and abusive. “He created a toxic work environment in a place where many people were working as foreigners, so isolated from family and living in a small community,” he explains. The abuse was so extreme that sometimes Frank did not receive wage payments, which added to his sense of anxiety. Michael first felt depressed ten years ago when his father had dementia and needed to be put into a home. “I felt bad about him being there and my mother being alone, and me being too far away to help out,” he explains. “Being an expat or foreigner can definitely contribute to depression. Being alone, or with reduced social support, confronted with unusual customs, language or even food can be powerful elements in depression,” says Blanke. SOS Détresse confirms that “there are more women who seek help than men”. In 2017, only 36% of calls they received were February 2018
MICHELE ENGELKE Help the patient challenge negative ways of interpreting reality SYMPTOMS OF DEPRESSION ➜➜ Feeling sad ➜➜ Loss or decrease in interest for things which previously pleased you ➜➜ Loss or increase in appetite or weight ➜➜ Insomnia--cannot fall asleep, waking during the night, waking too early ➜➜ Excessive fatigue or lack of energy ➜➜ An inner tension, moving aimlessly or the opposite: a reduction in interest and energy in all areas of life ➜➜ Feelings of inferiority or guilt ➜➜ Difficulty concentrating ➜➜ Suicidal thoughts
from men. “We need a change in society that would lead to more men being ready to seek support and talk about psychological issues,” says Susana Campos from the voluntary organisation. Blanke agrees that statistically, men do tend to avoid therapy: “That’s too bad, given the underlying reason for not seeking out talk therapy may actually be a contributing factor in the depression.” He highlights that it’s important for everyone to understand that depression is not a weakness but a medical condition that needs treatment. “Some men, and even women, tend to think of depression as a weakness. They think they should be tough and not moan or whine. Depending on circumstances and the severity of symptoms, psychotherapy, biological treatment or a combination may be necessary,” he says.
It took a while for Michael to broach the subject “for all the usual macho reasons that I didn’t want to look as if I couldn’t cope with life,” he says. The second time he suffered from depression was when he discovered his mother was in the terminal stages of cancer. “I recognised the signs and asked my doctor for something to tide me over the period before and after her death. I decided I should take whatever drug would help me to be mentally present for my children and not drag them down with me. I don’t think my depression was severe enough to impact them, but I was probably a little absent mentally and emotionally,” he says.
COMPASSIONATE LISTENERS SOS Détresse advises people concerned that a friend, partner or family member is depressed not to “blame” them. “Depression is
an illness and people who are depressed do not have a choice,” says Campos. Saying “pull yourself together” or “you have to be strong” isn’t helpful. They advise you to bring up your concerns with the person, give them a chance to talk and be a compassionate non-judging listener. “Encourage them to seek professional help,” adds Campos. Frank used daily solar therapy to treat his eczema, and feels it also “took the negativity away”. Quitting his job and relocating back home helped, as did the physical activity of cycling and walking. At the point he hit rock bottom, Samuel “started to systematically investigate the topic of depression, anxiety and ways I could help myself ”. He investigated with a passion. “I went through hormonal tests, which came back negative. I started experimenting with supplements for sleep, mood and energy. It was a long process of self-experimentation,” he recalls. He also read everything he could find, including clinical manuals and lesser-known therapeutic techniques. He tried a medical lamp, sleep deprivation, running, relaxation techniques and meditation. “I basically wanted to try everything to attack the problem,” he explains. In 2010, Samuel returned to work: “Then, I started therapy as I had the money. The reverse process of healing retrospectively started. In my teenage years, I had zero information or resources, and my parents didn’t understand because I was high- functioning in my studies and at work.” Blanke counsels that a psychologist or GP should be able to advise on the best course of action. “The important thing to remember is that depression is a medical condition and should be treated like one. Accepting that fact is the first step to recovery,” he says. Dr Susie Tunstall-Pedoe from the Centre Médical in Limpertsberg says that depression is a common and treatable condition: “The simple act of admitting how you are feeling can be the first step towards feeling better. A doctor can assess how severe your symptoms are and advise you accordingly. It may be a simple matter of some lifestyle changes, some support from the doctor and time. Talking therapies may be suggested, such as cognitive behavioural therapy, and can be extremely effective. Sometimes, medication (in the form of antidepressants) is needed and in the most severe forms, occasionally a patient may need to be admitted to hospital.”
Blanke also acknowledges that seeing a GP is often the quickest route, as psychologists may have waiting times and often want a clean bill of health from a GP. He admits that “there are unfortunately a lot of different schools of therapy. Nowadays, most of them aim at the same results but they just wrap it up and sell it differently. The best evidence says that CBT is the most effective at treating depression in the long term. Short-term medical help may be warranted and here too, there are many choices a doctor can make in prescribing antidepressants.”
CHALLENGING NEGATIVITY Engelke explains that one of the main roles of a CBT therapist is to help the patient challenge negative ways of interpreting reality. “Maladaptive thinking is replaced by a healthier more productive outlook and the patient learns problem-solving skills to help them gain greater control over moods,” she says. Traumatic memories, such as Frank’s abusive supervisor, can be reprocessed through EMDR or Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing through bilateral stimulation (eye movement, auditory tones or tapping). The therapy won’t erase traumatic memories but edits them, so you can look back at what happened to you with confidence and ease. Engelke believes that it’s common for people in their 40s and 50s to go through an intense reassessment of their relationships, professional and personal lives. It’s common for couples to divorce at this age. “There is also greater pressure to have fulfilled your own and other people’s expectations such as reaching a certain social, financial or professional level. If you haven’t, you may start self-criticising,” she explains. Depression can come from a variety of factors including moving, social isolation, family history of depression, poor coping strategies, unresolved trauma, challenging situations and lack of exercise. “I found trying not to constantly complain also helped,” says Frank, who advises those in toxic relationships should change jobs or stop those relationships and move on. COPING TOOLS Quality time with his wife and children is the greatest de-stressor for Samuel. He uses meditation for automatic thoughts and emotional recognition, aerobic exercise for
GET HELP If you need immediate assistance, call 112. SOS Détresse A free, confidential and anonymous phone service (in Luxembourgish, French and German) for any possible concern you may encounter in life. You can email the SOS Onlinehelp service, where native speakers can respond in English, Portuguese, French, German and Luxembourgish. icon_phone 45 45 45 (11:00 to 23:00 every day, Friday and Saturday 23:00 to 3:00) icon_website www.454545.lu GPs and doctors specialised in psychiatry icon_website www.editus.lu icon_website www.en.doctena.lu Prévention Dépression A website in French or German that provides information on symptoms, diagnosing and treatment. It provides a list of places where you can receive support. icon_website www.preventiondepression.lu Liberty Counselling Luxembourg Michele Engelke icon_website www.libertycounselling luxembourg.com Lux-Therapy Robert Blanke III icon_website www.lux-therapy.org Luxembourg Institute for REBT icon_website www.lirebt.lu Luxembourg Meetup Group for overcoming anxiety. icon_website www.meetup.com Ligue Luxembourgeoise d’Hygiène Mentale (Luxembourg Mental Health Centre) A multidisciplinary therapeutic centre for people suffering from psychological difficulties or disorders, which includes a day hospital and consultation service (website in French). icon_website www.llhm.lu Santé.lu Provides details of diagnosing depression and what to do next (in French). icon_website www.sante.public.lu
ROBERT BLANKE 50% of major depressive episodes occur between the ages of 20 and 50
energy levels and anxiety, and a medical lamp for insomnia. “I use the medically standardised version of autogenic training to break the stress cycle and psychotherapy was a good start to breaking some rigid interpretations of myself and the world,” he says. Michael limits his alcohol consumption because regular drinking heightened his depression. He takes regular exercise, tries to get enough sleep and uses a book on mindfulness. His advice to anyone with depression is to avoid alternative therapies and seek medical help: “Don’t try to man it out as you can actually end up doing more permanent psychological damage.” Samuel warns against online diagnosis: “The internet is horrible in the sense that you can find a million dubious explanations for whatever problems you have,” although February 2018
he admits technology is useful in that it has enabled him to Skype his therapist. His advice to men who think they may be suffering depression is to “take responsibility for yourself because no one else will or should. Become your own coach and friend. Try many things to see what works for you and ask yourself if you’ve been living the right life for yourself and the people you love.” Campos suggests “an anonymous and easily accessible conversation in which someone is truly listening without judging and can share your pain or concern can provide immediate relief and decrease feelings of distress, guilt, and pressure,” although the organisation cannot make a psychiatric diagnosis. “Be patient,” says Samuel, “it may take years to learn how to reconstruct your life.”
MORE CHOICE, MORE WOW!
Photography by MIKE ZENARI
11 JANUARY Ice hockey team Tornado Luxembourg are having an excellent season, winning 7 out of 11 games. The team, which was formed in 1987, has forged quite a reputation for Luxembourg in France’s league where, at the time of publishing, it occupied third place in division 3b with 22 points. To celebrate, they posed for some shots during a training session at the Kockelscheuer ice rink. JB icon_website www.tornadoluxembourg.com February 2018
BUSINESS CREATIVE MARKET Shoppers were able to leave Mudam with an original piece of art in the run-up to the holidays, when the museum hosted its festive-themed Marché des Créateurs (creative market or designers market). The event featured nearly 40 designers, showcasing and selling their handmade jewellery, artwork, decorations, clothing and other accessories in the auditorium of the contemporary art museum in Kirchberg. One of the first visitors to explore the market, when it opened on 9 December, was Crown Princess Stéphanie, who discreetly browsed the stands while fellow shoppers walked by without noticing. The prime minister and culture minister, Xavier Bettel, visited the market a short time later.
LOCAL ARTISANS A. Designers sold a range of handmade gifts B. Crown Princess Stéphanie C. Julie Conrad D. Pschitt E. The Sebok family F. Sud Design icon_website www.mudam.lu
“THERE ARE MANY PEOPLE OUT THERE WHO ARE TRYING TO PUNISH THE UNITED KINGDOM WITHOUT SAYING IT.”
Pierre Gramegna, the finance minister, commenting on EU talks about Britain’s post-Brexit financial sector, on CNBC. February 2018
17% As of 1 January 2018, the price of electricity for an average household was up nearly 17% compared to 2017, according to the utility regulator ILR.
Appointed CEO of CNA Hardy’s Luxembourg business. The insurer, which operates within the Lloyd’s market, is setting up a local hub ahead of Brexit.
Lala La Photo Library picture: European Council CNA Hardy
Dat Nguyen (CC)
The government will spend €60m to promote the tourist sector over the next five years; tourism represents about 6.5% of Luxembourg’s economy. >>> Galeries Lafayette, France’s largest chain of department stores, will let 9,000 square metres in the Royal-Hamilius shopping centre. >>> Ferrero Group acquired Nestlé’s US confectionery business, which includes the Butterfinger and Baby Ruth brands, “for $2.8 billion in cash”. >>> Iran’s central bank filed a lawsuit in Luxembourg against Clearstream, seeking to recover $4.9bn in assets that were frozen or seized as part of suspected terrorism financing cases in the US; Clearstream said the suit is “without merit”. >>> Luxembourg home prices rose by 5% between the third quarters of 2016 and 2017, Eurostat said. >>> Amazon has said it has roughly 1,500 employees working in Luxembourg, but a report surfaced that its EU unit has nearly 3,300 staff on its books; the firm clarified that the larger figure includes local staff at subsidiaries in other EU states. >>> BitFlyer launched its EU operations in the grand duchy on Tuesday, making it, the company said, “the first bitcoin exchange to be regulated in Japan, the US and Europe”. >>> CarPay-Diem, the digital fuel payment startup, will be integrated into Car eWallet, which is being developed by ZF Friedrichshafen, IBM and UBS. >>> De Feierkrop said it would stop printing a weekly edition of the satirical newspaper.
ATTRACTING TALENTS Jean-Paul Olinger, the new secretary general of UEL, the Luxembourg business federation, argues that Luxembourg’s openness, in businesses and languages, is an asset that must be preserved and strengthened. Sometimes we tend to forget it, but we live in a fabulous country with a population from over 170 nations. The international character of our country is due to many reasons; amongst others its geographical situation and its history of hosting people from so many countries over the past millennium. In many of our projects, we think globally, be it with steel, satellites, finance, ICT or more recently space mining. The future lies in further strengthening these international ties. This is no news, as the immense economic promotion efforts of the past and current Luxembourg governments in the entire world show. The more the development of our model of sustainable economic growth builds upon the diversity and strengths of the entire population of our Greater Region, the more, I believe, we will be successful. One important aspect is the multilingualism in Luxembourg. New initiatives regularly increase the attractiveness of Luxembourg, more recently for instance in the media or public schooling offerings. The Luxembourg business community welcomes these efforts. It is not unusual that a company employs people from 50 different nations, making English more than ever the common denominator. This is certainly true for the internationally-exposed companies active in the industrial, commercial and financial sectors, but also increasingly for the local businesses and the civil servants. Our companies are the foundation of our prosperity. They constitute a central pillar in
our quest for a qualitative growth model. Developing an environment for them to flourish will be fruitful for all of us. The UEL is the platform where the federations representing the businesses of the various economic sectors discuss transversal topics, such as competitiveness of the country, social security, labour and tax law. The UEL represents about 35,000 enterprises, 80% of domestic employment and 85% of GDP. As a leading participant to the current debate on qualitative growth, the UEL is a strong advocate in favour of increasing productivity levels. One factor influencing productivity is the level of education and specialisation of our workforce. The lack of talent is a problem for many economies and becomes more pressing with the increasing specialisation of the tasks. Besides important investments into educating future generations, we need to attract additional highly qualified women and men from all over the world. In my view, offering a multilingual environment with an increased focus on English would be a competitive advantage and improve our chances in this global race to attract the right people. These are exciting times. Personally, and in my new role as secretary general of UEL, I am looking forward to participating with you in writing the next chapters of this success story. We all are the architects of our future Luxembourg. So, let’s make it happen. icon_twitter @JeanPaulOlinger February 2018
Photography by MARION DESSARD
LIFE AFTER BREXIT
he British Chamber of Commerce sunk its teeth into the meatiest topic of the year at its first event of 2018: life after Brexit. In her keynote speech, Luxembourg MEP Viviane Reding said she did not want to be giving this speech, nor did participants want to hear it, but Brexit was now regrettably unavoidable. EU citizens in the UK and UK citizens abroad should not, she said, be left to suffer as a result of what she called “the worst possible solution made by Britain to leave the EU”. On post-Brexit relations, Reding speculated that the Norway model would not be appropriate because of financial constraints. Turkey and Ukraine, both in the customs union, would also not be an ideal fit. She did, however, allude to the possibility of creating an association agreement, as a sort of custom-made solution for the UK. Reding was not, however, bitter, describing divorce as a better alternative to an unhappy marriage. The lunch was later interrupted by a fire alarm, prompting an evacuation of the building. icon_website www.bcc.lu
FUTURE RELATIONSHIP A. MEP Viviane Reding gave the British Chamber’s keynote speech B. Reding alluded to the possibility of creating an association agreement C. Around 80 people attended the lunch dubbed “Brexit: What’s next?” D. The lunch was held at La Table du Belvédère, in Kirchberg, on 26 January E. British ambassador John Marshall F. Daniel Suranyi G. BCC chairman Joanna Denton H. BCC board member Patrick Birden I. Sara Speed
J. Nives Johnson K. Tom Cranfield L. Mark Phillips (left) M. BCCâ€™s Sophie Kerschen (right) N. Christian Barkei (centre), Nicolas J. Ries (right) O. Margo Robertson P. Jan Chrillesen Q. CĂŠcile Jager and Sanja Vasic R. Jill Saville speaks with Viviane Reding
Text by SARITA RAO
Photography by MIKE ZENARI
MALE BIAS IN THE MEDIA If the glass ceiling is still firmly in place for women journalists, how much does the news we consume realistically reflect the gender balance in society?
t’s not often the media puts the spotlight on itself when it comes to gender equality in both the industry and the content it produces. The recent #MeToo campaign uncovered a plethora of stories on sexual harassment and discrimination of women working globally in the media sector, naming and shaming some big corporations. But personal experience does not offer concrete statistical analysis. The Global Media Monitoring Project does. Produced every five years, its reports cover 114 countries including Luxembourg, more than 22,000 publications and content from 26,000 journalists. It paints a clear picture of the glass ceiling not just for women journalists, but for the content the media produces. The latest GMMP report found that globally 37% of journalists are women, with a closer gender balance in TV. However, the majority of female TV presenters were aged 19-34 years, with almost none over the age of 60. In Luxembourg, the report, written by the NGOs Cid Fraen an Gender and Conseil National des Femmes du Luxembourg, found a relatively even split between male and female journalists in most media, with the exception of TV, where the male:female ratio was 70:30, and online, where only 14% of journalists were women. It also revealed that fewer women journalists covered stories on government, politics and economics. “The media sector is not growing evenly in Luxembourg. The people with responsibility for choosing topics, the desk editors, are still overwhelmingly men,” says the campaign group’s Christa Brömmel. February 2018
French-born journalist Marie-Laure Rolland began her career as a journalist with Luxemburger Wort’s economic desk, before heading up the cultural section of the newspaper from 2013. She left the group last year following heavily reported editorial changes. “If we consider the organisational charts of the main newspapers in Luxembourg, then it seems to be clear that there is a glass ceiling for female journalists in Luxembourg. The majority of executive responsibilities are controlled by men,” she says. A glance at the rolls at the Luxembourg Press Council reveals that only one national media publication is run by a woman, Danièle Fonck of Tageblatt.
THE MOTHERHOOD BARRIER Rolland will be participating in the launch of Reporter.lu in March this year. Co-founded by journalists Christoph Bumb and Laurence Bervard, Reporter.lu is the newest player in the Luxembourg media landscape, a digital-only publication that is 100% independent from political parties and advertisers. It is financed by its readers and was launched through crowdfunding. Bervard has written for Le Monde, L’Essentiel and Luxemburger Wort on political and economic topics, human
interest and society stories. “Wherever I have worked, female journalists were given the same opportunities as men to tackle big political stories. However, I have seen female journalists marginalised whenever they were less available due to family commitments. It’s also true that in media outlets there are more men than women in management positions. Worse, when I first started the job, I couldn’t help but notice that there were very few women journalists over 35 years [old], and that most of them didn’t have children.” She mentions that many women journalists switch into communications department roles when they start a family. Fonck, a Luxembourger who studied journalism in Paris, concurs on equality of opportunity: “There is no ceiling. Female journalists in Luxembourg have exactly the same possibilities as their male colleagues.” She says that throughout the country’s history, very famous female journalists have dealt with political issues. However, she does admit: “There are some ancestral reflexes in society which you cannot change in the short-term. The so-called superiority of men has been promoted during centuries in our old-fashioned religious education.”
LAURENCE BERVARD Media sector is not flexible enough
“I HAVE SEEN FEMALE JOURNALISTS MARGINALISED WHENEVER THEY WERE LESS AVAILABLE DUE TO FAMILY COMMITMENTS.”
especially when you have small kids who need to be picked up from kindergarten by 6:30 p.m.” Bervard cites lack of flexibility in the media industry itself as partly to blame: “I think it would be quite easy to organise topics ahead of time, especially in certain departments.”
“AS EXPECTATIONS CHANGE THAT WORK-LIFE BALANCE IS A NEED TO HAVE, NOT JUST A NICE TO HAVE, I AM CONVINCED WE WILL SEE MORE WOMEN MANAGERS.”
LARISSA BEST Luxembourg mirrors EU average of female executives February 2018
The news by its very nature is 24hour and last-minute. As Fonck says: “Journalism needs people who are very available, who agree to do a difficult job. No matter if they are men or women.” So is a career in journalism possible with family commitments? “I don’t think that the job of a journalist is incompatible with the ‘job’ as a mother,” says Bervard. “However, some male employers consider it an
inadequacy if female journalists ask to work part-time or leave at a particular time in the evening.” She admits that working in the daily press requires flexibility: “Often you don’t know what the next day looks like and at what time you will be done working. Conferences, evening and weekend shifts have to be covered. This can sometimes be stressful and requires a lot of organisation skills,
PART-TIME PROBLEM Rolland sees the male environment of the media as partly structural and partly down to the view that “women are not seen as ‘politically correct’ enough to access some responsibilities, despite their professional competencies”. She questions why women are expected to prioritise their private life but men aren’t. “The good news is that the new generation of male journalists are also seeking a better work-life balance,” she says. Fonck believes that access to journalism has improved in the last few decades and says that allowing parental leave to be taken by men has allowed women journalists to stay in their profession without interruption. Family commitments and part-time working are issues for most employment sectors in Luxembourg. Larissa Best from Equilibre, a Luxembourg thinktank on gender equality supported by the Ministry of Economy, explains that a recent study found that women make up 33-34% of managers in Luxembourg--mirroring the EU average. “Sweden has a 40% rate of female managers. They have an equality ombudsman but also 25% of all parental leave is taken by men, very close to the Luxembourg figure,” Best says. While Luxembourg is similar to Sweden in the number of women on company boards, women are less active in politics. The report also shows that an increasing number of men in Luxembourg are working part-time, suggesting that as flexible working becomes the norm, men and women in management positions will benefit. “As expectations change that work-life balance is a need to have, not just a nice to have, I am convinced we will see more women managers, CEOs and board members.”
Bervard says that she rarely meets journalists who work part-time and media outlets should do more on this. Rolland began work in a part-time role: “I couldn’t benefit from the collective contract until I’d worked for the company for three years. Things have changed since then but there is still discrimination in the way the collective contract is applied to women.”
UNDER-REPRESENTED AS SOURCES A dearth of female editors guiding content might begin to explain why women as a gender are still significantly under-represented in the content produced by the media. The GMMP found that globally, women made up just 16% of the content of political and government stories and only 10% of all reports had a woman as the central subject. In Luxembourg, only 23% of major political and government news had a woman as the key spokesperson or subject of the story. Economics stories fared worse, with just 14%, science, technology and engineering at just 13%, also the same figure for female-focussed stories in arts and culture. Only health and science stories saw a balance in the gender of experts and spokespeople. “Traditional media containing general information clearly fail to meet
the expectations of female readers. All analytics show us that there is a disproportion between the female population and the female readership. All these media report, comment and analyse under a strong male point of view,” says Fonck, suggesting that one issue might be that female journalists try to imitate their male colleagues. “They should have courage to insert a female touch in their articles, to show female interests, curiosity and emotions.” “The challenge for mainstream media is not just to address its female audience, but to also change the way women are represented in their channels. Most of the experts quoted are still male, just because they come first on the journalist contact list, or because they are more popular and are supposed, by the media, to have a bigger impact on the audience,” says Rolland. Brömmel sees male-centric media as engineered: “Media should be a mirror to society, but it can also shape it and we have to pay attention to this circle instead of assuming that the media is neutral, objective and beyond criticism.” She suggests that editors should focus on the way women are portrayed in the news. Cid Fraen an Gender also conducted a survey in 2011 in Luxembourg,
asking both sexes what they’d like to see and read in the news with regard to gender equality and women’s roles. Overwhelmingly, the response was that both genders wanted to be portrayed in a more realistic and less stereotypical way. “Journalists should be aware of the real diversity in society and reflect this. They should challenge their words, their headlines, photographs and illustrations, and use more female experts,” she explains as she mentions that Expertisa.lu, a Luxembourg database of women experts founded in 2013, will be relaunched this year. As regards more women in media management, Brömmel feels companies should set up charters to change gender imbalance in management and to nurture more realistic content. “Media companies should foster more female talent and change the male culture of newsrooms, setting targets and measuring their strategy against these,” she says: “The decision must come from the top.” Rolland is hopeful: “The situation is changing in the Luxembourg press. The younger female generation is well-educated and more self-confident. These women are more interconnected and aware of the role they can play in traditional and new media.”
READ THE REPORT Luxembourg’s Global Media Monitoring Project report is available online, in French. The assessments of media in Germany, the UK and US, among others, are available in English. icon_website www. whomakesthenews. org LEARN MORE Cid Fraen an Gender runs a library that is open to the public. icon_facebook CID Fraen an Gender
JOURNALISTS & PRESENTERS BY GENDER IN LUXEMBOURG Male
Printed press 51.5%
Source: Global Media Monitoring Project, Luxembourg 2015 report
Text by STEPHEN EVANS
Photography by MIKE ZENARI
HEALTHY ECONOMY, HEALTHY COUNTRY Tech is fuelling more growth, finance less so. But overall, employment figures are rosy.
lobal and eurozone economies have been growing well in recent months, and Luxembourg is benefiting. This matters because there is a strong link between having a healthy economy and a well-functioning society. “Strong economic performance and well-run institutions make life good for most residents,” noted last year’s Economic Survey by the rich-country thinktank OECD. Some critics say measuring a country’s economic output is an insufficient measure of well-being. Yet, as the graphic on the next page shows, Luxembourg is wealthy and also does well on a range of quality of life measures. The grand duchy is just one example, but the world over, the richer the country, the better the society tends to be.
RICHEST COUNTRY IN THE WORLD The latest figures from the International Monetary Fund for 2017 put Luxembourg top for output (GDP) per head of population with $107,708. This is a third more than next-placed Switzerland, and 45-55% more than Norway, Iceland, and Ireland, 3rd, 4th and 5th on the list. Neighbouring Germany (17th, $44,184), Belgium (18th, $43,243) and France (21st, $39,693) are some way off. Luxembourg’s figure is somewhat misleading given that 43% of the workforce are non-resident commuters. AND GETTING RICHER This performance shows up in salaries and pensions. Median (i.e., mid-point in a list) disposable income was $38,500 in Luxembourg in 2016, according to the OECD, compared to a $22,000 average in the 35-country grouping. And this has an impact on life quality. February 2018
In its 22 January forecast, the IMF upgraded its estimate for worldwide growth. Predicting the future is impossible, but on current trends, the eurozone economy would grow by a decent, if unspectacular 2.2% and 2.0% in 2018 and 2019. Significantly for Luxembourg, its largest market
Germany is set to do particularly well. Helped by this activity, the grand duchy is on course to see double the regional rate of increase. After very strong performance in 2016 (5.8%), growth of 3.4% is predicted by the statistics bureau Statec for last year and 4.4% for this year. One shouldn’t
BASTIEN LARUE Statec forecasts the Luxembourg economy will grow more than 4% this year
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QUALITY OF LIFE How Luxembourg stacks up against other wealthier countries’ scores out of 10, 2016 Luxembourg
Income and wealth
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Work and life balance
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Civic engagement and governance
put too much faith in these early figures. As Bastien Larue, head of unit at Statec, points out: “We don’t have all the indicators for 2017, so we rely at this stage on estimates and technical forecasts.” The financial sector accounts for about a fifth of economic output, but has not driven this growth directly this year. Output in this sector was down by about a percentage point in the 12 months to the third quarter of 2017. However, indirectly, finance has helped boost business services firms (up 5.6% over this period). This sector has also benefited from the arrival of international companies using Luxembourg as their European and international trading hub. “Information and communication” firms reported no less than a 20% increase in output over this period. Much of this is thanks to the likes of Amazon and Microsoft increasing their activity in Luxembourg, while other smaller names continue to arrive and expand. However, these figures are not quite as remarkable as they February 2018
might seem. “They are calculated using accounting techniques that somewhat overstate the real impact in price terms,” noted Larue. According to the OECD, services businesses produce 87.4% of Luxembourg’s output, dwarfing manufacturing and extractive industries. This compares to an average 70.8% share for services in OECD as a whole. Yet, these figures might even understate Luxembourg’s status as a knowledge economy, as much of the manufacturing sector here is driven by high-end research and development.
MORE NEW JOBS Growth has been good news for jobs. The net increase in the country’s workforce was 3.8% in the 12 months to December 2017. This is more than twice the December 2013 figure. Unemployment has edged lower, from a peak of 7% in December 2013 to 5.8% at the end of last year. About half of the new jobs were taken by cross-border commuters last year.
Inflation has edged upwards following three years when average prices hardly rose. From 0.3% in 2016, it was 1.7% in 2017. This is only an average increase, though. If you are newly paying rent or have just bought, your personal inflation rate will be higher, following the 30% increase in home prices over the last ten years.
CLOUDS ON THE HORIZON? The overall healthy position is reflected in a low public debt position. Loans to the value of 20.8% of GDP have been taken out on our behalf by the government. This compares to an EU average of about 90%. The outlook is good, but, of course, unforeseen events could work to undermine the country’s business model. Foreseeable, though, is that the state pension fund is set to go into deficit by the late 2030s, according to a government projection. That’s just about the time a large chunk of the current workforce will be at or above the average retirement age of 59.
Text by ALIX RASSEL with JESS BAULDRY
Photography by LALA LA PHOTO
WHY WOMEN NEED TO BE DIGITALLY EMPOWERED Fintech is the future for everyone. Is Luxembourg ready? A recent conference looked at getting more women into the sector.
intech is beginning to disrupt the financial world as we know it. The financial industry is now more focused than ever on technological innovation than at any other time. Undoubtedly, one of the key issues in implementing such technology is hiring the right talent and innovation to make it happen. The second Women in Fintech conference, organised in January by the NGO Women in Digital Empowerment, focused on both skills for the future and comparing innovation by startups versus corporates. So, what challenges do the panellists and attendees foresee for Luxembourg in the future? For attendee Priscila Soares de Queiros from Vodafone Luxembourg, the prime minister, Xavier Bettel, summed up the current situation in his opening address. “The digital world is not an opportunity, nor a danger. It’s both. If you’re ready for the challenge, you will be extremely successful, but if you’re not prepared, it’s dangerous,” Bettel stated. This is something Soares de Queiros found she could identify with completely: “I studied mechatronics engineering at university where out of the 55 students, only five of us were women. This really surprised me because I had always pursued my interests in a subject irrespective of who its target demographic might be.” She became involved with the Greenlight for Girls organisation in 2012, to encourage young girls to become more interested in science and technology. “The conference reminded me, particularly when hearing from the male speakers, that the issue is not just one of education February 2018
for the future but of female empowerment. Now, I worry about women like me entering the industry who want to pursue a career yet, at some point, start a family.”
SKILLS SHORTAGE During his panel talk, Jean Diederich of the trade group Apsi, which represents IT employers in Luxembourg, provided some thoughts on why women are massively under-represented in the fintech sector today. Far from it being merely a case of work/life balance, Diederich stated that he saw the problem throughout education in Europe as a whole. “In the EU, we currently only send 17% of students to study technology at university and only a small percentage of these are women,” he explained. “In comparison, our Asian counterparts have a greater percentage of technological students. We need to focus on engaging European students in technology now or we will have to look abroad for the skill set in the future.”
Isabelle Schlesser, director of the jobs agency Adem, stated this was one of her organisation’s foremost tasks. In order to attract female talent, Schlesser commented that: “We need to show our children that fintech are the jobs of the future and educate them that this is not a strictly male field of expertise.” Despite the 15,000 people currently unemployed in Luxembourg, she said there would be a need to look outside the country for fintech talent. Soares de Queiros, who is originally from Brazil, is a good example of this need for external talent, as is another conference attendee, Izabela Frontczak from Poland, who currently works for a trust company. “Women should be loud, proud and aware that they have the same rights and access to new
FINTECH #2 CONFERENCE A. In his opening speech, prime minister Xavier Bettel revealed that he was known by his government as a feminist for supporting quotas
“WOMEN SHOULD BE MORE ACTIVE ON THE MARKET.” IZABELA FRONTCZAK
technologies as men,” Frontczak told Delano following the event. “In my opinion, women should be more active on the market, curious about new technologies, and not be afraid of their failures, otherwise how will we learn?” The government’s Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition, launched in 2017, is just one way that the Luxembourg authorities are trying to bridge this gap. In addition to identifying and educating future-proof skills to meet the labour market needs, the outfit is looking at bridging the gap within education and addressing the digital skills shortage that affects the rest of Europe.
B. and J. Around 400 people attended the Women in Digital Empowerment event, held at the offices of Arendt & Medernach in Kirchberg, on 11 January C. Emilie Allaert and Audrey Baverel D. The first panel featured Wide’s Marina Andrieu, Emilie Allaert of Lhoft, Apsi’s Jean Diederich, Seqvoia’s Susanne Schartz and Adem’s Isabelle Schlesser E. Orla McCarthyKearney and Michelle Carvill F. Dagmar Byčánková and Gabriela NguyenGroza G. Speakers in the second panel: Véronique de la Bachelerie of Société Générale Banque & Trust, AXA Luxembourg’s Marie-Hélène Massard, House of Start-Ups director Karin Schintgen, Delano’s Jess Bauldry and Arendt & Medernach’s Astrid Wagner H. Yuliya and Anastasia I. Wen Xiong and Jin Yu
BANKING ON FINTECH The panel discussion on “Innovation: startups vs. corporates” covered recent developments in Luxembourg to attract and promote new investments to the grand duchy. One such initiative is the House of Start-Ups, supported by the Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce, which is due to open its doors in the coming months. Karin Schintgen from the House of Start-Ups explained how perceptions of the fintech industry had greatly changed in just a relatively short time. “I think five years ago, when I was working with Lux Future Labs, most people thought we were just a bunch of geeks and didn’t take us very seriously. Then, the corporates became sceptical of us and what we were doing. Only in the last two years has there been an ‘awakening’ in February 2018
Luxembourg where fintech has become the buzzword.” Véronique de la Bachelerie of Société Générale Bank & Trust told the audience that, at first, large banks were somewhat dubious about what the new fintech startups could offer; now, they see the benefits of working alongside them. “They have the entrepreneurial spirit and creativity that some large corporations lack, so it is of mutual benefit to work together.”
WHAT FINTECH CAN DO Since she moved here in 2017, Frontczak has been surprised by the perspectives and opportunities for people to develop in Luxembourg. “When the country creates such a friendly and easy environment for financial companies, things can only go in the right direction. I strongly believe that this country can be the centre of fintech.” And there are plenty of opportunities, observed the Luxembourg House of Financial Technology’s Emilie Allaert, who issued three trend expectations for 2018. She said that new technology which increases financial inclusion would be sought after, as would fund technology. “As Luxembourg is the second [largest] centre for funds in the world, it’s key we maintain a competitive advantage. We have to work on processes and improving efficiency.” She also highlighted the opportunities for fintech startups to develop technology that helps companies tackle the “tsunami of regulation”. “There are a lot of challenges for the industry. Regtech can help you deal with these challenges,” she said, explaining that Lhoft hopes to open a regtech accelerator in Luxembourg. Worldwide, Allaert expected to see more artificial intelligence technology being developed, “especially in asset management”. She said she also hoped
that governments around the world would take positions regarding cryptocurrencies and initial coin offerings. Specifically, she hoped they would favour ICOs which can add value to the industry.
HOW TO GET THERE Diederich said he expected to see more collaboration between fintechs and banks as a result of the EU’s Payment Services Directive 2, which has yet to be adopted into law but which he said would increase access for the fintech community to banks. “Another element is the customer experience which becomes more mobile and also the biometrics as an authentification sector, to simplify access to digital platforms.” He added that instant payment in the banking community would become a hot topic in Europe in general. But to take full advantage of these trends, several panellists commented
“I THINK WOMEN ARE QUITE CONSERVATIVE AND RISK ADVERSE.” VÉRONIQUE DE LA BACHELERIE
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on the need for female entrepreneurs to be more sales orientated. “I think women are quite conservative and risk adverse,” commented de la Bachelerie. Diederich concurred: “Women were not as apt at raising capital as men.” For women in fintech, particularly those in startups, these are skills that need to be developed. Larger corporations can offer smaller organisations mentoring programs and the new House of Start-Ups said it is committed to developing women entrepreneurship by working with Women in Digital Empowerment and other organisations like them. For Luxembourg to be successful in the fintech industry, women need the same platform and opportunities as men and the ability to take advantage of them. As for state intervention, “Sometimes, I’m considered a feminist in my government because I support quotas,” Bettel said in his speech. “For some people, it wasn’t a good idea to have quotas. I would prefer not to have quotas either because it shows we’re not ready in our minds.” February 2018
FIND OUT MORE ADEM icon_facebook ADEM Agence pour le développement de l’emploi APSI icon_website www.apsi.lu DIGITAL SKILLS AND JOBS COALITION icon_linked_in Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition
HOUSE OF START-UPS icon_website www.cc.lu LUXEMBOURG HOUSE OF FINANCIAL TECHNOLOGY icon_twitter @The_LHoFT
WOMEN IN DIGITAL EMPOWERMENT icon_website www.wide.lu
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Text by MARTINE HUBERTY
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The electricity market in Luxembourg is transitioning towards more renewable energy; here’s where we stand.
RENEWABLE ENERGY More than half of Luxembourg’s electricity was generated by renewable sources in 2016. 40% of renewables were generated by hydroelectric structures, such as the dams in Esch-sur-Sûre and Vianden. Wind farms only generated 5.3%.
ORIGINS In 2016, green electricity came mostly from Norway (55%), Luxembourg (18%) and Finland (9%).
PROVIDERS Three electricity providers are 100% renewable: Eida, Electris and Sudstroum. Other electricity companies use renewable energy to varying degrees: Leo (88%), Nordenergie (75%), Steinergy (59%) and Enovos (58%).
CHANGING PROVIDERS The rate of customers changing energy provider in Luxembourg was very low in 2016; a bit more common was changing contracts or products with the same provider (9.6%).
NUCLEAR Nuclear energy represented 10.5% of electricity consumed in Luxembourg, but that number has gone down since 2009, when it stood at 23.4%.
SMART METERS Smart meters for electricity consumption were introduced in 2016 in Luxembourg.
Sources: Luxembourg Regulatory Institute press releases 100% renewable providers and products for households, issued on 11 January 2018, and The ILR presents the major facts on the electricity and gas markets of 2016, issued on 16 October 2017
A C Q U I S I T I O N S I S A L E S I R E N T A L S I V A L U AT I O N S I I N S U R A N C E I R E A L E S T AT E C O N S U LT I N G
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Text by STEPHEN EVANS
Photography by MIKE ZENARI
ASSET MANAGEMENT SPECIAL REPORT BUILDING REAL ESTATE FUNDS Luxembourg has a good foundation for property investors, say industry advisors, but the sector is still under construction. eal estate investment funds have emerged as a significant niche, but still there is a way to go before the sector reaches maturity. Recent regulatory changes in Luxembourg have helped, but there is still too little automation. The first nine months of last year saw net assets under management in Luxembourg-based real estate funds grow by 10.3%, according to a survey by the Association of the Luxembourg Fund Industry*. This was three points higher than growth for the market as a whole; a solid performance, but this remains an emerging niche. Net assets totalled €55.6bn at the end of the third quarter of 2017, compared to €4,037.1bn for the entire Luxembourg fund sector. This is an unfair comparison. Real estate products are sold only to financial institutions and very wealthy indivi duals, unlike the mass-market, retail funds that are Luxembourg’s bread and butter. Also, these funds have only recently started to become particularly attractive to investors battling low interest rates. There has been a seven-fold increase in Luxembourg-based real estate fund assets since 2007. It has also taken a while for appropriate regulations to be put in place. A major boost came in 2013 when the government amended its limited partnership regime, facilitating the use of investment structures widely used in English-speaking common law countries. It also took time for the EU’s Alternative Investment Fund February 2018
ILSE FRENCH & KEES HAGE Many property investors need to renovate their IT systems
Managers Directive to bed in. Then, these rules were streamlined for sophisticated investors with the creation of the reserved alternative investment fund in 2016.
MATURING ENVIRONMENT Having more options is helping growth. “Institutional investors tend to have a preference for regulated funds, and they are likely to opt for Sifs [specialised investment funds], while other investors might be interested by the Raif offering quick time-to-market,” noted Valérie Tollet, a partner with Deloitte. Fund managers are also better able to provide targeted products. “Over
recent years, we have seen a trend towards more simplified fund structures in the real estate sector.” It also appears that EU regulation is giving a boost too. “AIFMD has helped us market cross-border more easily, and now we can manage funds from Paris and London and distribute from Luxembourg,” Pierre Sémont, head of middle office, real assets, AXA Investment Management, told the Alfi PE & RE conference on 22 November 2017. Asian investors are also being attracted, he said. However, the sector is still being held back by a lack of dedicated IT systems. These are tricky assets to manage, so
*Source: Luxembourg Real Estate Investment Funds 2017, Alfi, November 2017
VALÉRIE TOLLET Many real estate investors are plumping for fund structures like the Sif and Raif
still addressing the basics, such as workflow management and document management,” noted Ilse French, partner and global real estate digital leader with PwC. The consultancy has estimated that over 40% of current processes could benefit from automation. “Often, the main challenge is about getting right the basics such as the challenging task of integrating different IT systems,” Hage added.
software packages need to be sophisticated and flexible. As well as the usual challenges of working cross-border, a variety of approaches have to be taken with wide variety of investment assets needing to be managed in different ways. “Collecting data from the property manager all through the production chain up to the fund manager, and seeing how to integrate that in different countries is not easy. Ultimately, it is about being able to provide more data and services to the customer, and easing the regulatory burden,” noted Kees Hage, real estate partner at PwC. “Industry players are at different stages of automation and some are
AD HOC SOLUTIONS So while developers and fintech firms are working on sophisticated applications using artificial intelligence for some parts of the financial sector, the likes of real estate and private equity lack basic IT tools. Service providers are often just getting by with third party solutions, in-house processing applications and Excel. For example, general packages such as Salesforce and Peoplesoft are being used for many customer relationship management needs. But, of course, these fall short of providing complex financial and management requirements, such as portfolio accounting, performance reporting, efficiency reporting, document management and getting to grips with complex entity structures.
Part of the problem may be down to how the RE sector has sold itself. For many years, it was lumped together with other strategies as an “alternative” asset class, despite this business having quite different needs from the likes of hedge funds. With the sector unable to define itself clearly, fintech firms were maybe less likely to have a clear focus of how they could make a difference. This is changing, as increasingly, organisations having established separate real estate departments, and this is reflected in Alfi’s rebranding of the November conference away from “alternatives” to PE & RE. There is also an advantage being late to technological change, as RE funds can hope to tap into systems that learn from the experience of other sectors. While concentrating on practical concerns, systems can be future proofed and open to upcoming data driven applications such as artificial intelligence. Global real estate assets are rising in value, making these funds an increasingly attractive option. Hence bringing greater efficiency to the sector and bearing down on fees is a must if its full potential is to be realised.
WHAT IS A REAL ESTATE INVESTMENT FUND? Real estate investment funds generate returns by owning and financing income-generating properties. Mostly they are involved with housing, offices, industrial property and retail premises, but also in public sector projects such as in the healthcare, education and transport sectors. These funds are an increasingly attractive option for sophisticated investors seeking to diversify their portfolios, as they seek investment returns, that have been under pressure since the global financial crisis. As well, this process channels money into the economy as new construction is financed. February 2018
ASSET MANAGEMENT SPECIAL REPORT
ALFI CONFERENCE: THE NEXT 30 YEARS
REVEL WOOD Recent regulatory measures focus on client outcomes
Cross-border regulations will be a big focus at this spring’s Association of the Luxembourg Fund Industry summit.
he first Ucits directive came into full force 30 years ago, since when Luxembourg has led the growth of the cross-border fund distribution concept. The Alfi European Asset Management Conference in March will use this experience to seek to anticipate future trends. Much of the programme focuses on the potential needs of investors. A behavioural economist will look at cultural attitudes to fund returns, the importance of diversity in asset mana gement will be probed, there will be a panel on how technology might change the way people invest, the fund customer experience will be looked at and the ongoing efforts to broaden the effectiveness and appeal of res ponsible investing will be discussed. Yet, regulation will remain a key focus, both dealing with the existing regime which has recently been reformed, and anticipating the next moves.
“THE NEXT QUESTION MIGHT BE ‘DOES ADDITIONAL TRANSPARENCY ALONE HELP THE INDUSTRY SELF-POLICE?’ TIME WILL TELL.” Recent months have seen a new role for the European Securities and Markets Authority regarding investment fund regulation. In October, the Paris-based organisation (along with the European Banking Authority and European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority) was asked by the European Commission to review the costs and returns of EU-based savings and investment schemes. For securities markets, it will focus on the costs and performance of Ucits funds, whilst also comparing active and passive fund investing. February 2018
“This continues the theme which has been the basis for a lot of recent regulatory initiatives--not least Mifid II--around end client outcomes and on greater transparency as to how costs and charges impact those outcomes,” noted Revel Wood, CEO of the independent fund management company FundRock. “The next question might be, ‘does additional transparency alone help the industry self-police?’ Time will tell.” It remains to be seen if this review will throw up surprises for the industry. Also, Esma has featured in rumours and suspicions that the EU authorities see a greater long-term role for the authority in the way retail investment products are regulated. In particular, there are concerns that they could be asked to review rules on how fund administration processes are delegated
to third parties. This could have major implications for Luxembourg and the Ucits model which thrives on the ability of global fund businesses to use the grand duchy as servicing hub. Conference attendees will hear directly from Steven Maijoor, Esma’s chair, who might give some indication of the direction of travel. He will be in conversation with Peter de Proft, director general of the industry’s European trade group, Efama. A different angle will be provided by Claude Marx, the director general of the local financial regulator, the CSSF. He will give his view as a member of Esma’s board. icon_when Tuesday 6-Wednesday 7 March icon_where European Convention Centre, Luxembourg-Kirchberg icon_website www.alfi.lu
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ASSET MANAGEMENT SPECIAL REPORT
READY FOR THE ETF REVOLUTION? European investors are piling into exchange-traded funds. The grand duchy’s fund sector aims to tap into this growing market. ast year saw a global breakthrough for exchange-traded funds (ETFs). The US is leading the way and investor appetite grew strongly in Europe too. These remain a niche product, but given their low fees and convenience, it’s not surprising that they’re attracting more investment. How is Luxembourg placed to benefit? There was 40.6% growth in ETF net assets under management in Europe last year, and a 34.8% increase in the US, said the research company ETFGI. About half of this was down to new subscriptions. This follows growth over the last ten years in the upper teens in both markets. American investors have been more keen, with a total $3.33trn assets under mana gement at the end of last year, compared to $0.76trn in Europe. The industry expects this boom to continue. A survey of leading global ETF providers* by the consultancy EY pointed to annual growth of 15%18% to 2020, with the vast majority of this being new investment inflows. The report suggests that passive funds (i.e., funds that track an index) could account for more assets than actively managed funds by 2027. ETFs often provide the cheapest access to passive funds, so are set to benefit. Several factors could drive this trend. Fees charged to ETF investors are often around half a percentage point lower than for traditional index funds and about one percentage point less than for actively managed funds. This is a big deal when returns are low. Also, new regulations such as Mifid II and Priips are designed to increase consumer awareness of fees. The rise of so-called “robo-advisors” could also play a role. These IT systems February 2018
MARC-ANDRÉ BECHET Luxembourg hopes to catch up with Ireland in the ETF sector
allow investors to design a fund portfolio based on their risk appetite, and most often this is done by mixing a range of ETFs. Moreover, there is growing evidence that index tracker funds provide greater returns on average than actively managed funds.
LUXEMBOURG VS DUBLIN Ireland is currently the leading domicile for European ETFs, with
57% of the total in September 2017, according to data from the European trade association Efama. Luxembourg had a 17% share, an unusual position for the grand duchy, which overall has a fund industry about twice as big as that in the republic. However, this could mainly be down to Dublin’s close ties to the US. “Often, people say Dublin is better for taxes regarding ETFs, but this is
* Source: Reshaping around the investor – Global ETF Survey 2017, EY
EXCHANGE-TRADED FUNDS Share of global net assets under management for ETFs and all funds, Q3 2017. USA
Europe except Luxembourg & Ireland
Rest of world
4% 4% 9%
Source: European Fund and Asset Management Association
a myth,” said Marc-André Bechet, director of legal and tax at Association of the Luxembourg Fund Industry. “There is only one real instance when Dublin has a competitive advantage: they have a double taxation treaty with the US that applies to ETFs. So, to be frank, if you want to set up an ETF that invests primarily in US securities, then it will go to Dublin. But apart from that, Luxembourg has double taxation treaties with 55 countries, putting us on the same level as Ireland in that regard,” he argued. Moreover, while a circular from the Luxembourg tax authorities makes the ETF situation clear for those 55 countries, Bechet says the picture is somewhat opaque in Ireland. He also sees misunderstanding regarding subscription tax in Luxembourg. There is no subscription tax (net asset value tax) on index tracker funds in the grand duchy, and this applies to ETFs. There is tax on actively managed, non-tracker ETFs, but these are quite a small niche. Given this, the local industry is hopeful that Luxembourg’s traditional advantages in cross-border fund distribution will see it cut into Ireland’s lead.
Already, Luxembourg has a more diversified range of promoters, claims Bechet.
REGULATORY CHANGE? However, with the rise in prominence will come increased scrutiny from regulators and law makers. There is a vigorous debate over the ability of index funds to meet their promises during a market crisis. For example, when buying a FTSE 100 ETF, an investor might expect that they have bought exposure to the hundred largest companies listed on the London Stock Exchange. “Physical” passive funds do this, but “synthetic” passive funds use replication methods to give the effect of tracking these stocks. This might work well when the market is calm, but what about during market turbulence? This has led some ETF-sceptics to dub the products “derivatives for the masses”. Also, there are concerns that a market could become unbalanced, with a disproportionate amount of investment going into potentially overvalued stock. For example, during the dotcom boom, index trackers were forced to buy stock with share prices, most analysts
recognised were overvalued. Trackers thus helped inflate the boom and thus magnified the bust. It was less of a problem in the late 1990s when ETFs and index funds were a small niche, but what if they become the dominant investment strategy? Active fund managers also argue that the recent outperformance of tracker funds is due to their particular exposure to high-growth firms like Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Alphabet (the firm that owns Google). They are also keen to remind investors that in late 1999, the company with the largest market capitalisation in the world belonged to AOL. Indeed, active managers appeared to have outperformed benchmark indexes last year. Also, if greater competition causes fees to fall, these traditional products will continue to prove attractive. When regulators eventually come to take a view on these products, there will still be space for ETFs with their low fee, convenient format. Actively managed ETFs might come more to the fore, as might “smart beta” funds that do not blindly follow indexes when allocating investments. February 2018
PERSPECTIVES We asked three industry experts:
“What is the biggest growth opportunity for Luxembourg’s fund industry in 2018-2022, and what is one step the sector should take to get there?” LEMANIK ASSET MANAGEMENT
INVEST IN IT INFRASTRUCTURE
Hervé Coussement Global head of sales
cting as one of the leading management companies for Ucits and AIFs, we have meticulously followed the ongoing regulation changes that have occurred in Europe over the past decade and adapted our processes accordingly to protect underlying investors. Luxembourg has always been very pragmatic in the way in which it adapts the fund industry to new regulation constraints. Proof of this is apparent by the latest available figures of the Luxembourg fund industry which manages in excess of €4trn. Further regulation changes are expected in the next five years as the European Union tightens its hold on the protection of investors. Service providers in Luxembourg will need to acclimatise to these forthcoming regulations whilst maintaining the costs of their funds. To preserve the existing service and overcome these impending challenges, significant investment should be planned to introduce new technology into IT infrastructure, including the integration of artificial intelligence. This approach will only be feasible for a few providers given the costs and expertise required to incorporate these into their systems.
hort- to medium-term, Luxembourg fund industry players must promote and make full use of the excellent innovations that have been brought to the market place in recent years. These innovations give flexibility beyond conventional arrangements seen in other fund domiciles, or allow for fund vehicles as natural extensions to adopted laws, such as AIFMD. Luxembourg excels at this and relatively recent examples are the special limited partnership, Raif, etc. We must consider these in the light of the ever-changing market dynamics; continued, strong interest to domicile private equity, real estate, infrastructure and debt funds in Luxembourg; managers of non-EU domiciled funds creating parallel structures; traditional raisers of UK funds looking for a safe haven, and certainty, during the prolonged period of uncertainty created by Brexit; and increased interest in raising fintech funds. Furthermore, we must endeavour to properly understand the liabilities and service requirements needed to support the demand for funds investing in cryptocurrencies, and embrace the advantages that new advances in technology can bring to facilitate the entire fund servicing industry. We must continue to create effective fund structures that meet ever-increasing demands, not only of investors, but that also provide apt and sufficient substance arrangements which will meet the burgeoning requirements of the local regulator or supranational regulators.
INCREASED INTEREST IN RAISING FINTECH FUNDS Graham Parry-Dew Director, global depositary
MDO MANAGEMENT COMPANY
INVESTORS WILL MOSTLY LIKELY SEE HIGHER VOLATILITY Martin Vogel CEO
he current economic environment continues to be characterised by moderate inflation, low interest rates and strong GDP growth in many countries and regions all over the globe. It is very likely that central banks will continue to tighten their monetary policy in a controlled and unspectacular manner. Nevertheless, there are voices pointing to the already very high valuation of many markets, like the US equity, European real estate and many commodity markets, and the respective risks associated with it, but they are not yet very strong. On the political side, after the French and German elections, the EU has regained confidence and the Brexit discussion continues on a more optimistic note. Based on the above, it can be expected that the money flow into Luxembourg investment structures and the need for additional investment products and related services will continue in the coming years. The preferred asset classes will be global equities, selected alternative investment classes like private equity and corporate debt, and absolute return products. However, chances of appropriate returns will be more and more linked with a respective risk exposure and investors will mostly likely see higher volatility. Luxembourg is well advised to continue to build on its strengths, namely providing the right product range and structures to the industry, reacting to the industry’s needs in a proper and adequate way, and to play a key role in defining well-established and recognised principles of good governance, risk management and oversight.
Text by JESS BAULDRY
Photography by MAISON MODERNE
BREAKING THROUGH THE FOURTH WALL An international couple and their friend have created a part-time business making 3D in motion films.
WHAT IS 3D VIDEO? 3D film is a motion picture that enhances the illusion of depth perception, adding a third dimension. The first 3D film shown to a public audience, The Power of Love, premiered in the US in 1922. 3D experienced a golden era in the 1950s, before making a resurgence in the 1980s.
ike any good startup, Vera Nova started out as a problem that needed solving. The company was founded by couple Linda Eagan and Andrea Lazzaroni with friend Richard Lannoy in 2016. At the time, Lazzaroni had been buying a flat but didn’t have time to visit the properties because of the demands of his job. “I said, ‘wouldn’t it be great to get a real sense of the property without being there?’” Eagan recalls of the eureka moment that led to the creation of a 3D in motion filming company. “Richard is our other partner and the IT brains. He knew about this technology and said he thought it was going to be very popular in future. It might be good to start now.”
“WE CAN APPLY IT TO EVERY THING IF THE PERSON IN FRONT OF YOU HAS ENOUGH IMAGINATION AND PROFESSIONAL COURAGE TO TRY.” ANDREA LAZZARONI
The die was cast: the entrepreneurs invested in a 360° camera, bought a drone and fashioned a remote-controlled mobile device, dubbed the Panzer in a nod to Lazzaroni’s love of tanks. “For us, what was most obvious when we started was real estate,” he said, explaining that the trio had filmed at impressive country estates in France. But they realised there were many more possible applications, for example as a marketing tool, for engaging health and safety videos, and events. They even hope to film a wedding in 3D so that friends and relatives abroad can watch the happy occasion on 3D goggles as if they were there. “We can apply it to everything if the person in February 2018
3D VISION Linda Eagan from the UK and her partner Andrea Lazzaroni from Italy are two of the cofounders who set up Vera Nova
front of you has enough imagination and professional courage to try,” Lazzaroni explained. While filming and sewing all of the angle footage together for editing takes a considerable amount of time, a large part of the team’s work involves convincing people of the technology. “My job is getting the word out, talking to people, explaining it, which is what I love doing anyway,” said Eagan. Lazzaroni, meanwhile, takes care of the logistics and administration. “In the past year, the company has filmed the interior of
a bank in Luxembourg, a hotel and spa, and a chocolate factory, among other things.” They are clearly enjoying the joint venture, which is helped by the fact they have full or part-time employment elsewhere, with Eagan working three days a week at the International School of Luxembourg. “We’re lucky we can do both,” she said. “We work from a home office. It was all self-funded and we’re not losing any money. We don’t have anything in storage or anything that’s not selling.” icon_website www.veranova.lu
ALFI EUROPEAN ASSET MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE 6 & 7 March 2018, Luxembourg Agenda topics: Product
An in depth market leaders’ perspective of the pan-European asset management world which is now close to 30 years in the making
The UCITS is 30 years old: What to expect next?
A demographic view of investor behaviours: the today and the “next generation” investor
Diversity in asset management
Regaining investor trust: the cost and fees evolution
The rise of ESG and what it means for the future of our planet
A futuristic geopolitical view of asset management
Fintech: facts, fiction and the future
What is in the regulatory pipeline for European asset managers?
Take advantage of the 2 hours lunch break with side events and even more subjects to learn from:
Masterclass Short & Sharp Stage
A topical and educational session Live on stage informational and dynamic session
Join us on Day 2 for the Morningstar European Fund Awards
Confirmed Speakers include:
HE Xavier Bettel Luxembourg Prime Minister
Pierre Bollon AFG
Claude Marx CSSF
Peter de Proft EFAMA
Steven Maijoor ESMA
Ulrika Hasselgren ISS Governance
Alexandra Morris Skagen Funds
Chris Cummings IA
Thomas Richter BVI
Patrick Lardner Irish Funds
Alexandra Haggard Blackrock
Willem Buiter Citi
Why this is an unmissable event: • • • •
Join some 600 delegates from more than 25 countries at THE event which puts Asset Managers and Investors centre-stage Learn how to best navigate the current industry environment Benefit from numerous networking opportunities with top representatives of the international Asset Management industry all gathered in one place Use the opportunity to engage with the ALFI community representing the second largest investment fund domicile in the world
Latest programme & registration: events.alfi.lu/eam18
Delano presents a selection of upcoming business, information and networking events for Luxembourg’s international community. Starting times omitted from all day happenings. Advance registration and fees may be required, so consult the link indicated for details. All events are held in English unless otherwise noted. OPEN TUESDAY
Syn2Cat “This is a place where people interested in computers, science and technologies can hang out together, tinker with technology, hack on projects, socialise and collaborate,” say organisers. icon_when Tue 13 Feb, 20:00 icon_where Level2 Hackerspace, Bonnevoie icon_website wiki.hackerspace.lu
CLIMBING THE LADDER
The Network The first of three professional development sessions held by the women’s business group. Speakers, including Karen Wauters, will share how they “made the move up the ladder”. icon_when Wed 21 Feb, 19:00 icon_where Badenoch & Clark, Gare district icon_website www.thenetwork.lu
FIND MORE EVENTS Check Delano’s digital agenda for the latest happenings: www.delano.lu/agenda
BCC This British chamber tax event provides a briefing on OECD and other rule changes that “have radically transformed the international tax landscape”. Speakers include Romain Tiffon of Atoz.
DATA PROTECTION LUNCH
BCC & Amcham Tine A. Larsen and Arnaud Habran of the Luxembourg data privacy agency CNPD speak on “data transfers to non-EU countries under the new GDPR,” which takes effect in May. Space is limited.
Wide Lawyer and self-described blockchain geek (according to her Linkedin profile) Monique Bachner will explain “the world of smart contracts” at Women in Digital Empowerment’s third tech talk.
icon_when Wed 28 Feb, 12:00-14:00 icon_where Streff, Windhof icon_website www.bcc.lu
icon_when Mon 12 March, 18:15-20:30 icon_where The Office, Belair icon_website www.wide.lu
icon_when Wed 21 Feb, 18:00 icon_where Atoz, Senningerberg icon_website www.bcc.lu
CHINESE NEW YEAR
Chamber of Commerce Celebrate the year of the dog at this business reception. Free, but there’s a €50 no-show charge. Co-organised with the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in Brussels and Chinalux.
Hub Dot Luxembourg “Let’s share our travelling discoveries together and how they bring us to a new, unexpected sense of being alive” including, the women’s networking group says, “what happens when travel is forced upon you.” icon_when Wed 28 Feb, 19:00 icon_where Vesti il Gusto, Hollerich icon_facebook Hub Dot
All Luxembourg companies, not just banks, are required to have accurate data about “effective beneficiaries”. Learn the basics of complying at this seminar. Speakers include Carine Lecoq of Dentons. icon_when Thu 22 March, 09:30-12:45 icon_where Neimënster, Grund icon_website club.paperjam.lu
STARTUP WORLD CUP CAREER ADVICE
icon_when Thu 22 Feb, 17:00 icon_where Chamber of Commerce, Kirchberg icon_mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Amcham & The Network Viviane Reding MEP is keynote speaker at this conference to mark International Women’s Day. Then, four other execs “will each pass along their favourite five key pieces of career advice/lessons learned.” icon_when Thu 8 March, 19:00 icon_where PwC, Cloche d’Or icon_website www.amcham.lu
Fenox Venture Capital EU regional semifinal startup pitch contest, leading to the global finale (with a $1m VC investment as prize) to be held in San Francisco in May. Apply by 22 February. icon_when Thu 22 March, 16:30 icon_where EY, Kirchberg icon_website www.startupworldcup.io
Department of Computer Science NTNU (CC) Maison Moderne archives Atoz European Parliament The Insiders Tony Hisgett (CC)
SAISON 17|18 –
SWAN LAKE / Loch na hEala WITH 10 PERFORMERS & 3 MUSICIANS IN ENGLISH, WITH FRENCH SURTITLES
© ROBBIE JACKS
22 & 23 MARCH 2018 AT 8PM Director Michael Keegan-Dolan Set Designer Sabine Dargent Costume Designer Hyemi Shin Lighting Designer Adam Silverman Music Slow Moving Clouds With Aki, Elizabeth Cameron Dalman, Danny Diamond, Zen Jefferson, Anna Kaszuba, Saku Koistinen, Alexander Leonhartsberger, Mikel Murfi, Kevin Murphy, Erik Nevin, Rachel Poirier, Carys Staton, Molly Walker Co-produced by Michael Keegan-Dolan, Sadler’s Wells London, Colours International Dance Festival, Theaterhaus Stuttgart, Dublin Theatre Festival & Les Théâtres de la Ville de Luxembourg With support from Civic Theatre Tallaght and South County Dublin Council Arts Office Supported by Irish Theatre Trust. The Monument Trust supports co-productions and new commissions at Sadler’s Wells.
INFORMATION & BOOKING WWW.LESTHEATRES.LU WWW.LUXEMBOURGTICKET.LU
Text by JESS BAULDRY
Photography by MIKE ZENARI
SHARING A COMMON LANGUAGE When Egyptian PhD student Adham Al-Sayyad clocks off after a long week at the university, he organises workshops for musicians to discover traditional music.
espite the wide-ranging impact of his research, Al-Sayyad says it is hard to find fulfilment from engineering alone. The emotional enrichment of immediate feedback, for him, are missing from his day job at the university. “One of the things that got me into traditional Egyptian music was the feedback. Usually, the audience itself is part of the music.” Having grown up in an international environment, studying at a language school in Egypt and then at the German University in Cairo, Al-Sayyad was an unlikely candidate to embrace traditional Egyptian music. But being born in Tanta helped him to forge an attachment to his roots. Then, he discovered the Kawala, a cane flute used in Arabic music. Al-Sayyad mastered the instrument under the mentorship of Egyptian musician Ahmed El Arnab. When he arrived in Luxembourg, he was keen to share his love of indigenous Egyptian music, so he created Anasea. The project aims to encourage musicians to preserve and revive global cultural heritage by hosting traditional music workshops for professional musicians. “The idea is to get all these people together to share music together, to share a common language. To put it in a context so that everyone is touched by this fusion music.”
icon_facebook Anasea February 2018
MORE THAN JUST RESEARCH Al-Sayyad came to Luxembourg in January 2017 for a PhD exploring laser welding of metals to polymers, “to enhance the properties of the welded joint” at the University of Luxembourg. “It’s challenging sometimes, because metals don’t weld without surface pretreatments. We’re trying to find the particular surface pretreatment that fits each combination and to understand why.” The PhD involves more than just research “because you have to be versatile,” he says, adding: “That’s something I really like about it.” Among the competencies he’s developed are mechanical, technician, presentation and organisation, not to mention people skills for working with student assistants. The research, which is being done in coordination with the University of Namur and an optic laser manufacturer, has major applications for biomedicine, biomedical implants and the automotive industry.
C T IC & ALT
I V E MU S I C T A N
Radio E N G L I S H NE
, CHAT & MU
The diar y
Luxembourg-Irish coproduction Black 47 will have its premiere at the Berlin International Film Festival in February. The film, coproduced by Samsa Film, stars Hugo Weaving, Jim Broadbent and Stephen Rea. It is set during the Irish famine. icon_website www.samsa.lu
GEORGIA TRAVEL EXPERIENCES
The latest diariesof, the bi-annual travel inspirations magazine, focuses on Georgia. In each edition Luxembourg residents Anabela and Jorge Valente and guest contributors publish photo essays on one particular country, giving readers an authentic feel for the places they visited and the people they met. icon_website www.diariesofmagazine.com
LUX LANGUAGE PODCAST
Radio presenter Sam Steen and Luxembourg language teacher Tania Hoffmann have teamed up to create the “Lux Lingo” podcast. The series consists of 10-minute shows focusing on key words and phrases used in a particular situation. icon_facebook Lux Lingo Podcast
35TH MIGRATION FESTIVAL
The annual Migration Festival celebrates its 35th edition over the first weekend of March. The festival features conferen ces, live music, dance and workshops as well as stands selling food and drink and handicrafts from around the world. icon_when 2-4 March icon_where Luxexpo The Box, Luxembourg-Kirchberg icon_website www.clae.lu
Cycle fan group B:loft is hosting a bike-friendly event with a slideshow, bike repair café and networking. icon_when 17 March icon_where Rotondes, Luxembourg-Bonnevoie icon_facebook Bloft
Described as a “spectacular celebration of springtime and summer in a sneak preview of the season’s trends”, Springbreak is a fair featuring the latest house and home innovations as well as fashion and leisure, shows and food and drink. icon_when 21-25 March icon_where Luxexpo The Box, Luxembourg-Kirchberg icon_website www.springbreak.lu
VEL’OH! GOES ELECTRIC The City of Luxembourg will transition its vel’oh! bicyclesharing programme to a fully electric fleet starting on 1 July. During the initial phase, 800 new bikes will be available at 80 bike rental stations. icon_website www.en.veloh.lu
The annual convention for science fiction, fantasy and horror fans has grown rapidly from humble beginnings. This year’s event features workshops and talks, fan events and cosplay as well as high-calibre guests such as novelists Christopher Priest and Peadar Ó Guilín. icon_when 14 & 15 April icon_where Forum Campus Geesseknäppchen, Luxembourg-Merl icon_website www.luxcon.lu
LIVE CINEMA TREATS
Fans of live cinema are spoiled rotten over the next month or so, with a slew of fascinating productions as well as the annual visit of Carl Davis. Live cinema in Luxembourg used to be pretty much restricted to the annual visit of composer Carl Davis to conduct his score to a silent era classic. The Cinémathèque and the OPL had struck up an excellent relationship with Davis and he would faithfully come to Luxembourg to perform two evening shows and a matinée of silent shorts for a family audience. This year, Davis is scheduled for May when he conducts his score to Fred Niblo’s 1928 spy thriller The Mysterious Lady. Starring Greta Garbo, the film has been praised by the Silents Are Golden website as “the most enjoyable of her silent films, a lighthearted barnstormer of a show”. But before that, on 7 March, Olari Elts conducts the OPL performing Leonard Bernstein’s score to Elia Kazan’s brilliant On the Waterfront, starring Marlon Brando and Eva Marie Saint. It is the only film (apart from the adaptation of his own West Side Story) with original music by Bernstein. Two days later local musician Gast Waltzing conducts the OPL playing Bruno Coulais’s score to Luxembourg-based director Alexandre Espigares’s White Fang, a new animated feature based on the Jack London novel. And then there are two performances of a live score to the Oscar-winning film Amadeus. The OPL and the Chœur de Chambre de Luxembourg are joined by pianist Cathy Krier and conducted by Ernst van Tiel as they play music to accompany the classic 1984 film about the life of Mozart and his rivalry with Antonio Salieri. icon_when On The Waterfront 7 March; White Fang 9 March; Amadeus 13 & 14 April; The Mysterious Lady 4 & 5 May; Live cinema family edition 5 May icon_where Philharmonie, Luxembourg-Kirchberg icon_website w ww.philharmonie.lu
Samsa Film > CLAE/Paulo Lobo > Mike Zenari
BERLIN PREMIERE FOR “BLACK 47”
Clothes, fashion, accessories, furniture and vinyl will all be on sale at the Salon du Vintage over the first weekend of March. The event will also feature tattoo workshops, nail art, hair and makeup and barber shops. Cars and bikes will also be on display. icon_when 3 & 4 March icon_where Luxexpo The Box, Luxembourg-Kirchberg icon_facebook Salon du Vintage du Luxembourg
CODE & ART Learning how to code to transform images or geometric objects is the goal of this casual get-together. On 16 January, Jerome Herr, the initiator and fan of the Processing program, helped enthusiasts figure out the coding to create unique digital art pieces. MH icon_facebook Code & Art Stammdësch 3
Marion Dessard > Johnny Lemarquis Bibian Bingen
DIGITAL ART A. The monthly meetup at Rotondes is for creative people to learn to code B. Alain said: “You get pointed in the right direction here” C. The graphical programmes Processing and p5.js can be downloaded for free D. “With code, you can manipulate anything pixel by pixel,” said Yves Conrardy
r g partner at den Atelie The booker and managins Siren’s Call festival. talks about this summer’
Den Atelier has unveiled details of its second Siren’s Call festival, which takes place at Neimënster on 30 June. It features an exciting line-up headlined by MGMT and also featuring Eels (a real favourite with the Atelier crowd), but also a slew of newer acts that are capturing the imagination of critics and fans alike right now. The festival also hosts exhibitions and readings and a food village. DR: Apart from MGMT and Eels, this year’s line-up features a lot of up-andcoming artists. Any personal favourites? MW: Definitely Klangstof (photo). They are Foals-esque, and live the band is an absolute killer. One of these bands you hear one time and you either hate them or the album is on constant rotation. How important is the parallel programme featuring readings, design, and art to creating the atmosphere of the festival? For boutique festivals like Siren’s Call, the festival experience has outgrown the headliner. Which not only reduces the budgetary strain on the promoter’s side but, and I firmly believe this, is a real advantage for the punter as well--more thought and money are put into the festival experience as a whole with a food village, exhibitions, readings, events and activities geared towards kids, art installations… The longterm development of the event is emphasised rather than the annual rat-chase for the one headlining band every festival is overpaying. Has the success of Siren’s Call sounded the final death knell for Rock-A-Field? The latter has really nothing to do with the former. Siren’s Call is a totally different approach, concept, feel, has different budgetary implications and attracts different punters. But the former does not exclude the latter in any way. However, organising big open-air festivals such as Rock-A-Field is a tough international game, which we play with Luxembourg’s potential as a backbone. There are indeed still some questions that remain unanswered regarding Rock-A-Field’s sustainability and potential. Before venturing out again onto the Herchesfeld in Roeser [the site of Rock-A-Field], we shall need to find answers to those questions. SIREN’S CALL icon_when 30 June icon_where Neimënster, Luxembourg-Grund icon_website www.sirenscall.lu
Text by DUNCAN ROBERTS
Photography by LALA LA PHOTO
k a e r b a g n i n n Pla
ore than 29,000 visitors flocked to the Vakanz fair over the third weekend in January. That is over 6,000 more than the previous year, which suggests Luxembourg residents are optimistic about the country’s economic future. Visitors could enjoy authentic coffee at the Ethiopian stand or a piping hot cup of tea at the Sri Lankan stand, sample sausage from the Black Forest or oysters from Brittany. But the main attraction was finding bargain holidays and flights and getting advice from the experts on dream destinations. Luxexpo The Box CEO Morgan Gromy said that Vakanz’s success had laid the groundwork for the 2019 edition.
WORTH A VISIT
A. Aleandro D’Amico and Andreia Carlos B. The Ethiopian stand C. A mountain bike simulator proved very popular D. Inés Carmona and Mario Miranda E. Marta Vázques Rodriguez and Cédric Haas from ACL F. Voyages Emile Weber’s Jennifer Maus and Heike Kobstädt G. Luc and Vanessa Leoni H. Lisa and Katja at the Panama diving & tours stand I. The Luxembourg Air Rescue team J. Visitors to the 2018 Vakanz fair at Luxexpo The Box were eager to book bargain flights and holidays K. Luxair Tours had plenty of special offers for visitors to the Vakanz fair L. Sensation Bretagne was offering fresh oysters at its stand M. Posing with the Luxair mascot N. Fabienne Rollinger and Yannick Berger O. Canines enjoy holidays, too P. Sandra Santos Q. Decisions, decisions, decisions… R. Mario Gouveia
Text by ALIX RASSEL
Photography by LALA LA PHOTO
b u l c g n i v l o An ev h Ladies Club 49 years ago, the Britis me long-held traditions. me so ed nd fou s wa it so Since the club s whilst also maintaining has seen many change rrent chair, Jugera Ibrahimi, to find out how cu its h wit e ok sp o Delan eryone. offers something for ev
n 2019, the British Ladies Club will mark its 50th anniversary in Luxembourg, and this year is the 25th anniversary of its ever-popular Car Boot Sale. Jugera Ibrahimi took over as chair of the club in 2017. Having previously worked on a variety of projects in her native Albania, Ibrahimi had the organisational experience and knowledge necessary to take on such a challenging role. “As soon as I arrived in Luxembourg, I threw myself into volunteering, doing projects with the Red Cross through the American embassy,” she explains. “As I saw the position of chair advertised, it came very natural to put myself forward without hesitation. More than just ideas, I had a clear vision of how I saw the club evolving in the future to be even more diversified and inclusive.” The BLC committee is currently made up of 12 volunteers representing the international community in Luxembourg. Indeed, whilst the term “British” may be in the club’s title, it has always presented itself as an international club for people who want to network in English. The club currently has approximately 400 members, made up of over 30 nationalities. The members are of all ages, have a variety of different interests and are located throughout Luxembourg, so the aim is to offer something for everyone. “On any given week, there is always a variety of activities planned to cater for all tastes,” Ibrahimi explains. “If we look at the coming week, there is a newcomer event, a coffee morning, several lunches and a movie night. In fact, sometimes there are several activities planned daily.” Children’s activities, including “Pipsqueaks”, are held at members’ homes or at Zigzag in Bertrange, which is a recent partnership. A team of dedicated volunteers organises regular events for children aged between one and six, including singing, story time February 2018
and holiday parties. “It’s a great opportunity for both the children and parents to socialise,” says Ibrahimi. The BLC also raises money each year for two selected charities; one in Luxembourg and one in the UK. This year, monies raised will be split between Parkinson Luxembourg and Maggie’s Centres in the UK. “We already organised a sponsored walk last year to raise money for the charities, followed by a brunch, and many other fundraising events. Our members are very dedicated to the charity work we do,” says Ibrahimi. For Mousumi, the club was just what she was looking for when she moved from Bangalore in October 2017. “I went to one of the newcomer meetings and started to get to meet people and expand my social activities. The events occur on a weekly basis, so it really helped me integrate and make friends. Now, my husband jokes that I have a bigger network than him.” “I think the diversity and frequency of our events make the club very interesting for members,” adds Ibrahimi. “Being a member of such a group, you naturally feel more relaxed and comfortable, you socialise and create special relationships that last more than just a coffee or dinner. And, of course, we offer events allowing the whole family to get involved.”
JUGERA IBRAHIMI Wants the BLC to be more diverse and inclusive
BRITISH LADIES CLUB Non-members are welcome to attend three networking events before they decide whether or not to join the club, when a small annual membership fee is applicable. Upcoming events include coffee mornings for new members at the Ikea Café just across the Belgian border, the professional and entrepreneurial women event, a visit to the Bofferding brewery, and dinner at the Syriously! restaurant to support refugees.
icon_website www.blc.lu icon_facebook British Ladies Club of Luxembourg icon_mail email@example.com
Open from Monday to Friday from 10.00 a.m. to 7.00 p.m. and on Saturdays from 9.00 a.m. to 6.00 p.m. 69, parc d’activités Mamer-Cap • L-8308 Capellen │ Tel.: 26 30 30 1
Text by DUNCAN ROBERTS
g n i v i l n a e Cl at home
ms to be on diet so much of its focus see. A healthy home, t bu , ess sin bu big is ustry live The healthy lifestyle ind neglects the very environment in which we g. and exercise that it oftenned for sustainability, is essential to well-bein free of toxicit y and desig
lose to 30 years since the first globally recognised passive house was built in Darmstadt, Germany, in 1991, passive houses are becoming the norm rather than the exception. In the 21st century, passive houses use superior insulation, airtight construction, energy-efficient windows and carefully controlled ventilation as essential components of the home’s construction. Almost ten years after the Darmstadt project, in 2000, Luxembourg’s first passive house certification was handed to a project developed by realtor Arend & Fischbach. Three years later, the company was awarded Luxembourg industry federation Fedil’s inaugural environment prize. Pioneers in the domain in Luxembourg, in 2013 Arend & Fischbach launched its Massive Passive brand of wooden house constructions, what it calls “a new vision of contemporary building”, that are not only sustainable but also offer home owners a healthy living climate. Massive Passive houses use fewer natural resources, provide home owners with a healthier life and considerably reduce ecological footprint. The company says that its Massive Passive houses are “never influenced by short-term fashionable trends. They are always directed towards the environment and the individual wishes of our clients.” Solid wood constructions combined with other energy-efficient materials help reduce CO2 emission and February 2018
guarantee a positive balance when calculating grey energy. Wood also creates what can be termed a “water vapour permeable construction” that is naturally breathable. Mechanical drying also makes the use of chemical wood preservatives unnecessary. In addition, wood is perfect for recycling as it is and, even at the end of its life cycle, it can still be used as heating energy.
SUSTAINABLE AND LOW ENERGY Indeed, new construction technology allows passive houses to approach zero energy standards and gain AAA certification. Insulation and mechanical systems are replacing old costly heating and cooling systems and they can now direct heat or cooled air to a specific room, rather than dispersing it around the entire house. Together with sophisticated sun-shading systems, they ensure a pleasant and healthy indoor climate in all houses.
In general, building a passive house can incur more costs for the initial design and construction compared to a traditional building. In many passive houses, outer wall thickness will vary depending on location and typical weather conditions. Owners should be aware of the cost of passive building materials. On the other hand, cost recovery with savings on utility bills begins immediately once the building is occupied, especially with new smart-home concepts that allow the worry-free intelligent control of technology in the house, which limits excess energy use. What’s more, passive houses are beneficial to the health of their owners. Not only do they have a better conscience regarding the reduced damage they are inflicting on the environment, but better air quality and climate control also have direct physical benefits. Energy
“THE HEALTH ASPECT IS PLAYING AN INCREASINGLY IMPORTANT ROLE IN DEVELOPING NEW RESIDENTIAL CONCEPTS.” AREND & FISCHBACH
THE JOY OF WOOD Breathable, low energy homes, like this Massive Passive house in Mersch, are healthy and environmentallyfriendly
recovery ventilators can adjust the air daily, depending on the number of people and activity levels in the building. And for additional peace of mind, wood has a surprisingly high fire resistance. And Massive Passive also minimises the use of products from the oil industry (polystyrene and PVC, among others) to an absolute minimum, thus limiting the amount of toxins in the home. Massive Passive also uses ecological building materials such as clay plaster. “This is certainly an issue for the insulation, but also for the acoustic design of the rooms by providing lowlevel sound transmission, which in turn contributes to an increased feel-good factor and better quality of living,” says the company.
FINANCIAL INCENTIVES In January last year, Luxembourg introduced legislation that requires all new constructions to practically meet “passive” standards--three years ahead of the date set by an EU directive that all new homes should have net zero energy consumption. What’s more, a series of financial incentives are on offer to home owners who want to renovate homes that are more than ten years old, allowing for “climate loans” at a reduced rate of interest (up to a maximum of 100,000 euros over 15 years) or even interest-free (a maximum of 50,000 euros over 15 years).
(volatile organic compound) glues, stains and varnishes. Some experts suggest that glass and metal are generally the safest options. Metal may need to be washed down in order to remove factory oils; powder coated metal is the best option, but all metal finishes become inert quite quickly. In Luxembourg, the likes of Miwwelhaus Koeune in Mersch and its
sister outfit Wohnfabrik in Ingeldorf specialise in natural furniture, be it individual pieces or custom-designed living spaces. Norbert Brakonier in Bonnevoie has also established a reputation as a maker and retailer of individually made interiors and furniture using solid woods and other natural and high-quality materials. And while having furniture custom
SOLID CHOICE Opting for natural furniture, like this oak table by Brakonier, helps reduce toxins in the home Brakonier
THE TOXIC FURNITURE CHALLENGE Once you have a home, furnishing it also poses a series of quandaries regarding what is healthy or not. Although many of the big-name chain stores have started lines of eco-friendly and natural furniture, that does not always equate to being good for the consumer’s health. Some wood composites and chipboard are susceptible to formaldehyde emissions and recent studies suggest that some flame retardants used in sofas and mattresses can cause cancer in adults and cognitive deficits in children. Recent legislation in some EU countries (Austria, Germany, Denmark and Sweden) regulates formaldehyde emissions, but older flat-pack furniture may still pose a risk. To avoid health problems, look for furniture that is made of solid wood, has no chemical treatments on the fabric (including flame retardants) and zero or low-VOC
BEWOSST FËSCHEN !
Knowing what and how we fish!
Our marine resources are not limitless and many marine species are overharvested. The world’s oceans get literally combed by industrial fishing, which is indiscriminate and intensive with its very large ships and advanced technology to locate fish. According to the 2016 bi-annual report “The Situation of World Fisheries and Aquaculture” published by the FAO(1) (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations), “world per capita apparent fish consumption increased from an average of 9,9 kg in the 1960s to 14,4 kg in the 1990s and 19,7 kg in 2013, with preliminary estimates for 2014 and 2015 pointing towards further growth beyond 20 kg”. This means that global fish consumption has doubled in the last 50 years.
To offer high-quality products while at the same time respecting nature and its great wealth, on a daily basis our purchasing department works closely with fish wholesalers which use responsible fishing methods and regularly visits fishing areas and farms to meet our suppliers. We only work with fishing businesses whose processes and convictions are in line with our philosophy regarding quality.
DO YOU AGREE WITH US? Discover more on our commitment, how to fight against the overexploitation of the sea. And become an ambassador with us for a consumption of quality fish without compromise.
Read more about our commitment on www.cactus.lu/bewosst
Qualitéit ouni Kompromëss
EVERYTHING’S GONE GREEN Filling a home with plants improves air quality and is beneficial to health
made may not suit everyone’s budget, buying antique solid wood furniture is another option.
THE SECRET LIFE OF PLANTS However, one affordable and extremely relaxing way to create a healthier living space is to invest in house plants. Plants act as natural air filters, and some species are even effective absorbers of harmful pollutants emitted from carpets, furniture and electronic equipment. Indeed, Nasa research shows that plants remove up to 87 percent of commonly found volatile organic compounds, including formaldehyde, benzene and trichloroethylene every 24 hours. The plants pull the contaminants into their soil, where root zone microorganisms convert them into food for the plant. Plants can also serve as natural humidifiers. They release roughly 97 percent of the water they absorb, and this can help increase the humidity of
a room, which helps prevent or reduce respiratory problems. Studies in Norway have even demonstrated keeping plants in interior spaces decreases the incidence of dry skin, colds, sore throats and dry coughs. Greenery also helps with concentration. The Royal Agricultural University of Cirencester in the UK found that students demonstrated 70 percent greater attentiveness when they were taught in rooms containing plants. Indeed, plants are simply beneficial for overall health. Researchers at Kansas State University found that hospital patients in rooms with plants requested less pain medication, had lower heart rates and blood pressure and experienced less fatigue and anxiety than those in rooms without plants. And a Dutch study showed that adding plants to office settings decreased fatigue, colds, headaches, coughs, sore throats and flu-like symptoms.
USEFUL CONTACTS Advice & financial aid
GOVERNMENT AGENCY icon_website www.myenergy.lu
MASSIVE PASSIVE BY AREND & FISCHBACH icon_website www.massive-passive.lu THOMAS & PIRON icon_website www.thomas-piron.lu
BRAKONIER icon_website www.nbr.lu MIWWELHAUS KOEUNE & WOHNFABRIK icon_website www.koeune.eu
Text by SARITA RAO
Photography by MATIC ZORMAN
s t e e m t s i n Femi s s e c n i r P y e Disn
n, hter’s princess obsessio ortably with your daug vorah Blachor will help mf co sit n’t do es ipl nc ourg-based De If your feminist pri ightful book by Luxemb a new humorous and ins le. you navigate the pink tul
ew Yorker Devorah Blachor was flummoxed when her young daughter became obsessed with everything princess and pink. “I’d raised her in a gender-neutral environment and I wasn’t open to the princess culture,” she recalls. The tension between Blachor’s expectations and her daughter’s behaviour led to her publishing a satirical essay in the New York Times entitled Turn your princess-obsessed toddler into a feminist in eight easy steps. It went viral. In 2015, Blachor moved to Luxembourg and got a book deal. She spent much of her time in Franky’s café in Bertrange drafting The feminist’s guide to raising a little princess. Blachor’s main concern with her daughter’s sudden disappearance “down the Disney rabbit hole”, as she calls it, was that the princess obsession would have a negative impact. She couldn’t find a study showing a negative relationship between the princess culture, which took off in 2000, and its impact on adolescent self-esteem and body image on the early guinea pigs of Disney’s marketing push, who would now be in high school or university, so she conducted her own survey. “Most respondents were interesting, engaged women despite their childhood princess obsessions. It countered my expectations and really changed my mind about it,” she says. “It also helped me to understand that our children differ from our expectations and if we accept them as they are, our lives flow better than if we resist,” she explains, although she still promotes a feminist agenda: “I want my daughter to express herself, not let other people tell her that her voice doesn’t matter, speak up, and not aim February 2018
simply to please others at her own expense. All too often girls are taught to be the caretakers and sacrifice their own needs.” The book, available on all Amazon websites, combines research findings with personal essays in a satirical style. In one chapter, Blachor recalls the first princess item to enter the house, which turned her into the Evil Queen plotting against it. “It’s a chapter about giving up control and letting go,” she says. She has also rewritten early fairytales in a cartoon segment entitled A femtastic fairy godmother.
Blachor began her career as a documentary film maker and news journalist but discovered satirical writing after the birth of her children. “It was an outlet to laugh about motherhood,” she says. Today, she regularly pens essays on politics, parenting and feminism as well as humorous pieces for the Washington Post, McSweeney’s and The Forward. “I’m grateful to be in Luxembourg. It’s a safe place to raise my kids and an amazing opportunity for us to explore Europe,” she says. icon_website www.devorahblachor.com
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Text by JESS BAULDRY
Photography by MIKE ZENARI
g r u o b m e x u L e Th chapter ving sted any time since mo Andreia Nuno has not wa ago. She describes the objec ts to Luxembourg six yearsher on the journey. that have accompanied
ANDREIA NUNO Book-addict Andreia Nuno was born in Portugal and moved to Luxembourg to join her mother in February 2012 after graduating with a degree in Portuguese literature and English studies. “It was a very bad time to arrive to Luxembourg--the weather is cold and it rains. Like everyone who comes, I had a hard time adjusting,” she recalls. Nuno quickly found her feet and says she is glad she decided to stay. She completed a master in intercultural communication and social linguistics at the University of Luxembourg in 2015, and interned at the European Parliament, Ferrero and for an IT company. It was while working as a community manager at the last firm that she found a way to pursue her love of books and create something new. In 2016, Nuno created a book review blog, booktraveller.weebly.com. “In the beginning, it was slow. I reviewed books from NetGalley.com, where writers post their books before they are published.” Over time, she has acquired a following and now authors contact her. She is not paid for her reviews--in fact she now works full-time for PwC--but that is not the main driver. “The good part of it is that I get to discover authors I probably wouldn’t find in the bookstore.” Last year she read over 150 books in a single year and says she has over 500 books at home and more in Luxembourg. February 2018
“This Swarovski pen was a gift from my mum. My mum always told me follow what I want to do, no I should mat ter what people say… She has a mat chin and it symbolises our great g pen relationship.”
IN MY SUITCASE
was like a r’s watches. He d he loved my grandfathe an “This was one of d a huge collection of watches dmother to an dad to me. He ha , when he died I asked my gr ember his m . So to collect them tches. Every time I carry it I re ance, always ar get one of his wa e not to judge things by appe y times you an m advice: he told I can’t. And no matter how m g try before sayin s get up and try to do better.” ay fall, you can alw
b o ok . l note iews but a m r o n ev just a idn’t write r “This isnly use it to . I noticed I d or y of t s o is e t t h no w I no he make b o ut t a revie also to ber much a cided to do ” r. m e a e d e yy rem ntr y so I t u ga l b u my co stor y of Por e of t h
“This bell do there are no ll is very special to me. It’ three years evil spirits in the room. s to make sure Iw ag people on a o and met a very spec ent to Prague ifi co In a very shor urse at Charles Unive c group of rsity in Prag t tim e th ey ue. culture and taught me a ha In the end, th ving fun with people yolot about people, ey u ba be re ca ly me much m know. was a gift fr ore th om from Russia one of the people I m an that. This and it was a et there. He way to remem was ber him by.”
GRET WHAT I REEHIND B G IN V A LE
er d Harry Pott “I always love r this mug is when fo on ely but the reas dn’t like to read, strang om I di fr r, s ge em un st yo g adin I was t it’s passion for re enough. My up with Harry Potter, bu p ew gr the cu I d ha I n the fact he w like because quite funny there was a time I didn’t n’t d do I remembere w my mum complains I ” s! no to read and ore space left for book have any m “I chose th is symbolism cancer ribbon bro o a lot to can of the ribbon. I lost twch for the diagnosed cer. The third person o people I loved I participat survived after a year I know who was -a e which goes in several events, th nd-a-half battle… e to the Can cer Found money from ation.” February 2018
Text by DUNCAN ROBERTS
t u c l a n fi e Th
w-look festival. This year, the ne film a ise an org to ce ran t cut ou perseve It takes hard work and Luxembourg Cit y Film Festival had its work ghts. hli the of hig e me itte so t mm ou co ks ic ist pic art ing programme. Delano to put together an excit
rom finding funding and sponsors and gathering a team of reliable staff to the logistics of travel and accommodation for guests, the back-office work involved in putting together a film festival is never ending. But without films, there would be no festival. This year’s highlights begin with the festival’s opening film, Oscar-nominated Luxembourg co-production The Breadwinner. The latest film by Irish animation director Nora Twomey, the brilliantly executed and moving film tells the story of an Afghan girl who must dress as a boy so she can work to support her mother and her sister after her father is arrested by the Taliban. Luxembourg company Melusine Productions at Studio 352 teamed up with Ireland’s Cartoon Saloon and Canada’s Aircraft Pictures in partnership with producer Angelina Jolie to adapt the film from the best-selling novel by Deborah Ellis. The closing film at the 2018 festival is another highly anticipated movie, Wes Anderson’s latest foray into animation, Isle of Dogs. Other major films on the bill include Armando Iannucci’s brutal satire The Death of Stalin, which stars Steve Buscemi and Simon Russell Beale in top form.
COMPETITION Neither of the aforementioned is eligible for the feature film competition, which is loaded with brilliant new films from around the world. Israeli film Foxtrot, which won the Silver Lion at Venice last autumn, is a stunning piece of cinema that examines grief and guilt, chance and tragedy, all set against the boredom of young soldiers at a desert checkpoint. The characters in Danish film Holiday, a group of uncultured chancers and sycophants in awe of a drug dealer who while away their days at a Turkish seaside villa, seem to wallow in their own boredom. February 2018
But under the surface simmers a sense of menace that is just waiting to explode. If Holiday is languorous, then Chinese film Free and Easy is equally slow and deliberate in its pacing. Set in the bleak, cold, deserted northeast of China, the film is nevertheless peppered with dark humour as the audience is treated to a series of amoral characters, small-time crooks and corrupt cops, all seemingly trying to con each other.
ROAD MOVIES AND MORE Like Free and Easy, Sweet Country features several long shots of stark landscape--but this is the Australian outback of the 1920s. A western with a difference, the beautifully photographed film is based on true events about the unethical treatment of the Aboriginal people and a posse chase across some tough terrain. Iranian film Disappearance also involves a desperate journey. In this superbly constructed film, two young lovers seeking hospital treatment are caught up in a spiral of lies as they face an unbending bureaucracy and strict moral
codes of a society that is unwilling to accept their situation. The excellent Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts is a revenge western set in Indonesia, but is also a road movie, a thriller and a surreal ghost story. Another road movie of sorts, Lean on Pete is also a bittersweet coming of age story set in the world of second-string horse racing that brilliantly balances true grit with authentic melodrama and features a great performance from its young star Charlie Plummer (alongside that man, Steve Buscemi, again). The harrowing Romanian family drama Pororoca, directed by Constantin Popescu, is a devastating look at the unexplained disappearance of a child and the affect it has on the parents. Marital strain of a completely different and absurd sort is the subject of Babis Makridis’ Pity, from a script by Efthimis Filippou, who wrote The Lobster and The Killing of a Sacred Deer. The film might loosely fit into the “Greek weird wave”, but is a more studied look at the phenomenon of people who are only happy when unhappy.
“GUTLAND IS AN AUSPICIOUS DEBUT FOR THE YOUNG VAN MAELE.” KYLE KOHNER, THE PLAYLIST
DELANO PICKS A. Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts Stunningly filmed revenge story with a strong female lead B. The Death of Stalin Deliciously wicked satire is the closing film C. Foxtrot Haunting and stunning Israeli film examines grief and guilt D. Sweet Country A visually beautiful western set in the Australian outback of the 1920s E. Pity Finding happiness in unhappiness F. A Woman Captured Modern-day slavery is the focus of Bernadett Tuza-Ritter’s documentary G. Lean on Pete Bittersweet coming of age story H. Free and Easy Offers deadpan humour aplenty despite its bleak setting and deliberate pacing
LUXEMBO RG CITY FILM FESTU IVAL
icon_when 22 February-4 icon_where Ciné Utopia, March Cinéma Kinepolis Kirchbe thèque, Luxembourg, Ro rg, Casino to Mudam, Neimën ndes, icon_website ww w.luxfilmfes ster. t.lu
FASCINATING DOCS A string of fascinating films have made the final cut for the documentary competition, which is a hugely popular section of the festival. Among them are Amal, a contemporary coming of age story in the context of recent Egyptian politics, and A Woman Captured, which examines a case of what can only be termed modern day slavery. Among the special screenings is the latest film from Gus Van Sant. Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot is a moving and entertaining biopic of wheelchair-bound cartoonist John Callahan (Joaquin Phoenix). I
I. Gutland Vicky Krieps stars alongside Frederick Lau and a great ensemble in Govinda Van Maele’s debut feature J. Holiday A languid film from Denmark that simmers with below-the-surface menace K. The Breadwinner Oscar-nominated Luxembourgco-production opens the festival L. Amal Documentary competition entry is a coming of age story set in contemporary Egypt M. Disappearance Desperation in the face of bureaucracy and strict moral codes N. Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot The latest from Gus Van Sant stars Joaquin Phoenix and Jonah Hill
Melusine Productions Title Media Apparatur Film Bunya Productions Film4 Cinesurya Pictures Les Films Fauves Neda Film Bord Cadre Films Three Gardens Films The Old Avant-Garde Films Eclipse Films
Also in competition is Govinda Van Maele’s Luxembourg film Gutland, a stunning first feature set in rural Luxembourg and starring actress of the moment Vicky Krieps, alongside Frederick Lau as a stranger who lands in a village that has plenty of secrets.
Text by DUNCAN ROBERTS
Photography by MIKE ZENARI
g n i t a r b e l e C s d i k d e t n e l ta years , in schools for some ten Having taught theatre has put together the first Festival direc tor Tony Kingston hool Theatre. of English-language Sc
amiliar to theatre audiences in Luxembourg through the annual productions he directs for his BGT company, Tony Kingston earns his bread and butter by teaching drama in local schools. He has long been a champion of providing opportunities to youngsters to showcase their talents to audiences, and has now taken that to the next level with a weekend Festival of English-language School Theatre. “I was becoming aware that there is a lot of English theatre happening in schools as the language becomes higher profile with the ministry of education pushing it.” But Kingston realised there was no bigger network. “Apart from some connection between St George’s and the International School, which are both private English-language schools, people were doing stuff in their little bubbles without really reaching out to other schools.” So, having thought about the possibility of developing some sort of celebration of school theatre in English, it was a chat that Kingston had with Laure Schreiner of ALEA, the network of English-language schools teachers, that proved to be the catalyst for the more concrete idea of a festival. The pair approached Karin Kremer, the director of the Mierscher Kulturhaus, with whom they had both previously worked. “She was quite keen on the idea, so we developed it from there… outlined an infrastructure on how to put on ten shows over a weekend, and then put the idea out to the schools. Response was very, very good.” Several teachers from existing groups said they had been waiting for a similar initiative, while some others, like the Lycée des Arts et Métier, were keen to use the opportunity to form an English-language drama group in their school. “So, what I thought would happen, this pool of enthusiasm, just came up.” Several groups have even created original works, either from scripts or as devised pieces. In addition to showcasing English-language theatre in schools and giving students a chance to perform on February 2018
a bigger stage, Kingston says the other main aim of FEST is to start a network of drama groups that might cross-fertilise ideas and share resources like props and costumes. Indeed, over the weekend, the students will have an opportunity to take part in workshops with professionals brought in from abroad. The hope is that they will start an exchange, however informal, during FEST itself and build from there. FEST takes place under the patronage of the British embassy, and the US embassy has also taken a keen interest in the initiative.
TONY KINGSTON AND THE DRAMA GROUP OF THE LYCÉE CLASSIQUE DE DIEKIRCH FEST will showcase young theatre talent
FEST LINEUP Friday 23 February ST GEORGE’S INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL 30-minute Hamlet by William Shakespeare LYCÉE CLASSIQUE DE DIEKIRCH The Bright Blue Mailbox Suicide Note by Lindsay Price
Saturday 24 February LYCÉE DES ARTS ET MÉTIER Peter Pan and the Lost Children adapted by Mike Goergen and Jenny Schank from the play by J. M. Barrie LËNSTER LYCÉE JUNGLINSTER The Nibelungen-reloaded. Part 1 devised by Sarah Lippert and Yann Ketter INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL OF LUXEMBOURG Un-boxed devised by ISL students and Susi Müller
EUROPEAN SCHOOL MAMER Split by Bradley Hayward LYCÉE ALINE MAYRISCH DNA by Dennis Kelly LYCÉE MICHEL RODANGE War at Home by Nicole Quinn and Nina Shengold
Sunday 25 February EUROPEAN SCHOOL KIRCHBERG A Human Write by Amy Sutton ÉCOLE PRIVÉE DE NOTRE-DAME SAINTE-SOPHIE The Last Song devised by students of Notre-Dame Sainte-Sophie English drama group
FOOD & DRINK
Text by DUNCAN ROBERTS
Restaurants housed in a former pharmacy, a converted school, a renovated factory and a transformed carpentry shop were among the winners of Explorator awards.
estaurant guide Explorator unveiled its annual awards on 10 January at Paperjam Club’s 10x6 Passion event. Readers of the online guide, which began publishing in 1994, had been voting in 11 different categories since mid-November. The results included some familiar winners--Kamakura deservedly was again voted best Asian restaurant--but also some surprises. For instance, La Distillerie, universally recognised as one of the best restaurants in the country, didn’t feature at all as the “best gastronomic” award went to Cyril Molard’s Ma Langue Sourit (despite it being closed for over two months for renovation). For the first time a restaurant inside a cinema complex also was recognised--Kin Khao, which opened in Utopolis Kirchberg in September, placed second best Asian and third best new restaurant. The winner of the latter category was Apdikt, February 2018
the former pharmacy in Steinfort that was turned into a small but tidy fine dining venue by Mathieu Van Wetteren last April. Last year’s new restaurant winner, the excellent and ever popular Aal Schoul (a former school in Hobscheid) has not rested on its laurels and won the “best restaurant in the centre” award, ahead of Apdikt and Fabrik (a former factory in Mersch). The best restaurant in the south was won by the lively Schräinerei in Differdange, marking a distinct trend for venues that have been renovated from their former use (it was the carpentry shop of steel maker Arcelor). Other notable winners were the Heringer Millen in Mullerthal, which won best Luxembourg restaurant as well as best restaurant in the north. L’Annexe was another dual winner, taking the best French restaurant and best service awards. Perennial favourite Mathes in Ahn was voted the best restaurant in the east, while another familiar venue, Bella Napoli, won the best Italian restaurant prize. icon_website www.explorator.lu
The team behind Vins Fins has opened a new venue in a converted farm in Hollerich. The concept is to serve dishes using seasonal and uniquely local organic farm produce and drinks, including Simon’s bio beer. Only the wine, sourced mainly in France and Spain, is not truly local. The simple daily menu consists of a choice of two starters and two main dishes and one dessert. The conversion makes clever use of all the space in the farmhouse to create a charming and unique new venue. icon_where 80-82 rue de l’Aciérie, Luxembourg-Hollerich icon_facebook thefarmlux
Sebastien Goossens Maison Moderne
Transformed venues win out
The trend for craft beers hits a new high at this gastro-pub, which serves refined versions of traditional Luxembourg dishes. They also make a variety of great house cocktails. But the focus is definitely on providing a wide selection of beers from around the world. The bar has eight beers and some guest beers on tap and plans to start serving its own brews soon. icon_where 112 rue de Bonnevoie, Luxembourg-Bonnevoie icon_facebook CraftCorner.lu
SECONDARYOPEN OPENMORNING MORNING SECONDARY Thursday 22nd March 2018 Register now at www.st-georges.lu/curriculum/ secondary/open-morning
Join St George’s International secondary staff and students for a talk and tour of the school
or email: firstname.lastname@example.org 11 rue des Peupliers | L-2328 | Luxembourg-Hamm www.st-georges.lu | Tel. |+352 42 32 24 | email@example.com 11 rue des Peupliers L-2328 | Luxembourg | Tel. +352 42 32 24 20180122_Advert.indd 4
1st Tour & Talk 9:00am – 10:15am 2nd Tour & Talk 11:00am – 12:15pm 26/01/2018 08:08:36
European classes in the Luxembourgish public schools Information meetings To cater for the diversity of students the Luxembourgish public schools enlarge their offer. Four public schools will offer European classes as of 2018-19. Based on the curriculum of the European schools and leading to a European baccalaureate, they are open to all the students living in Luxembourg.
Get informed and discover the offer of your chosen school.
École internationale de Mondorf-les-Bains
19th February at 7:00 PM in LU 20th February at 7:00 PM in FR 21st February at 7:00 PM in EN
Bierger- a Kulturhaus 1, Place des Villes Jumelées Mondorf-les-Bains
Phone: 247 652 90 www.eimlb.lu
École internationale de Junglinster
26th February at 7:00 PM in LU, Translation in: GER, FR, EN
Lënster Lycée 2, rue Victor Ferrant Junglinster
Phone: 276 963-1 www.lensterlycee.lu
Lycée Edward Steichen Clervaux
28th February at 20:00 PM in GER, FR, EN
Cube 521 1-3, Driicht Marnach
Phone: 206 007-1 www.lesc.lu
3rd March from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM in FR, EN
EIDE 50, rue Emile Mark Differdange 2, rue de la Montagne Differdange 91, rue Victor Hugo Esch/Alzette
Phone: 288 572-1 www.eide.lu
École internationale de Differdange et Esch-sur-Alzette
Text by DUNCAN ROBERTS
14 shows you must see
ORCHESTRE DE PARIS Viola virtuoso The Orchestre de Paris has had a series of great musical directors since it was founded in 1967. The current incumbent, Daniel Harding, conducts this concert featuring viola player Antoine Tamestit (photo). He will perform Jörg Widmann’s viola concerto. Also on the programme: Robert Schumann’s overture to Genoveva and his 2nd symphony. icon_when 12 March icon_where P hilharmonie, Place de l’Europe, Luxembourg-Kirchberg icon_website www.philharmonie.lu February 2018
THE CHOPPY BUMPY PEACHES Psychedelic fuzz Six-piece space rock/ neo-psychedelic exponents The Choppy Bumpy Peaches celebrates the release of its debut album. Sgt. Konfuzius & the Flowers of Venus is chock-full of the band’s trademark fuzzy guitars, hallucinating keyboards, ritual-like drums and haunting vocals. Support comes from German band Yagow and great local act Autumn Sweater.
THE CHARLATANS Baggy veterans Manchester scene veterans The Charlatans last year released their 13th album. For Different Days the band roped in fellow musicians Johnny Marr, Paul Weller and Kurt Wagner, as well as author Ian Rankin and actress Sharon Horgan. The result, however, is not so very different from their previous efforts, as singer Tim Burgess and his crew play danceable but comfortable baggy rock.
DEANNE SMITH Gender-bender Award-winning CanadianAmerican lesbian comedian DeAnne Smith’s act is smart and self-deprecating. She also tackles the definition of gender: her Wikipedia page refers to herself as “they”. But she has a neat line in audience banter and some of her anecdotes are genuinely funny. She appears here as the English-language act in the Humour pour la Paix festival.
icon_when 24 February icon_where Rotondes, Luxembourg-Bonnevoie icon_website www.rotondes.lu
icon_when 25 February icon_where den Atelier, Luxembourg-Gare icon_website www.atelier.lu
icon_when 7 March icon_where Neimënster, Luxembourg-Grund icon_website www.neimenster.lu
SIR WAS Precise disorder Swedish producer Joel Wästberg, aka Sir Was, studied jazz saxophone, the freedom of which informs much of his work as a maker of emotive and wonderfully atmospheric tracks infused with mesmerising beats. Last year’s Digging a Tunnel album received a slay of positive reviews. Clash magazine praised the broad church of its influences and called it “precision-engineered disorder”.
MICHAEL KEEGAN-DOLAN Swan Lake reimagined Sadler’s Wells associate artist Michael Keegan-Dolan infuses the world’s most popular ballet, Swan Lake with magical realism. He uses traditional Irish-Nordic folk music, played live on stage, to create a piece that “digs deeply into the psyche of the modern Irish soul.” The Guardian says Keegan-Dolan “elevates it to a place of bleak, funny and astoundingly poetic beauty.”
CHARLOTTE GAINSBOURG Oversized scorcher The French singer and actress turns her hand to song writing for her latest album, 2017’s Rest. The result is a record, made with trendy producer Sebastian, that is at times warmly personal, at other times self-indulgent. Yet it contains a number of wonderfully catchy and even danceable tunes, and Pitchfork called it “at once scorchingly intimate and fantastically oversized.”
icon_when 18 March icon_where Rotondes, Luxembourg-Bonnevoie icon_website www.rotondes.lu
icon_when 22 & 23 March icon_where Grand Théâtre, Luxembourg-Limpertsberg icon_website www.theatres.lu
icon_when 25 March icon_where Rockhal, Esch-Belval icon_website www.rockhal.lu
Eric Larrayadieu Gaëlle Beri
ir imagination spring, so artists let thethe freshest to y wa es giv ter win As elic album release to run free. From a psycheda classic reimagined and innovative via it, ourg stage. festival on the circu creativit y on the Luxemb piano this is a season for
Lawrence Watson J. Konrad Schmidt Jessica Lehrman
YOUN SUN NAH Eclectic cool Korean jazz singer Youn Sun Nah was born to musical parents and went to study jazz at schools in Paris. Of her latest opus, She Moves On, The Guardian says she “delectably catches the dreamy poetry of Joni Mitchell’s ‘The Dawntreader’ and the tenderness of ‘Fools Rush In’.” She also tackles with gusto ‘Black Is the Colour of My True Love’s Hair’ and Jimi Hendrix’s ‘Drifting’.
KINDERTRANSPORT Seminal work Anne Simon directs Diane Samuels’ acclaimed play inspired by the events that lead to some 10,000 children, mostly Jewish, to escape to Britain just before the outbreak of WWII. A co-production with the Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch, the play examines the children’s escape and separation from their parents, many of whom perished in the Holocaust.
MARTIN KOHLSTEDT Piano genius German pianist, composer and producer Martin Kohlstedt has made soundtracks for film and radio theatre as well as music for computer games. But, using a prepared piano, he is also a solo artist in his own right and has a catalogue of three albums (and two remix albums) to his name. The latest, 2017’s Strom was hailed as “one of the most moving instrumental works” of the year by Musikexpress.
NISBETH/FORSBERG Rising stars Swedish violist Ellen Nisbeth, nominated as an ECHO Rising Star by Konserthuset Stockholm, is joined by pianist Bengt Forsberg for a programme that includes several works by Percy Grainger as well as two titles from Duke Ellington’s 1959 score to the Otto Preminger film Anatomy of a Murder. Nisbeth performs on a Dom Nicolò Amati viola from 1714.
icon_when 27 March icon_where opderschmelz, Dudelange icon_website www.opderschmelz.lu
icon_when 27 & 28, 30 & 31 March icon_where Théâtre des Capucins, Luxembourg-Centre icon_website www.theatres.lu
MARCUS MILLER All about the bass Jazz bassist Marcus Miller is one of the most renowned exponents of his instrument on the live concert scene. As well as contributing to over 500 albums (by the likes of Michael Jackson, Frank Sinatra and Donald Fagen) as a guest artist, Miller has his own projects. He has performed in Luxembourg several times and comes to the Rockhal with a band of young musicians.
NOEL GALLAGHER’S HIGH FLYING BIRDS Amped up Touring to promote his third album under the High Flying Birds moniker, Noel Gallagher comes to Rockhal courtesy of den Atelier. Released last autumn, Who Built the Moon? received mixed reviews but reached number one in the UK album charts. The A.V. Club said the music was “like an extremely amped-up version of Oasis.” Which is no bad thing, we guess.
OUT OF THE CROWD Fresh festival Delano’s favourite festival in Luxembourg is a one-day affair that attracts a wealth of superb new talent to the grand duchy. Not all acts had been booked by press time, but Out of the Crowd had already announced Canadian greats Metz and Aaron Maine’s electro-pop project Porches (photo) on the bill alongside local artists No Metal in this Battle and Napoleon Gold.
icon_when 19 April icon_where Rockhal, Esch-Belval icon_website www.rockhal.lu
icon_when 20 April icon_where Rockhal, Esch-Belval icon_website www.atelier.lu
icon_when 21 April icon_where Kulturfabrik, Esch-sur-Alzette icon_website www.ootcfestival.com
icon_when 30 March icon_where Rotondes, Luxembourg-Bonnevoie icon_website www.rotondes.lu
icon_when 17 April icon_where Philharmonie, Place de l’Europe, Luxembourg-Kirchberg icon_website www.philharmonie.lu
Text by DUNCAN ROBERTS
World class animation VR INITIATION Laura Mannelli and Frederick Thompson lead this workshop in English and French. Inspired by escape rooms and escape games. icon_when 22 February icon_where Casino Luxembourg Forum d’art contemporain, Luxembourg-Centre
EXPERIENCE ART IN VR Participants will use the Tilt Brush tool to learn how to create art using virtual reality. The workshop is led by Pascal Piron and Karolina Markiewicz. icon_when 24 February icon_where Casino Luxembourg Forum d’art contemporain, Luxembourg-Centre
ntroducing kids to different aspects of cinema, or even getting them to watch their first film on the big screen, has always been a strong suit of the Luxembourg City Film Festival. This year’s young audience programme features workshops and activities and a host of premier screenings (including a number of morning shows exclusively for schools). Youngsters will also get to report on the festival and serve as critics, and two young juries--one for kids aged 8 to 12 and one for the over 16s--will award prizes at the end of the festival. Much of the programme is in French, German and/or Luxembourgish, but some screenings and workshops are also in English. Two animated films stand out. Revolting Rhymes is based on February 2018
the Roald Dahl book illustrated by Quentin Blake. The film retells and intertwines five of the six poems from the book, narrated by British actor Dominic West. Also on the programme, in addition to being the opening film of the festival, is The Breadwinner, the latest film by Irish animation director Nora Twomey. The brilliantly executed and moving film tells the story of an Afghan girl who must dress as a boy so she can work to support her mother and her sister after her father is arrested by the Taliban. Extracts from a French version of Luxembourg animated film White Fang, which had its premiere at the Sundance Festival last month, will be featured in a masterclass on music in film at the Cinémathèque. A number of other masterclasses in French and Luxembourgish are aimed at youngsters thinking about a career in the film industry. But some workshops will also be held in English (see box on the right).
LOTR SCENE ANALYSIS Renowned international film critic Boyd van Hoeij takes his young audience through a scene-by-scene analysis of select sequences from Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy. icon_when 27 February icon_where Cercle Cité, Luxembourg-Centre
Magic Light Pictures > New Line Cinema
The young audience programme at the Luxembourg City Film Festival this year features a couple of world class animated feature films and a slew of exciting workshops for kids of all ages.
L’Enfant Roi Dyapason
First nursery to set up in the heart of the Cloche d’Or district
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No Davos for us, please
campaigning, lumnist enjoys the earlytches co e vic ad o’s lan De , and wa This month to get politically ac tive, encourages a resident American television.
Dear Auntie Eleanor, I don’t really follow politics in Luxembourg, but I have noticed that whenever an MP says they will stand down, another has already announced their intention to run in the parliamentary elections, which are still nine months away. Does this mean the election campaign has already started? --Betty in Bettendorf Gentle reader, well spotted! Indeed, the parties are already gearing up for it, even though the official election campaign will only last one month, starting 14 September. This is a big one, and you surely know why: the big question is whether the current coalition can once again scoop up a majority in parliament to avoid having to get into bed with the CSV. Remember, this is only the second time since the second world war that the CSV is not in power. You see why they feel the need to step up their game. Another question is whether Déi Gréng (the Greens) will score sufficient gains to become a pivotal player in forming a coalition. Both the CSV and Déi Gréng indicated their openness towards each other-that was unthinkable even a few years ago. And then you have the poor DP and LSAP, whose poll numbers are deplorable. So, sit back, enjoy the show and start taking bets.
Dear Auntie Eleanor, I’ve been in Luxembourg two years and have seen lots of things I think could be easily improved. How can I influence politics without becoming a Luxembourger or being able to vote? --Barry in Bonnevoie Gentle reader, it warms my heart to see someone motivated to make a difference after so little time here. If only Luxembourgers could muster as much enthusiasm as you have shown. There are plenty of ways you can get involved. The national foreigners’ council, CNE, is an advisory body which represents the international community in government decisions. You missed the boat
city had to host 70 world leaders and 3,000 other delegates? They certainly wouldn’t all fit in that funicular thingamajig up to the Kirchberg. Why Davos? Well, we have a German to thank for that. Klaus Schwab founded the rather more modest European Management Forum in 1971. But just like the Eurovision Song Contest, what started as a quaint gathering of western Europe’s finest soon grew into a behemoth that attracts all sorts of hangers on and celebrities like Matt Damon and Bono. But it has done some good, I suppose. I read somewhere that the North American Free Trade Agreement was first proposed at Davos. And in 1986, when the then Greek and Turkish prime ministers met face to face, they established a mutual trust that prevented the two countries going to war the following year.
this time--representatives were elected in summer 2017. If you’re still interested, you can try when the current term ends in five years. Otherwise, have you thought about getting involved in your commune’s integration committee? Failing that, there is always the “social elections” (for workplace representatives) in 2019.
Dear Auntie Eleanor, does anyone outside of Luxembourg learn Luxembourgish? --Helga in Hollerich Gentle reader, indeed, at least one American, a TV newsman, made something of an effort. Larry Potash, a presenter on “WGN Morning News” in Chicago, picked up a few phrases after hearing that many of our local Brits were taking up Luxembourg nationality in the run-up to Brexit. We won’t comment on how well he speaks Luxembourgish, but he did manage to spit out “Larry, dat ass fantastesch” on live television. So, we’ll give him a bit of credit for trying. See for yourself; there’s a video clip posted on the Delano website.
Dear Auntie Eleanor, why Davos? Surely it would be a world-class nation branding coup if Luxembourg were to host the World Economic Forum? --Jack in Junglinster Gentle reader, can you imagine the traffic chaos if our fair capital
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