CURRENT AFFAIRS New ambassadors interviewed
BUSINESS Fintech Lion Awards
LUXEMBOURG IN ENGLISH
THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT TALENTED TEENS TALK ABOUT PROJECTS, LIFE AND AMBITION
5 453000 010015
HERMÈS GRANDEUR NATURE
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Text by DUNCAN ROBERTS
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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. Mike Koedinger is chartered with daily management. Delano™ and Maison Moderne™ are trademarks used under licence by MM Publishing S.A. © MM Publishing S.A. (Luxembourg) COVER PHOTO
Mike Zenari shot Cheryl Schmitz, Victorine Kipulu and Darren Biggar in the Grund. NOTE TO OUR READERS
The next print edition of Delano will be published on 8 July. For updates, commentary and our weekly what’s on guide, visit www.delano.lu.
y the time the next edition of Delano is published, the results of the UK referendum on remaining or leaving the EU will be known. As of this writing, the opinion polls are still suggesting the vote will go down to the wire. Traditional telephone polls have “remain” with a slight lead, while online polls indicate that the “leave” campaign has the upper hand--which is odd considering that the polls also suggest that it is older voters in the UK who seem to be more in favour of leaving the EU. What is even more odd is that the argument for leave seems to be based purely on emotions rather than solid facts. Take Boris Johnson comparing bureaucrats in Brussels to Hitler in an interview with The Telegraph and thus invoking Godwin’s Law. It was at best a distasteful comment, akin to the cowardly attacks by some Britsh newspapers on Jean-Claude Juncker during his campaign to become president of the European Commission, who labelled his father, one of thousands of Luxembourg men forcibly conscripted to fight for the Germans in WWII, a Nazi. That bloody conflict still casts a shadow over Europe. Indeed, pro-Europeans like Juncker often cite the unprecedented 70 years of peace that has reigned in western Europe since the horrors of
WWII as one of the great achievements of the union--Barack Obama joined that chorus in his speech in Hanover at the end of April. Sadly Johnson and Nigel Farage and their ilk seem to revel in some sort of wretched nostalgia for WWII, claiming that if Britain could proudly stand up to the Germans in 1940 it can go it alone again now. But the world has changed dramatically and even if many willing the remain camp to prevail--both in the UK and elsewhere-acknowledge that significant reforms of the EU are necessary, the arguments for the UK to remain in an increasingly global economy are compelling. Experienced European politicians like Luxembourg’s Luc Frieden (pictured) make a strong case when they say that countries on the fringe of the EU, like Norway and Switzerland, are often left frustrated that European Union decisions that affect them are taken without their input. Indeed, Frieden summed up the argument succinctly in his recent address to the British Chamber of Commerce when he said that “It is an illusion to think a country can be independent and sovereign in an interconnected world.” We hope that those British expats living in Luxembourg who are eligible to participate vote with the remain campaign on 23 June. June 2016
ANU SISTONEN, MOOD(S) © MIIKKA HEINONEN
O P E R A D A N C E T H E AT R E
THéâTREs DE lA villE DE luxEmbOuRg D i s C O v E R O u R N E W s E A s O N AT W W W. l E s T H E AT R E s . lu Kiss mE, KATE i THE HARlEm gOsPEl siNgERs sHOW i THE lAsT HOTEl i THE RAKE’s PROgREss RussEll mAliPHANT COmPANY i AKRAm KHAN i gAllim DANCE i ANTONY HAmilTON & AlisDAiR mACiNDOE bREAKiN’ CONvENTiON i THE EmPEROR i bATTlEFiElD i lOvE AND uNDERsTANDiNg i THE CRuCiblE bROOKlYN bOY mADE gOOD i ObsEssiON …
DELANO JUNE 2016 CURRENT AFFAIRS 6
UPFRONT Carte blanche
The co-founder of Cycle Luxembourg wants you to hack together some biking solutions. 8
UPFRONT Catching up with…
Celestial Adventures’ Matt Dawson, after his “stellar” performance at the Irish chamber’s Innovation Contest. 36
DIGITAL HIGHLIGHTS: WWW.DELANO.LU LIFESTYLE 66
UPFRONT Nightlife International
Luxembourg’s nightlife scene has truly evolved since the 1990s, in no small part thanks to the international community. 68
THE JOURNAL Dispatches from Delano writers
TECHNOLOGY From cub to lion
SNAPSHOTS St. George’s
A contest organised by the consultancy KPMG wants to boost promising fintech startups in Luxembourg; finalists say they’ve already won valuable visibility.
HEALTH Diet and exercise
Translating for asylum seekers; teaching prisoners meditation; banning the burka in Luxembourg; the TTIP clock is ticking; the EU’s spending watchdog in Kirchberg; and who is Félix Braz?
Where better to celebrate England’s “national day” than at the international school in Hamm named after the same patron saint? 70
COVER STORY Talented teens
Teenagers all too often get a bad rap. Meet eight eloquent, engaging and energetic youngsters here in the Grand Duchy who refute all those negative clichés. 23
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS Diplomatic talk
IN FOCUS LuxLeaks media circus
International press descended on the St. Esprit Plateau for the trial of two former PwC employees and a journalist over the theft of confidential tax documents.
The Fête de la Nature is bigger than ever, say organisers, who hope to get youngsters more involved in the green cause. 88
RESEARCH Home-grown discoveries
In its annual report card, the government gave itself high marks; the opposition and business leaders found plenty to critique. 31
What every director should know Search for “risks for directors”
Promoters hope the new “reserved alternative investment fund” bill will be ready this summer.
POLITICS State of the Nation
These small steps can take the “hell” out of healthy living. 86
A new factbook from the OECD thinktank reveals some illuminating insights into Luxembourg’s workforce.
NATURE Annual ecological event
ECONOMY Least self-employed
The new UK and US ambassadors speak with Delano about their first days in Luxembourg and the importance of the EU.
Fromage driving up cost of living for expats Search for “cheese”
FUNDS Taking reservations
IT’S THE CHEESE
IN THE SPOTLIGHT TalentLAB
The new theatre incubator is giving young artists a chance to spread their wings; two English-language projects debut in June.
4 things to keep in mind about crime in Luxembourg WANT TO CONTIBUTE? Search “crime” If you wantfor to be publish in Delano, please contact at email@example.com
MY FAVOURITES Teen hangouts Delano has a rundown on some of the applied and theoretical findings that were “found in Luxembourg”. 64
MY OTHER LIFE Another bottle on the wall
How a graphic designer is crafting Luxembourg’s beer museum.
ISL student Shiva Glober shares three tips for the in-crowd.
TEAM TALK Meet Delano’s journalists and photographers: www.delano.lu/TeamTalk
Luca Conti (CC BY 2.0) Allen & Overy Benjamin Champenois Steve Eastwood (archives)
CURRENT AFFAIRS TAP WATER PETITION A petition has been launched on the Chambre des Députés website to force restaurants to serve free tap water to customers. The practice is common place in many other countries. Search for petition 639 and sign before 17 June. www.chd.lu
ATHLETIC STADIUM FOR INS The athletics track at the Institut National des Sports in Cents is set to be modernised at a cost of close to €6 million. It will then be used as the national athletics stadium, which is currently housed at the soon to be demolished Josy Barthel stadium. www.sport.public.lu
Inspired by the “Humans of New York” project, communications consultant Frédérique Buck has launched a new project featuring candid interviews with migrants about their journey to the Grand Duchy, their initial experiences here and how they are coping. “I Am Not A Refugee” is based on an existing site run out of Sweden that agreed to adapt to Buck’s project. Based on personal experience, Buck thought that many local residents were simply unaware of the situation that refugees found themselves in. “My goal was to find a different angle, to build
Prime minister Xavier Bettel escaped unscathed from a headline-making admission that he met in private with Srel secret service officer André Kemmer, at the latter’s request, during the time that he was a member of the parliamentary commission looking into misconduct by the Srel. Kemmer was alleged to have been involved with the subversive recording of a conversation between Srel boss Marco Mille and then prime minister Jean-Claude Juncker. The meeting did not influence the findings of the commission, said its president Alex Bodry. June 2016
another, more accurate story,” says Buck. “A story that reduces fears, blows up biases. And at the same time to ‘re-humanise’ refugees and give them the floor.” Portrait photos by freelance photographer Sven Becker, who also works for Delano, further help put a human face to the stories. Yet a website only goes so far. “At the end of each portrait, a button allows [readers] to immediately connect with the person [profiled] via email,” Buck stated. “We have to transform the rush of [feeling] solidarity into a real encounter.” Delano is running a series of the portraits on its website, www.delano.lu. www.iamnotarefugee.lu
126 ASYLUM APPLICANTS Figures released by the immigration service reveal that 126 people applied for asylum in Luxembourg in April. That brings the total for the year so far to 613.
JUNCKER WARNS TURKEY OVER VISAS Luxembourg’s European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker has warned Turkey that Europe will not grant visa-free travel to Turks if the Turkish government does not meet key EU conditions of the deal.
Sven Becker Christophe Olinger European Commission Jorge Barnos/Wikimedia Commons
HUMANS OF LUXEMBOURG
KFOR WITHDRAWAL The Luxembourg army is set to end its commitment to Nato’s peace-keeping force in Kosovo next year. The Grand Duchy has been sending troops to be part of the KFOR Kosovo Force since 2000 and currently has some 23 soldiers stationed in the country.
ROYALS IN FINLAND
Grand Duke Henri and Grand Duchess Maria Teresa undertook a three-day state visit to Finland from 10 to 12 May. The couple were accompanied by cabinet ministers Étienne Schneider, Jean Asselborn and Carole Dieschbourg.
WHY YOU SHOULD GIVE CYCLEHACK A SPIN There are real barriers to everyday biking, but solutions can be found, says Kasia Krzyzanowski.
Lala La Photo Charles Caratini/SIP
A. The Luxembourg royals relax with a stroll around Helsinki B. At the Temppeliaukio Church in the rocks C. Visiting the Design Factory at Aalto University D. A toast with the mayor of Espoo, Jukka Mäkelä (left)
When I arrived in Luxembourg from Toronto, where cycling is the norm, one of the first things I did was get a Vel’oh subscription and start getting to know the city by bike. Even though it felt completely natural for me to cycle everywhere, I soon learned that I was something of an anomaly in Luxembourg. I tried encouraging my colleagues and friends to take their bike to work, but only got replies such as “I’ll get sweaty,” “It rains too much,” “I’m out of shape,” and “It’s too scary to ride on the road.” Although many people might ride to the park with their kids on the weekend, no one I spoke to would seriously consider using a bike as their primary form of transportation. In 2013, I created the non-profit Cycle Luxembourg together with two local cyclists in an attempt to change this mentality by organising events and workshops to promote everyday urban cycling. Commuting by bike is fun, convenient, healthy and much more relaxing than being stuck in a traffic jam for an hour! But even though I personally feel comfortable riding on the road and don’t mind getting a bit wet from the rain, I know that the excuses I received are real barriers stopping many people from cycling and that they need to be addressed before I can convince them to give it a try. Some can be solved through clothing, some through training or awareness, but the most effective solution to get people on bikes would be
safe, easy-to-use cycling infrastructure throughout the capital. When I heard about CycleHack I immediately felt that it would be a great opportunity to tackle many barriers at once in a way that gets the public involved, so I signed up as a local organiser the same day. A ‘hackathon’ for cycling, the movement started in Glasgow, Scotland, in 2014 and has now spread to over 35 cities. Taking place simultaneously around the world over the same weekend, participants work in teams to create ‘hacks,’ or solutions, to identified barriers. The focus is on creating real prototypes, not just debating ideas, so the event could result in innovative products, public awareness campaigns, detailed infrastructure plans, or even a new route planning app. Everyone is welcome to participate, whether they’re a regular cyclist or drive everywhere. Friday evening will feature a series of local and international speakers sharing their experiences and end with a public brainstorming session, where everyone can contribute the barriers to cycling they see. Participants will then work on solutions to these barriers on Saturday and Sunday, and present their final prototypes in front of the jury and the public on Sunday evening, with the chance to win great prizes. CycleHack Luxembourg City will take place at Rotondes from Friday 24 June to Sunday 26 June. www.cyclehackluxembourgcity.lu June 2016
I REALLY LIKE HELPING PEOPLE" This year 16 new interpreters have joined the Luxembourg Red Cross, making a total of 86 people who help asylum seekers. Delano spoke with two of them.
akim Baki says: “It’s a pleasure to be helpful.” The 59-year-old finance manager works as an Arabic-speaking interpreter. “Due to the increasing number of asylum seekers from Syria and Iraq, there’s a huge
demand so I had to contribute,” he adds. Indeed, Baki is one of the 16 interpreters who received a certificate after completing a course organised by the Luxembourg Red Cross earlier this year. “The interpreters had a total of 45 hours of training,” says Edel Alvarez, in charge of intercultural interpreting at the NGO. “With the help of external participants, we gave them information about subjects like the Grand Duchy’s institutions and the welcoming
of asylum seekers.” She adds that many of the interpreters were once refugees themselves. Like Baki, Jenny Btyo is very happy to work as an interpreter for the Red Cross. “I like doing the translation. I like being in contact with people. And mostly because I was in the same situation.” Btyo (pictured) came to France in 1993 as an Iraqi asylum seeker. “When I arrived there, I had to find a place and didn’t know the language. It was very difficult,” she tells Delano. However, the 41-year-old concedes that she was lucky to have part of her family there back then. Baki had a similar path. “I’ve lived in France since I was 18 years old.” He has an Algerian background
PERSONAL CONNECTIONS Btyo said that she even started becoming friends with Iraqi and Syrian refugees in Luxembourg. “People phone me a lot. Even sometimes very late at night when they get sick,” she explains. “I know it’s mean, but I started to shut off my phone at 10 p.m.,” Btyo admits. Baki and Btyo started working with the Red Cross right after completing their course. They both say the experience is going well for them. However, Btyo considers the emotional experience more difficult for her, as a former refugee. “I sometimes hear shocking stories, but for the moment it’s bearable,” she says. “You have to be emotionally strong.” That’s why the Red Cross organises frequent meetings between psychologists and the interpreters. But that doesn’t stop Btyo from doing a job that she’s passionate about. So much so that she wants to
eventually interpret Aramaic. “I want to do the translation for that language too, because some Christian Iraqi refugees speak only this language.” www.croix-rouge.lu
Reported by IMANE MOUSTAKIR
A SMART IDEA AT SCHRASSIG A one-week course that can begin to transform a hardened criminal into a caring citizen? It sounds too good to be true, but for more than 25 years, “Prison Smart” has been working wonders in 60 different countries, most recently right here in Luxembourg.
rison Smart programmes took place in Schrassig prison between February and April of this year, organised by Ariane Iranpour, a Prison Smart trainer and Luxembourg director of the International Association of Human Values. “I started my training in a Paris penitentiary,” says Iranpour, “where I was immediately inspired by the work and its approach to rehabilitation, trauma relief and general care. All the other approaches to rehabilitation are valid, but they only address part of the spectrum, while Prison Smart addressed the missing link by focusing on making people self-reliant.” Iranpour recounts: “One of the inmates at Shrassig told me, ‘I am really proud of myself, for taking such a programme and learning something of value.’ It gives them an incredible sense of self trust, esteem and security. An ex-prisoner in the UK, who is now a criminologist put it this way: ‘There was one person I never expected to meet in prison, and that was myself ’.”
The scheme reduces recidivism and even gives hope to inmates serving life sentences. “It allows them to let go of accumulated stress and trauma,” she says. So, what’s the magic pill? “Breath work and meditation help them to experience a deep state of peace and calm, sometimes for the very first time. And they are taught tools to know how to tap into their own inner peace themselves. It helps them break what is at the core of their struggles, to break the cycle of repetitive destructive behaviour.” Prison Smart is not just for inmates; it’s also for crime victims, families of perpetrators and victims, prison staff, social workers and lawyers. In addition, it is being used in war zones and with refugees suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, grief and fear. Iranpour herself was a lawyer, and the trainers she brought here have both been on the wrong side of the law. Giorgio Minneci, who led the first course, is one of the most experienced Prison Smart leaders in the world and one of the only ones working with sex offenders and mafia members. Nicolai Englebrecht (pictured), who was here in April, was the subject of the documentary Bad Boy Breathing, which followed him from his gang member past in Denmark to his Prison Smart trainer present. “I once met a guy who said that it would be easier for him to put a gun in someone else’s mouth than to sit silently for five minutes. What we teach is simple, but profound,” he says. Change can and does happen, quickly, but Prison Smart then provides June 2016
Still image from “Bad Boy Breathing”
and wants to make the best use of it. “I want to be an intermediary between the refugees and the Luxembourgers.” Baki argues that knowing both cultures can be useful to the refugees coming without much background. The two new interpreters both already had experience in translation. Baki worked as a translator for three months in a Luxembourg institution. For Btyo, it’s a little different. “Since I have been living here for four years, I have helped Iraqi friends with their administrative processes,” she says. She also worked for Luxembourg’s foreign integration office (Olai) for several months. Then she heard about the Red Cross programme. Btyo says that she was able to work as a cooking instructor in France. But when she decided to settle in Luxembourg four years ago, she needed her original Iraqi teacher’s diploma certified. Since that was not approved, Btyo decided to dedicate herself to translation. “I really like helping people,” she says enthusiastically. Like all the interpreters at the Red Cross, she will be paid by the hour.
weekly follow-up. Iranpour, a striking young woman, goes into Schrassig alone to meet with ‘alumni’. “It can be challenging,” she smiles. “But I do the practice myself. I’m strong.” Whether Prison Smart will continue to be offered in Luxembourg depends now on the government. They can easily find endorsements--in jail or online--from the thousands of people who have been through the programme. www.prisonsmart.org
Reported by WENDY WINN
BAN THE VEIL? In April, Nicolas Schmit, the LSAP labour minister, prompted criticism when he took to Twitter with the comment: “The burqa is incompatible with our values. It degrades the dignity and equality of opportunities for women.”
ccording to a report by the Assembly of the Muslim Community of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg (www.shoura.lu) released last November, approximately 16 women in Luxembourg currently wore the niqab or burqa and did so of their own free will. So, in a country where the DP prime minister, Xavier Bettel, told Le Quotidien newspaper that “integration is continuing in our country where diversity is our wealth”, how do Muslim women living here feel about a possible ban? “When I hear people say that wearing a veil is derogatory to women and that we are oppressed, I believe that they misunderstand our culture,” explained Nina (not her real name). Now 30, she has been wearing the hijab (a veil that covers the head and chest) since she was fourteen. “I choose to wear the hijab as it is a symbol of my religion just as there
are symbols for other religions. I believe the problem with the burqa is that it is quite extreme and religion does not need to be exaggerated.” “The Koran does not state that women must cover themselves completely with a burqa or hijab,” Nina adds. “The quote actually says, ‘Prophet, tell your wives, your daughters, and women believers to make their outer garments hang low over them so as to be recognised and not insulted’.” Since she came to Luxembourg from Syria as a refugee six months ago, Nina has continued to wear the hijab. “At first I was a little bit frightened about how people would react, but Luxembourg is a very multicultural society and people are open-minded. That is why my brothers and I wanted to come here.”
Unfortunately, for Pari, another Muslim woman living in the Grand Duchy (and likewise a pseudonym), her experience has not been as positive. “A ministry employee once told me that terrorist women wear the hijab. I really felt that the employee was trying to provoke me into removing it, so I became more insistent on wearing it. I wear the hijab because of my faith and of my own free will; I’m not doing anything wrong by wearing it.” Like Nina, Pari also does not believe that the Koran obliges women to cover themselves completely but that it is a question of interpretation and personal choice. “To me democracy is about giving people the freedom of choice to choose whether or not they wear the hijab, niqab or burqa.” Pari says, “If a country takes away that freedom of choice, they are no different than the countries that oblige women to wear it.” Whilst both women hope to be able to continue to wear the hijab, they are in agreement regarding their concerns that it may impede their ability to find employment in the future. Nina says: “People have told me that it will be hard to find work here in Luxembourg whilst wearing the hijab as employers may view it negatively.” “I would like to be a lawyer,” Pari explains, “however, in the current climate, I think I will face discrimination if I continue to wear the hijab.” Reported by ALIX RASSEL
A MINISTRY EMPLOYEE ONCE TOLD ME THAT TERRORIST WOMEN WEAR THE HIJAB." PARI
WORLD LEADER IN LIVE STREAMING TECHNOLOGY We are constantly looking for new IT Talents: Software Engineer PHP FrontEnd Developer JAVA Developer Software Tester Haxe Developer Scrum Master IT Security Specialist DevOps Engineer Software Defined Network Engineer
TTIP TALKS LAG IN RACE AGAINST TIME T
he French minister for foreign trade, Matthias Fekl, said in a radio interview on 3 May that “It is an agreement which, as it would be today, would be a bad deal.” Fekl is not alone. Luxembourg’s ministries for foreign affairs and environment have both sent letters to the European Commission, raising fears that the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership could harm consumer protections and democracy as a whole. A recent survey by the Bertelsmann Foundation also showed that only 17% of Germans are in favour of the TTIP initiative, down from 55 percent in 2014. Despite the backlash, the EU and the US are pushing on with talks, in a race to find a deal before US president Barack Obama leaves the Oval Office in January 2017. “I would like for us to conclude this year and I do think that it can be done,” the EU’s trade chief, Cecilia Malmström, wrote in a blog on 27 April. “However, much work remains and as I’ve underlined before, substance is more important than speed.” Progress has been slow, as negotiators target an ambitious accord that moves beyond free trade. The deal would increase regulatory cooperation between the EU and the US, and allow companies on both sides of the Atlantic to participate in public calls for tender. Washington is disinclined to open its public markets to European firms. EU countries, meanwhile, are reluctant to provide US access to agricultural markets (also see page 20). TTIP would also provide investor-state dispute settlement procedures (ISDS), which allow companies to June 2016
take governments to court to settle investor disputes. Lawmakers, citizens and consumer groups argue that the ISDS procedure should be omitted from the deal. MEP Claude Turmes (pictured) told Delano that an ISDS could strip powers away from European governments, when it comes to corporate deals. “TTIP is a battle between citizens and multinational corporations,” the Luxembourg Green said. “If we have this deal, citizens will end up with less protection.” He added: “TTIP is very, very dangerous.” The Trans-Atlantic Business Council, an industry group, disagrees. In a statement, the association said that ISDS would not limit the rights of governments to pursue laws and policies. The procedure would only offer investors the chance to claim compensation in a fair and neutral way, the statement said. Malmström tried to reassure governments by proposing new measures in September 2014, to make the ISDS
procedure more accountable and transparent. Yet sceptics remain undeterred, leaving the trade commissioner with an uphill battle to win the hearts and minds of European citizens and governments alike, before the end of the year. On a blog post on 2 May, Malmström said, “no EU trade agreement will ever lower our level of protection of consumers, or food safety, or of the environment”. Reported by JEAN COMTE and BJARKE SMITH-MEYER
CHECKING UP ON EU SPENDING Does European money go to the right place? Shifty farmers beware of an outfit here in Luxembourg.
arlier this year, the European Court of Auditors, the EU’s financial watchdog, gave the accounts of the European institutions a clean bill of health. However, its 2015 annual report noted that the error rate for cost reimbursement schemes (“where the EU reimburses eligible costs for eligible activities on the basis of cost declarations made by beneficiaries”) was more than double the rate--5.5% versus 2.7%--than for
entitlement programmes (“where payments are made on meeting conditions” in advance). An “error” does not necessarily indicate fraud; it merely means that a payment was made without fully complying with EU rules. Often the cause is a clerical error, according to Kevin Cardiff, the Irish member of the ECA’s governing board (each EU country has a seat). Since reimbursement programmes are usually more complex and come with more criteria attached, there are simply more steps where a mistake can be made. The ECA stems from an EU treaty that calls for a more thorough review
Andrés Lejona (archives)
European support for a free trade accord with the United States is decreasing rapidly, amid growing concern that the final deal could prove harmful to EU citizens.
Reported by AARON GRUNWALD
QUICK BIO Born 16 March 1966 in Differdange
Education Law at Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (broke off studies after passing first year exams) Career 1990: presenter RTL radio 1991-2001: parliamentary secretary, Green party 1995-2000: member of the Esch-surAlzette municipal council 2000-2011: alderman in the City of Esch-sur-Alzette 2004-2013: member of parliament for the Green party Since 2013: minister of justice
" ONE OF THE KEY ELEMENTS OF THE GOVERNMENT’S FISCAL REFORM IS THE FIGHT AGAINST TAX FRAUD" The son of Portuguese immigrants, the justice minister has been in the headlines thanks to the LuxLeaks trial and a number of law reforms. Félix Braz can have not possibly imagined when he first entered politics that 15 years later he would end up on the prosecutor’s side of the trial of two former PwC employees whose revelations have been dubbed a “game changer” in the battle over the exchange of information between tax authorities. A father of two, Braz was born to Portuguese immigrants some 50 years ago and is the first Luso-descendant to become a member of government. He was also the presenter of the first Portuguese radio programme on RTL in 1990. The LuxLeaks trial has been a game changer for Braz, too. He was a champion of rights for prisoners during his term as an opposition bench parliamentarian for the Green party. And one might imagine that a young,
idealistic Braz as parliamentary secretary of the new Déi Gréng party would have been all in favour of whistle-blowers revealing details of how multinational companies manage to strike favourable tax deals with governments. But in the case of LuxLeaks, Braz insists that the accused are not protected by current legislation on whistleblowing--even though he says that the law may need to be changed. Indeed, he has said in a recent interview that one of the aims of the government’s fiscal reform was to fight tax fraud. He is also leading other reforms, especially of the divorce law in Luxembourg, and has said that he is proud that this government has had the courage to make changes to legislation that matters. June 2016
Illustration by Jan Hanrion
than a traditional financial audit, Cardiff told Delano during an interview at his office in April. “It requires us to say to what extent have the monies been spent legally and regularly. It’s not the same thing [as balanced books]. And that requires us to look on a transaction-by-transaction basis at well above a thousand individual transactions, selected from the European Union budget” on a representative basis. ECA staff travel around the world to see for themselves what happened to EU funds. “The fact that everyone who receives European money knows that someone might knock on their door and check, that’s a powerful thing”. Cardiff said the media always wants extreme examples of illicit activity, and graciously indulged Delano with the tale of a farmer who was claiming agricultural aid when the land was in fact a motorcross track. But “most of the cases are not extreme” and merely minor missteps. When criminal activity is suspected, the matter gets reported, by Cardiff, to the European Anti-Fraud Office (known as Olaf) in Brussels. “We send 15 or 16 cases a year to Olaf ”, plus some based on complaints made by citizens. At the same time, “we’re not interested in chasing people for clerical errors” or penalising recipients of EU funds for making small mistakes. Rather, the ECA reports on systematic problems so that EU bodies can address fundamental issues. The ECA has nearly 1,000 staff, all based in Kirchberg. About half are auditors, although “our auditors are not just accountants” or lawyers, he noted. One inspector checking water programmes is an environmental scientist, for example. The organisation also employs around 100 translators. Members of the governing board are politically nominated, but sworn to neutrality once in office, said Cardiff, a former secretary general of Ireland’s finance ministry. “If you think about it, every single member state is putting money into the union and they each want to know that somebody who understands their system is involved.”
Text by DUNCAN ROBERTS
Photography by MIKE ZENARI
TALENTED TEENS Teenagers of every generation have come in for a bad rap since the term became popular to describe those years between childhood and adulthood in the 1950s. Todayâ€™s teens suffer from the usual misunderstandings--they are sullen and indifferent, lack respect and general manners--as well as a whole host of new aspersions about being addicted to technology. We set out to meet youngsters who could refute such clichĂŠs and ended up finding eight talented teens who proved to be eloquent and charming, fun and engaging, energetic and optimistic.
he lot of a teenager in Luxembourg seems to be a happy one. Whether they have grown up in the Grand Duchy like Darren Biggar, arrived as an infant like Victorine Kipulu or moved here as an early teen like Maria Shcherbakova, few teenagers find something negative to say about living in Luxembourg. “We had and, fortunately, still have a comfortable life for which I’m exceptionally thankful to my parents,” says 18-year old Darren, who is just completing the first year of a bachelor’s in psychology course at the University of Roehampton in London. “The great thing about Luxembourg is its relatively compact size as a country. Many people might assume this to be a negative, but what it really means is that naturally everything congregates. Luxembourg, as a capital, has many layers which you wouldn’t expect from such a small country. It also reinforces this ‘small world’ phenomena so you’re quite likely to run into people
TEENAGE IDEAS GRAFFITI RADIO SHOWS Programmes made for and by youngsters on Ara Radio, weekdays 2-5 p.m. Info: www.graffiti.lu SERVICE NATIONAL DE LA JEUNESSE Supports all sorts of youth activities and incorporates the youth.lu portal, career advice service anelo.lu and information about the EU’s Erasmus programme. Info: www.snj.public.lu SCOUTING Telstar Scouts has an English-language Explorer Scout group for 14-18 year olds. Info: www.telstar.lu YOUTH HOSTELS As well as providing accommodation, the youth hostel service organises a range of outdoor activities. Info: www.youthhostels.lu
ER ELINE soMmUucNh SyoTu can “There is k, and get do if you just loo le.” to know peop
you know by simply walking around.” A graduate of the International School of Luxembourg, Darren actually started off his education in the Luxembourg state school system. “I’ve lived 18 years in Luxembourg without developing a defining Irish accent which prompted me to now introduce myself to new people as ethnically Irish yet culturally Luxembourgish.” That may not be as strange a phenomenon as its sounds. Eline Munster, who attends ISL, is the epitome of an international child. “I have Dutch and US citizenship but my ethnicity is half Italian-half Indonesian.” Born and raised in Luxembourg, she has plenty of friends with whom she grew up who are at Luxembourg schools. “We tend to speak English, because they want to practice. But I could speak French and German with them, in fact I probably should to practice my languages.” Her ISL classmate Maria Shcherbakova, who lived in big cities all her life before moving to Luxembourg at
the age of 12, says it can feel like a village in comparison to Moscow or Phoenix, for example. “I immediately found so many friends and people to go to town with. People may say it’s boring, but the longer you live here the more exciting it gets. There are so many opportunities in Luxembourg, everything is so accessible.” She cites involvement in the Robert Schuman choir, which has allowed her to travel and to meet Luxembourgers and people from the international community. She even started learning Luxembourgish in an effort to integrate and step out of her comfort zone.
COMFORT ZONE Stepping out of the comfort zone for Luxembourg speakers Cheryl Schmitz and Victorine Kipulu, who are in their penultimate year at the Fieldgen private school for girls, involved getting up in front of a jury and an audience of their peers at the recent Pitch Night held by the US embassy as part of its student entrepreneurship programme (see page 24). To their surprise, Cheryl and Victorine’s Smart Bin idea
was adjudged the winner, meaning the two girls are off to spend a week, all expenses paid, at the American Entrepreneur Academy at Concordia University in Irvine, California. Cheryl, a native Luxembourger, and classmate Victorine, who arrived to live in Steinfort with her family from the Congo at the age of three, are specialising in economics and biology respectively as they approach their final year. They had already had the idea for a smart bin that sorted recycling automatically when they first heard about the pitch contest. “We realised that a lot of people struggle with which bin to place their trash, they just throw it in a random bin,” says Cheryl. Their solar-powered bin uses sensors to identify different types of recyclable trash and sorts it accordingly. They were impressed by the quality of projects and presentations at the Pitch Night. “Others had some great ideas and it was nice to see other young motivated people, because you often hear that youth are lazy or don’t care,” says Victorine. “We were very proud to win.” They are also excited
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about the trip to the States--they had already planned to take a trip to Miami after graduating high school. Luxembourg’s size can be limiting, says Cheryl, who was in the Luxembourg youth parliament. “Everybody knows everyone here, and that can get annoying.” Eline and Maria are no slouches either. Both were participants at this year’s Global Issues Network conference (see the May edition), which provided valuable lessons to both girls. They were inspired to join GIN, which is an initiative originally launched at ISL and now involves schools all around the world, by other students who gave presentations at school assemblies. They were part of a group that addressed the HeForShe gender equality campaign that has received so much publicity recently through the patronage of Emma Watson in her role as UN ambassador. “It was quite an experience, the presentation was quite emotional
MARIAKOVA ERBA portunities H C H S many op
“There are so ever ything in Luxembourg, ible.” ss ce ac so is
and we really got a chance to get our message across,” says Maria. “I personally called myself a feminist for the first time.” Eline was proud of the feedback they received from students at other international schools, who said the presentation had been very brave. Eline and Maria have also been to help refugees at a camp at FrankfurtHahn with the Luxembourg Red Cross, distributing donations and also interacting with children. Eline also takes part in the model United Nations, plays clarinet in the high school symphonic band, helping younger students practice on Thursday mornings, and takes part in drama productions. Maria co-conducts the middle school girls’ choir, whose members have more than a dozen different nationalities, and is a member of the math competition club. They are also both on the student council, helping organise activities that raise money for local charities. Eline has some sound advice for teenagers arriving in Luxembourg. “I think its really important that you
try to integrate into the local community. There is so much you can do if you just look, and get to know people. This applies to adults as well actually. Don’t stay within your school or family.” She also encourages youngsters to learn the local languages. “The benefits of learning French or German or even Luxembourgish are going to last a long time.” The effort has to come from both sides though, says Maria. Sometimes there can be misunderstandings and the locals think that students at one of the international schools are stuck in their own bubble and are not interested in integrating, she explains.
MISUNDERSTANDINGS Across town in Hamm, the head boy of St. George’s International School, Ruardhi Hogan, has been in Luxembourg since he was 13 when the family--his parents are both from Essex with Irish heritage and he has a younger sister--moved from Gloucestershire. “When we first came over it felt like a holiday, so I was quite excited.” He won the vote to become
“Everybo n get annoying.” here, and that ca
head boy following a hustings speech--he had already run for the position last year but just lost out. “Being head boy on top of all the other responsibilities I have has forced me to be more organised than before. It has allowed me to be more involved in the Anglo-Luxembourg community and to meet interesting people, both the old and new British ambassadors.” He slightly regrets not having made more Luxembourgish friends, but says that with four English language schools in Luxembourg that hasn’t really posed a problem. “Luxembourg is a good centre of Europe for
TEENAGE FACTS Only 3.5% of teenagers in Luxembourg aged 15 to 19 are not in employment, education or training compared to the OECD average of 7.1%. Teenagers in Luxembourg are less likely to find it easy to talk to their parents than the average teenagers in the OECD.
@ # ! *12.8% children aged 11, 13 and
15 report that they have been bullied at least twice in the last two months compared to the OECD average of 10.1%.
Source: OECD Better Life Intiative report, October 2015
GA R DARREurNg,BasIG a capital, “Luxembo which you has many layers m such fro ct pe wouldn’t ex a small country.”
opportunities to move forward with your life, it’s a good footing.” Ru’s passion for programming stems from an early age--he looked up old school reports that showed he was pipped to do well in IT. His father is a satellite engineer, but he isn’t sure where exactly his interest came from. “I’ve always liked making computers and electronics do things. And the more you learn the more you want to read and understand.” He has already lined up a place at university in Groningen in the Netherlands to study computing science. Another computing whizz kid, Atreyam “Leo” Sharma already made headlines earlier this year when he became the youngest guest speaker to make a presentation at the Lift conference in Geneva. A student at the European School in Kirchberg, Leo was born in Kolkata though his family originally comes from Rajasthan. He was just seven
when the family moved to Luxembourg. Amazingly, he only started coding some two years ago when he attended a Code Week workshop with his mother, who used to be a programmer at IBM. “I’m not a very good artist, but programming is a way that I can express myself,” he explains. Seeing her children’s interest grow so quickly, Leo’s mother, Madhumalti, set up a series of coding workshops for other youngsters that now operate under the Workshop4Me group. Leo was soon teaching youngsters to code at the weekends, running two workshops on Saturdays and three on Sundays. Generally, his students are boys aged between 7 and 16, but there is also a girls-only course. “Boys want to make a game straight away,” he explains. “Girls silently follow the course, but are also quite shy when it comes to asking questions.”
KIDS BETTER THAN ADULTS He really enjoys teaching, and many of his students have already made their own fully fledged apps ready to push to market. Workshop4Me
M E SWEEboTurNgA CHOBth is at Luxem “I like at you can multicultural, th different m fro le op pe know backgrounds.”
also helps run courses in Leo’s native India, teaching youngsters the basics of programming. His teaching experience was the foundation of his talk at Lift. “What is most intriguing in my field is that kids are better than adults in programming, ideas, concepts. Some, like Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs, managed to stay young--they were not limited to what could be done right now.” On 28 May, Leo will also address a TedX conference at the RWTH in Aachen, the biggest tech university in Germany. “I only get nervous around one hour before I talk. I don’t eat or drink anything and then afterwards I have a nice big pizza.” Leo’s talk at TedX will unveil a new business model he has developed that would allow companies to share innovative ideas without losing income from royalties. His own free time is dedicated to playing games and his own interest and satisfaction derives in developing
ATREYAM MA E "L O" SHanAd itRwo rks, “If it’s stupid it’s not stupid.”
games. “I noticed that the quality of games from long ago, my mum’s generation, like Tetris and Snake, were truly innovative. Today’s games are more graphically intense, but are the same game play over and over again. It is not as interesting.” The ability to find “cheats” on the internet has also spoiled the fun he thinks. His advice to youngsters looking to start their own business is simple, and comes from an unattributed quote. “If it’s stupid and it works, it’s not stupid.” Another younger teen, 15-year old Chobe Sweetnam is a rising star in the Luxembourg national rugby team set up. A product of the Luxembourg school system, he is now a student at the INS sports school where the country’s elite athletes can attend classes and make use of training facilities. Chobe plays at Under 16 level for Rugby Club Luxembourg and for the national team, whose youth development programme was kick started under the stewardship of New Zealand coach Marty Davis and continues to attract more and more
local youngsters to the oval ball game. “I play centre or flanker; I don’t mind which as long as I’m on the pitch. I like tackling, a bit of roughness.” He enjoys hanging out with his brothers, both of whom also play rugby, and with friends from different backgrounds. “I like that Luxembourg is multicultural, that you can know people from different backgrounds.” Although he has another four years left at school after this current year, Chobe says he is considering taking a gap year before pursuing further studies so he can see the world. He would also like to play rugby professionally later. “It’s going to be hard work, though I have to make sure I do well at school first.” With parents who are half English and half French and half English and half Irish, his choice would be to play for England if he ever reaches that level.
SOMETIMES PARENTS KNOW BEST If Chobe likes the rough of the rugby pitch, then Darren Biggar found an outlet for his aggression by taking up the drums. His mother had persuaded
TEENAGE CONTACTS KANNER-JUGENDTELEFON Children and young persons’ helpline that offers confidential advice to anyone with a question, be it simple or a crisis. Tel: 116 111 Website: www.kjt.lu PSY-JEUNES A team at the Luxembourg Red Cross that offers support for young people aged between 12 and 21. Tel: 27 55 63 00 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.croix-rouge.lu/en/psy-jeunes TEENAGE PREGNANCY The Red Cross’s Zoé Group is a residence for young mothers (between 13 and 17 years old) and their children. Tel: 27 55 66 70 or email: email@example.com Website: www.croix-rouge.lu/en/groupe-zoe
HI HOGceAntNre RUARD urg is a good
“Luxembo portunities to of Europe for op th your life.” move forward wi
him to join a music school by threatening to remove other privileges. “I took up percussion because I had a more innate relationship with rhythm and beats than with melodies and harmonies, and because somehow I was an angry kid and I thought drumming would be a good way to let out my aggression. Sometimes, mums do know best,” he says. Darren is now in local band Only 2 Sticks, formed with friends he has known since kindergarten. The band released a new EP titled Hiraeth at the Rockhal on 18 May and aims to play as many concerts over the summer as possible. “I’m aware of how conceited this may sound, but Only 2 Sticks has come to define me as a percussionist and young adult and I’m sure my 12-year-old self never expected me to become the person that I am today,” Darren explains. Living in London has not made it easy to commit to the band as much as he would like, but the ambition is clearly still there to achieve something. For Darren, any doubts he had about his future with the band after moving away
proved to be an incentive. “Those negative feelings did help me to immerse myself and put a greater effort into improving myself and learning about new rhythmic styles and new ways on how to carry myself on the kit.” As much as he enjoyed growing up in Luxembourg and still retains a connection with the Grand Duchy, Darren is also really enjoying London. “It’s a fantastic city with so many cool places to visit. Unfortunately, I’m cooped up on my campus and the surrounding areas about 95 percent of the time but, man, those five percent I get out and explore places like Shoreditch, Soho, or Camden.” He is exploring the possibility of a career as a neuropsychologist, plans to take a PhD in the subject and conduct research on consciousness. “I honestly can’t see myself coming back to Luxembourg in search of work since I want to emigrate to Japan for a few years, but I have developed a strong sense of attachment to Luxembourg and my memories of it so I could never stay away.”
Text by DUNCAN ROBERTS
Photography by MIKE ZENARI
DIPLOMATIC TALK New ambassadors to Luxembourg representing the United Kingdom and the United States presented their credentials to Grand Duke Henri on 14 April. John Marshall and David McKean spoke to Delano about their first impressions of Luxembourg and the challenges they face in their new roles.
ritain’s 21st ambassador to Luxembourg, John Marshall, wasted no time getting to know the country and becoming involved in local life upon arriving in the Grand Duchy. Alice Walpole’s successor is already learning Luxembourgish, “with very good intentions” to be able to hold conversations in the language. He has some knowledge of German, which he says helps with learning vocabulary and speaks fluent French; his previous appointment was as ambassador to Senegal and, interestingly given the large Cape Verdean community in the Grand Duchy, the non-resident ambassador to Cape Verde and Guinea-Bissau. A keen runner, Marshall completed a 27km course at the DKV-UrbanTrail just days after presenting his credentials, and he will run his eighth full marathon when he takes part in the ING Night Marathon Luxembourg at the end of May. Professionally, the most pressing issue on Marshall’s agenda is the upcoming referendum in the UK on remaining in the European Union on 23 June. “There are two aspects to that. One is explaining government policy and the second is to encourage those who are eligible to register to vote, because it is an incredibly important decision for the British public to take and we want as many as possible to participate in the referendum.” British nationals resident in Luxembourg who have lived in the
UK within the past 15 years are eligible to vote abroad, although registration closed on 16 May.
STRONG REMAIN FEELING Marshall says that in his short time in Luxembourg so far he has had clear indication from expats that there is a very strong feeling that Britain should remain in the EU. “Understandably, I sense some sort of anxiety about what a vote to leave would mean. Obviously it varies from individual to individual.” The ambassador reiterates that the British government’s position is that the UK’s best interests are served by remaining in the EU and he thinks it has done a good job in explaining the positive benefits of membership of the EU. But he also admits that there is not much the foreign office can say to reassure those expats worried by a Brexit vote. “Much of the detail is up to others to decide, or would be part of a negotiation that the UK would have to have with the other 27 members of the union.” Marshall says that he has met plenty of Luxembourgers who have expressed a desire for the UK to remain in the EU--among them Luc Frieden who addressed the subject of Brexit during his recent speech to the British Chamber of Commerce (see page 34). He explains that the UK and Luxembourg governments share many of the same objectives, such as a deepening of the single market, particularly in the area of financial services and the digital single market. “And basically assuring that the EU does what is necessary to enhance its competitiveness and to create jobs and growth. So there will be a busy agenda of EU work, if, as we hope, the UK votes to remain.”
He wants to encourage Luxembourg companies to invest in the UK and also Luxembourg tourists to discover more of the UK than just London. “There are many special places outside London, and many Luxembourgers I have met have mentioned Cornwall, for example.” Indeed, with Flybe offering flights to Manchester and Birmingham from September onwards, there will be more and more opportunity for Luxembourg residents to explore more of Britain. More broadly on financial services, Marshall explains that both the City of London and the financial centre in Luxembourg are on the “cutting edge of many innovative areas of financial services. I think there is scope for the two financial centres to collaborate in expanding the markets.” Marshall’s first formal event after presenting his credentials was to host the inaugural meeting of the King’s College London Alumni Association (see page 60). He is delighted that more and more Luxembourg students are seeking to go to UK universities--indeed, the King’s College group is the fifth British alumni association in Luxembourg, alongside groups of former students of Oxford, Cambridge, Warwick and LSE. The ambassador was also delighted to see that Luxembourg has been holding a series of events connected to the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare, on 23 April 1616. He took his 12-year-old daughter (he has two other children aged 18 and 21) to a screening at the Cinémathèque of Laurence Olivier’s 1948 version of Hamlet. “It was rather brave because it is not at all like modern films. But she told me she really enjoyed it.” And the embassy also supported a performance of
JOHN MARSHALL The new British ambassador has met plenty of Luxembourgers who want the UK to remain in the EU
The Tempest at neimënster. Marshall was also excited to learn that a large portion of the Al Pacino-starring The Merchant Of Venice was filmed in Luxembourg.
REPRESENTING THE UNITED STATES It is some time since Luxembourg was honoured with a US ambassador with State Department experience. The last before new incumbent David McKean was perhaps Edward Rowell, who served as ambassador in the Grand Duchy between 1990 and 1994 after a 30-year career in the State Department. Since then a series of political appointments have represented the United States in Luxembourg. McKean, who presented his credentials to Grand Duke Henri on 14 April, was previously director of the Office of Policy Planning at the Department of State, where he had been on staff since 2012. He has close connections to the US secretary of state John Kerry, having served the then senator Kerry as legislative assistant from 1987 to 1992 and as his chief of staff from 1999 to
2008--during which time Kerry lost the 2004 presidential election to George W. Bush. With diplomatic charm McKean says he has had a “terrific introduction” to Luxembourg, and describes the city as beautiful. “I can’t quite figure out the weather yet,” he jokes. “We [McKean is here with his wife, Kathleen Kaye] are looking forward to discovering more of the country.”
KEEN HISTORIAN The author of four political histories (the latest of which, on his ancestor Thomas McKean, was published in May), McKean is keenly aware of Luxembourg’s important role in Europe and what he calls the “important history” that Luxembourg and the United States have together.
He sees the challenges of the job here as being very much the challenges of Europe. He stresses that the United States will remain a close ally of Luxembourg and Europe in general, even if it is simultaneously devoting time and resources to building relationships with countries in the Middle East and Asia. “Secretary Kerry always says we can walk and chew gum at the same time. We do operate on a global stage, but we have never underestimated the importance of our relationship with Europe.” Indeed, McKean points out that Kerry’s first trip abroad as secretary of state was to Europe. President Barack Obama’s recent visit to Europe also underlined the critical status of the relationship and how much the US and EU have
SENSE SOME SORT OF ANXIETY ABOUT WHAT A VOTE TO LEAVE WOULD MEAN" June 2016
DAVID MCKEAN The new US ambassador stresses the “important history” that Luxembourg and the United States have together
ALSO SEE SNAPSHOTS ON PAGE 23
in common. “I thought he gave a brilliant speech on the future of Europe in Hanover. His message was that we need a strong, unified Europe, particularly when a lot of global institutions and global norms are being challenged.” One challenge that is hotly topical is the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, which has come under fire recently after allegedly documents from the negotiations were leaked to the press. McKean is forthright on the subject. “I think when people begin to argue against TTIP, they have an obligation, and the press has an obligation to ask them, ‘what’s your alternative, and how else are you going to create jobs and economic growth in your country and Europe-wide; what’s your plan?’.” With the negotiation process still ongoing, the ambassador argues that critics should wait until they see a product before trying to sabotage the negotiations. “There is a reason you have a European Commission, to negotiate a treaty. You have to have confidence in your negotiators.” The ambassador says that the United States is committed to finding June 2016
agreement on labour standards and environmental issues. “I believe that ultimately TTIP will be a winwin situation for both Europe and the United States. That should be the end goal. It’s not a zero sum game.” He also says that the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) will happen and will account for 40% of world trade. “So I don’t think that trans-Atlantic partners, who we have more in common with, want to be left behind.”
PARTICIPATING IN DEMOCRACY As for the current election campaign, McKean says that people need to remember that just a sliver of the population is really engaged in voting in the primaries. When the presidential election begins in earnest, he thinks we are going to see a very negative campaign. “You will see the ugly side of democracy and also the good side, which is that we manage to transfer power every four or eight years peacefully in an open way through debate.” He hopes the election will be based on issues rather than personality, but he admits he has never seen a campaign that has
so divided the two parties. However, having experience of a democratic candidate’s campaign, McKean says he would be not just surprised, but shocked if in the end Bernard Sanders’ supporters did not rally behind Hillary Clinton. “I just don’t see them going to Donald Trump.” But he says the danger, particularly among young people, is that they don’t participate. “It is so important, whether it’s the United States or France or Luxembourg, that people, particularly the young, participate. That’s what keeps a democracy flourishing, and that’s why if my kids don’t vote they’re not coming to visit in Luxembourg this summer,” he says with a smile.
BELIEVE THAT ULTIMATELY TTIP WILL BE A WIN-WIN SITUATION"
Text by DUNCAN ROBERTS
Photography by LALA LA PHOTO
A WARM WELCOME
n a balmy May evening, new US ambassador David McKean and his wife, Kathleen Kaye, hosted a welcome reception at their residence. Guests included fellow members of the diplomatic corps as well as national and local government and parliamentary representatives. The ambassador delivered a succinct and witty speech in which he acknowledged the warm welcome he has already received in Luxembourg. He said he was thrilled when asked to become ambassador to the Grand Duchy. “Luxembourg was actually the first European country I visited as a teenager. Yes, I am part of the Icelandic Air American brigade that descended on Luxembourg in the 1970s,” he explained, to the delight of his audience. The ambassador revealed that he and Kaye share an interest in the history of World War II and visiting castles, hiking and cycling. On a more serious note, McKean says he is prepared to meet the critical challenges of the job. “These are difficult issues, some of which threaten the very fabric of the European Union. The union that Luxembourg helped build.”
A. Irish ambassador Peadar Carpenter and British ambassador John Marshall B. Lydie Polfer, Luxembourg City mayor C. Yves Piron, Ricky Wohl and Marc Angel MP D. Sidney Johnson and Christine Horning E. Silvia Gaul, Gib Wilson and major Betsy Anne Hove F. Alison Shorter Lawrence of the US embassy G. Guests, including the speaker of the Chamber of Deputies Mars Di Bartolomeo, appreciate the speech by ambassador David McKean H. The new US ambassador, David McKean, and his wife, Kathleen Kaye (right), receive guests
Text by AARON GRUNWALD
Photography by LALA LA PHOTO
STUDENTS PITCH STARTUPS IN US CONTEST
nly two are headed to southern California in July, courtesy of the American government, but all had the chance to create and present their own startup idea. Twenty-eight Luxembourg girls competed in the “Pitch Night” that capped the US embassy’s week-long “Startup 3.0” student contest in April. The student entrepreneurship programme launched three years ago, Stephanie Shaheen of the US embassy in Luxembourg told Delano following the event. After the previous US ambassador, Robert Mandell, had visited every high school in the Grand Duchy and asked students about their career goals, he noted that few said they wanted to start their own business. So the embassy decided to share a bit of the American startup spirit with Luxembourg, Shaheen explained. For the contest’s third edition, the students attended five days of workshops after school, led by Sheena Lindahl, CEO and co-founder of Empact, an organisation based in New York City that promotes entrepreneurial culture. Then, working in teams of two, the high schoolers had five minutes during the “Pitch Night” to present their business case, in English, to a jury of business people. The top four then repitched in a final round. The grand prize winning team (see cover story), “won an all-expense paid trip to the American Entrepreneur Academy in California at Concordia University Irvine” this summer. Shaheen also noted that the top winners came from the “technical” sections of high schools, and not the “classical” sections. In contrast to the “bias that classical students are well spoken” and technical students are not, Shaheen said the contest “showcases what people can do when given the chance.”
PITCH NIGHT A. Kim Martins Ferreira (centre) hears that she was one of the third prize winners (along with Laura Mockel, not pictured) in the “Startup 3.0” student startup pitch competition organised by the US embassy (luxembourg. usembassy.gov) B. Elena Fromet and Janina Blum, second prize winners C. Isabelle Donckel and Laurie Girres, fourth prize winners D. Anacleto Dos Santos, Naomy Da Graca (who received honourable mention), Jana Degrott and Francisca Lima E. Annick Wechtler and Giulia Mastrangelu F. Sandro Ferreira, Cati Rebelo and Sarah De Figueiredo G. The winning team, Cheryl Schmitz (second from left) and Victorine Kipulu (third from left), who presented the “Smart Bin”; flanked by Stephanie Shaheen (left) and Carolyn Turpin (right) of the US embassy
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HAPPY DAYS ARE HERE AGAIN? During its annual report card, the government unveiled measures to boost the economy; opposition and business leaders found plenty to critique.
his year’s “State of the Nation” speech by the prime minister, Xavier Bettel, was unusual. It was followed for the first time by declarations from the finance minister, Pierre Gramegna, on the Stability and Growth Programme (PSC), and the deputy prime minister and economy minister, Étienne Schneider, on the National Reform Programme (PNR) for 2016-2020. These used to be discussed only in parliamentary committees. In an effort to increase transparency and incorporate the “European Semester” (the EU’s economic planning process) into national policymaking, the State of the Nation speech was influenced by the two other addresses and overshadowed by them at the same time. The main message from the government was: “Everything is better now.” While the speech contained few genuinely new initiatives (the tax reform had been published before), the debate in the usually sedate Chamber of Deputies were at times raucous, and showed genuine disagreements on which economic theories to follow.
THE FACTS AND THE PREDICTIONS Figures released by the finance ministry on 29 April show that Luxembourg’s economy and state finances are following a very different path from its European neighbours. Growth is back to pre-crisis levels. The current account balance is also projected to stay positive. Debt levels are predicted to stay at the same level (around 23%), while June 2016
GENUINE DISCORD Claude Wiseler Not enough reform for the CSV
the EU guideline is below 60%. In the beginning of the noughties, Luxembourg had extraordinary low debt levels of around 7%. So is Luxembourg the “exemplary pupil”, as these figures suggest? Earlier this year the European Commission gave good marks for the country’s sound public finances, low debt levels, healthy financial sector and strong policy framework. At the same time, it found several policy negatives: the rise of age-related expenditure; constantly increasing house prices; a heavy reliance on the financial sector; maintaining a high
level of investment that is essential to preserve growth prospects; and fulfilling its commitments in the field of greenhouse gas emissions outside of the EU’s Emission Trading Systems remain challenges. As for employment, the economic upturn benefited cross-border workers more (+3.2%) than residents (+1.9%) in 2015.
THE NEW POLICIES The government announced several new plans to promote entrepreneurship, with the guiding principles of more support and fewer administrative hurdles. It will create, together with
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the private sector, a Maison de l’Entrepreneuriat, which will offer support and advice. It has plans to develop the former slaughterhouse in Hollerich as a hub for startups similar to the 1535° project in Differdange for new businesses creating synergies between the ICT and financial services industries. The Einfach Lëtzebuerg (Simple Luxembourg) action plan aims to identify administrative hurdles and eliminate or simplify legislation. A new tracking system for administrative procedures will also be introduced, so that citizens can see at what stage their case is. Taxes for businesses will be lowered from 21% to 18%, and for small firms to 15%, in 2017. Company law will be reformed and the creation of the so-called one euro company was officially announced. There will also be tax relief for single parent families, tax exemptions for child care and new building projects to alleviate the housing shortage. Finally, Bettel announced an increase of park and ride spaces, from 11,800 to 24,000, by 2020.
THE POLITICS The prime minister was matter-of-fact in his speech, just as the other two ministers. They showed off the accomplishments of the Gambia coalition (named for the DP’s blue, LSAP’s red and the Greens that make up the government) and tried to find a balance between investment projects, tax relief and social policies such as child care. This was one of the main concerns for the leader of the opposition, Claude Wiseler. In an interview with Delano, the CSV MP argued that the tax reforms were too generous and pleaded for “budgetary prudence”. The medium term objective (MTO) for the structural deficit fixed by the government was -0.5% for 2017-2019. Wiseler said: “It would be more cautious to reduce the deficit more, as these predictions are June 2016
Xavier Bettel Lower taxes, more support
STATE OF THE NATION
based on significant population growth [up to 1.1m inhabitants by 2060] rather than productivity growth. Based on this model for growth, Luxembourg would need significantly higher investments in infrastructure and a pension reform among many other things.” Wiseler asked: “Do we want a population of 1.1m inhabitants?” He argued that the government did not make the necessary reforms, that the pension reform, for example, has just been postponed. He talked of lost years for the country. Business associations such as the UEL, Fédération of Artisans and the Chamber of Commerce all took issue with the new employment law proposal (the so-called PAN law), which will give employees, in return for overtime, days off work. In his blog, Carlo Thelen, head of the Chamber of
Commerce, also criticised the budgetary policies of the government as too expansionary.
PRUDENT OR EXPANSIONARY? Luxembourg’s public finances have been characterised by fiscal prudence for decades. While it was lucky enough to enjoy above average growth rates for most of this time, it is the only EU member state which has always respected the so-called Maastricht criteria, and will still do so with this MTO. However, problems are just around the corner, as evidenced in the European Commission and IMF reports: another pension reform is needed and tax reforms should be adapted to the international environment. With the current coalition, these reforms look unlikely and will probably have to wait till 2018.
THE MIGRATION CRISIS While it is the hot topic of the year, if not the decade, it was just mentioned in passing by the government in their speeches. Xavier Bettel, the DP prime minister, said the government was taking its responsibility to provide help for the refugees. Claude Wiseler, the CSV leader of the opposition, had a rare outburst, saying that the government was not listening to the people’s concerns about immigration, integration, Islam and terror. He called for a broad discussion and not leaving this important issue open for potential populists.
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LUXLEAKS MEDIA CIRCUS ANTOINE DELTOUR Local and international press turned out in force at Luxembourg’s central courthouse for the opening of the “LuxLeaks” trial. Antoine Deltour and Raphaël Halet, former employees of the consultancy PwC, stand accused of stealing and leaking confidential tax documents to Édouard Perrin, a journalist charged as an accomplice. The files include “comfort letters” from Luxembourg’s tax office, advance agreements on how hundreds of corporate transactions would be taxed. Many were shocked by the low rates applied. Following publication of the papers by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (www.icij.org), the European Commission and European Parliament opened formal inquiries, and the Grand Duchy itself presided over a new EU deal on increased tax data cooperation. Yet the documents were protected by confidentially rules. Prosecutors asked for a sentence of 18 months and financial penalties for Deltour and Halet, and an unspecified fine to be levied against Perrin. The defendants claimed they were engaged in legitimate acts of whistleblowing. Deltour is pictured here (centre) leaving the courtroom at the end of the first morning of hearings on 26 April. The court will render its verdict on 29 June. AG June 2016
Sesamm, a fintech firm that searches social media for investment trends (www.sesamm. com), has won the second “Pitch your startup” contest (www.pitchyourstartup.eu). The event was organised on 10 May by Docler Holding, a big Luxembourg digital media outfit, and Luxinnovation, an industry promotion agency. Seventeen tech startups each had precisely three minutes and three seconds to pitch, followed by a two minute judges Q&A. According
English is the fourth most frequently used language at work among residents of the Grand Duchy (29% speak it regularly), behind French (68%), Luxembourgish (61%) and German (34%), and ahead of Portuguese (15%) and Italian (5%), according to a report from the official statistics bureau Statec. A quarter of Luxembourgers and 45% of French use English at work; more than half of Brits speak French. June 2016
to organisers, the jury selected Sesamm because it “was most disruptive and innovative”. The startup’s CEO, Sylvain Forté (pictured centre, holding the €50,000 prize cheque), talks more about his business on page 36. Nomoko, which is developing a compact high resolution 3D camera (www.nomoko.camera), came in second, and LuxAI, a University of Luxembourg spinoff, developing “socially assistive robots” (www.luxai. eu), placed third.
"HIS CONTRIBUTION AND ADVICE WILL HAVE AN IMPORTANT AND POSITIVE IMPACT." The deputy prime minister Étienne Schneider (left) announcing that Simon “Pete” Worden, a retired US air force and Nasa space agency official (right), was joining the advisory board of spaceresources.lu, which promotes asteroid mining.
Pierre Gramegna, the finance minister, said the face value of luncheon vouchers would rise from €8.40 to €10.80 in January. >>> ArcelorMittal bought back €2.5bn in bonds using proceeds from the issuance of €2.8bn in new shares and several stock analysts upgraded their ratings; the steelmaker posted a net loss of €400m in the first quarter. >>> SES revenue rose 1% during the first quarter, compared to 2015, and the satellite operator boosted its stake in O3b (“the fastest growing satellite network” says the CEO of SES) from 49.9% to a controlling 50.5% share. >>> The European Central Bank said it would stop printing €500 notes to fight money laundering; but “abolishing cash is not on agenda”, said Luxembourg’s board member, Yves Mersch. >>> The “Pan-European Fulfilment by Amazon” programme launched, letting smaller companies sell across the EU “more efficiently”. >>> Statec forecast inflation of 0.2% this year and 1.5% in 2017; the statistics agency said automatic increases in salaries and pensions would happen between the fourth quarter of 2016 and second quarter of 2017. >>> Home sale prices rose 10% between 2012 and 2014, and 5% last year, reported Statec and the government’s housing watchdog.
Kristina D.C. Hoeppner (CC BY-SA 2.0) MECO Nick Page (CC) Docler Holding
MATT DAWSON The associate director of Celestial Adventures
DIVERSITY DAY Corinne Cahen, the family and integration minister, was keynote speaker at the “Talkin’ ‘bout our generations” conference on Diversity Day, 9 May. More photos at: www.delano.lu/DiversityDay16
Emmanuel Claude - Focalize
DIVERSITY DAY LËTZEBUERG A. Corinne Cahen B. Freddy Brausch (left) and Sébastien Danloy C. Catia Laterza D. The conference was held at Linklaters law offices
CATCHING UP WITH…
has never yet met a child who didn’t want to look through an enormous telescope. Let’s face it, Matt Dawson has the kind of job most dream of. Together with his partner, Eric Buttini, he works part-time for a research centre in Luxembourg surveying the skies in search of new asteroids. They’ve discovered 12 to date and have named them after famous Luxembourgers. “We’re like Bruce Willis,” he laughs, “protecting the world from asteroids.” Most people think of Dawson as a musician, but he’s been running the sky survey on a part-time basis for 11 years. “I’ve been stargazing since the age of seven when someone showed me Saturn and its rings through a telescope,” he explains, “but you can’t do it in Luxembourg because of the light pollution.” So he took to the internet and found his good friend and Celestial Adventures co-associate director, Marc Kaschinski, just an hour’s drive across the border. “I’ve been using his telescope for the last 11 years; he built it himself as he wanted the largest in Europe. He also owns a beautifully rustic 17th century French farmhouse that he’s converted into a bed and breakfast.” Both keen amateur astronomers, with over 100 years of stargazing to their collective credit, they are truly passionate about the skies and boast in-depth knowledge of their subject. “Our telescope is enormous and you can see some amazing stuff through it: galaxies, the rings of Saturn, the storms on Jupiter, the craters of the Moon. These are the kind of views people will remember for a lifetime,” enthuses Dawson. The Celestial Adventures project was born and entered the Ireland Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce (www.ilcc.lu) Innovation Contest 2016, held in May, with great results. “We’re offering the wonders of the night sky and beauty of nature in a quiet rural setting. We invite guests of all ages for an evening, weekend or holiday in our charming 17th century B&B in one of the most beautiful natural parks in France--with unforgettable views of the stars and planets, explained by experts.” While the Innovation Contest dragons provided invaluable business advice throughout, what was the experience highlight? “The moment I looked at the dragon’s faces during my pitch and realised I had got their attention!” observatoire.t83.free.fr Text by WENDY CASEY Photography by LALA LA PHOTO June 2016
Text by DUNCAN ROBERTS
Photography by STEVE EASTWOOD
SPEAKING POSITIVELY ABOUT EUROPE
MORE HIGHLIGHTS: WWW.DELANO.LU/ BCCFRIEDEN16
ack from his two-year sojourn in London, former cabinet minister Luc Frieden’s first public appearance was at a lunch talk to the British Chamber of Commerce. Using the 1946 Churchill quote “let Europe arise” as his title, he spoke about the future of European integration. Frieden reminded his audience that the European Union was formed to foster peace and prosperity. The former has been taken for granted, he said. However, prosperity has not been achieved, and Frieden cited the 25 million unemployed in the EU as one of the reasons why some people have given up hope in the European project. “Nevertheless, I believe that Europe has a lot to offer and has a lot of possibilities.” Addressing the Brexit referendum and Euroscepticism, Frieden said that politicians--especially in the UK--are often not “courageous enough” to speak positively about the European Union. He hopes that the British people will vote to stay in the EU. “It is an illusion to think a country can be independent and sovereign in an interconnected world.”
HAVING COURAGE A. Louis Wright, Carole Miltgen and Jeannot Barthel B. Dennis Robertson and Henry Kelly C. Andrew Notter and Saskia van Rijswijk D. Alison Macleod, chair of the British chamber (www.bcc. lu), and Luc Frieden E. Claus Mansfeldt, Tom Schmitz, Jan Jansen and Damien Pochon F. Ismaël Dian and Sandra Legrand G. Catharina Biver, Barbara Brecko and Virginie Huiez H. Keith Amoss and Ian Sanderson I. Sandro PaceBonello, UK ambassador John Marshall, Arjan Kirthisingha and Thomas Flammand
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FROM CUB TO LION
Photography by MAISON MODERNE
KPMG FINTECH LION AWARDS:
Will KPMG’s contest help these outfits make a name for themselves, and diversify the Grand Duchy’s financial sector?
he pressure was on for the 15 financial technology (fintech) startups from around Europe that got three minutes each to pitch to a high profile jury from Luxembourg and neighbouring countries. The presentations were made 9 May, during the semifinals of the inaugural Fintech Lion Awards, held at KPMG Luxembourg’s headquarters on Kirchberg. Ten of them were then selected to compete in the grand finale, to be held seven weeks later at the KPMG Plage, the consulting firm’s summer series of events, where three main awards will be presented to winners by the prime minister, Xavier Bettel. In addition to KPMG, the competition is supported by Digital Lëtzebuerg, the Luxembourg ICT Cluster and Luxinnovation, three government-backed promotion schemes, and Maison Moderne, the publisher of Delano. Organisers say the awards aim at identifying and supporting outstanding fintech startups with a Luxembourg connection.
BOOSTING FINANCIAL CENTRE Many of the finalists chose to be active in the Grand Duchy due to its worldwide reputation as a major financial hub. As Bert Boerman, CEO of Governance.io, notes, “Luxembourg is the second biggest funds domicile after the US and the biggest in cross-border funds. Due to this high concentration of funds, it’s a fantastic location to start.” Based at Nyuko, a a government-supported centre in Hollerich that bolsters entrepreneurs, Governance.io has been live since October 2015 and facilitates regulatory compliance. June 2016
Their philosophy: “If you want your employees to perform controls, make it as simple as possible,” says Boerman, who explains that competing products are often very complex and difficult to set up. Their platform provides clients such as banks and fund management companies with an overview of their structure, data, documents and controls in one place. Another company attracted by Luxembourg’s reputation was CrossLend, which offers a new type of lending platform based on securitisation. After launching in Berlin in 2014, CrossLend opened a subsidiary in Luxembourg to manage this task, due in part to the country’s reputation as “the securitisation hotspot of Europe,” according to co-CEO Dagmar Bottenbruch. Already providing personal loans in Germany, the Netherlands and Spain, the company would like to move into loans to small and medium sized enterprises with an ambitious goal
in mind. “The real problem with the European economy is that money isn’t going where it should go, and our platform can be used to solve this,” says Bottenbruch. She explains that SMEs across Europe, and particularly southern Europe, continue to have difficulty getting access to capital, while many funds and private investors who might be interested in providing SME loans don’t know about this option due to a lack of visibility. “The key is to try to make these loans tradable; we help to do that by securitising them,” she says.
TEN ROAR INTO GRAND FINALE A. E. G. L. N. O. and S. The Fintech Lion Awards semifinal event was held at KPMG’s HQ in Kirchberg
" BEING PART OF THE AWARDS GIVES US CREDIBILITY AND WE CAN MEET PLAYERS AND INVESTORS." BERT BOERMAN
B. Balázs Klemm of Almax Analytics (centre), one of the semifinalists who went on to the grand finale, flanked by Natacha Oskian and Pablo Bulcke of KPMG Luxembourg C. The 15 KPMG Fintech Lion Awards semifinalists and organisers D. Pierre Schmidtgall of 1001pact (centre), a semifinalistturned-finalist, gives his presentation on 9 May F. Jury member Q&A H. Sebastian Hasenack of Investify (centre) I. Bert Boerman of Governance.io
There are an increasing number of initiatives from both the Luxembourg government and the private sector aiming at supporting innovative technology startups, with the financial sector playing such a key role in the economy, a strong emphasis is beginning to be placed on fintech. These initiatives include Lux Future Lab, an incubator and training programme launched by BNP Paribas in 2012, KPMG’s Hub for Entrepreneurship, also known as The Khube, as well as Nyuko. “These initiatives show that the government is not just willing to have dialogue but is also willing to invest in companies setting up here,” says Boerman.
FINTECH UNIVERSE Another finalist in the KPMG contest that has already benefitted from this support is EMP Corp, which has its team of 15 based in the Lux Future Lab and is a member of The Khube. “Luxembourg, for me, was the ideal place to be inside the fintech universe. It’s a small country and you can contact people easily,” says its CEO, Gilles Moro. Launched in 2014, the company hopes to become a European leader in e-wallet solutions for credit card processing and is planning to launch a new smartphone-based platform aimed at small merchants such as taxi drivers and plumbers. However, Moro believes that Luxembourg could provide a better environment for f intech by June 2016
differentiating between startups and large companies and providing more flexibility when it comes to the rules for regulation, citing long wait times for licenses from the Commission de Surveillance du Secteur Financier, the country’s financial regulator. Further support for fintech will soon come in the form of the Luxembourg House of Fintech, headed by Nicolas Mackel, CEO of Luxembourg for Finance, another government-backed promotion agency. Coming on the heels of the new House of Entrepreneurship, these two new hubs will help to centralise the relevant actors and processes to better support startups. Sylvain Forté, CEO of Sesamm, believes that this could be the common fintech initiative that he feels is currently missing from the scene. “It might be the thing that will create a global fintech hub in Luxembourg,” he says.
LOCAL NETWORKING Networking is a key focus of the different fintech initiatives and actors such as the Technoport business incubator in Esch-Belval and the Luxembourg ICT Cluster. Many of the finalists stressed, when speaking to Delano, the importance of networking to their business success, and noted the excellent opportunities to meet potential investors and important stakeholders due to Luxembourg’s small size and high concentration of companies active in the financial sector. “It’s small, European, open-minded and people speak many languages; it’s natural for us to be here,” says Bottenbruch of her company CrossLend. This was likewise a key draw for Sesamm, also based at Lux Future Lab. “In Luxembourg we have networking power,” says Forté, who explains that after starting up in France two years ago, the company decided to open an office in Luxembourg and will soon carry out most of its commercial activity in the country. His firm provides investment indicators in an innovative manner: it uses intelligent algorithms to analyse the emotion in millions of social media messages to predict stock market movements. Already successfully June 2016
taking home the top prize in the Pitch Your Startup competition at ICT Spring in early May, the company decided to take part in the Fintech Lion Awards as an existing member of KPMG’s The Khube. Investify is another company that has taken advantage of the networking and support opportunities offered in Luxembourg. Founded in September 2015, the company is based at Technoport and has received advice on funding from Luxinnovation as well as an introduction to the Interdisciplinary Centre for Security, Reliability and Trust (SNT) at the University of Luxembourg, which has a programme that matches PhD students and startups. With a team of 16 and growing, Investify runs a digital asset management platform that mixes expert-managed core investment with optional investment opportunities based on themes like electromobility or football, that allow clients to connect emotionally with investing. CEO Sebastian Hasenack feels that this competition provided the perfect fit. “KPMG has a big name on the market. It transports trust and this is a very important topic for us,” he says. This enhanced credibility was also a key motivation of other finalists
J. Georges Bock of KPMG Luxembourg kicks off the KPMG Fintech Lion Awards semifinalist pitching K. The pitch by Dagmar Bottenbruch of CrossLend (centre), a semifinalist who made it into the grand finale M. Geoffroy de Schrevel of Birdee (centre)
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P. Hervé Bonazzi of Scaled Risk gives his pitch Q. Julien Revelle of Neurodecision (centre) R. Gilles Moro of EMP Corp (second from left) T. Sylvain Forté of Sesamm, who goes on to the final faceoff on 21 June
to take part in the Fintech Lion Awards. While the financial prize is certainly attractive, several of the startups note that the competition has already helped them to build up traction within the industry by providing them with a platform. “We think we have a story to tell, maybe one that can make a difference in Europe,” says Bottenbruch. Governance.io was also interested in the exposure that the competition offers.
"BIG RECOGNITION" “Being part of the awards gives us credibility and we can meet players and investors. If we won it would immediately give us very big recognition in the market,” explains Boerman. Moro feels that it would mark a great achievement for the whole EMP Corp team. “I would be very happy for my team if we won; it’s a challenge to work in our company as we started from zero.” The ten startups will go head to head for the three prizes on offer (see box on right) at the finals on 21 June. June 2016
FINTECH LION AWARDS
What is it? A new competition from KPMG and partners that aims at bringing the most promising fintech startups to Luxembourg. When does it run? 15 March to 21 June 2016. The semifinals were held on 9 May.
What can they win? Fintech Startup of the Year: €50,000 and 4 months at the Technoport business incubator in Esch-Belval. Fintech Entrepreneur of the Year: a week in Silicon Valley meeting top companies, accelerators and investors. Best Pitch: a 1-year KPMG Hub for Entrepreneurship membership and a media campaign.
IN A CHANGING WORLD
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THE FOOTBALL BUSINESS
UEFA Founded in 1954 in Basel, the governing body of football in Europe has 54 member countries including many transcontinental countries such as Turkey, Russia and Kazakhstan as well as Israel. (1)
Sources: (1) Uefa; (2) Panini Group; (3) Professor Paul Harper, University of Cardiff School of Mathematics
EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIPS 2016
The finals of the competition to find the best national team in Europe take place in France from 10 June to 10 July. For the first time 24 teams will be competing. The nearest stadia to Luxembourg are in Lens, Lille and Paris (Stade de France and Parc des Princes), but all matches are sold out. Here in Luxembourg interest is high despite the fact that the national team did not qualify. The Red Lions finished fifth in a six-team qualifying group that included winners Spain, Slovakia, Ukraine, Belarus and Macedonia. Indeed, the Luxembourg national team has never qualified for the finals, but in 1964 they beat the Netherlands 3-2 over two-legs in qualifying. In the quarter finals, they only lost 0-1 to Denmark in a replay in Amsterdam after drawing 5-5 on aggregate over two legs. Public screenings in the capital city are planned for the later stages of the tournament. Bars and cafés will be screening matches throughout. www.uefa.com
SCANDAL Uefa president Michel Platini announced in early May that he will resign from the post over a so-called “disloyal payment” from disgraced former Fifa president Sepp Blatter. (1)
PANINI STICKERS Panini was founded in 1961 by two Italian brothers. (2) The Euro 2016 album has 96 pages and consists of 680 stickers; the average cost to complete an album is likely to be €473. (3)
UEFA FINANCES For 2014-15, Uefa reported revenue of €2.1 billion. This resulted in a loss of €27.9 million after payments to club teams participating in Uefa competitions and solidarity payments to national associations. (1) SOLIDARITY PAYMENT Luxembourg received €2.5 million from Uefa as a solidarity payment in 2014-15. (1)
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Text by AARON GRUNWALD
Photography by MIKE ZENARI
SCHENGEN SURVEY: NO SHOCKING RESULTS Have border checks taken an economic toll on your organisation? Delano’s informal poll of readers did not find a great reckoning. At least for now.
ince recent terrorist attacks, and with the ongoing European migration crisis, several countries within the Schengen free travel zone have stepped up policing of their borders. Some EU leaders talk of dismantling the Schengen regime altogether. However, the end of open borders inside the Schengen area would potentially cost Germany €10bn a year (according to the Association of German Chambers of Commerce and Industry), France more than €10bn per year (estimates France Strategie, a think tank funded by the French government) and cut €470bn off Europe’s economy over 10 years (says the Bertelsmann Foundation, a think tank in Germany). Earlier this year Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, said increased border checks would already cost road transport companies €3bn in lost revenue annually. What about Luxembourg’s economy? Given that, according to the official statistics agency Statec, 45% of the Grand Duchy’s labour force are cross-border commuters, and freight and logistics make up nearly 7.4% of the economy, surely there will be a cost to the country. Independent research in this field has, so far, been limited. That is why Delano conducted an online readers poll in late April and early May: to find out what economic impact increased border controls have had so far on outfits here in the Grand Duchy. Thirty-eight readers participated. While that is hardly a statistically rigorous sampling, many Delano June 2016
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readers are involved with their organisation’s key HR, transport, travel and finance matters, which at least gives some initial indications. The findings do not point to a huge loss for the Grand Duchy’s economic engine at the moment.
HUMAN RESOURCES About half of the survey-takers said they were a team manager or responsible for HR issues in their organisation. Only three said they had observed an increase in staff sickness days since increased border checks were introduced in November. Twenty said that they had not. The biggest increase in average sick days was three, reported by a senior attorney at a law firm (respondents were granted anonymity in exchange for expressing their views frankly in the survey). Only one person, in the financial sector, said that they had hired additional staff in Luxembourg as a response to the border situation, although they did not reveal how many. None of the 38 said they had frozen hiring, or reduced staffing levels in Luxembourg because of the border situation. However, another participant noted that, at his firm in the communications sector, “workers did take more time to reach work and go back home.” LOGISTICS Only four Delano readers were involved in their organisation’s use of road transport to ship or receive goods from, to or via Luxembourg. Two of them reported seeing an increase in transport cost or time since the reintroduction of border controls inside the Schengen area in November, although they did not specifically quantify the increase in the Delano survey. Another said there had been “more impact” from the introduction, on 1 April, of tolls on trucks using Belgian motorways. June 2016
SCHENGEN The village in southeastern Luxembourg symbolises freedom of movement in Europe
Two readers said their “vehicles changed delivery routes” to avoid Luxembourg’s main southern frontier crossing. One of them explained that drivers avoided taking the A3 motorway, which becomes the A31 crossing into France. Instead they went to Schengen and took the country road that connects the border town with Thionville, or went to the Belgian-French border south of Mons, taking the trunk road which runs to Reims.
TRAVEL More than half of those who answered said they frequently travel outside of Luxembourg as part of their job, or are responsible for planning business travel outside the Grand Duchy. Only one reader answered “yes” to the question “Compared to last year (before November), is there less business travel outside of Luxembourg?” This person stated that it was a “conscious decision” due to the “risk of travelling to cities in Europe, Americas, Asia which may suffer from the Isis menaces, Zika virus, political and social turmoil. [And] the burden of controls in
airports which are simply a restriction of common citizens’ rights and freedoms and of little to none effectiveness.” The reader estimated there was “10-15% less” travel at their organisation. The survey also asked about a potential falloff in tourism, but none of the respondents worked in the hospitality sector.
FINANCE No reader said their “organisation experienced a change in turnover here in Luxembourg, compared to the previous year, that you directly attribute to the border situation since November 2015”. In fact, one said revenue had increased by 20%. Likewise, no one reported a change in their organisation’s investment plans. Delano reopens the survey on 27 May, to gather additional responses, and then provide another update, hopefully a bit more authoritative, in our digital edition this autumn. www.surveymonkey.com/r/ DelanoSchengen16
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RAIF: LESS RED-TAPE FOR SAVVY INVESTORS The proposed “reserved alternative investment fund” could make it easier to launch funds for super savvy investors from Luxembourg.
uxembourg added an extra layer of regulation when it adopted the Alternative Investment Fund Managers Directive. This can be frustrating, time consuming and costly for alternative investment funds being sold only to well informed investors. The government has acted. The AIFMD is a manager regulation. The text states that only the alternative fund management company needs to be regulated to enable the funds they administer to benefit from borderless “passported” distribution around the EU. However, to add an extra level of security, the Luxembourg government decided that the fund also needed the OK from the national regulator, the CSSF. As well, certain substantial changes in the way the fund operates thereafter needs approval too.
NO AIF REGULATION “There is no provision in the directive for the fund to be supervised,” noted Jacques Elvinger, partner at the law firm Elvinger Hoss Prussen, “that is why there was need for change.” The proposed reserved alternative investment fund will, if certain criteria are met, not need this regulatory approved. It must be proven that the fund is only destined for sophisticated investors such as financial institutions and very wealthy individuals or families. Also, the fund will need to be run by an approved, regulated management company. Thus the RAIF will be supervised by proxy. “It is the manager who must be authorised and has to ensure that the fund complies with specified rules,” explained Susanne Weismüller, senior legal adviser at the Association of the Luxembourg Fund Industry. June 2016
JACQUES ELVINGER A. A RAIF could only be sold to institutional or very wealthy private investors SUSANNE WEISMÜLLER B. Managers are authorised, not specific alternative funds
This will include regular reporting to the regulator on the RAIF. She agrees that cutting time-tomarket is the key motivation for this new fund vehicle. “The RAIF will not have to be approved by the regulator before taking up business,” she said, “this is in contrast to existing alternative investment funds such as UCI part II funds, specialised investment funds and investment companies in risk capital [SICARs].” With all this in place, the RAIF will be eligible for the prized European Union single market “passport” which facilitates borderless distribution. At the moment, if an alternative investment manager wants to launch an unregulated fund with an EU passport they have to use a company structure in Luxembourg. This might be a limited company or a limited partnership. These forms work well for real estate and private equity investments, but it can be ill suited to hedge fund strategies. Also, the RAIF is in line with
regulation seen elsewhere, making it relatively easy to replicate existing funds from other jurisdictions. The rules and structure draw on Luxembourg’s SIF and SICAR regimes. This includes how “well-informed investors” are defined, the rules on eligible assets or investment policies, and risk diversification principles. A 0.01% subscription tax will be levied on total net assets in most cases.
READY FOR SUMMER “We expect significant demand for this new vehicle, comparable to the demand for the special limited partnership,” Weismüller said. “We illustrate the main features of the new vehicle during our conferences or roadshows abroad, and the audience always seems to be very interested,” she added. The bill of law was submitted to the Chamber of Deputies on 14 December 2015, and Elvinger says that his best guess for parliamentary approval is “the end of May or the beginning of June.”
IRISH COMPETITION The government and industry hope that the RAIF makes the country even more competitive in the cross-border distribution of so called “alternative” funds. It’s not easy to have up-to-date figures, but in a survey from the consultancy Oliver Wyman from November 2014, Luxembourg led Europe in alternatives, with particular strength in private equity and real estate collective investment schemes. Ireland was second, largely thanks to its strength in hedge funds. Dublin has this lead for historical and linguistic reasons, but also due to the legal framework there tending to suit hedge fund managers. The RAIF should make Luxembourg more attractive in this regard.
Text by AARON GRUNWALD
MOST FOREIGNERS, LEAST SELF-EMPLOYED Câ€‰
omparing figures from different nations can be tricky, since many use differing statistical methodologies. But one research outfit, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, intergovernmental think tank for 34 wealthier countries, has put like-for-like numbers together in a single publication. The OECD Factbook 2015-2016, released in April, also surveyed several bigger economies that are not members of the OECD. The report reveals that Luxembourg has, out of 36 nations, the lowest level of self-employment, and compared to the rest of Europe, a very low proportion of researchers employed in both the private and public sectors. On the other hand, the Grand Duchy has the most highly educated population in the EU. In addition, the factbook illustrates how the large number of non-resident workers impacts the countryâ€™s statistical rankings. Here are a few select figures.
FOREIGN BORN POPULATION The Grand Duchy has far and away the highest level of foreign born residents among the 34 OECD members, 44%, a figure that rose by a third over the previous decade. Other countries that experienced a big influx were Ireland and Norway, while Israel and Greece experienced relative declines, and the levels in Germany remained roughly the same. As a percentage of total population 2000 or first available 2013 or latest year available.
16.4 DOWNLOAD THE FACTBOOK: WWW.OECD.ORG
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How does the Grand Duchy really stack up against other countries in areas from the economy and education to research and entrepreneurship?
GDP PER CAPITA Per capita figures for Luxembourg are often skewed by the large number of cross-border commuters, who make up nearly half the workforce. By this measure, the Grand Duchy greatly surpasses oil-rich Norway as well as financial hubs Switzerland and Ireland. US dollars, current prices and at purchasing power parity, 2014 or latest available year
Switzerland 57,246 Luxembourg 97,273
GROSS AND NET NATIONAL INCOME PER CAPITA GNI is considered a better measure of residentsâ€™ wealth as it accounts for cross-border workers. Here, the Grand Duchy falls into second place, behind Norway, while the Republic of Ireland experiences a notable drop too.
US dollars, current prices and PPPs, 2014 or latest available year Net national income Gross national income
SELF-EMPLOYMENT RATES: TOTAL
Out of 39 countries covered by the OECD, Luxembourg had the 12th lowest proportion of researchers. The rate in the US was nearly a quarter higher, and in Norway was more than a third greater. Overall, Israel topped this table.
Luxembourg has the lowest level of self-employment among countries covered by the OECD. Although the Grand Duchyâ€™s rate, 6.2% of the overall workforce, is only slightly below the 6.5% rate found in the entrepreneurial US. There was more than three times as much self-employment in Poland and Greece.
Per thousand employed, full-time equivalent, 2013 or latest available year Business Other
As a percentage of total employment 2014 or latest 2000
New Zealand 2.68
7.37% 6.16% 7.42% 6.46% 7.39% 7.21% 10.96% 11% 14.17% 12.52% 12.82% 14.44% 11.21% 16.62% 18.83% 17.39%
POPULATION THAT HAS ATTAINED TERTIARY EDUCATION
Luxembourg has a very high rate of residents that have completed higher education: more than half of those in prime working age have done so, roughly on par with Ireland, and a step higher than Israel. The ratio is relatively low in Germany, likely due to its emphasis on technical education. Percentage, 2014 Aged 25-34 Aged 55-64
3.89 28.4% 25.5%
Germany 46.0% 47.4%
Greece 49.2% 34.8%
France 50.8% 24.3%
Belgium 52.9% 31.7%
Netherlands 67.7% 17.3%
Text by STEPHEN EVANS
Photography by MIKE ZENARI
HOME-GROWN DISCOVERIES Luxembourg has a varied research community engaged in applied and theoretical work in a range of subjects of local and global significance. Here are some recent highlights.
e are all more or less biased in the decisions we take. This can even apply to experienced teachers who may be involuntarily affected by psychological bias related to pupils’ ethnicity, research at the University of Luxembourg has shown. The researchers also showed that these biases can be overcome. This work was funded by the National Research Fund (FNR), and it seeks to contribute to efforts to make Luxembourg’s multicultural society even more harmonious. Numerous academic studies suggest that people make “differential” judgments and decisions under the influence of expectations. Work from the University of Luxembourg demonstrates that differential expectations among school teachers can lead to variations in the way they make decisions. The research team led by Sabine Krolak-Schwerdt also found that these involuntary biases could be eliminated almost completely by reminding teachers that they were accountable for their decisions. International studies show consistently that minority students perform below average at school. Teachers experience this reality daily, hence expectations may develop in their minds. To test this, the university research team gave experienced teachers fictitious student reports and profiles, and they were asked to take a mock decision about assigning each to an appropriate secondary school: either technical or the more academic “classical” track. Luxembourger students were correctly assigned in 90% of cases, but for Portuguese students only 67% of decisions were correct, with both June 2016
under- and over-estimation of academic ability. Then, teachers were to rate how accountable they felt regarding these decisions and were then asked to assess more pupil reports. In this instance their decisions were accurate regardless of ethnicity. “Asking teachers to assess their responsibility for their performance appeared to trigger a more reflective approach to their decision making,” noted Ineke Pit-ten Cate, a member of the research team. “Thus the teachers were shown to be good decision makers, but bias may occur under conditions of low accountability due to differential expectations,” she said. In normal circumstances teachers are likely to feel highly accountable for decisions about their pupils, so the risk of bias is relatively low. “This study suggests that when we make important choices we should strive to invest mental effort to increase accuracy in decision making,” Pit-ten Cate added.
UNDERSTANDING PARKINSON Parkinson’s disease has genetic causes in 15% of cases. Researchers at the university’s Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine and partners in Germany are studying the causes of premature ageing of certain neurons in Parkinson’s patients with a particular defect in their “DJ1” gene. This ageing process is the reason for the motor symptoms that characterise this disease, but how this happens is not yet fully understood. Karsten Hiller is leading a team investigating a specific form of Parkinson’s disease with a defective DJ1 gene. “We need the right amount of DJ1. While in some forms of cancer there is too much DJ1, in the case of Parkinson’s disease, neurons don’t have enough DJ1 and die off,” he explained. Without this gene, a key defence mechanism does not work effectively, leading to premature cell ageing. The
INEKE PIT-TEN CATE At the Institute of Teacher Professionalisation and Psychology of Education at the University of Luxembourg
research team was also able to show that mutations in the DJ1 gene can negatively affect other cells in the brain. Cells responsible for the immune reaction in the brain become ‘hyperactive’ when the DJ1 gene is defective. The next step will involve investigating how these processes can be altered using
" ASKING TEACHERS TO ASSESS THEIR RESPONSIBILITY FOR THEIR PERFORMANCE APPEARED TO TRIGGER A MORE REFLECTIVE APPROACH TO THEIR DECISION MAKING." June 2016
" A HIGHER LIKELIHOOD TO REMAIN LOYAL." drugs, with a view to developing treatments.
TOWN LIVING Compact towns with high population density can have social, environmental and economic benefits. However, many people continue to choose to live in suburbs and commuter towns, resulting in urban sprawl. University of Luxembourg researchers are part of an international team using mathematical analysis and a computer simulation model to demonstrate how this could be countered. The model showed that easing access to high quality parks, woodland and other green spaces is central to making town living much more attractive. Politicians and planners have tended to build high density urban housing, building on all available land, but people still prefer to commute. “Thus LUDIVINE MARTIN attempts to boost urban density may At the Luxembourg be having the opposite effect,” noted Institute of SocioEconomic Research Geoffrey Caruso. June 2016
The research team used mathematical analysis and a computer simulation model to represent the evolution of an idealised town of about 200,000 inhabitants. “We demonstrate that increasing the availability of close, convenient parks, woods and green play areas, encourages people to live in smaller homes in town. This reduces the cost and inconvenience of commuting, and has a strong positive impact on welfare,” Caruso said. He also recommends creating more local footpaths and bicycle lanes to access green spaces. The next step is to apply this theoretical breakthrough in urban areas. This could be the key to one of the central problems faced by town planners.
STAFF MOTIVATION Employers can implement a range of measures that will increase motivation across their organisation, thus boosting productivity and retention of high quality staff. Creating a rich,
supportive work environment encourages the best people, and compels less engaged staff to leave. These are the key, original findings of research conducted by Ludivine Martin of the Luxembourg Institute of SocioEconomic Research. Two broad polices can be used by employers to increase motivation and boost productivity. So called “high involvement management” practices seek to encourage empowerment through self-managed teams, increasing skills through training, giving employees a voice through information-sharing between managers and staff, as well as eliciting extra effort via some targeted pay incentives. Additionally, the boost to efficiency from investment in information and communication technologies can also contribute to a positive working environment. “Those motivated mainly by internal reasons [such as an alignment of values or pleasure in performing tasks] demonstrated a higher likelihood to remain loyal to the company. And these practices reinforced their desire to remain with the employer,” Martin added. Conversely, the results underlined that the more reluctant employees were more likely to leave when these policies were deployed.
SMALL SYSTEMS “Small systems are continuously wiggling due to thermal energy fluctuations,” said Massimiliano Esposito, a physicist at the University of Luxembourg. He wants to work with “stochastic thermodynamics” to understand these phenomena in order to put them to good use. “Biological systems, through evolution, found ways to operate efficiently at the molecular scale,” he said. “I want to use stochastic thermodynamics to understand how they do that, but also to design high performing synthetic nanosystems.” Uses might include energy-efficient and fast information technologies. He will be able to continue his work in this area thanks to him having been awarded a prestigious “Consolidator Grant” of €1.7m over the next five years by the European Research Council. He believes this development
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OVERHEATING ART MARKET? Not satisfied with returns from traditional markets, many investors have entered the art market. But has a speculative bubble formed, with prices outstripping the fundamentals? Researchers at the Luxembourg School of Finance, part of the University of Luxembourg, think this is likely. Roman Kräussl, Thorsten Lehnert and Nicolas Martelin have used a June 2016
new and direct statistical method of bubble detection. They analysed more than one million auction records from the past 36 years, examining six major art styles. They identified two historical speculative bubbles and found an explosive movement in today’s “Impressionist and Modern,” “Post-War and Contemporary,” “American” and “Old Masters” fine art market segments. Their research raised the possibility of a severe price correction.
VITAMIN D DEFICIENCY “In more than 80% of cases, an inadequate status of vitamin D was
detected,” said Dr. Ala’a Alkerwi of the Luxembourg Institute of Health, discussing the results of a recent survey on local residents. Vitamin D insufficiency is linked to osteoporosis or muscle fatigue in the elderly, and is thought to be associated with cancer, immune disorders, and cardiovascular diseases. Vitamin D is created by the skin when exposed to UVB rays in sunlight, one of the reasons cloudy Luxembourg is affected. The study found that overweight people and residents of Portuguese origin and non-European countries were particularly at risk.
To coincide with most of the University of Luxembourg and other research institutes moving to Belval last summer and autumn, several institutes have had a shake up and a rebrand. The Tudor and Lippmann public research centres merged to form the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (www.list.lu). The Luxembourg Institute of Health is the rebrand for the Santé publique research centre (www.lih.lu), and the Luxembourg Institute of Socio-Economic Research (www.liser. lu) is the new name for CEPS/INSTEAD. Also, the Institute of Contemporary History (www.uni.lu) is due to be created by this summer within the university. It will contribute its own resources and integrate the Virtual Centre of Knowledge about Europe, the Robert Schuman European Study and Research Centre, the Centre for Documentation and Research on the Resistance, and the Centre for Documentation and Research on Forced Conscription.
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A NIGHT OF FIRSTS
Photography by LALA LA PHOTO
he King’s College London Alumni Association in Luxembourg launched at the residence of the new UK ambassador to the Grand Duchy, John Marshall, the first official event he hosted. “It was only this morning that I presented my credentials to his royal highness the grand duke,” he said. “And it’s also the first time that King’s College London Alumni are meeting in Luxembourg. I wish you every success and hope that you grow and grow as an association.” Simone Schmitt, the group’s chair, stated: “There are currently no less than 200 King’s alumni in Luxembourg and while we don’t yet have all of their contact details, we hope that this event will encourage them to join us.”
PREMIERE MEETING A. Simone Schmitt, chair of the King’s alumni branch in Luxembourg, with Katja Mravlak and Kristine Bardina B. Ramovic Sadan and Carine Reinesch C. Newly appointed UK ambassador John Marshall (www.gov.uk) greets members of the newly formed King’s College London Alumni Association in Luxembourg (alumni.kcl.ac.uk) D. Anne Klethi and Pierre-Antoine Klethi E. Katia Fettes, Rachel Hardy, Zofia White, François Kauffman and Justine Peduzzi F. Guillaume Byk and John Hustaix G. Delphine Calmes and Zoe Bofferding H. Mélissa Rockens, Katia Fettes and Marianne Decker I. John Marshall speaks during the King’s alumni launch soirée in April
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Delano presents a selection of upcoming business and networking events for Luxembourg’s international community. Advance registration or fees may be required, so consult the website indicated for full details. All events are held in English unless otherwise noted. UNCONSCIOUS BIAS
British Chamber of Commerce www.bcc.lu This HR forum tackles “Embracing diversity: recognising and overcoming unconscious bias” in the hiring, talent development and leadership spheres. Clifford Chance, Luxembourg-Belair, 16:00
Tigfi www.tigfi.org Francesco Papadia, a non resident fellow at the Bruegel think tank and a lecturer at Goethe Universität, speaks on “The role of asset backed securities in the Capital Markets Union”. Cercle Munster, Luxembourg-Grund, 12:00
Tue 31 May
Luxembourg-Poland Business Club
Wed 15 June
Georges Bock, managing partner of the Big Four consultancy KPMG in Luxembourg, talks about emerging trends to the Googlebacked entrepreneurship group. Lux Future Lab, Luxembourg-Centre, 18:30
Tue 7 June
Mon 6 June
Mon 13 June
American Chamber of Commerce www.amcham.lu The June Abal luncheon talk is on “the advantages of using a confidential, informal and voluntary approach like mediation in the workplace”. Venue to be announced, 11:30
Nobelux www.nobelux.se Étienne Schneider, the Grand Duchy’s deputy prime minister and economy minister, speaks to the Nordic-BelgiumLuxembourg Chamber of Commerce. Venue to be announced, 12:00
Thu 16 June Hub Dot www.hubdot.com The women’s networking group, where you can “spot” the difference, marks two years in Luxembourg by holding “an inspirational piazza with a storytelling about fashion, colors and style”. Bo Concept, Bertrange, 19:00
The Polish chamber and partners host their first Summer Business Ball, where the LPBC’s “Person of the Year 2016” will be named. English is the club’s official language. Cercle Cité, Luxembourg-Centre, 19:00
PRIVATE EQUITY TALK
Tue 28 June Alfi
This edition of the “Leading edge” conference covers “The fast changing PE and RE regulatory landscape and market: the Luxembourg response”. RBC, Esch-Belval, all day event
BRITISH BASH Fri 8 July
Fri 17 June www.uni.lu
Speakers from Ilnes, Luxembourg’s standards agency, and the European Telecommunication Standards Institute speak at this “Smart ICT and standardisation” workshop. Belval campus, 09:30-14:00
British Chamber of Commerce
University of Luxembourg
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Sat 18 June
The BCC’s annual Summer Dinner features an evening musical entertainment from Opera A La Carte and lots of good networking. The Orangerie, Mondorf-les-Bains, 19:00
Engage with like minded business professionals as you learn First Line Manager Programme
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2 June, 9.00 – 12.00pm
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20 June, 3.00 – 5.00pm,
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29 September, 2.00 – 5.00pm
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20 June, 5.30 – 7.30pm
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IFRS Update 2016
21 June, 2.30 – 4.30pm
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ANOTHER BOTTLE OF BEER ON THE WALL Yves Claude, a graphic designer, is getting professional about his passion for beer.
native Luxembourger, Yves Claude went to school in Diekirch across the street from the local brewery. When his teachers failed to capture his attention, he acquired the habit of staring out the window at the brewery and entertaining thoughts about what was happening there--a habit that continues to this day. When he was 17, Claude drank his first beer--a Diekirch, of course. Now he keeps about 30 different brands in his kitchen, two or three bottles of each, so there are about 90 odd bottles on hand. He enjoys at least one a day “to keep the doctor away.” He doesn’t have a favourite, but if you press him, he’ll tell you he prefers white beer, a Belgian Rochefort. Claude went to university to study graphic design and many years later took a job with ArcelorMittal, where he has been for about 15 years. He stayed close to home throughout the years and his love of and devotion to the first beer he ever tasted has grown into a genuine passion. Around 2001, there was a merger between the Diekirch and Mousel breweries and, having established himself as something of a beer guru, Claude was asked to help fill out a collection of related memorabilia. He embarked on a mission to find all of the beer brands in Luxembourg bought by Mousel after World War II. Every week, he visited the national archives to do research. “I found breweries that had closed, and this led to more research about more breweries,” he says. “I found connections between breweries. I found contradictory stories and stories about three that had been destroyed, which made me want to know even more. I created a map of all the breweries.” Xxxxxxxxxxxx 2015
MY OTHER LIFE
In the midst of his research, Claude started a simple collection beginning with a bottle opener from the 1930s that his grandfather had given him. By 2011, he had the biggest private collection of its kind and topped it off by buying an old brewery close to the Belgian-Luxembourg border. The facility had shuttered its doors in the 1960s and no one had entered the space until Claude walked in about 50 years later. “Everything was still there,” he recalls. “All the materials, the wall machines, the tools, the vehicles, everything dates back to prewar.” He keeps his cache in a hangar, which he hopes to move into a museum one day soon. Currently, there are 150 beer museums in Europe. He hopes his will be in the top ten, offering visitors an opportunity to buy every kind of beer produced in the region. “There are six breweries with 32 kinds of beer, 27 Belgian and 5 Lux, with 50 labels,” he says. “That’s really crazy!” In addition, Claude hopes to serve regional Luxembourg cuisine. “You can see who created a beer museum,” he says. “If it is a brewer, you will see brewery machines, if it’s a collector, there will be ad merchandise. This museum will be both--and a lot more.”
YVES CLAUDE Mousel memorabilia are part of the Musée brassicole des deux Luxembourg’s collection www.luxem.beer
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Join us one way or another In the context of its joint strategic growth programme, Maison Moderne and Nvision are looking to strengthen their teams by recruiting new staff. Together, the two companies currently employ more than 120 passionate people, of which almost half work for brands in the field of content marketing, design, experience, digital, social.
LIFESTYLE T YOUNG FASHION Spanish fashion retailer Pull & Bear has opened its first Luxembourg store. Part of the same group that owns Zara, Pull & Bear is aimed at a young clientele, with a collection focused on casual, urban clothing and accessories. The design is sober but appealing--the brand’s jeans have been getting rave reviews on fashion blogs and are described as comfortable, chic and good value for money. Where: Pull & Bear, 33 Grand-Rue, Luxembourg-Limpertsberg Info: www.pullandbear.com
HIP STORE REBOOTED One of the hippest clothes and accessories stores in the capital city, Extrabold has reopened after a much publicised refurbishment. The store has been a hit with hipsters and skaters, trend setters and urban youths since it opened some 10 years ago. The new look store dedicates even more space to clothing and accessories for women, but it retains its cool atmosphere and the brands that made it so popular. Where: Extrabold, 24 avenue de la Liberté, Luxembourg-Gare Info: www.extrabold.eu
STAR DESIGNER He has designed dresses worn by Michelle Obama, Jennifer Lawrence and Kate Middleton. Now, Luxembourg’s leading fashion ladies can grab a Michael Kors dress, or maybe one of his popular handbags, at his label’s new store. Accessories including watches, jewellery, glasses and perfume, as well as footwear are also on sale. The latest collection has a retro casual-chic summer feel. Where: Michael Kors, 21 rue Louvigny, Luxembourg-Centre Info: www.michaelkors.com
CITY CENTRE YOGA It is rare to find yoga studio in the heart of the city, but Claudine Greven’s Lotus Yoga is housed in a high-ceilinged building overlooking the place Guillaume II. Greven, who speaks English, has been practising yoga for over a decade and trained in Germany before deciding to specialise in Kundalini Yoga--the “yoga of awareness”--in which she holds regular courses. Hatha Yoga courses are also available. Where: Montmartre, 20 place Guillaume II, Luxembourg-Centre Info: www.lotusyogalux.com
GRAND DUCHY FILES
he face of it, Luxembourg’s nightlife scene has changed significantly over the past two decades, thanks largely to the contribution of the international community. Early 90s pubs like Pygmalion and The Black Stuff were a hit not only with the Irish and Anglophone community, but also with Luxembourgers seeking something different from their local café. Then expats like Ture Hedberg with his Playground venture in the mid-90s, Tim Probyn and Henrik Jensen, who ran legendary bar-club The Elevator, and Ray and Tom Hickey, who opened up Urban in 2004, set the standards for what has followed. They were keenly aware of what made the best nightlife spots in other European cities so successful, but also made sure their venues retained a distinctly local flavour and ran bars that they would enjoy spending time in themselves. Nothing sells as well as passion for your own product. The winners of Luxembourg Nightlife Awards presented on 8 May were packed with people and venues that bear testament to the legacy of those projects. Best apéro bar winner (and second in the best bar clubbing category), Ënnert de Steiler would surely not be the place it is if Lorraine Hegarty, herself an expat child, had not earned her spurs at The Elevator. Lorraine again placed in the top three in the best barmaid category. But Luxembourgers, too, were clearly inspired by those pioneers. Bouneweger Stuff is a great little bar that took on the sort of rough second-hand look adopted by Ture Hedberg for his Konrad Café, and has attracted an equally eclectic crowd of hip creatives, local drinkers and middle-age couples nostalgic for the nightlife scene of their youth but looking for a venue where they can hold a decent conversation. Luka Heindrichs, who won a special jury award and whose De Gudde Wëllen was voted best bar for clubbing, has created the sort of venue with live music and sizzling DJ nights that would bring a tear to the eye of anyone still missing the glory days of The Elevator. And the fact that The Tube and Pygmalion still feature in the public vote for best bar, and that Mark Russell won the best generalist DJ award, is further testament to the expat influence. Indeed, that there is a special best pub award--won by Oscar’s--is evidence that the organisers recognise the special contribution the international community has made to the nightlife scene. Long may it continue to do so. www.luxnightawards.com
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The perfect weneukeend to tr y a new ve
aking out habit, so why not try bre We are all creatures of top class culture in an unfamiliar venue and going to see somein June? over the last weekend
Diary VOICES INT’L
Choral group Voices International launches its summer series of concerts, titled Love’s Detours, at the Conservatoire in Luxembourg City on 10 June. Further concerts are scheduled for 17 June in Strassen and 19 June in Niederanven. www.voicesinternational.lu
FRIDAY 27.5 - 8 P.M. MORE VINTAGE
Classic furniture store Rob Vintage has expanded. The showroom on rue de Hollerich now features rare items from Carlos Nason, Nils Strinning, Luigi Colani and Tjerk Rijenga. The store is open Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Monday to Friday by appointment only. www.rob.lu
IRISH MUSIC SUMMER SCHOOL
The 4th Irish Music Summer School will run again this summer from 1 to 5 August. Classes include tin whistle, step dancing, Irish songs and drama based on Irish mythology. No experience is required. www.comhaltas.lu
Caroline Martin � Steve Eastwood
Luxembourg’s first ever CycleHack takes place from 24 to 26 June at Rotondes. The event is organised by Cycle Luxembourg. Participants will form teams to develop ‘hacks,’ or working solutions, to help improve cycling in Luxembourg (also see page 7). www.rotondes.lu
NATIONAL DAY CELEBRATIONS
Live concerts, DJ sets, the torchlight parade and the spectacular fireworks display from the Trois Glands are all regular features of the eve of National Day celebrations in the capital city on 22 June. The following day official ceremonies and a military parade take place and families can enjoy fun and games on the Kinnekswiss in the city park (near the Glacis car park). www.vdl.lu
HEAR ELECTRO WIZZKIDS… …from Canada and Luxembourg (via Ireland) at a gig in the city’s newest music venue. Doomsquad are a trio of siblings from Toronto who draw on trance and psychedelia. They are supported with the fresh electro-pop sounds of local hero Alvin & Lyle. Where: Bar National (inside TNL), route de Longwy, Luxembourg-Merl Info: Bar National on Facebook
FILMS ON DEMAND URBAN PIANOS RETURN
My Urban Piano returns from 3 to 19 June, with 16 specially decorated pianos located around the capital city available to the public. Players can film their performance and upload the video to Facebook or YouTube with the tags #luxembourgcity and #myurbanpiano2016. www.vdl.lu
The first independent video on demand platform in Luxembourg was officially launched on 9 May. Visitors to the platform can watch an eclectic curated catalogue focused on Luxembourg and European films and talent. It launched with some 750 films, including 140 Luxembourg productions, available at between €6.99 and €14.99 to buy, and between €0.99 and €3.99 to rent for 48 hours. It aims to have 2,500 films online by the end of 2017. www.vod.lu
SATURDAY 28.5 - 12 P.M.
WATCH AMAZING FLAMENCO… …down at the former abattoir in Esch, where singer David Palomar leads a performance with dancer Maria Moreno and guitarist José Quevedo “Bolita” in a show called Denominación de origen as part of the Flamenco Festival. Where: Kulturfabrik, Esch-Alzette Info: www.kulturfabrik.lu
SUNDAY 29.5 - 6 P.M.
EXPERIENCE CHAMBER ROMANCE… …with a theatrical concert by the KammerMusékVeräin Lëtzebuerg, who perform an homage to German romantic composer Louis Spohr in Ettelbruck with actress Nora König. Where: CAPE, Ettelbruck Info: www.cape.lu
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Text by WENDY CASEY
Photography by LALA LA PHOTO
Celebrating St. George’s at St. George’s
MORE ST. GEORGE’S DAY: WWW.DELANO.LU/ STGEORGES16
here better to celebrate St. George’s Day, England’s national fête, than at St. George’s International School in Hamm. “This year is particularly important because of course it’s the 25th year of our school,” the principal, Christian Barkei, told students and special guests. Heather Duxbury, retired head of primary, was also present. “It’s brilliant to come back, I love it,” she enthused. “It always feels warm and secure, which is what kids who are transient require.” The head boy, Ruaidhri Hogan, and head girl, Isabella Amorim, gave a brief talk about their experience of the school, its rapid growth and how they had been integrating. “One of the most amazing things,” enthused Hogan, “is that the school has managed to keep the same family closeness and feel that it’s always had. It’s still a community and everyone still knows each other despite the massive growth.”
ENGLISH FÊTE A. Students bust a move during the school’s St. George’s Day celebrations B. Christian Barkei, head of St. George’s International School (www.st-georges.lu) C. The new UK ambassador to Luxembourg, John Marshall, takes part in a British referendum of another sort: voting for dragons D. The head boy, Ruaidhri Hogan, and head girl, Isabella Amorim E. Paul Schonenberg and Heather Duxbury F. Fabio Morvilli and Giancarlo Sardelli G. Andy Markey and Adolphus Iroegbu H. Liina Munari and I. Marina Fraczkiewicz and Séverine Migeotte taking afternoon tea
Text by WENDY CASEY
Photography by MARION DESSARD
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itness has never featured prominently in my life. In fact, safe to say that it has never featured. Given the choice of a bracing trudge through the woods to kick-start the morning, or a drive to the local café for a cappuccino Chantilly and croissant, well the latter wins hands down. By contrast, Conny Pertl, award-winning fitness coach and mother of two, lives by her sport. Originally from Germany, she set up Conny’s Bootcamp in the Bambësch five years ago and still runs a fourweek bikini boot camp in the summer. “The first question every man asks is: can I join?” Three trainers are employed in her fitness studio and she coaches a wide range of folk, from housewives to high-profile Tour de France cyclists. “The human being is not made to sit in an office all day,” she asserts, “but they have their ingrained habits and a list of great excuses not to move.” That said, she strongly believes all is not lost and recommends making a few simple changes to improve fitness levels: “When you take a bus, get off one stop early and walk the remaining 500 metres. Set yourself small, realistic goals that you are likely to achieve--to run five kilometres or to lose four kilos in six weeks.” If the goal is too challenging, Pertl believes it will be demotivating and you’ll be less likely to succeed. “Book a sport’s activity appointment into your agenda so you are setting aside time and try to find a friend or colleague to take part with you. Always write down your results
and when you achieve a target, treat yourself to something nice.”
SIMPLE EXERCISES Busy mums and office workers clockingup extensive hours needn’t feel excluded. “Most of us can find ten minutes in a day to do a few simple exercises,” she reassures. “In homes or offices where no fitness equipment is available, do a few squats and dips for the triceps using your chair or desk for support. The ‘Plank’ and push-ups are also effective and there are plenty of instructional videos on YouTube to guide you through the process and get you started.” Pertl believes that ten minutes a day, three times a week is enough to produce results. “What’s important is that you find a sport or activity that you really like. If you don’t enjoy running, don’t force yourself to run. Find something else nearby and try to be happy. If you enjoy your wine, partake from time to time, and never feel that you are missing out on something”. This is sound advice from a highly accomplished trainer who regularly features on TV and radio. She’s currently working on an Ironman Triathlon series with RTL in which she is training two relatively unfit men to compete in this gruelling course on 18 June. It’s a piece of cake for Pertl who once ran 250 kilometres through the desert in the Marathon des Sables. “You have to be mad to do that,” she admits. Lynsey Baxter is a nutritional hypnotherapist and hypnobirthing instructor who shares Pertl’s passion for healthy living, but this wasn’t always the case. Born in New Zealand,
LYNSEY BAXTER Preparation makes eating right much simpler
she arrived in Luxembourg in 1999 under a short-term banking contract which ultimately turned permanent. “I lived the typical single life in Luxembourg, drinking three times a week, crawling into work the next day and eating chips for lunch,” she explains. While backpacking one holiday, she found herself dreaming about what she could cook in her own kitchen. “I felt so unhealthy so I stopped drinking and started paying more attention to food.” Initially she studied nutrition for her own wellbeing. “We see so many sensationalised images about what’s good for you and what’s not, that no one knows anymore. So I regularly review the studies and work it all out.” Her easy-peasy tips to improve your diet are surprisingly straight-forward: “Add more veg. We don’t eat anywhere near enough leafy greens so buy a bag of salad, wash it, dry it and put it in a zip-lock bag with a piece of kitchen paper. This prevents the salad from going off too quickly and makes it really easy to grab a handful from the fridge. Start your day with a big glass of water with squeezed lemon juice. It cleanses the
body and stimulates your stomach ready for breakfast. When eating fruit, eat a small amount of protein too--apple slices dipped in nut butter, for example, taste fantastic and Marianne Da Silva makes a great range that you can keep in your desk drawer. Eat different parts of the meat and not just the muscular areas. Skin, liver pâté and oxtail are all excellent, and remember that fat doesn’t make you fat, sugar does.” Baxter encourages us to plan ahead, to use our time productively and to “batch cook” for the coming week. “Cook up some bags of spaghetti bolognaise and curry, or rice and quinoa which are very absorbent and soak up all the flavours. And don’t forget to breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and have dinner like a pauper.”
HEALTHY TAKE-AWAYS I’m feeling healthier already, and it’s heartening to know that should it all seem just a tad too much effort, the staff at Happ restaurant in Luxembourg will prepare healthy lunches and snacks to take away. Their food and juice bags are filled
" DON’T FORGET TO BREAKFAST LIKE A KING, LUNCH LIKE A PRINCE AND HAVE DINNER LIKE A PAUPER." June 2016
with the healthiest ingredients and are designed to keep you going during the day. They come in a range of options and can be picked up on the way to work. Anna Sigurjonsdottir, owner of Happ, hails from Iceland and moved over to Luxembourg in 2009 with her family. “I had been suffering with arthritis since 2005; I couldn’t even pour a jug of milk, or hold my son without difficulty,” she laments. “My personal trainer recommended I try taking sugar and gluten out of my diet and so I went to a Spanish retreat to do just that. The results were amazing.” The pain in her hands disappeared and she felt “super-charged”, which fuelled her interest in healthy eating and her desire to learn more. “One June 2016
thing led to another and I decided to study nutrition online with the Institute of Integrative Nutrition in New York.” Together with her sisterin-law and friend, she opened Happ in Reykjavik, Iceland in 2010 and Happ in Luxembourg in March 2011--“We share a 5th anniversary with Delano!” Sigurjonsdottir admits that while she’s never really been an unhealthy eater, she still has her bad days and offers the following tips: “Try to squeeze one green juice into your day as they are really rich in vitamins. Have a light evening meal--soups are great--and take your bigger meal at lunchtime. Never go to bed on a full stomach, avoid eating in between meals and change your sweet, fizzy sodas for water. Make your breakfast really
important and prepare it the evening before if possible. Oats soaked in a small bowl of rice milk overnight are delicious served with a mix of cinnamon, berries, bananas, raisins or dried fruit on top. Each time you head to the supermarket, replace one can in your cup-board with a healthier option and step by step, you’re going to get good results.” As Pertl has already pointed out, we are not made to sit in an office all day. But that is exactly what a large percentage of us do from Monday to Friday. “Ergonomic furniture is designed to fit around the body with the intention of reducing discomfort and fatigue,” explains Max Heldenstein, native Luxembourger and head of sales at Reed and Simon.
CONNY PERTL Most people can find ten minutes in a day to do simple exercises
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“An ergonomic chair should provide a level of support to areas such as the lower back, adapting to the body and its natural movements.” But he’s quick to clarify that it can never replace a healthy lifestyle. “If you suffer from back pain, then you should visit a specialised physician and never purchase a chair without testing it first to ensure it is comfortable.”
ERGONOMIC ADVICE More and more homes and offices are taking the ergonomic route as a means of enhancing comfort, reducing health risks and increasing productivity. “Long working hours and stress certainly impact the body and soul and it’s our role to encourage people to work in an ergonomic environment,” he says. ”We spend half our life at work, and ergonomic furniture provides the tools to adapt better.” Heldenstein recommends sourcing a local furniture store with highly experienced staff. “Ask for a sales person with expertise in ergonomic furniture. Try a lot of different products and once you have found one that suits your needs, ask if you may test it for a few days.” In addition, he suggests working in a standing position for part of the day. “This is a very natural alternative to sitting and it’s quite important to be able to alternate between the two,” he advises. “Brands like Febrü have developed an ‘active’ table, the height of which can be manually or electronically adjusted to suit the requirements of the client.” Sounds just the ticket to me; up a bit, down a bit, that’s perfect. Now where the devil did I put my food bag and green juice? ANNA SIGURJONSDOTTIR Try to squeeze one green juice into your day
CONTACT DETAILS CONNY PERTL (FITNESS COACH)
MARIANNE DA SILVA (ORGANIC FOODS)
REED AND SIMON (FURNITURE)
Where: 2 rue Charles Schwall, Bertrange Info: www.fitnesscoach.lu
Where: 7 rue de Bitbourg, Luxembourg-Hamm Info: www.reedandsimon.com
LYNSEY BAXTER (NUTRITIONAL THERAPY)
HAPP (RESTAURANT & FOOD PACKAGES)
Where: 2 rue Henri VII, Luxembourg-Limbertsberg Info: www.happ.lu
Tristan und Isolde OCT 08 MOZART
Don Giovanni OCT 22 SAARIAHO
L’Amour de Loin DEC 10 VERDI
Nabucco JAN 07
Met Opera 2016-17
Roméo et Juliette JAN 21 DVORÁK
Rusalka FEV 25 VERDI
La Traviata MAR 11 MOZART
Idomeneo MAR 25 TCHAÏKOVSKI
Eugene Onegin AVR 22 STRAUSS
Der Rosenkavalier MAI 13
TARIFS: Normal 32€ • Réduit 27€ TARIFS ABONNEMENT (saison entière) : Normal 300€ • Réduit 240€
En partenariat avec :
Amuse-bouches proposés avant le début de la retransmission live
Infos et conditions: www.utopolis.lu
• • • • •
Shorter labour and birth Fewer surgical procedures Less tearing and interference Higher Apgar score An overall more positive experience
During the course, you will learn the KG Hypnobirthing method. These techniques will teach you how you can birth your baby calmly and safely, and how you and your birth partner can prepare for the arrival of your baby together.
Text by IMANE MOUSTAKIR
Luxembourg welcomes hip hop rhythm
ESTABLISHING HIP HOP AS AN ART FORM Acclaimed urban dance festival Breakin’ Convention has chosen Luxembourg to host its first foray into Europe. The international hip hop festival was originally held at the Sadler’s Wells Theatre in London. But over the weekend of Saturday 18 and Sunday 19 June, the Grand Théâtre will host shows by dance crews from all around the world. Audiences will get to see live dance performances, hear DJ demos, watch graffiti, and take part in workshops. The line-up includes acclaimed urban dancers such as Storm, Kendra, Fatal Fury, Antoinette Gomis and Next Level Squad. The organisers say that “through our worldrenowned international festivals, Breakin’ Convention seeks to position hip hop dance alongside more historically established art forms”. Info: www.breakinconvention.com
FAVELA COMPAGNIE Based in Saint-Nazaire, France, Favela Compagnie was created in 2013 by George Cordeiro aka. Ghel Nikaido, who dances with Leila Ka. The duo seeks to deconstruct already existing urban movements and to explore new areas and new aesthetics. www.favelacompagnie. com
ANTOINETTE GOMIS She is a well-known French dancer, choreographer and model. Gomis started dancing at the age of six and was firstly influenced by locking. She has won the Street Star Waacking Battle in Sweden and took part in a Madonna fashion show in New York.
IRON SKULLS CO. Formed in 2013, Iron Skulls Co. is an experimental dance company from Barcelona. The dancers of the group come from across the Iberian peninsula. The disciplines range from contemporary and hip hop dances to music production, and fashion and design. www.ironskulls. universobboy.es
BIRDGANG DANCE BirdGang Dance Company is a hip hop based dance company founded in 2005. The multi-faceted artists present a performance that combines movement, music, film and lightning. “BirdGang’s goals are not just to entertain but also to explore social issues through dance,” says the dance company on their website. www.birdgangdance. com
KENDRA Born in Luxembourg, Kendra Horsburgh (the Delano cover star last October) is a core member of the BirdGang company. She started her career at the Conservatoire de Luxembourg and then trained at the Urdang Academy in London and at Middlesex University. “I am eager to find my way of expressing what I have learnt about myself, other people and my experiences,” she says. www.kendraj.com
STORM Storm is a dancer, choreographer and specialist in b-boying, locking and popping techniques of the 80s. He toured the world with his first dancing crew in 90s. As a pioneer, he now works with dancers around the world. Storm also shares his experience in diverse conferences and education programmes.
WANG RAMIREZ Honji and Sébastien have been dancing together for several years. In August 2009, they received the Special Jury Award at Dance Delight in Osaka. The dance style of Sébastien Ramirez is known for its finesse. His dancing partner, Honji, studied ballet for 10 years in Frankfurt. www.wangramirez.com
THE RUGGEDS This Dutch crew is one of the most active b-boy groups in Europe. They were initially known as Rugged Solutions. The crew, which takes part in battles all over the world, has now got now a solid name for itself. The Ruggeds are also known for having different styles and influences. www.theruggeds.com
Inaugurated in 1964, the Grand Théâtre is the capital city’s largest capacity theatre--it should not be confused with the smaller Théâtre National de Luxembourg. Along with the Théâtre des Capucins, the Grand Théâtre makes up the two Théâtres de la Ville de Luxembourg. It was refurbished in 2002 and 2003 and is now one of the most refined venues in Europe with a technical capability to match the best in the world. Its main auditorium seats 900 and it also houses a flexible studio space.
Where: rond-point Schuman, Luxembourg-Limpertsberg Info: www.theatres.lu
The Breakin’ Convention project was initiated by Sadler’s Wells Theatre in London. The theatre’s current building, the sixth since it was founded in 1683, opened in 1998. It is a world-leading dance house, committed to bringing the best international and UK dance to London and worldwide audiences. It also commissions and produces original new work.
Where: Rosebery Avenue, Islington, London Info: www.sadlerswells.com
Belinda Lawley Paul Hampartsoumian Benjamin Champenois Derek Kendall
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Text by ALIX RASSEL
Photography by LALA LA PHOTO
Uniting volunteers for a common cause
uring the height of last summer’s European refugee crisis, the family and integration ministry, in conjunction with the Office Luxembourgeois de l’Accueil et de l’Intégration (Luxembourg foreigner integration office), approached Luxexpo with a view to renting space for the expected influx of asylum seekers entering the Grand Duchy. The facility, located in Luxexpo’s Hall 6, is one of 11 centres managed by the Luxembourg Red Cross, who have dedicated staff on site. “As a social worker, my role is to talk to people, find out their needs and how best we can help them,” explained Anne. “But above all else, I am there to provide a happy smiling face, reassurance and even dancing when needed.” She is assisted by Noemi Candelora who is responsible for coordinating the volunteers at the Luxexpo. “We have a meal service three times per day, which is managed solely by volunteers. Since I arrived at Luxexpo in December 2015, I have been responsible for finding, coordinating and training the volunteers.” The end of 2015 and beginning of 2016 was an extremely busy period for the centre and at least nine people were needed to serve the meals every day. “The meals are already prepared and brought to the site by Sodexo, but it is the volunteers’ responsibility to warm them up, serve them
and clean up afterwards. It is hard work and we are 100% reliant on volunteers. Without them, the meal service just wouldn’t be possible.” Fortunately for Noemi, many people volunteered their time to come and assist. “We have approximately 280 volunteers in our network at the moment. Some are individuals willing to give up their free time, whilst others work for organisations who have committed to help, such as the EIB, EIF, Vodafone, John Deere and KPMG.” Out of the 280 volunteers who signed up to help, Noemi estimates that approximately 20 have been continuously volunteering since the very first day. FLUCTUATING NUMBERS “A friend told me about the volunteer programme,” explained Agnieska, who started volunteering in February. “Since then I have been coming three times a week to serve meals. I don’t know exactly why I decided to volunteer; I just wanted to help.” Volunteers arrive around 45 minutes before the start of the meal service in order to prepare the trays and heat up any warm food. Meal times vary between one and two hours depending on the number of refugees at the hall. “We currently have 28 people staying in the hall,” says Noemi. “However, at one point the number was around 300. As the weather improves we expect that more
people may arrive; it really fluctuates on a daily basis and you can never anticipate the number.” Noemi has started to organise additional activities for the residents of Hall 6, including painting mandalas and excursions to the theatre and exercise classes. “Last week, with the help of volunteers, I organised a trip to a box fit class which people told me they really enjoyed.” Noemi hopes that with the assistance of the volunteer network, there will be the opportunity to arrange more events. “I started a newsletter and a Facebook page--The People of Hall 6--as a forum for volunteers, so they know what is happening. I hope to make a community for volunteers, where we unite people for a common cause.”
IT IS HARD WORK AND WE ARE 100% RELIANT ON VOLUNTEERS." NOEMI CANDELORA
CLUBFOTO LUXEMBOURG Share “tips, tricks and ideas” with other photographers and brainstorm on shoot locations. 7 June, 7:30 p.m. Info: www.meetup.com
COMHALTAS LUXEMBOURG Traditional Irish “music, song & dance show” that takes the audience on a virtual tour of Ireland. 9 June, 7:30 p.m. Book: www.luxembourg-ticket.lu
LUXEMBOURG SCOTTISH COUNTRY DANCE CLUB Learn some steps at the Spring Social (10 June) and Spring Ball (11 June). Info: www.scottishdancing.lu
INTERNATIONS LUXEMBOURG HIKING GROUP The expat club heads out for a 6km, 12km or 20km nature walk. 12 June. Connect: www.internations.org
INFORMATION CONTACT AND IDEAS For further details on how to volunteer at the Luxexpo contact firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the site’s Facebook page (search for “The People of Hall 6”). Ideas for excursions/activities and ticket donations are always welcome and Noemi can be emailed directly.
5 THINGS YOU NEED AS A VOLUNTEER • Commitment • Open mind • Positive attitude • Motivation • Respect
CAR BOOT SALE
STRASSEN CORPORATE RUN Sign up or support employees of 31 organisations as they complete a teambuilding relay race. 16 June. Info: www.strassencorporaterun.net
BRITISH LADIES CLUB Head to the Glacis for this annual charity flea market. You’ll probably run into someone you know. 18 June. Info: www.blc.lu
IRISH CLUB OF LUXEMBOURG Champagne reception, 4 course meal with wine, tombola, dance to DJ Paul Simpson until 3 a.m. 18 June. Book: email@example.com
DEMOCRATS ABROAD US residents living in Luxembourg can visit the “voter registration tent” on the Grand-Rue. 22 June. Info: www.democratsabroad.org June 2016
Kristina D.C. Hoeppner (CC BY-SA 2.0) Masako T (CC BY-ND 2.0) Erik Fitzpatrick (CC BY 2.0) Tristan Schmurr (CC BY 2.0) kei51 (CC BY 2.0) Steve Eastwood (archives) Sam Howzit (CC BY 2.0)
DONATIONS If you would like to donate money to the Red Cross’ “Fonds de Solidarité”, visit the website or call the helpline on 27 55. Info: www.croix-rouge.lu
IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Text by DUNCAN ROBERTS
Hits from the north
3rd annual Nordic Film s is represented at thefive films from Denmark , trie un co c rdi No the of Each of an eclec tic programme Festival, which features and Sweden . Finland, Iceland, Norway
DANISH SPORTS DRAMA “SOMMEREN ‘92”
Festival guide When: Friday 3 to Tuesday 7 June Where: Ciné Utopia, avenue de la Faïencerie, Luxembourg-Limpertsberg
© Prenom Nom
Where: Cinémathèque, place du Théâtre, Luxembourg-Centre AUDIENCE PRIZE
Audiences will get to vote for their favourite film at the festival, with one lucky participant in the vote winning a return flight with Luxair to Copenhagen or Stockholm. TICKETS
ordic film has a reputation for the quirky and awkward, for reflecting the intellectual, reticent, sceptical and stoic characteristics of its writers and directors. Giants of Nordic film Ingmar Bergman, Aki Kaurismäki and Lars von Trier have made some of the finest films of the last 50 years, but a new generation of talents is emerging to deliver fresh films that may be more accessible to non-Nordic audiences. The five films selected for the Nordic Film Festival, all except one with English subtitles, showcase the new flair. The festival opens with a good old fashioned sports drama based on the real events that led to the Danish national football team winning the European Championships in 1992. Topical ahead of the 2016 tournament, Kasper Barfoed’s Sommeren ‘92 traces the story of the team whose players were on holiday when they got the call up to the tournament to replace the Yugoslavians, barred from participating under United Nations sanctions. It is a feel-good comic drama that will appeal to non-football fans as much as to followers of the game. June 2016
Icelandic box office hit Hrútar--the only film in the festival that has already screened in Luxembourg--has received critical acclaimed around the world for what The Guardian called director Grímur Hákonarson’s “perfectly pitched tale” of two sheep farming brothers who haven’t spoken for 40 years but are forced to join forces when a case of scrapie threatens their flocks. Disaster on a grander scale threatens in Norwegian adventure thriller Bølgen, set in a fjord town under constant watch for a potential tsunami wave that would wipe it out. Hannes Holm’s Swedish drama En man som heter Ove, on the other hand, is a comic drama based on Frederik Backman’s best-selling novel. The curmudgeonly Ove is described a “the bitter neighbour from hell” whose life changes when a young family moves in next door. The festival returns to its sports theme for final film Miekkailija, a Finnish drama about a young Estonian fencer fleeing the Russian secret police who takes up a position as a physical education teacher in a vain attempt to escape his past.
Single screenings: €8.80 from cinema box office (cash only) Info: www.nordicfilmfestival.lu
Season ticket for all five films: €25 only from film festival website
Text by STEPHEN EVANS
Photography by MIKE ZENARI
s n a m o R What did the do for us? Although the 999 square miles now occupied by the Grand Duchy didn’t play a major role in the Roman Empire, there are several interesting remnants. So when you’re out for a drive or a walk this summer, why not take a detour into this country’s ancient history?
ccording to Matthias Paulke, chargé de mission at Luxembourg’s National Archaeological Research Centre (CNRA), “Trier was one of the most important cities in the Roman Empire and inevitably this had an impact, but otherwise this area was something of a backwater.” Trier was capital of the empire’s northern territories, and where Luxembourg is now was largely a staging point on the Roman roads to Reims and Boulogne to the west, and Metz and Lyon to the south. Humans have been living in this part of the world for over 35,000 years. We started calling the area “Gaul” and the people who lived here “Celts” from about around 600 years before the common era (BCE). Julius Caesar waged a successful war against the Celts of Gaul, which ended in domination and genocide after 50 BCE. The so-called Treveri Celtic tribe (who inhabited what we now call Luxembourg) were subdued as part of this campaign. Augusta Treverorum (Trier) was founded in 16 BCE, with “Luxembourg” being more firmly incorporated to the empire in the first decades of the 1st century CE. In 293 CE, Trier became the provincial capital of Belgic Gaul: an administrative unit which ran from the North Sea to the Alps, bounded by the Moselle to the east and modern day Paris to the west. “The level of violence was much lower in this region than in other parts of Gaul, as the Celtic leaders here chose to acquiesce to the advancing Romans,” explains Paulke (seen here at the Bech-Kleinmacher site). Jumping ship enabled these local chieftains to retain much of their power and status, but under the umbrella of the Roman Empire. There are records of two revolts by the Treveri in the 1st century CE, but in general cordial relations were maintained with Rome until they withdrew in the early 400s. Throughout, this area continued with its largely agricultural way of life. Although the June 2016
relative peace allowed the region to expand economically, as witnessed by the rise of imports. Paulke says some funeral monuments and a well preserved wine press stone in Bech-Kleinmacher show that wine growing existed in Luxembourg from this time.
SITES TO SEE Trier is the best place to experience this GalloRoman heritage, with the highest quality examples locally of that civilisation on display there. As well as impressive permanent collections around the town (see www.trierinfo.de for details), this year sees a major exhibition on the Emperor Nero at the Landesmuseum (www.landesmuseum-trier.de). Luxembourg can’t really compete with this, but there are still some very interesting things to see. The National History and Art Museum (MNHA) is pleasant place to spend a few hours, it has some choice exhibits, and has English-language guidebooks. The highlight is the spectacular Vichten mosaic. The Echternach Villa has been extensively excavated and renovated, the Dalheim Vicus was the largest settlement and the remains are more untouched, and if you fancy a walk in the vines, why not take in the impressively situated Bech-Kleinmacher grave temple. You can also see how our ancestors made building materials at the Mamer brick kiln. One of the more intriguing Roman sites features underground water channels running from the hills above Walferdange. They were used to supply water to the patricians living in the villas in the valley floor. There is not so much to see, but enjoy a walk in the woods spiced with a flavour of Roman civilisation. Similarly, on the other
side of the Alzette valley in Steinsel, take a few minutes out of your forest walk to view the excavated, renovated ruins of the temple to the Roman god Cerunincus. “In the last three decades of the third century, the region saw increasing numbers of pillaging, destructive raids by Germanic tribes living outside the Empire across the Rhine,” noted Paulke. Luxembourg is only 150km, or five days’ walk, from the zone then populated by the so-called Barbarians. This obliged Gallo-Roman nobility to take more defensive measures and live in more fortified areas in villages, away from open villas. This strife was linked to the so-called Germanic Wars featuring a series of wars and battles fought around this boundary until the Roman Empire fell. However it wasn’t until the 400s that a sustained incursion by the Germanic tribes ended Roman dominion in Gaul. A semi-mythical explanation is the freezing of the Rhine river in 406/407, allowing the Germans to swarm across in sufficient numbers to permanently undermine Roman defences. Specifically, this region was over run by Franks. Details of this period are very unclear as this relatively uncivilised people left few archaeological remains from this period. For example, few coins or ceramics have been found and there is no trace of their wooden buildings. This was to change in later centuries, not least when these territories became part of the selfproclaimed Holy Roman Empire in 800. One remnant of the time is Luxembourgish, known to linguists as a “Moselle Franconian” language.
" CELTIC LEADERS HERE CHOSE TO ACQUIESCE TO THE ADVANCING ROMANS." MATTHIAS PAULKE
ROMAN SITES TO VISIT MNHA Marché-aux-Poissons Luxembourg-Centre
GRAVE TEMPLE Go to the intersection of route du Vin and rue des Caves in Bech-Kleinmacher and explore.
LAYOUT B DALHEIM VICUS Rue Neie Wee, Dalheim
MAMER BRICK KILN Rue Hiereknapp, Capellen
Info: Search online for “Réimeschen Zillenuewen” UNDERGROUND WATER CHANNEL Walferdange
Info: www.sitwalfer.lu TEMPLE RUINS TO THE GOD CERUNINCUS Drive or walk to Montée Haute, Steinsel and explore on foot. DIEKIRCH HISTORY MUSEUM 13 rue du Curé, Diekirch
ECHTERNACH VILLA Rue des Romains Near Echternach lake
FOOD & DRINKS
Text by DUNCAN ROBERTS
CEREAL LOVERS A new company is riding the trend for cereals. Cereal Lovers delivers five flavours of “crispy, crunchy and delicious” muesli mixes in eco-friendly packaging and made from organic produce at its small atelier in Luxembourg. Info: www.cereallovers.lu
The Ramborn fairytale continues apace as the cider company quadruples production and becomes a model for the circular economy.
ust over a year since it was publicly launched, Ramborn has taken cider producing in Luxembourg to a new level. Now branded Ramborn Cider Co., the firm managed to quadruple production last year thanks to an unusually high and good quality harvest. But that was not down to sheer luck. Ramborn has been working with local farmers to reinvigorate old apple growing traditions, says one of the company’s founders, Carlo Hein. It has even managed to add several new apple varieties to its stock. The growth has allowed the company to take on six employees and, now that the communes of Mompach and Rosport have voted in favour of a fusion, it has access to what is effectively the largest orchard in Luxembourg. Ramborn takes its responsibilities for the orchards seriously. It has conducted an analysis of the state of apple trees in the region and is working with the forestry service to plan future developments in the nurturing of orchards. What’s more, Ramborn June 2016
now says it is a model of the circular economy. Apples that have been pressed are sent to the biogas facility in Mullerthal and the company’s soft rebranding also includes a packaging redesign, with its ciders now available in new recyclable 0.33l bottles and new handy boxes of three or six and deposit cases of 12 bottles. "MADE IN LUXEMBOURG" It also carries the “Made in Luxembourg” label, even though the cider is currently still bottled in the UK. But Ramborn has invested in a new press and hopes that in 2017 it will be able to carry out the whole production process in the Grand Duchy. Ramborn produces three types of cider--the refreshing, golden CM Blend, the Somerset Blend which is a mix of Luxembourg and English cider, and the Ramborn Farmhouse, which is a traditional dry Luxembourg cider. Plans are also afoot to launch a pear cider--perry--this summer. The cider is available in selected supermarkets and specialist retailers as well as at a number of bars and cafés including Urban, Bouneweger Stuff and the Buvette at Rotondes.
TAPAS IN REMICH A new Spanish venue is always something to get excited about, especially when customers rave about authenticity and the best sangria in the Grand Duchy. A variety of tapas as well as dishes such as paella. Where: Tapas Bar, 49 rue de Macher, Remich Info: www.tapasbar.lu
NJÖRD AT MUSEUM
Scandinavian delicatessen Njörd has set up a third outlet, in the National Museum of Art and History, to complement its Kirchberg and Hamm stores. Smørrebrøds, coffee and cakes and craft beers and much more. Where: Njörd, MNHA, Marché-aux-Poissons, Luxembourg-Centre Info: www.njordfood.com
Ramborn Cider Co. > Cereal Lovers > Anna Katina > Pulsa Pictures
Cider p steps u
LUXEMBOURG CIDER: WWW.RAMBORN.COM
buy well eat well
Text by IMANE MOUSTAKIR
Photography by SVEN BECKER
A festivale to explor nature event has grown This annual ecological tor y. over its two-decade his
his year’s Fête de la Nature (Festival of Nature) takes place over the weekend of 18-19 June--two days instead of one, thanks to its growing popularity, say the event’s organisers, the NGO natur&ëmwelt (nature & environment). “This year, the festival is hosting 60 stands,” says François Benoy (pictured, left), in charge of communication for the group. “The exhibitors are here to provide information and to sell their products.” The Festival of Nature has been held in Luxembourg for 20 years. Visitors can learn about nature, ecology, artisanal products and plants. The festival will take place at the Haus vun der Natur (House of Nature) in Kockelscheuer. “Here we have a farm, animals and a lot of space to host this important event,” Benoy explains. To make sure the event meets visitors’ expectations, natur&ëmwelt is demanding when it comes to choosing the exhibitors. “They have to conform to a certain standard,” says Roby Biwer, the NGO’s president (pictured, right). “For instance, plant sellers can not use pesticides.” In addition to selling artisanal products and kit like binoculars, the festival organises multiple activities. Like every year, a theme is chosen. Last year, it was the potential extinction of bees. “For this edition, we will have activities about upcycling,” says Benoy. “We hear a lot more about recycling, but upcycling is about creating something out of waste.”
"WE COUNT ON THE YOUTH" “This festival is an opportunity for us to promote our ideas,” Biwer tells Delano. “We want people to know more about what we are working on: the environment’s protection, managing biotopes and environmental management.” Last year, 3,250 people attended the Festival of Nature, which took place on a Sunday. “This time, we hope to welcome around 5,000 persons if the weather is good June 2016
"WE SHOULD RAISE AWARENESS AMONG THE NEXT GENERATION." ROBY BIWER
enough,” says Benoy. In his view, the event is an important date for many residents of the Grand Duchy. And like for any event, natur&ëmwelt has a target audience. “Young parents come to see the festival more and more. We count on the youth. We should raise awareness among the next generation,” Biwer argues. And to do that, the group is pretty active on social media. Benoy adds that an increasing number of festival attendees come from Luxembourg’s international community. “There are 60 stands, so they wouldn’t normally have a problem with language.”
HOW TO GET THERE Address: 5 route du Luxembourg, Luxembourg-Kockelscheuer By bike: using the city centre’s PC1 bicycle path By bus: take the number 18 to the Kockelscheuer stop By car: park at the Kockelscheuer sports complex
SOCIAL MEDIA The organisation posts pictures, updates, event announcements and ecological news on its Facebook and Twitter feeds. Info: search for “natur&ëmwelt” on Facebook Info: @Natur_an_Emwelt on Twitter
NATURE IN ENGLISH To connect with the international community, the green group created an English-speaking section. Info: www.eventbrite.com (search for “natur&ëmwelt English-speaking section”)
ABOUT THE NGO With around 12,000 members in the Grand Duchy and Greater Region, natur&ëmwelt aims “to protect biodiversity” and runs several nature reserves and restoration programmes. Info: www.naturemwelt.lu
natur&ëmwelt Maison Moderne
IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Text by DUNCAN ROBERTS
Photography by JULIEN BECKER
r o f r o t a b u c n i n A s t c e j o r p e r t a e new th es place over ten develop, TalentLAB tak local authors being s ist art e atr the g un yo A new platform to help two developing English-language projec ts by days in June. It includes ances. given workshop perform
hen Tom Leick applied to take over as director of the Théâtres de la Ville de Luxembourg from the highly respected Frank Feitler, one of the cornerstones of his pitch was that he wanted the theatres to help develop young talent. “With this job I have a responsibility to give something back to the people who work in the sector,” he says. The first step to fulfilling that ambition is about to see the light of day with the inaugural edition of TalentLAB, a ten-day programme that allows young artists to workshop ideas, attend masterclasses and watch performances. “It stemmed from the realisation that you cannot just commission a new play and expect delivery and to produce it. If you work with young talent there is a need to guide and support them, because they are trying something new.” Leick talked with Myriam Muller, the actress-director who had just taken over the reigns as artistic director at the Théâtre du Centaure. “We wanted to create a platform, which would really be an incubator for projects that are just an idea.” Muller also had projects that were interesting for her theatre, but that had not yet been developed enough. A teacher at the Conservatoire, she also realised that the professionalisation of the Luxembourg theatre scene was not giving young talent the chance to make mistakes, to learn the ropes as they developed a career. “It’s really easy to land a first role in Luxembourg. Young actors are thrown into the spotlight too quickly,” Muller explains.
DEVELOP AN IDENTITY Leick says he also saw the project as an opportunity to develop the identity of the Théâtre des Capucins, which is sometimes neglected as a venue in the shadow of its big sister in Limpertsberg, the Grand Théâtre. “The Capucins is close to the Centaure and both venues have a tradition of producing their own work and supporting young artists.” Indeed, Leick started his career as an actor at the Capucins. He wants it to be a producing house that stages contemporary work--“theatre of today that really matters now”. But Leick acknowledges that it takes time to develop a new identity and theatre involving experimental different skills and techniques such as documentary and cross-over disciplines. The TalentLAB programme gives four young artists, chosen by an international jury, an opportJune 2016
unity to develop a project under the guidance of experienced mentors. These include Douglas Rintoul--who has worked in Luxembourg on numerous occasions--and Alexander Zeldin from the Birmingham Repertory Theatre, who will also present his devised piece Beyond Caring at the festival. They and other guest artists will also deliver workshops and participate in panel discussions during TalentLAB. “So it is this idea of coming together, not just young people but also older people in the sector, to learn from people with experience from abroad,” says Muller. “Because our generation is sort of the first to be professional theatre artists in Luxembourg, but we still need to learn.” The fact that the city theatres and the Centaure are working together on the project is also significant, says Muller. “It is important that we see ourselves as a sector, to show interest and not to just say ‘I have my theatre and you have your theatre’.” Leick thinks the theatre scene in Luxembourg has changed dramatically over the last 15 years or so, saying that things he was seeing in London have now started to happen in the Grand Duchy. He also sees TalentLAB as a statement to encourage more and more experimentation. “It is important to create a pool that will bind people together. Maybe those who have gone through TalentLAB will later become mentors themselves.” The jury had a tough time choosing the projects that would be developed during TalentLAB. Some 20 new works were submitted to the panel. Many had a strong link to current affairs. “It was close. I was encouraged by the quality. I thought, yes we are onto something,” says Leick. Two of the four projects chosen for mentorship are English-language pieces. But they stem from the imagination of two Luxembourgers,
TOM LEICK AND MYRIAM MULLER Responsibility to give something back
IT IS IMPORTANT TO CREATE A POOL THAT WILL BIND PEOPLE TOGETHER." TOM LEICK
IN THE SPOTLIGHT
LARISA FABER AND CLAIRE THILL Seizing TalentLAB opportunity
Claire Thill and Larisa Faber. Thill did part of her training as an actress at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama in London and continues to spend time in the British capital as well as working in Luxembourg, France, Germany and Belgium. The idea for her piece, Two Pigeons Perching on a Bench, has been in gestation for some time. The concept is to explore surveillance, eavesdropping and gossip, and how stories are constructed through the medium of sound. Thill approached a musician friend, Sam Reinard, who was interested in the same subjects. They will share the stage as they investigate sound. “We started playing around with different ideas, and I thought it would be great to transform it into something bigger.” The call for projects from TalentLAB was timely, and after some hesitation--not sure whether she fulfilled the criteria of emerging talent--Thill applied. “It is a very topical subject. In the western world at least surveillance is sneaky, in a way. Every move you make on the internet is used to build a profile of you, for commercial reasons… but, who knows. Your data becomes currency.” Thill hopes she can ultimately develop the work into a full length piece after the TalentLAB workshops. Larisa Faber has become a familiar face to Luxembourg theatre goers, including audiences at English-language productions such as June 2016
2014’s it felt empty when the heart went at first but it is alright now in Hamilius and the more recent Zac Braff play All New People. Now she teams up with British-based Speaking In Tongues company, which she runs alongside Bethan Clark and Ceridwen Smith, to develop a show called Mad City. Subtitled “a cacophony in movement,” the piece was developed specifically for TalentLAB. “We thought it was a really good opportunity, because as a company we were more text based looking at contemporary European writing. But we have started to move in different directions and slowly got into devising, picking themes that really speak to us and that we can shape with the tools we find appealing.” That includes using movement to explore aspects of big city life in London, where the trio first met, such as travelling on the Tube and sharing a flat with strangers. They will also record material in advance and shape that into the working process. As an admirer of the Complicité theatre company, Faber is looking forward to working with mentor Douglas Rintoul, who has experience in using such material. “As a company, it’s also beneficial to be mentored by somebody who knows what it’s like to manage a company with a European outlook.”
TALENTLAB When: from 10 to 19 June KEY DATES WEDNESDAY 15 JUNE
TalentLAB#Dance: Simone Mousset’s Super Ok & Jill Crovisier’s The hidden garden at Grand Théâtre THURSDAY 16 JUNE
Beyond Caring by Alexander Zeldin, devised piece at Grand Théâtre FRIDAY 17 JUNE
Scratch performances of the four selected workshop projects at Théâtre des Capucins
Where: Théâtre des Capucins, place du Théâtre, Luxembourg-Centre, Théâtre du Centaure, 4 Grand-Rue, LuxembourgCentre & Grand Théâtre, rond-point Schuman, Luxembourg-Limpertsberg Info: www.theatres.lu www.theatrecentaure.lu
C CL E
T IC & ALT
EM ATIV USIC N R
E N G L I S H NE
, CHAT & MU
IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Text by DUNCAN ROBERTS
rs Music makeP l i h e h t t a t e e m
the fresh livers a balanced mix of w programmes, de ie on arm ilh Ph the ne at artists as well as The 2016-2017 season ous works and returning and familiar, featuring famon of compelling curiosities . rising stars and a collecti
o fewer than four artists in residence will grace the Philharmonie next season-acclaimed conductor Valery Gergiev, violinist Janine Jensen, pianist Stefano Bollani and the versatile Jean-François Zygel, who will once again be presenting the popular “Dating” series of concerts. Dutch violinist Janine Jensen has been hailed by critics and peers alike as one of the most exciting talents on the concert circuit. The music director of the Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg, Gustavo Gimeno, has said: “When she plays, you understand music straight away.” Jensen will be performing Alban Berg’s violin concerto, dedicated “To the memory of an angel” with the OPL, and will also tour with the orchestra. Then, in March 2017 she will play Sibelius’s concerto for violin and orchestra with the NHK Symphony, and audiences will also have an opportunity to see her in the chamber music hall in February. Gergiev will be conducting the OPL for the first time during his residency, but will also take up the baton when the Münchener Philharmoniker comes to the venue. Gergiev will also conduct his own Orchestra of the Marinsky Theatre in two concerts featuring the works of Sergey Prokofiev, whose 125th anniversary is celebrated in 2016. One of these concerts, featuring Prokofiev’s 3rd and 6th symphonies, is part of the “grands chefs” season that also includes visits by Daniele Gatti with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and Sir Simon Rattle with the London Symphony Orchestra.
NEW THEMES The dividing of the season into themes is one of the beauties of the Philharmonie programme, allowing music lovers to book a series of concerts in advance, grabbing the best seats before the general sale which starts just one month prior to an event. Three new thematic programmes have been devised for the 2016-17 season. “L’heure de pointe” features three “rush hour” concerts by the OPL--in October, March and April--that start at 7 p.m. and allow the audience to meet conductor Gustavo Gimeno and members of the orchestra over drinks and food in the foyer after each performance. The programmes feature a number of popular works
IN SITU A. Charismatic violinist Janine Jansen is one of four artists in residence at the Phil next season B. Conductor Gustavo Gimeno marks his second season as music director of the Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg
JAZZ, CINEMA AND THE CURIOSITIES Away from the classical music, “Jazz Club” is a new programme of six concerts and one “bonus concert” featuring acclaimed musicians such as American pianists Fred Hersch (with his trio) and Vijay Iyer playing with trumpeter Wadada Leo
Smith, whom he has described as his “hero, friend and teacher”. More familiar jazz names performing in the traditional “Jazz & beyond” programme include Wayne Shorter, Branford Marsalis and Chick Corea as well as artist in residence Stefano Bollani with his Danish Trio and special guest trumpeter Enrico Rava. The world music programme also promises some great performances from the likes of Fado singer António Zambujo, Cape Verdean singer Mayra Andrade and Irish-American folk supergroup The Gloaming. More unusual events next season include a series of highly anticipated live cinema concerts including three films that all too rarely receive a public screening--Fritz Lang’s Siegfried, John Ford’s 3 Bad Men and Josef von Sternberg’s The Salvation Hunters. In addition, the OPL and the Rundfunkchor Köln join forces for what promises to be a spectacular performance to accompany Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. The amazing Vegetable Orchestra also returns to the venue for a concert in May 2017 using everything from cucumbers to pumpkins as their instruments. And another returnee is John Malkovich, who performs a piece conceived by his regular creative partner Michael Sturminger titled Call Me God, alongside acclaimed organist Martin Haselböck.
USEFUL INFO OFFICIAL NAME Établissement public Salle de concerts Grande-Duchesse Joséphine-Charlotte NEW SEASON 13 September 2016 to 21 June 2017 VENUE ADDRESS Philharmonie Place de l’Europe, Luxembourg-Kirchberg Tel: 2632 2632 WEBSITE www.philharmonie.lu
Anne Dokter � Marco Borggreve
such as Stravinsky’s The Rites of Spring, Ravel’s Daphnis and Chloé and Brahms’ second symphony. A series of four chamber music evenings is also new to the programme. The “soirées” feature some of the acclaimed soloists, such as flautist Emmanuel Pahud and violinist Christian Tetzlaff, who usually perform in the Phil’s main concert hall. So these concerts are a chance to catch virtuosos, including artist in residence Janine Jansen, in a more intimate setting. The chamber music hall is also the venue for the European Concert Hall Organisation’s Rising Stars programme. This offers young musicians, nominated by a member venue, an opportunity to perform at some of Europe’s great concert halls as well as giving audiences a chance to hear the stars of tomorrow, including pianist Christopher Park, violinist Mariam Batsashvili, the Armida Quartett and clarinettist Horacio Ferreira.
Text by DUNCAN ROBERTS
14 shows you must see
PARADISE BANGKOK… Thai twist Born out of the legendary Paradise Bangkok sessions run by DJs Maft Sai and Chris Menist in Thailand, The Paradise Bangkok Molam International Band play vintage Molam music from Isan, in the northeast of Thailand, with a 21st century twist. Their music features trancelike qualities and plenty of driving grooves to get audiences dancing. Where: Rotondes, Luxembourg-Bonnevoie When: 15 June Tickets: www.rotondes.lu June 2016
LEONADIS KAVAKOS Concerto Acclaimed Greek violinist Leonadis Kavakos performs Brahms’ violin concerto with the OPL conducted by Gustavo Gimeno. The great violinist Joseph Joachim said that Brahms’ concerto vied with Beethoven’s for seriousness. Also on the programme is Anton Bruckner’s Symphony no.1. The concert is being recorded for broadcast later by 100,7 FM. Where: Philharmonie, Luxembourg-Kirchberg When: 2 June Tickets: www.philharmonie.lu
SPAIN Early preview The songwriting vehicle for veteran musician Josh Haden has been going since 1993. Some have labelled the band “slowcore progenitors,” which certainly fits the mood of lead track from new album Carolina, released in early June. Kitty Empire said that Haden “broods with velvety restraint,” an apt description that promises to be a beautifully intimate gig. Where: Bar National, Luxembourg-Merl When: 7 June Tickets: Bar National on Facebook
AVENTURE ROMA-MILANO Italian journey Edicson Ruiz, the Berlin Philharmonic’s double bass virtuoso, performs with the OPL and Gustavo Gimeno a programme of Italian music including the symphony from Verdi’s Nabucco, Puccini’s Crisantemi, Luciano Berio’s Quatre dédicaces, Nino Rota’s Divertimento concertante and Respighi’s Pini di Roma. The evening also includes a star accordionist from Tuscany. Where: Philharmonie, Luxembourg-Kirchberg When: 10 June Tickets: www.philharmonie.lu
BECK No longer a loser Revered by fans and critics alike, Beck first emerged in the wake of grunge and just as alternative rock went mainstream. He has become revered for his laid back, lo-fi attitude and openness to different influences. After a period of inconsistency, he is now back with universally praised album Morning Phase, which won the 2015 “album of the year” Grammy. Where: Rockhal, Esch-Belval When: 15 June Tickets: www.atelier.lu
BEN HUR LIVE Copeland score None other than former Police drummer Stewart Copeland turns up at the Philharmonie to play his score to Fred Niblo’s 1925 silent epic Ben Hur. He is joined by with the Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg conducted by Richard Kaufman. Copeland is no stranger to writing scores--among his credits are the films Rumble Fish and Wall Street. Where: Philharmonie, Luxembourg-Kirchberg When: 16 June Tickets: www.philharmonie.lu
BADBADNOTGOOD Virtuosity A trio from Canada now joined by Leland Whitty on saxophone, BadBadNotGood have earned a reputation by marrying jazz virtuosity and hip hop source material to great effect. Championed by hip-hop artist Tyler, The Creator, the band have released three albums and have worked with Frank Ocean and Ghostface Killa (on last year’s Sour Soul album). Where: Rotondes, Luxembourg-Bonnevoie When: 21 June Tickets: www.rotondes.lu
Marco Borggreve > Miriam Brummel > Ravi Deepres
rg rly summer in Luxembou Music dominates the eas and a string of stirring soloists with a slew of hip artist t dance and live cinema also provide at the Philharmonie. Bu e the holidays. unmissable shows befor
WAYNE MCGREGOR Thrilling flights Contemporary choreographer Wayne McGregor brings ten dancers to perform Atomos, a work described as “sculptural, rigorous, jarring and hauntingly beautiful”. Working with neoclassical ambient composers A Winged Victory for the Sullen and cutting-edge technology, McGregor delivers what The Observer calls “thrilling flights of grandeur and lyricism”. Where: Grand Théâtre, Luxembourg-Limpertsberg When: 24 & 25 June Tickets: www.theatres.lu
THE KILLS Sizzling performers Hard to believe The Kills have been around for 15 years or so, but here they are about to release their fifth album and play the Rockhal. Ash & Ice has been preceded by single “Doing It To Death,” which has been acclaimed by fans as a return to the sort of indie rock Alison Mosshart and Jamie Hince do best. Expect a sizzling performance. Where: Rockhal, Esch-Belval When: 29 June Tickets: www.rockhal.lu
ROCK-A-FIELD Festival favourites For a change, the headliners may be the best things about this year’s festival. German stadium funsters Deichkind (photo) are just the ticket to top the bill on Saturday, while the brilliant Pixies provide a fitting climax on Sunday. Apart from that, Parov Stelar’s electro swing, Tyler, The Creator’s hip-hop stylings and a DJ set by Vitalic look like the best bet. Where: Festival site, Roeser When: 9 & 10 July Tickets: www.rockafield.lu
IGGY POP Irrepressible icon The man born James Osterberg turned 69 this year, but he retains much of the energy that he brought to his stage performances with The Stooges back in the late 1960s and early 1970s. He has just released his latest album, his 17th solo album, Post Pop Depression, produced by Josh Homme. This is a chance to catch an iconic performer in a beautiful setting. Where: neimënster When: 11 July Tickets: www.atelier.lu
SASHA WALTZ Playfully mature Labelled a masterpiece, Sasha Waltz’s Körper features 13 dancers examining different aspects of the human body. A solemn and minimal piece by the German choreographer, inspired by the Jewish Museum in Berlin, Körper has been described as “mature without being cumbersome, playful without frill, conceptually mindblowing and intellectually demanding”. Where: Grand Théâtre, Luxembourg-Limpertsberg When: 29 & 30 June Tickets: www.theatres.lu
MARTIN ELMQUIST Anniversary concert The Luxembourg Philharmonia (not to be confused with the Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg) performs with violin soloist Ui-Youn Hong to mark the 20th anniversary of Danish conductor Martin Elmquist at the orchestra’s helm. The programme features Strauss’ overture to The Gypsy Baron, Sibeluis’ violin concerto in D minor and Shostakovich’s fifth symphony. Where: Philharmonie, Luxembourg-Kirchberg When: 9 July Tickets: www.philharmonie.lu
MAC DEMARCO Skilled songwriter Singer-songwriter Mac Demarco describes his music as “jizz jazz,” though others have labelled him part of the “slacker rock” genre. The Canadian multi-instrumentalist is undoubtedly a skilled songwriter who can at times be naif romantic, melancholic poet and wild rock’n’roll casualty. In the three years since he played Exit07, Demarco has won over new fans and now comes to Luxembourg after shows at Glastonbury and London’s Electric Ballroom. Where: Rockhal, Esch-Belval When: 13 July Tickets: www.rockhal.lu June 2016
Text by WENDY WINN
Photography by SVEN BECKER
Gotta dance! THE ART OF THE ORDINARY Draussen und Drinnen (outside and inside) at neimënster is a concert of sounds we often ignore. Street noises, honking horns, barking dogs, distant conversations. 5 June at 6 p.m. Info: www.neimenster.lu MUTE AND MAGICAL Le Cirque Poussière (the dust circus) is a wordless, surreal and charming performance for kids 8 years old and up at the Rotondes, 9 through 11 June. Info: www.rotondes.lu THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOME Doheem as et am Scheinsten, but you’ll have to leave home to see this musical for kids, which is on at the Philharmonie, at 10:30 a.m., 2 and 4:30 p.m. on 12 June. Info: www.philharmonie.lu
If your teens say they don’t like dance, remind them that they didn’t like vegetables either, and now they’re sucking down green smoothies like there’s no tomorrow. Maybe they just need a little more exposure to dance.
here’s nothing to lose at the 3 du Trois event at Studio Trois C-L (www.danse.lu) on 3 June, because there’s no entrance fee--but the experience could be priceless. The audience is asked to pay an exit price though, based on what they think of the show. Essência at neimënster (www.neimenster.lu) on 9 June celebrates choreographer Moa Nunes’ love for both Brazil and Luxembourg. The following evening, on 10 June, the Compania Sharon Fridman’s Free Fall performance at the Grand Théâtre (www.theatres.lu) blends Israeli folklore, contemporary dance and classic ballet. The 3 p.m. timing and the location on the place June 2016
Guillaume II makes the Intra-Urban Youth Festival (photo) on 18 June more accessible for younger kids (www.vdl.lu). Dance groups from the Greater Region will be presenting their latest works in a non-competitive festival that celebrates a diversity of styles. The festival closes with a performance from one of the acts at this year’s Breakin’ Convention (see page 76). If your older teens have been dancing a while, they might like Anu Sistonen’s workshop for medium to advanced dancers, who are invited to interpret sequences and express their individuality (www.danse.lu). Here’s something most teens excel at! The workshop continues through 27 June. No experience is needed, however, for Nathalie Fontana’s Mind Dance workshop (www.danse.lu). Fontana teaches more than dance--she teaches self-confidence, stress management, social interaction, body awareness, non-verbal communication and overcoming difficulties.
CATCH THE DRUMBLEBEE BUZZ Drumblebee, a very upbeat rhythmic musical for kids, will be staged at 5 p.m. at the Philharmonie, on 18 and 19 June. Buzz on over there! Info: www.philharmonie.lu TRIER OLD CITY FESTIVAL A big party for young and old alike, this celebration in the old part of Germany’s oldest city takes place from 24 to 26 June. Info: www.trier-info.de
Discover the new Archiduc now on newsstands. www.maisonmoderne.com
Text by MARINA LAI
Photography by MIKE ZENARI
Teen hangouts MY FAVOURITES
Born and raised in an , Luxembourg, half-Germr be Glo iva Sh h half-Scottis onal studies at the Internati king four ea Sp rg. School of Luxembou multi-talented languages fluently, this e to watch . teenager is definitely onshe already She may be young but dying sports has her sights set on stuher free time, medicine in Scotland. Inys basketball, the fifteen-year-old plaful and charmpiano and sings . Youth ourful and ing, Shiva might lead a col ds time to busy life but she still finteenager. just hang out and be a s on what She shares her inside tip ere the cool to do as a teen and wh ys. da se the are hangouts
COFFEE LOUNGE You’ll often find Shiva tucking into a bagel in the small and cosy Coffee Lounge (photo). “It’s known for it’s bagels and my absolute favourite combination sounds odd but tastes delicious. Cinnamon and raisin bagel with cucumber, cream cheese and bacon.” Shiva explains that it’s the place to go come rain or shine because there’s blankets and heaters outside for winter and also plenty of seats spread across three floors. “Oh and don’t forget to try their homemade iced teas! They’re delicious!” Where: 28 rue de la Poste, Luxembourg-Centre Info: www.coffeelounge.lu June 2016
SMOOJO “I discovered this hidden froyo place with my sister, if you miss the small sign outside, you probably wouldn’t be able to find it.” Customers can enjoy numerous toppings to their frozen yoghurts, from berries to biscuit crumbs and even sweets. “It’s a cute place to go on Friday afternoons and it’s also one of the best places to go for milkshakes. The vanilla one is just so good.” It also makes for a great place to pick up a dessert to go. Where: 60 Grand-Rue, Luxembourg-Centre Info: www.smoojo.lu
PENNY BOARDING Two years ago Shiva started penny boarding and she’s rarely seen without her board these days. “It’s easy to learn, it’s light and it efficiently gets you to where you need to go.” Living in Bertrange, her extra-curricular activities, including basketball and singing lessons, are all in the area so it’s the perfect means of transport. “It’s also fun. When I first started, I would be on it for up to 6 hours a day! Great form of exercise too.” Unlike bikes, the penny board can be easily taken onto the bus and stored away discreetly. “Even my dog likes it! I have to walk him every day but I really don’t mind ’cos the penny board makes it fun for both of us.”
A SELF-EMPLOYED PROFESSIONAL IS DEDICATED TO HIS CLIENTS SO ARE WE Our experts are here to assist you in your projects. More information on www.bcee.lu/sodowe or in one of our 14 finance centres.
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delano magazine june 2016, undestanding luxembourg, current affairs, business, lifestyle, culture