# 59 J U N E 2018
1 0 M O N T H
IS BREXIT WORTH IT?
S T O B R E
Campaigner Fiona Godfrey, and diplomats and business representatives speak out
X I T
#59 JUNE 2018
AF C U R R E NT BU SI N E SS LI FE STYLE
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LETTER FROM THE EDITOR
Freedo m Europe of moveme nt is a p ans hav Tak e r nothing ing it away fr taken for gr ivilege anted. om the to impr Br ove the spirit oitish does f citize nship
What’s more, May’s October 2016 state t says something when British residents of Luxembourg feel the grand duchy is ment that “if you believe you are a citizen doing more to protect their existing rights of the world, you are a citizen of nowhere” to freedom of movement than their own still resonates with many Brits living overseas government back in London. That is certainly who fear that successive UK governments the opinion of Brill’s Fiona Godfrey, who have viewed them as unworthy of the rights appears on the cover of this month’s Delano. that come with citizenship. It has a nasty “We’re incredibly grateful to Luxembourg ring to it, like a clarion call for unequivocal for keeping the issue alive,” she says. loyalty that plays to populist elements. May was addressing what she called “in There is some solace in the news that the majority of the 27 EU member ternational elites”, but many states favour a “smooth and quite ordinary British residents simple” approach to allowing of Luxembourg do consider “MANY QUITE British citizens the right to themselves citizens of the ORDINARY retain residency after Brexit. world. They have married BRITISH But it is the following genera partners of a different na tions in the UK who deserve tionality, have kids who speak RESIDENTS OF the fullest sympathy. They four or five languages and LUXEMBOURG will be frozen out of all the travel frequently to soak in DO CONSIDER advantages that will come new cultures. An increasing THEMSELVES with the much-heralded number have also taken up CITIZENS European Education Area, dual nationality to preserve OF THE WORLD.” their EU status and the fan which is scheduled to be implemented in 2025. Not tastic rights that come with that it will matter when, as that. They are proud of Britain looks likely, they will not be allowed the and her achievements and traditions and privilege of moving around Europe to work feel kinship with many of her people. But as their parents did. equally they celebrate the best of Luxembourg The British government argues that it and have made local friends. Allowing freedom is committed to discussing the issue of free of movement does nothing to denigrate the movement in the next phase of negotiations. “spirit of citizenship” that May called for--it But with the likes of Jacob Rees-Mogg can be applied by anyone anywhere. It is recently suggesting that Theresa May delusional and cynical to think otherwise. should threaten the EU with a no-deal scenario, British citizens are justified in DUNCAN ROBERTS Editor-in-chief being wary.
ON MY MIND Compiling Delano’s new annual Expat Guide for July--trying to muster enthusiasm for World Cup-but thrilled with the line-up for Congés Annulés at Rotondes--deciding what angle to take for Delano’s Luxembourg election coverage in September. June 2018
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DELANO JUNE 2018 CURRENT AFFAIRS 16 COVER STORY
IS BREXIT WORTH IT?
Two years on from the referendum in which the British electorate voted to leave the European Union, Brexit continues to dominate the political agenda.
Foreign minister Jean Asselborn talks about EU enlargement.
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The new Luxembourg Bankers’ Association chair speaks with Delano.
From plumbers to painters, there’s a shortage of skilled labour in Luxembourg. Should homeowners look to firms elsewhere in the Greater Region?
In accordance with article 66 of the law of 08.06.2004 on the freedom of expression in the media: the company that publishes Delano is indirectly held, by a stake exceeding 25%, by Mike Koedinger, an independent editor registered in Luxembourg. Richard Karacian is chartered with daily management. Delano™ and Maison Moderne™ are trademarks used under licence by MM Publishing and Media S.A. © MM Publishing and Media S.A. (Luxembourg) COVER PHOTO
Fiona Godfrey, chair of British Immigrants Living in Luxembourg (Brill). NOTE TO OUR READERS
Delano’s annual expat guide will be published on 6 July and the next regular print edition comes out 12 September. For daily news updates, commentary and our weekly what’s on guide, visit www.delano.lu.
From skincare to fighting insects, here are some easy-peasy tips for enjoying your balcony, garden or terrace when temperatures (hopefully) soar.
What the Philharmonie and Grand Théâtre have in store.
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CURRENT AFFAIRS 8
THE ECONOMIST FARMER
INSIDE A FOOD TRUCK
How foodtruckers get their business cookin’.
DELANO DIGITAL HIGHLIGHTS
The Rotondes music programmer talks about this summer’s “cancelled holidays”.
PASSPORT TALK This former banker says we may have to get used to paying more for food.
Post-Brexit financial sector challenges were mooted at this British Chamber of Commerce event.
The British ambassador hosted a garden party, and not only for royal wedding fans. 82
Hakan Bahçıvancı and Selenga Cizmeli got hitched at Luxembourg City Hall. 26
What could change when Luxembourg loses its ally in EU financial negotiations? 30
This local basketball player had his hair shaved off to support a children’s cancer charity.
“A NEW OUTLOOK” Shared workspaces are catching on, and not just with startups. Here’s why.
When employers’ training courses go digital, what is the impact on employees? 58
TOAST OF THE TOWN Respects paid in Hamm for Memorial Day.
How leukemia project got on track. icon_website www.delano.lu/current-affairs
TRUMP DOMINATES DEBATE This year’s US midterm elections were hashed over at a recent Paperjam Club forum.
PIANO OF HOPE
Would an EU quality label for responsible investments help build the sector?
Communication skills can boost an employee’s career or an entrepreneur’s startup.
COST IN SPACE
What Dirk and Kamani Van Der Ploeg brought when they moved from Sri Lanka.
Marc Serres on Luxembourg’s space investment fund. icon_website www.delano.lu/business
ROCK OF AGES
In our story about Bibliotherapy (“Get aboard the book bus”) in the April edition, we mistakenly said the group received funding from, among others, the Anglican Church; we should have written the European Parish of the Catholic Church. We also misspelled Marijane Andreopoulos’s first name. Apologies.
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What draws people to the Mullerthal region and why you should take a hike. 92
ON STAGE Corporate team building exercises are now moving to a different beat.
There’s a great line-up of dance, plus indie bands and rockers, on the bill this summer.
FROM SUIT TO SURF COWBOY
Financial sector executive by day, Louis Wright talks about rocking out as part of the “Clocking off!” series.
Bring the kids to this organic farm over the summer. 98
Delano’s advice columnist answers reader questions on allergies, the royal wedding and World Cup.
Sino-Luxembourg links took a leap forward with inauguration. icon_website www.delano.lu/snapshots
Delano features the paper’s international coverage daily. icon_website www.delano.lu/international WANT MORE? Sign up for Delano’s “Breakfast briefing” and “Noon briefing” email newsletters. Go to the bottom of our home page.
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WORKING IN SYNC
THE ECONOMIST FARMER Delano spoke to a former banker about why we may have to accept paying more for our food.
oday most of Luxembourg’s wealth is generated in the urban areas. But 70 years ago, almost half of the population worked in rural sectors. 18 years ago, Jean-Lou Colling (pictured) went against the tide and quit a lucrative career in a bank to take on his father-in-law’s farm. Standing on a hill west of Colmar- Berg, Karelshaff spans 72 hectares of lush, rolling hills set to the sound of clucking hens, the bellow of cows and occasionally, the chatter of schoolchildren. Karelshaff is one of nine organic demonstration farms, so called because it is used as an educational tool to
show schools, consumers and other farmers how organic works and why they should embrace it. Colling is an excellent poster boy given that when he started out, he was no environ mental activist, simply a businessman with a long-term outlook. “I looked at the facts to see what kind of farming methods would have a chance of surviving in future,” he told Delano. He saw a number of sustainability red flags with conventional farming, notably the contamination of natural water resources through pesticides. “The water we drink today was filtered through the ground 20 years ago. If we continue like that, my children
Anthony Dehez (archives)
will have even more problems in future […] The problem with people is unless something directly impacts them, they don’t think about it. But today, there are a lot of consequences that will impact later when it will be too late,” Colling said. The organic movement began in Luxembourg 30 years ago at SchanckHaff in the north. Farms can obtain organic status by swapping chemical pesticides for smarter crop rotation methods, natural fertilisers and pest treatments, among others. Bio-Lëtzebuerg reported in 2017 that almost 4% of agricultural land in Luxembourg was given over to organic practices, with 132 organic producers and 127 op erators. “I think it’s better to grow slowly because it’s another way of thinking,” director of the not-for-profit Dani Noesen tells Delano. Luxembourg’s sustainability strategy, the Rifkin report, proposes switching the country’s entire agricultural sector to organic methods by 2050, a sug gestion Colling supports emphatically. But much needs to be done to make that happen. Conventional farmers, caught in the cycle of having to increase yields to compensate for falling produce prices, must first accept the change. Subsidies are offered to encourage full or partial conversion to organic farms. But retailers must also be prepared to accept lower profits. “If you look at the food scandals, like Veviba, they are a consequence of a policy of cheap goods. We try with all the means we have to sell products cheaper to make a profit. There are several actors trying to make a profit without taking on any of the risk on the production side.” While organic products are popular in Luxembourg, they are more ex pensive and it is also hard to convince the average price-driven consumer, who is accustomed to buying cheap food, to spend more. The difficulties are further compounded by the fact that organic food produced in Luxembourg costs more than in, say, Belgium or Germany because of the small-scale of production and asso ciated transport costs. One argument that Colling falls back on is that consumers are already paying more
for their food through taxes, the proceeds from which are used to undo the collateral damage caused by chemicals used in farming. If these collateral costs were added to the price tag of conventionally produced food, they would likely be more costly to buy than organic produce. icon_website www.bio-letzebuerg.lu icon_website www.ibla.lu
Reported by JESS BAULDRY
132 The number of organic producers in Luxembourg in 2017, according to the agricultural ministry.
TOP EU COURT OFFICIAL QUESTIONS TAX CASES Luxembourg and other EUbased international business hubs are appealing against a ruling that they broke EU state aid rules. However, one of the advocates general at the European Court of Justice has spoken publicly about the potential legal difficulty of these judgements.
ast year, Ireland, the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg were found to have been in breach of EU competition rules by the European Commission. They were accused of using tax incentives to international companies as a form of illegal state aid. EU law specifically requires member states to offer any such in ducements to all companies. However, the commission decided that these four countries had been selective when granting tax deals to the likes of Amazon, Apple, Starbucks, Fiat, BP, BASF and more. These firms were told to pay unpaid taxes to the member states concerned. For example, in the grand duchy Amazon was asked to stump up €250m in what European commissioner Margrethe Vestager called “illegal tax benefits”. Luxembourg and the other countries have appealed against these decisions, and there are signs that their line of thinking is resonating amongst senior
lawyers in the ECJ. On 14 May, Juliane Kokott, an advocate general for the court (pictured), was reported by the Tax Notes website to appear to have reservations with aspects of the commission’s approach. “I think the end result cannot be that every tax law is a potential state aid. The commission does not have the capacity, competence, or expertise to scrutinise all tax laws. And the commission people always say they are only looking at outliers, or the real bad cases, but this does not provide legal certainty,” Kokott was reported as saying. She went on: “It can also lead to certain countries being treated differently than other ones. There are cases pending
before the general court on tax rulings, and that will create a tremendous amount of work for the commission and courts to check every single tax ruling and will be a huge cost if it goes too far in this direction.” Advocates general have an important role in the EU judiciary, working alongside the judges who come from each of the member states. While Kokott’s words were carefully chosen, they appear to highlight some of the points Luxembourg and others have used to defend themselves in this case. In particular, the four countries in the dock say these sweetheart tax rulings are indeed available to every international company that requests them. There is a feeling that these four countries have been chosen for criticism unfairly, and that all member states offer degrees of flexibility on corporation tax. There are also concerns that the court has been excessively activist, moving into the realm of national taxation which is generally held to be a national res ponsibility in the EU. The commission has received praise from tax justice activists who see this as decisive action against “aggressive tax avoidance”. Defenders of current arrangements say critics exaggerate the extent to which corporations avoid tax. They add that these arrangements help deliver broad economic benefits globally. It will be years before these cases come to resolution in the European courts.
TYING THE KNOT Each year Luxembourg City’s town hall conducts around 380 civil wedding ceremonies. Turkish national Hakan Bahçıvancı and partner Selenga Cizmeli married on 11 May. “We first thought about having a ceremony at the Turkish embassy, but then learned that we had the chance to get married in the town hall,” Bahçıvancı, a soft ware engineer for Amazon, told Delano. Cizmeli, an architect, flew to Luxem bourg a few days beforehand for a reli gious ceremony. The couple plans to have a family celebration with over 300 guests in Turkey in July. According to city hall, wedding ceremonies are conducted on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays with a maximum of 10 per day. A major trend observed in recent years is a growing demand for the ceremony to be held in English. French, however, remains the most commonly requested language for ceremonies. JB
I DO! A. Hakan and Selenga pose with their parents in place Guillaume II B. The bridal couple climb the stairs to the town hall C. City mayor Lydie Polfer, standing, explains in English the duties of a married couple under the law D. Civil registration officer Jules Becker, left, fills out the administrative forms E. The town hall advises couples not to invite more than 30 guests because of the size of the room F. The married couple pose with mayor Lydie Polfer before leaving for a reception with friends in Luxembourg G. The next couple enters the room for their ceremony
Reported by STEPHEN EVANS
599 June 2018
LaLa La Photo
The number of “advance price agreements,” an arrangement on how certain company transactions will be taxed, that Luxembourg had with EU companies in effect at the end of last year, according to the European Commission.
REMEMBERING CAMILLE GIRA The Green party cabinet minister and former mayor of Beckerich died suddenly after collapsing in parliament on 16 May.
Luc Deflorenne (archives)
lags flew at half-mast and the government postponed a series of planned press conferences as well as its weekly cabinet meeting. The sudden death of secretary of state for sustainable development and the environment Camille Gira left Luxembourg, and particularly the world of politics, reeling. Gira, 59, had collapsed while delivering a speech to parlia ment on the new nature protection bill. He died later in hospital from heart failure. Green party president Christian Kmiotek said Gira had been a giant and straight shooter who had “fallen like an oak in a storm”. Prime minister Xavier Bettel said he was shocked to hear the news and praised Gira for fighting for his ideas as a mayor, minister and parliamen tarian. And Pierre Gramegna tweeted his condolences and said: “He will not be forgotten, because what he stood for during his life stands tall.” Gira did stand tall both morally and physically. He was what one might term lanky, but of a gentlemanly and patient demeanour, which probably served him well in his job as an air traffic controller from 1977 to 1994. That does not mean he was not afraid to express his opi nion and defend his principles. As mayor of Beckerich, a post he rose to in 1990 after serving for 8 years on the council, he turned the commune into a shining light of how to act local and think global. The town became a leading proponent of the use of sustainable energy by installing solar energy, biogas and wood chip burning facilities. A memorial service held in Beckerich was attended by close to 1,000 mourners. Luxembourg cellist André Mergenthaler performed, as per Gira’s wishes, according to his widow Simone, who was accompanied by the couple’s two sons, Michel and Louis. European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker was among the mourners, as were Gira’s Green party government colleagues François Bausch, Carole D ieschbourg and Félix Braz. Bausch cited common friend Gilbert Pregno, who said Gira was now watching the plant from afar. “It is in our interest to take good care of it, otherwise he’ll be mad at us.”
Text by DUNCAN ROBERTS
13,159 The total number of young people studying in international programmes at Luxembourg schools from 2016 to 2017, according to the education ministry.
WHEN TUITION IS THE RIGHT ANSWER Pressure to perform at school, pass entrance exams and develop multilingual skills are driving more and more parents to turn to private tuition.
f a parent notices a child has lost motivation to do homework or cannot understand concepts in the class, Shruti Tulsian, founder of Vedic Maths, believes it’s time to seek help. “A lot of children struggle with maths and the interconnection between various maths topics. Children who struggle at 10 years old are likely to drop advanced level maths subjects early at secondary school,” she says. Vedic Maths gives children simple techniques to solve complex problems without the use of calculators. “It’s June 2018
Reported by SARITA RAO
6,050 Births in Luxembourg in 2016, according to Statec.
@jrandolphevans on Twitter
learning,” says Sophie Le Dorner- Debout, who created and runs the programme. “Emotions play an important part in preventing moti vation, attention and the ability to memorise. We all learn naturally but we might not learn effectively.” For some parents, the move to a more multilingual environment can mean language support is needed from an early age. “Teaching lan guages is not just about grammar and pronunciation, but about moti vating and encouraging a child, making learning fun and adapting to the learning style and personality of the child,” says Clara Moraru, CEO and founder of Languages.lu, which provides individual tutoring as well as language camps for children. “The camps can help with language practise, oral comprehension, con fidence and motivation. Kids also develop social skills and learn how to interact in another language.” If you’ve read this and are about to call in some heavy duty tutor support, Henriksen has a word of caution: “School marks don’t represent a person, but a level of performance in a subject. Failing a test does not make a child a failure. Being honest, being a good friend or being reliable is just as im portant as a row of good marks.”
particularly useful for kids preparing for entrance exams, where speed and accuracy are essential. I help students of all ages, even adults, to believe in themselves, strengthening and building on their basic understanding of maths,” explains Tulsian. Charlotte Henriksen, support coordinator at the European School Luxembourg II (pictured), believes that it can be positive to have high expectations of your children, but parents should also be realistic to avoid having a negative impact on their child’s self-esteem. Student anxiety is on an upward trajectory, not just from parental pressure but from common expectations on social media about how perfect life should be. It’s one of the reasons that the school has been running a scheme called Brainwise to help pre-teens and teenagers “learn how to learn”. Students learn what motivates them personally and gain a greater under standing of how to focus attention, store and recall information--including breathing techniques or how to chunk information for better recall. During the programme, they also develop a personal learning journey to help them with exam readiness. “By understanding and applying the fundamentals of brain science, I believe teenagers can be empowered to become agents of their own
Seven months after being nominated by president Donald Trump, James Randolph Evans (who goes by Randy) has finally been confirmed as the US ambassador to Luxembourg. The US Senate voted 48-43 (with nine not voting) in May to confirm the appointment of the lawyer from Atlanta, Georgia. Law.com cited an email from Evans: “From the dirt roads of Dublin to the Oval Office and now to the wonderful Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, through God’s good graces, I have and will always carry in my heart an undying love for our country and an unequivocal commitment to serve to the very best of my abilities.” Evans’ confirmation hearing was initially scheduled for November but with no vote, his nomination expired at the end of the year. He was renominated in January. No date has been given for his arrival in Luxembourg. US chargé d’affaires Kerri Hannan told Delano: “Ambassador-designate Evans is eager to get to Luxembourg, to present his credentials to H.R.H. Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg, and begin his important work on the bilateral relationship between the United States of America and the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.” DR
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FIRST CHILD AT 40 The search for financial stability is prompting parents to start families later than ever.
ortuguese national “Teresa” says she never wants to go back to the way of life she had in her 20s when she lived in Lisbon. She held down a job at a bank and ran her own con sulting business in the little free time she had. “I was working 16 hours a day. In 2002, there was one weekend that I didn’t work,” she recalls. While Teresa admits she enjoyed her work, Portuguese salaries were so low that she had to work long hours if she wanted some disposable income. Teresa’s life changed in 2004 when she moved to Luxembourg with her now ex-partner and found she had more disposable income and free time. It enabled her to discover a new life outside of work: new hobbies, friends and most importantly, travel. “From 2006 to 2015, I travelled a bit every week. Not having children gave me the flexibility to accept the new challenge work gave me, which in volved travel,” she says. “I never thought seriously about kids, I wanted them, but I needed a father too.” She let life take its course, met her now husband and had her first child when she felt ready, in 2015, aged 40. Teresa reflects a growing trend in Luxembourg among women having their first child later in life. In 2016, the average age of a woman during her first birth was 30.4 years old, up from 28 in 2000, according to Statec. The statistics bureau credits the rise of later first births to the fact that women stay longer in higher education, the need for stable employment before starting a family, and the desire to enjoy some years together as a couple. These certainly underpin Teresa’s experience. But there are also other factors at play, such as fertility. Italian national “Chiara” said it was a conscious decision to start a family later because of her education and career. “I was 33, that’s considered June 2018
late!” But, conception complications meant it took seven years before her daughter was born, when she was 40. “We went through different phases of trying spontaneously by ourselves and being in denial about IVF,” she says. “The first time someone recom mended a fertility doctor I refused. I said ‘it’s not the way I want to conceive’. That was in 2009. Things could have been very different had I started fertility treatment then.” Chiara has no regrets, and says she enjoyed what she calls the “carefree years” when she and her partner could focus on things like career and holidays. “I think it’s because of the circumstances that I’m enjoying motherhood more. We’re in a place in our careers where we can offer her things.” Excellent medical care is available in Luxembourg to support women giving birth later in life, as is fertility treatment. But, does starting a family create new pressures for parents and their children? Teresa points out that her parents are now too old to be able to lend a hand with child rearing,
I think it’s because of the circumstances that I’m enjoying motherhood more. We’re in a place in our careers where we can offer her things.” “CHIARA”
which makes flexible working options and affordable childcare and other support networks all the more crucial for her to continue working. Chiara, who is in a similar situation, laments that there is still a lack of flexibility in the workplace for parents, regardless of their age. Thinking about the future, both Teresa and Chiara said they thought about how their ages might impact their children growing up. It was for this reason that Teresa and her partner decided to have a second child, so their daughter “is not alone when we go”. Reported by JESS BAULDRY
WHY SOLIRUNBIKE When Carlos Ordoñez Martinez had a paragliding accident five years ago, he was told that he’d never walk again. But today, “I walk, I do sport, I’ve done several triathlons”. He credits Back to Sport, an outfit that helps kit out disabled athletes. Which is one reason he participates in fundraisers that benefit the NGO.
port is an effective way for those with physical disabilities to re connect with the community, but can be financially out of reach for those on disability benefits or minimum
wage, says Ordoñez. For example, a regular €100 bike could run between €4,000 and €12,000 after being adapted for a handicapped person. Back to Sport has helped 60 disa bled athletes train for competitions such as the Thionville triathlon in May and the Luxembourg Ironman in June, but needs more cash to keep running. Enter International Handicap Solidarity, a new charity backed by major names in Luxembourg’s business community. The charity organised the first ever “Solirunbike” (Solidarity run and bike), held at Kockelscheuer on 31 May (after Delano went to press). Teams of two, one disabled and one able-bodied,
between them tackled a 5km course (partly run and partly cycled). “Handicapped people are generally sitting at home in their chairs,” ac cording to Ordoñez. “This kind of activity allows them to not only get out of their house, but to meet people [and] be part of a group that helps motivate them to get out of the house.” In addition to Back to Sport, proceeds benefit Hymne aux Enfants, a foun dation that aids seriously disfigured children in Burkina Faso. That group’s Paul Deprez likes the symmetry of the contest. The event reintegrates disabled athletes in the grand duchy at the same time supporting disabled children in the African nation, with funding from Luxembourg companies, he notes. The first edition of the not-forprofit race was organised in a “quick and dirty” manner, in the words of Philippe Seyll, co-CEO of Clearstream Banking and chair of International Handicap Solidarity. However, he hopes to establish Solirunbike as an annual landmark affair. “The idea is not to just do it once, not to just have the event one time and then forget the event. The idea is to make the event part of the grand duchy landscape.” Seyll, himself an amateur triathlete, also aims to put a bit of pressure on other company leaders. If he and his employees can do it, why can’t others, he argues. Plus, participation can push firms to meet their corporate and social responsibility obligations. “I don’t like quotas, but there are quotas for Luxembourg companies to help people who are less able- bodied… so this is a way for Luxem bourg companies to do that.” At the end of the course, “obviously there will be rankings, there will be medals, but the objective is more to participate, in the spirit of solidarity, than to come in first,” Seyll says. Ordoñez reckons that “there are only winners in this type of race, because each person has to exceed themselves one way or another, the able-bodied and the less able-bodied.” icon_facebook Solirunbike
Reported by AARON GRUNWALD
“Too often citizens are left with the bitter impression that administrations have reasons, which reason does not know.” Express bio Born 6 June 1971, Differdange Education 1991 Graduated from the Athénée de Luxembourg 1991-1992 Studied law at University of Luxembourg 1992-1999 Studied law at the Université Robert Schuman in Strasbourg Career 2000 Joined the Democratic Party 2000 and 2006 Worked for several local law practices 2002 Admitted to the bar 2006 Opened own practice specialising in family and child law 2007 Founding member of the ALAP (Luxembourg association of criminal lawyers) 2013-2016 Vice president of the Democratic Party
Just over a year since she took office as Luxembourg’s ombudsman, Claudia Monti has shown she is unafraid of conflict. Whether it is tackling crisis situations and gender imba lance in Luxembourg’s prison, reprimanding government ministries or urging local councils to refrain from using too much legal language, Claudia Monti has certainly not been afraid to speak out since she became the official mediator between citizens and government. The 47-year-old lawyer was elected to the position of ombudsman in March 2017, winning some 35 of 54 votes in parliament to easily beat four other candidates. She has held public office before, as president of the City of Luxembourg’s participatory committee for people with specific needs. Monti was born with a handicap that left her limbs shortened, but grew up attending regular school, which she says was rare at the time. “I integrated so well, that I eventually forgot my difference,” she told Le Quotidien last year. She has carried that lesson into her professional life, saying that authorities should not stamp on the self-determination of the handicapped on the pretext of wanting to protect them. “It is important to allow people to fulfil their own potential.” As for dealing with the 1,149 complaints that landed on the ombudsman’s desk in 2017, Monti reported that 87% of cases were resolved or partially resolved. Citizens expect the authorities to take their problems to heart and to provide clear and justified answers within a rea sonable time, she says. DR June 2018
Text by DUNCAN ROBERTS and MARGARET FERNS
Photography by MAISON MODERNE
HOW BREXIT HAS DOMINATED EVERYTHING
Two years on from the referendum in which the British electorate voted to leave the European Union, Brexit continues to dominate the political agenda and the headlines. As the goalposts keep shifting and the UK government considers different options for its future relationship with the EU, we look at how Brexit will affect British citizens in the grand duchy, the UKâ€™s relationship with Luxembourg, trade between the two countries and the UKâ€™s standing in the world.
“WE DON’T JUST WANT THE OFF-THE-SHELF THIRD COUNTRY AGREEMENT ON WHATEVER AREA IT MIGHT BE.” John Marshall
ritish ambassador to Luxembourg John Marshall had only been in office for a little over two months before the result of the referendum on EU membership in June 2016 completely changed the nature of his job. Brexit has since dominated the British government’s agenda and has also been Marshall’s
BREXIT H OW W E G OT H E R E … June 2018
priority. “It keeps us busy for a small embassy,” he says. Marshall has to gather information and answer questions, often the same ones that are being asked by the foreign office of his colleagues across the bloc, as well as ensure that the day-to-day work of the embassy--providing consular services, promoting trade and so forth--continues as normal.
7 MAY 2015 David Cameron’s Conservative party wins a general election with a manifesto that includes a commitment to hold a referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU.
23 JUNE 2016 The referendum results in a 51.9% vote in favour of leaving the EU.
Brexit has also taken up the majority of free stand. That if you are planning to move to antime for Fiona Godfrey, the president of British other EU country after the end of the impleImmigrants Living in Luxembourg (Brill) and vice mentation period, you won’t have the automatic president of British in Europe. A former criminal right to do so. These are issues we wanted to defence lawyer, Godfrey, says she was inspired address, but the [European] Commission said to take action because she has been interested these are future issues.” And although the rights in citizens’ rights for the whole of her adult life. are reciprocal there is of course no equivalence “I’ve always been fiercely pro free movement,” for EU citizens in the UK. Marshall says the Britshe says, citing time spent in the Soviet Union ish government would like to address the issue and Poland in 1986 when she appreciated the of free movement rights in the second phase of freedom she had compared with the lack of negotiations. “And that commitment has been free movement imposed on citizens in the restated in parliament recently by David Davis,” eastern bloc. She also met and fell in love with the UK’s Brexit secretary. a German while studying in the UK. “It was Retaining freedom of movement is one of freedom of movement and our EU citizenship the major issues that Brill has been campaignallowed us to stay together in the UK and ing on. “But it has been difficult. The goalposts then for me to follow him to Luxembourg.” have moved,” says Godfrey. But she is by no Godfrey was not shocked by the result of means singling out the British government for the referendum--her brother in Bradford voted blame--even though she believes they have leave and so did many of his friends. Never“negotiated away” the rights of British citizens theless, having stayed up to watch the results in Europe. “There are no good guys in this of the referendum, at 7 a.m. on 24 June 2016 scenario,” she says. she fired off “a furious email” to Marshall asking The number of British citizens in Luxemfor a meeting. Following that meeting, she and bourg who have taken advantage of the grand a handful of volunteers set up Brill. Later she duchy’s dual citizenship laws has increased drabecame aware of the British in Europe group matically since the referendum. But Godfrey based in Brussels, where she often works on explains that even those who have managed to a regular basis, and ended up volunteering to obtain dual citizenship have stayed the course run its EU advocacy campaign. and continue to campaign for those for whom “The EU is not a perfect entity by any means,” citizenship is not an option. “It’s that solidarity she explains. “I have a lot of issues with it and that is the glue that binds us together.” concerns about the way the whole migration However, there are other issues such as and refugee crisis was dealt with. But it’s the pension rights and recognition of professional best thing that we’ve got.” qualifications that are also high on the Brill and British in Europe agenda. “Frontier working is FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT preserved according to a certain definition, but Marshall says he absolutely understands some it’s complex because it’s [European Court of of the frustrations of British citizens living in Justice] case law on what constitutes a frontier the (rest of the) EU, and especially the limit on worker,” Godfrey says. “What happens if you the freedom of movement that is of particular are a frontier worker and you stop working?” concern to British citizens living in Luxembourg. For instance, women who work in Luxem“The December agreement did resolve a lot of bourg but live in Belgium or France who take a issues. But if you are in a position where you break to start a family may have difficulty lookare living in Luxembourg but providing services ing for a job in Luxembourg again a few years across borders… it looks like you will not be later. “It’s not clear in the draft withdrawal able to do that in future, as things currently agreement.”
24 JUNE 2016 David Cameron and Xavier Bettel in happier times, outside the Luxembourg prime minister’s office in June 2015
David Cameron resigns as prime minister hours after the result is confirmed, saying “the country requires fresh leadership to take it in this [Brexit] direction”. Luxembourg prime minister Xavier Bettel says Europe shouldn’t impose any additional censure on the UK. But he also warns that “we respect their decision, but it is they who asked for this divorce”.
13 JULY 2016 After several candidates drop out of the race, Theresa May, who had campaigned for the UK to remain in the EU, wins the Conservative leadership and becomes prime minister.
British citizens living here who are married to EU spouses, who might want to return to live in the UK, will have to prove they have a minimum income. Godfrey says that, being self-employed, she would have to work for a year to prove she has the minimum required income before her German husband could join her.
LUX - UK LINKS AS STRONG AS EVER Marshall says that the bilateral relationship between the UK and Luxembourg is as good and strong as it has ever been. “It’s just that the context is changing.” At a press conference called the day of the result, prime minister Xavier Bettel reassured British residents of the grand duchy that they are and always will be welcome to live here. Bettel also said that there was no point in “punishing” Great Britain for its decision but issued a warning--one that he has oft repeated since--that the UK could not cherry-pick the conditions of any future agreement with the EU. “The words they were using immediately after the vote were of regret,” says Marshall. But since then the ambassador has been pleased with what could be called Luxembourg’s more pragmatic approach. “If you listen to someone like [the finance minister] Pierre Gramegna, his message is very much one of continuity. Obviously, there are strong links between us with our financial services centres, and we would like this to continue.” Godfrey is also full of praise for Luxembourg foreign minister Jean Asselborn, who she says has been very supportive. “We know that Luxembourg has been pushing for continuing free movement for us in council meetings, in the Brexit working parties. Clearly it’s important for the Luxembourg economy but we’re incredibly grateful to Luxembourg for keeping the issue alive.” Marshall explains that the next phase of Brexit negotiation will be much broader and diverse than the three headline issues--the financial settlement, the border on the island of Ireland and citizens’ rights--that dominated
“THERE ARE NO GOOD GUYS IN THIS SCENARIO.” Fiona Godfrey
During his annual foreign policy declaration in parliament Luxembourg foreign minister Jean Asselborn cites Theresa May’s “no deal is better than a bad deal” and says that “the same goes for Luxembourg, too”.
29 MARCH 2017 Theresa May signing her letter of notification to the president of the European Council
Theresa May triggers Article 50, which starts the two-year process of negotiations before the UK formally leaves the EU.
8 JUNE 2017 Following an early general election called to provide Britain with “certainty, stability and strong leadership”, May loses her majority in parliament. Her Conservative party is forced to side with the Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland.
Jay Allen/Crown Copyright
21 MARCH 2017
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the first phase. “There are other issues that perhaps got less publicity but are still part of the withdrawal agreement. Everything from what happens with Euratom, to privileges and immunities to goods on the market,” he explains. In March, agreement was reached on the implementation period, the financial settlement and citizens’ rights. “Those chapters are completely agreed, and overall 75% of the withdrawal agreement has agreed text,” the ambassador says. Since March discussions have been focused primarily on Ireland, governance arrangements and other separation issues. “The intention is that by the [28 and 29] June council further text has been agreed. And discussions have just started on the future partnership, although the commission has said that actual negotiations cannot start until we have formally left, on 29 March next year.” A whole raft of issues has yet to be settled before October, when the final agreement should be in place so that parliaments can agree on the final text before the Brexit deadline. Discussions on financial services, fisheries, agriculture and market access in different sectors, as well as security issues and the way the EU and UK will cooperate on foreign policy, on defence and internal security matters in terrorism and crime, aspects of civil justice and even development are all just at the beginning, the ambassador says.
services companies based in London have set up shop in Luxembourg, and elsewhere in the EU, since the Brexit vote to ensure that they can continue to serve their EU customers. “Chances are good that many more will decide to come to Luxembourg because the country has many aces up its sleeve,” says Lynn Zoenen, economic advisor at the Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce. “At the same time, Luxembourg is not pursuing an aggressive sales or promotion strategy. We believe that companies will make their own decisions, based on business and more holistic economic factors.” Joanna Denton, chair of the British Chamber of Commerce for Luxembourg, says that her organisation has also seen companies with cross-border footprints wanting to strengthen their EU footprint. “In order to do this, it is not sufficient to work on the basis of letter box companies, but these businesses need to bring substance and take care of the regulatory aspects,” she says emphatically. More generally, Denton says that businesses are taking a different approach to Brexit depending on their size. “With less than a year to Article 50 taking effect, large businesses have been making contingency plans, knowing that any transition period agreed will allow them to fine tune details depending on the final position. On the other hand, many SMEs have done little to prepare, and have been sitting back to see what the end state will be.” BUSINESS DILEMMA Zoenen has also seen some hesitation from Luxembourg politicians have said quite often companies outside of financial services who that with Brexit they feel they are losing an are waiting to see the final outcome of the ally in their position on financial services withBrexit negotiations before taking strategy deciin the EU. “Because the UK, Luxembourg and sions. “But the single market is not only about Ireland have financial services sectors that are freedom of capital and services. It is also about truly international, we have always had an eye people and goods,” she says. “Any company on how we can develop that and keep the EU that sends workers from the UK to Europe or competitive, which isn’t necessarily a view that vice versa or that exports and imports goods is shared by all members,” Marshall explains. from and to the UK will be affected. So, we “But the fact we are leaving doesn’t mean we also expect industry players and companies won’t be able to be part of these conversations, from other sectors to show interest once because a lot of these discussions are done at Brexit conditions take a concrete shape.” a global level.” Nevertheless, many financial As for Luxembourg companies, Zoenen says
23 OCTOBER 2017 UK and EU chief negotiators David Davis and Michel Barnier during the second round of negotiations in July 2017
26 JUNE 2017 Formal negotiations on withdrawal begin between the UK and the EU.
Speaking at a peaking at a London School of Economics lecture, Luxembourg finance minister Pierre Gramegna says: “I find that a balanced final agreement with the UK, specifically for financial services, is in the interests of Europe itself.”
13 DECEMBER 2017 The British parliament votes in favour of a guarantee that the final Brexit deal will be put to a vote of MPs.
that they have questions on a whole range of issues, from what Brexit means in regulatory terms for financial operators or for instance insurance companies, to what happens to existing contracts, from possible problems sending employees to the UK for short periods of time to customs formalities. “There’s still a lot of fog at the moment,” she says. Denton explains that listening to BCC members and trying to keep them informed about the current status of Brexit has been one of the chamber’s major roles since the referendum. Marshall has held breakfast briefings for the BCC’s sustaining members, and the chamber has also hosted an industry focused roundtable for the financial services sector, and other events open to all members concentrating on aspects such as tax, customs, inheritance and financial services. “From a personal perspective for the individuals behind the businesses, we have also tried to listen to what our members are saying. However, there are other organisations, such as Brill, who have been doing an excellent job lobbying for citizens’ rights, and our objective was not to duplicate their work in the field.”
DIFFERENT FROM OTHER THIRD COUNTRIES
“BUSINESSES NEED TO BRING SUBSTANCE AND TAKE CARE OF THE REGULATORY ASPECTS.” Joanna Denton
15 DECEMBER 2017 The EU agrees to move on to the second phase of negotiations after agreement is reached on the Brexit “divorce bill”, Irish border and EU citizens’ rights.
19 MARCH 2018 Agreement is reached on dates for a post-Brexit transitional period and on the future status of EU citizens in the UK and British citizens in the EU.
Denton thinks that Brexit could provide an opportunity for Luxembourg in terms of UK businesses looking to relocate to the grand duchy. “From a UK perspective, it seems to be more of a threat regarding free movement of trade for its businesses, and unfortunately the opportunities promised in the referendum campaign seem to be far from there just yet.” On the other hand, Zoenen says that viewing Brexit merely as an opportunity for Luxembourg to attract UK businesses looking for a new gateway to Europe is a rather one-sided view. “We should not forget that Brexit will shrink the size of the common EU market and that we’ve lost a liberal voice, especially when it comes to financial services. On the whole, I would say that macroeconomic considerations clearly overweight potential microeconomic opportunities.”
BREXIT STILL TO C O M E … June 2018
“MACROECONOMIC CONSIDERATIONS CLEARLY OVERWEIGH POTENTIAL MICROECONOMIC OPPORTUNITIES.” Lynn Zoenen
31 OCTOBER 2018 28 & 29 JUNE 2018 EU 27 leaders will discuss Brexit at the European Council in Brussels.
The deadline set by the EU for negotiations to be completed so that all 27 EU member states, plus the UK, will have time to ratify the deal before March 2019.
Marshall is, naturally, more optimistic. He says he envisages the UK having a close dialogue with the EU on a whole number of issues after Brexit. “We are going to want to put in place mechanisms that ensure there is consultation and discussion on both economic and security issues.” He says the British government is very much aware that it will be a third country after March 2019. “But we are a bit different from other third countries. We have been a member of the EU for 45 years and are aligned in so many regulatory areas and we cooperate at a level of sophistication and detail that goes beyond any third country relationship. We don’t just want the off-the-shelf third country agreement on whatever area it might be.” As for the UK’s standing in the global community, Marshall says that EU identity has only ever been part of its international identity. “We are a permanent member of the UN security council and we have always had strong bilateral relationships with countries beyond the EU.” He says he is absolutely confident that the reputation of the UK will be unaffected and that the country will be as active and globally engaged as it has always been. “People make that lazy assumption that the decision to leave the EU was somehow a decision to withdraw and turn our backs. That’s not the case at all. We are a country that has a very long history of being outward looking, and that’s not going to change. It’s just that for our dealings with the EU, the mechanisms will need to be different.” As for the immediate future of British citizens in Luxembourg, Brill is covering its bases and has had meetings with the CSV opposition party in the likely event there is a change of government after October’s parliamentary elections. And they will be keeping a keen eye on “every single meeting where Ireland is discussed,” says Godfrey. The question of what happens with the Irish border is the one issue that could bring about a no deal scenario, which threatens freedom of movement for British citizens. “That would be catastrophic.”
29 MARCH 2019 The UK formally ends its membership of the European Union and enters a transition period.
31 DECEMBER 2020 The transition period is due to end.
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Text by STEPHEN EVANS
FUND DELEGATION AND POST-BREXIT REGULATION How Brexit will affect future EU decision making is one of the Luxembourg financial industry’s key concerns. As a large, free-trade oriented country with a major financial sector, the UK has often been an ally of the grand duchy when regulations were being hammered out. How might things change after March 2019?
yebrows were raised across Lux embourg’s financial sector last summer when the European Com mission launched a review of the way European supervisory authorities (ESAs) operate. In particular, there are worries about the review of “delega tion”, a regime which allows investment funds to be managed and marketed internationally from central hubs, of which Luxembourg is the largest. There is the potential for the grand duchy to lose big if these rules change, as around 17% of assets under management in Luxembourg funds are run by UK asset managers. Del egation is also central to the way many EU rules benefit Luxembourg banks and insurance companies. This move came only a few months after the UK officially gave notification that it was leaving the EU. The commission highlighted concerns that post-Brexit the delegation prin ciple could give UK players full access to the EU market without the respon sibility of membership. Indeed, financial firms moving to the EU27 “in the context of Brexit” have since had to submit a dossier to the relevant ESA. These checks to see if these moves have sufficient substance have generally added two to three months to the approval procedure.
OPPOSITION TO CHANGE Some suspicious minds interpreted these moves as an attempt by the June 2018
EU executive to apply pressure to the UK during the exit negotiations. Others fear this points towards a changed dynamic in how business would be regulated post-Brexit. Yet maybe some of these worries are misplaced. “There has been a lot of criticism across the board, not just from the European industry but also from the US,” noted Camille Thommes, director general of the Association of the Luxembourg Fund Industry, a trade group. Ameri can, Asian and Swiss fund managers have used the delegation procedure for three decades to help European clients save. “A large majority of EU member states have adopted a critical ap proach to these proposals for several reasons, not just opposition to the proposed changes to delegation rules,” Thommes added. Other objections centre around increasing the power of EU institutions over national regulators, with the loss of national sovereignty and added cost this would require. A compromise is likely to be hashed out. “It’s about making the procedure such that both sides can live with it, and that there is enough dialogue and transparency in the system,” Luxembourg’s finance minister, Pierre Gramegna, said in an interview with Reuters on 3 May. “We still need bridges between the UK and the EU after Brexit. An enhanced and improved system of equivalence could be the solution,” Gramegna told an Alfi conference in London the same day. The picture will become clearer when EU governments and European parliamentarians have their say in the autumn. Yet what about the future changed dynamic in EU decision-making fora? In the past, the UK working with several smaller countries had
GLOBAL FINANCIAL CENTRES INDEX, MARCH 2018 London is by far the most influential European financial centre, a status which benefits the wider EU economy. However, the UK leaving the EU calls current arrangements into question.
considerable influence on EU rules, with the presence of a large country being a key element to building a coalition. Could the EU become more interventionist and less open to trade from 30 March next year? Maybe, but there are reasons for liberals to be optimistic. It is possible that the UK will continue to exert influence on EU policy and regulatory practice. London is Europe’s largest financial sector, and despite talk of bringing these activities into the EU, there remains the desire in many continental capitals to minimise disruption. In recent weeks, the political wind in the UK seems to be blowing more strongly for a “soft” Brexit, which would see the country continuing to follow EU rules much as now. Under this sce nario, the UK could continue to have influence, just as European Economic Area countries (Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) give input into the legislative process. Given the impor tance of London to the wider European economy, its views are likely to carry weight. All the more so if they work with open liberal trading countries within the EU. However, this assumes the UK will continue to follow a similar course to that of the past 35 years. A future prime minister might have a “hard” Brexit agenda, either from the right of the Conservative party, or from the far left of the opposition Labour party. Yet even without these unlikely scenarios, UK politics is likely to be more unstable for a while. Rather than the strong administra tions of the past, something resembling coalition government is likely for the foreseeable future. This will hamper the UK’s ability to take a clear stance in talks with its neighbours. Yet is the idea of a low regulation, neoliberal UK something of a myth? To a large extent, it was the UK government which drove the imple mentation across Europe of Mifid II, a particularly complex and onerous (if well-intentioned) package of fi nancial sector red tape. The UK government was keen that other EU
PIERRE GRAMEGNA Luxembourg’s finance minister continues to keep UK connections alive, such as speaking at a fund industry conference in London on 3 May
countries should follow its own do mestic regulatory agenda. Thus keeping the UK away from the controls may have its upside.
LOOK EASTWARDS Yet even if the UK disappears from the EU’s legislative scene completely, the free traders might have other options for building coalitions. Open borders have seen a complex
spaghetti plate of international ar rangements emerge. Whether it’s asset managers offshoring back office functions or car manufacturers sourcing components from multiple countries, increasing numbers of EU countries are benefitting from open trading arrangements. Thus governments and lobbyists must now build new working relationships to emphasise their mutual interests. June 2018
Text by DUNCAN ROBERTS
FOSTERING STABILISATION While the UK prepares to leave the European Union, other countries are clamouring to gain accession to the bloc. Luxembourg’s foreign minister Jean Asselborn sheds light on the progress of the candidacy of the western Balkan countries of Albania, Macedonia, Bosnia, Kosovo, Serbia and Montenegro. Duncan Roberts: During the Luxembourg EU presidency in 2005 you were already stressing the importance of giving the people in the Balkans a European perspective. Are you disappointed that progress on the accession of countries from the western Balkans has not been faster? Jean Asselborn: The European pers pective of the western Balkan countries had already been confirmed at the Thessaloniki Summit in 2003, and it has been reconfirmed at the Sofia Summit this year on 17 May. The EU enlargement policy aims at ex porting stability. The EU should own up to its responsibility to continue to foster the stabilisation of the region and not leave this to other external actors. The European perspective of the region has helped the countries to achieve overall political and eco nomic reforms with improved demo cratic processes. At the same time, it is clear that no candidate country is currently ready to join the European Union, as all the conditions (“Co penhagen criteria”) are not yet met. Accession candidates must give the rule of law, justice and fundamental rights utmost priority in the nego tiations. I remain convinced of the importance of integrating the region in the European Union based on a clear, merit-based process. It is crucial for the stability of our continent that we endeavour to make it more democratic, more peaceful June 2018
DIPLOMACY IN ACTION A. Jean Asselborn (right) with Montenegrin foreign affairs minister Srdjan Darmanović (left) and a delegation B. The foreign minister also hosted his Macedonian counterpart Nikola Dimitrov for talks in April
and more stable. The European perspective is a key driver of trans formation in the region and thus enhances our collective integration, security, prosperity and social well- being. It remains essential for fostering reconciliation and stability. One must also not forget that the reforms that are required in order to prepare the western Balkan countries for their accession require patience and per severance. Ownership of these reforms by both the governments and the citizens is essential, and quality goes before speed.
DR: The latest commission budget proposal foresees an increase in EU support for the western B alkans. How important is this in practical terms and as a message of encourage ment to the governments of those countries? JA: The instrument for pre-accession aid (IPA) foresees a performance reward for the beneficiary countries that advance well with the imple mentation of the programmed reforms. So, this increase in funding is indeed an encouragement to continue on the reform path. At the Sofia Summit,
an agenda of actions in the area of connectivity in all its dimensions (human, economic, digital and infra structure) has been adopted. The aim is also to help the regions to move towards a future-oriented digital economy. We are speaking about improving connections with and within the western Balkans region. The package of measures, the socalled Sofia priority agenda, adds new initiatives to our current coope ration. IPA funds will be mobilised to support these concrete and visible actions, which aim to benefit citizens
directly and show the advantages of both continuing on the European path and fostering good neighbourly relations. Constructing a dense web of connections and opportunities within the region and with the EU is vital for bringing our citizens and economies closer together, and for enhancing political stability, economic prosperity, cultural and social development. DR: Accession negotiations with Albania and Macedonia have been given the green light. How optimistic are you that they will achieve
the reform goals required and what impact will their membership eventually have on the EU? JA: The commission has proposed to open accession negotiations with these two candidate countries to recognise the progress achieved to date in the area of essential reforms, such as the rule of law, good go vernance and the judicial system. However, the commission’s report also indicates that much remains to be done in all of these areas as well as other reform priorities. While the commission issues the recommen dation on the opening of formal accession negotiations, it is the prerogative of the member states to decide, by unanimity, on the whether and when negotiations will be ini tiated. The EU foreign ministers will decide on this proposal at their June meeting in Luxembourg. As I mentioned earlier, the reforms in the framework of the accession process require commitment and patience, tangible results are crucial. I have visited those two countries recently and I could see that the governments in Tirana and Skopje work very hard to achieve these goals. I think it is important that this current momentum be maintained in order to fulfil the criteria required for an accession to the EU. We should also take into account the fresh impulse in the discussions between Athens and Skopje. Should important progress be achieved in this regard, then we will need to follow up on this accomplishment. While accession of a new member to the EU requires some institutional rearrangements and a number of measures in order to ensure a smooth transition, the integration of new members into the European Union will allow us to work together more closely in order to tackle common challenges.
SCEPTICISM European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker has been a keen promoter of EU expansion, warning that failure to encompass the western Balkan countries could have tragic consequences. “I do not want to see war returning to the Balkans and so we need to open up to them,” he told the European Parliament in April. But Germany and France have voiced doubts about expansion to the east. In his April address to the European Parliament, French president Emmanuel Macron said that a Union with 30 or 32 member states operating under the same rules “is simply not feasible”. June 2018
Text by MARGARET FERNS
Photography by PATRICIA PITSCH/MAISON MODERNE
TRUMP DOMINATES DEBATE
he US midterm elections will take place this November. They represent an important point in US politics, with the potential to change the course of Donald Trump’s presi dency and the political landscape for years to come. At a recent Paperjam Club debate, the Luxembourg chapters of the Republicans Overseas and Democrats Abroad met in a heated discussion, moderated by Delano’s Duncan Roberts. While the idea was to debate each party’s policies, it soon became all about Trump, as if he was the only man in power in the US. The Republicans stated that Trump is having a positive effect on the economy, while Democrats claimed that he is only helping the top 1%. The debate continued on the wall between Mexico and the US, jobs and Obamacare. Depending on your political leanings, Trump is creating or destroying jobs; Obamacare is a disaster or has given millions of Americans access to healthcare. The wall is going to solve or worsen all of these problems. icon_website www.paperjam.club
US MIDTERM ELECTIONS A. Alexandre Dias attending the Paperjam Club event on 17 May B. William Abundes and James O’Neal of Republicans Overseas Luxembourg C. Moritz Ruhstaller, and Patricia Reckel & Kerri Hannan from the US embassy D. John Paul Gomez, Paul Comrie, Alonzo Lozada and Elise Comrie E. Eva Moynihan and Natalie Bachiri of Democrats Abroad Luxembourg F. Julien Delpy & Luciana Restivo of Maison Moderne, and Paul Schonnenberg of Amcham G. Rebecca and Richard Tippett H. Pierre-Yves Lanneau Saint Leger and Alexis Cazeau
C O U R T E S Y ( ( E C TOT H E R M ) )
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HONOURING SACRIFICE 26 MAY, 2:30 P.M. US military personnel pay tribute to the fallen at the American military cemetery in Hamm on Memorial Day. Dignitaries from the US embassy, Luxembourg government, parliament, army and royal court were joined by representatives of the US Office of Defense and from Ramstein and Spangdahlem air bases for a formal ceremony. “As commemoration wreaths were laid down on the same soil that was soaked with the blood of the valorous soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice 73 years ago, gentle winds carried the melody of ‘Taps’ over the quiet cemetery,” says clearly moved photographer Matic Zorman. “It was a reminder of our duty to honour and to guard the freedom and values for which those men, sons, brothers and fathers sacrificed their life.” DR June 2018
BUSINESS INSIDE A FOOD TRUCK
LUNCHTIME BUSINESS A. Hungry customers wait for their order at the So Food truck, parked at the headquarters of Paul Wurth in the Gare district, 16 May B. So Food’s employee Vanessa sets out the menu offering seven delicious burgers C. Johnny, So Food’s chef, showing off his tidy kitchen D. Preparing a So Big Ben burger: a beef patty topped with cheddar cheese, bacon, an egg and homemade sauces including ketchup and honey mustard E. Order up! Another happy customer heads back to work with a gourmet burger F. Bon appétit
190,209 The number of cross-border workers employed in Luxembourg in April, according to Statec. The figure could exceed 200,000 in 2019, if job growth continues at the current rate. Cross-border commuters represent about half of the grand duchy’s total workforce.
M&G Investments will “transfer billions of pounds worth of customers’ money” from UK to Luxembourg-domiciled funds, reported Funds Europe. M&G’s Anne Richards said the move would “protect the interests” of its clients during Brexit talks.
“THERE HAVE BEEN MANY ARAB PROFESSIONALS WORKING IN LUXEMBOURG FOR A LONG TIME, BUT THEY DON’T KNOW EACH OTHER.” Fouad Rathle in an interview with Delano on why he set up the new Luxembourg Arab Business Association. icon_website www.delano.lu/business
Patricia Pitsch/Maison Moderne M&G Investments Olivier Minaire (archives)
On a recent sunny day, Delano visited So Food, a food truck which specialises in deli ciously original burgers. Owner Gregg Hell says staff begin preparing around 8:30 a.m., serve lunch from noon to 2 p.m., and wrap up at 3 p.m. Hell opened So Food in 2014 after deciding that he wanted to create his own business, one into which he could put his passion for food. “We serve street food, but there is a big difference between food trucks and snack trucks. The difference is quality.” Despite the focus on quality, Hell said that he tries to keep prices down. A burger with fries or coleslaw costs €11; a comparable meal in a restaurant can run between €15 to €20. Thinking of opening a food truck? A vehicle alone costs between €40,000 to €100,000; getting the operating licence and securing the right locations takes several months of legwork. J-PG
In celebration of Luxembourg’s booming innovation ecosys tem, the Arch Summit wel comed entrepreneurs, startups, large organisations and anyone else interested in innovation on 3 & 4 May at Luxexpo. MF icon_website www.archsummit.lu
ARCH SUMMIT A. Warrick Cramer of the event organiser Tomorrow Street B. Eva Wilmers of Huawei C. Els van der Helm of Shleep D. Étienne Schneider, the deputy prime minister
CATCHING UP WITH…
SASHA BAILLIE The veteran Luxembourg diplomat was appointed CEO of the economic development agency Luxinnovation on 1 May. Sasha Baillie seeks to use her experience to help promote the Luxembourg econo my. Prior to joining Luxinnovation, Baillie was deputy chief of staff at the economy ministry and director of international economic relations and European affairs at the foreign ministry. She also chairs the steering committee for foreign trade and investment, which is in charge of developing and implementing the country’s economic development strategy. “Thanks to this experience,” she said, “I have gained a good understanding of our country’s interests, especially in the economic field. I aim to use this insight to optimise the work of Luxinnovation and ensure that we work coherently with our various partners in government and in the private sector.” In her opinion, it is vital to “understand the interests of all our partners and to find a common ground in order to move things forward together.” Baillie describes her management style as “network leadership”. She explained that this means “taking account of specific individual concerns, understanding the broader common interest and joining forces to avoid a compartmentalised manner of working.” In her new role, Baillie would like to “ensure that our partners and the compa nies that we serve are more aware of the tremendous expertise and support the team at Luxinnovation can provide. I would like companies to realise that working with Luxinnovation will bring real added value to their innovation projects and considerably help them to succeed.” Going forward she wants to motivate Luxembourg-based companies to “innovate and grow in a smart, sustainable way and help them prepare for the future challenges that new, and sometimes disruptive, technologies bring about.” Interview by MARGARET FERNS
Text by MARGARET FERNS
Photography by MIKE ZENARI
WISHFUL THINKING NOT GOOD ENOUGH
anellists at a recent British Chamber of Commerce financial services forum agreed that the Brexit vote should never have taken place, but now that it has, best get on with it. For financial services, the issues of passporting and delegation were seen as the major challenges. It was agreed that the withdrawal negotiations are taking too long and several crucial elements lack much needed clarity, most particularly the issues of pass porting and delegation. Post-Brexit, the UK will no longer have passporting rights and is seeking to negotiate third country equivalence. The concept of equivalence was introduced by the EU economic and financial affairs council to allow non-EU countries, under certain circumstances, to access the single market. However, according to Luc Frieden, chairman of the board at Banque Internationale à Luxembourg, “What the UK wants is very far from political reality.” Noel Fessey, CEO of the European Fund Administration, said, “The issue is complex, and UK wishful thinking is not good enough.” icon_website www.bcc.lu
SNAPSHOTS PASSPORTING TALK A. Tshering Bhutia and Mohamed Benmelouka attending a British Chamber of Commerce forum, 25 April B. Rebecca Steele and Sara Speed C. Jeffrey Dentzer and Marco Lippert D. Nicolas Mackel of Luxembourg for Finance, MarieHélène Massard of AXA, Simon Black of PPRO Group, Noel Fessey of the European Fund Administration, and Luc Frieden of Bil E. Joanna Denton and Peadar Carpenter F. Robert Deed and Nicki Kayser G. Hans Guldentops, Valentina Zabrian and Jack Ehlers H. Luc Frieden I. Noel Fessey
Text by MARGARET FERNS
Photography by MIKE ZENARI
KEEPING LUXEMBOURG IN THE PREMIER LEAGUE The new head of the grand duchy’s banking trade group talks to Delano about financial regulation and attracting new staff to the sector.
ith a career in banking that has spanned 30 years, Guy Hoffmann has seen his sector change beyond recognition. As the CEO of Raiffeisen takes on the role of chair man of the Luxembourg Bankers’ Association (ABBL), he is very much aware that the image of his industry has been tarnished since the events that led to the global crisis of 2008. Yet he questions the efficacy of the subsequent influx of regulation over the last ten years, saying the cost of compliance could actually be increasing banks’ exposure to risk. “We are the authors of our own bad image,” Hoffmann said in an interview, “and it is up to us to improve it, but we need to find the right balance of regulation.” The Luxembourg financial regulator, CSSF, recently published annual figures for the banking sector, announcing a decline in results of 15.4% to €5.3bn in 2017, which it explained as largely due to the cost of compliance. According to Hoffmann, this is money that banks cannot invest. “If 50% of our invest ment capacity goes into regulation, we cannot create and develop other services for clients.” “In the US, they are trying to be proportional and reduce banks’ costs, but here in Europe, we are building walls and becoming less competitive. Ten years after the crisis we need to review our regulations and ask are they working. Do we have enough proportionality? I believe not.” He explained that small retail banks are not exposed to the same risks as investment banks and yet are subject to the same level of regulation. “This is not reasonable and runs the June 2018
GUY HOFFMANN A. and B. The chairman of the Luxembourg Bankers’ Association and CEO of Raiffeisen bank is seen during an interview with Delano in his offices on 25 May
risk that only a handful of bigger banks will be able to compete, which goes completely against the ‘too big to fail’ idea. We need a solid distri bution of different sized banks on the market.” That said, Hoffmann admitted that, “There have been some excellent measures since 2008, and banks are safer as a result, but there are many that do not add value, and even the big banks are having a tough time develop ing a profitable business model.”
NEW REGULATIONS However, it is not all about regulation, even if anyone in the process of implementing GDPR and PSD2 might disagree. For Hoffmann it is important that the banking sector doesn’t get stuck on regulation but also sees the bigger picture. “I am positive about the future, although the sector is changing a lot and may look very different in a few years’ time. Luxembourg plays in the
premier league of financial centres, creating about 30% of the country’s wealth and employing about 26,000 people. But we have to ensure that we continue to do so.” In Hoffmann’s view, banking as a career has lost its flair and needs to be revitalised. The problem is getting young people to see it as an interesting career. “We cannot compete with civil service salaries. How can we encourage young entrepreneurs when there is this kind of difference?” He believes part of the solution lies in financial education. “Many people do not even have the most basic financial literacy, both children and adults. We need to work more closely with schools and the university on this.” Above all, Hoffmann is concerned about the cost of doing business in Luxembourg. “We don’t want to be the cheapest, but we certainly want to keep a lid on it. Why not a flat corporate tax rate of 21%? This would attract more external investors.”
WHAT WE MEAN BY… GDPR: The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation sets guidelines and data protection and privacy for all individuals within the EU. It has huge implications for any organisation that collects or handles the data of EU citizens in any way and came into effect on 25 May 2018. PSD2: A revision of the payment services directive implemented in 2007, it enables bank customers, both consumers and businesses, to use third-party providers to manage their finances, meaning that banks no longer just compete with other banks, but may other players too. ABBL: Founded in 1939, it is the “professional association representing the majority of financial institutions as well as regulated financial intermediaries and other professionals established in Luxembourg,” according to its website. icon_website www.abbl.lu
CSSF: “The public institution which supervises the professionals and products of the Luxembourg financial sector. It supervises, regulates, authorises, informs, and, where appropriate, carries out on-site inspections and issues sanctions,” says its website. icon_website www.cssf.lu
Text by STEPHEN EVANS
Photography by MIKE ZENARI
WOULD AN EU INVESTING LABEL HELP? Providing investment for the productive economy is good. Supporting projects judged to be sustainable is better. Hence the increased demand for mutual funds which follow responsible investment principles. But would new EU rules make these products even more attractive to the average investor?
n assessment of what makes a “responsible” investment is highly personal. For some, the project sup ported must respect a full range of environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria. Other people are more concerned to just exclude backing for activities they personally find distasteful: the arms trade, hydrocarbon extraction, activities with complicated human rights records, etc. This is a growing industry whichever measure is chosen. A recent report for the Association of the Luxembourg Fund Industry put total such assets in Europe at €476bn in 2016 (double the 2010 figure), while the Global Sustainable Investment Alliance estimated total assets of $12trn. How can the average investor make the choice that matches their personal ethical standards? National fund industries and individual businesses have created their own ESG investing labels they hope will aid decision- making. Luxflag is Luxembourg’s contribution; a rating which takes a relatively strict, holistic approach. The European Commission is considering a move to developing a pan-European system akin to the EU Ecolabel applied to a range of goods and services. An action plan launched in March talked of “a unified EU classification system”, “clarifying the duty of asset managers and in stitutional investors to take sustainability into account”, “enhancing transparency June 2018
ROBERT WILLIAMS Institutional investors already have a sense of responsible investing strategies
in corporate reporting” and maybe even relaxing capital adequacy rules for banks with greater responsible investing exposure. Initial proposals were published in May. After having mulled these challenges for decades, the asset management industry has expressed its scepticism about this move. “Any mandatory sustainability requirement, especially regarding investments, would turn ESG into a ‘tick the box’ compliance exercise,” said the European Fund and Asset Management Association. “Market growth demonstrates that managers are already aware that sustainability criteria are essential elements in ensuring that they act in the best interest of their clients over the long term,” added Alfi. “Institutional investors have a good idea of what responsible investing means,” explained Robert Williams, head of business development at NN Investment Partners Luxembourg, a firm which has specialised in
responsible investing products for nearly 20 years. The likes of insurance companies and public and private pension funds are choosing these strategies to appeal to end-clients. It is easier for asset managers to sit down with these experienced clients and explain ESG strategies.
CLIENT AWARENESS For individual investors, however, the challenge is different as most often they lack expertise. “Our strategy is to rely on distributors such as private banks, family offices, and independent financial advisors to explain choices,” Williams said. “If the EU can en courage an increased flow of ESG data from corporations then this would help us assist end investors make informed choices,” he added. However, taking a lowest common denominator, administrative approach to fund assessment might just add to red tape without increasing client awareness.
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Text by STEPHEN EVANS
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RENOVATING YOUR HOME IN A BOOMING MARKET Thereâ€™s a shortage of skilled labour in Luxembourg. We notice it when our employers pay us more than in other countries, and also when we need work done on our homes. Prices charged by non-Luxembourg home renovation firms can be substantially lower, but do the hidden costs make it worthwhile?
ARTISANS AT WORK Staff from Peinture Franco Di Tomaso paint a home in Esch-Alzette, 15 May June 2018
hether you need an electrician, a plumber, roofers, odd-job people and so on, prices are signifi cantly higher here than most other places in the world. There are no official statistics on costs, but the EU’s Eurostat points to salaries in these sectors being 10%-25% higher in this country than the averages for France, Germany and Belgium. Some firms will then add a bit more, knowing that many local clients will be able and willing to pay. But should con sumers look abroad instead? It’s tempting, and many satisfied customers have enjoyed good service at lower cost. But there are also several horror stories. Most “foreign” com panies have a Luxembourg office through which their business is or ganised, but there is no guarantee that this will result in redress if there’s a problem.
RENOVATION WORK IN LUXEMBOURG Some highly reputed Luxembourg firms will trade on their names, adding a hefty mark-up to some quotes, with no gain in service quality. If an offer appears too good / low to be true, it probably is. Seek recommendations when you can.
ABROAD IS DIFFERENT Eveline Pels recently renovated a 50-year-old house, and had some good experiences with non-Luxembourg firms. But one instance with a large Belgian window firm (with offices in Arlon and the grand duchy) proved to be hair-raising. “The windows and sliding door arrived, but they didn’t fit and the colour was wrong,” Pels explained. The work came to a halt as the façade and flooring couldn’t start until the windows and door were in place. “We tried to contact them, but the sales person we dealt with wouldn’t take our calls, and recorded delivery letters sent to their Luxembourg address were returned undelivered three weeks later,” she added.
Their Luxembourg lawyer and the Luxembourg Consumers Union (ULC) couldn’t help because as it turned out the firm only had a shell presence here. “The only solution was going to their head office in Hasselt near Brussels and standing in the reception until the CEO agreed to talk to us,” Pels said. They did manage to get redress, but only after substantial cost, effort and heartache. These delays also meant that they had to continue paying for two homes for longer. “I had one French firm that really took the mickey,” complained local businesswoman Carole Miltgen, speaking of one experience when renovating her Luxembourg City home. “They gave me a quote for exterior digging work that seemed reasonable, but when I received the bill there were added extras that they hadn’t discussed with me. They even had the nerve to complain that they had a long way to travel to the site, as if they wanted me to pay for the time they were stuck in traffic,” she said. “You hear it said that firms from outside the country are much cheaper, but for me it’s a bit like Ryanair: the
basic cost might look less but when you add the hidden extras it can really add up,” she said. She pointed to several firms giving quotes based on hourly rates when she prefers a flat fee based on getting the job done. Running her own business meant Miltgen did not have the time to keep track of how work was progressing on a daily or hourly basis.
AVOID THE BEST AND WORST Bad news travels fast, and for sure there are good, serious firms operating out of the neighbouring countries. “I would only go with a foreign firm if they came with a recommendation from someone I trusted,” advised Pels. Then, of course, there’s the language question. Luxembourg firms tend to have more people with at least rudi mentary English than German, Belgian and French companies. Pels also advised avoiding Luxem bourg firms with very good reputations. “Never go for the cheapest, and going for the most expensive doesn’t neces sarily guarantee the best result either,” she said. This experience was backed up by another homeowner who did not wish to be named. They needed June 2018
their roof replaced, and decided to play safe, calling on three reputable Luxembourg-based roofing firms. This was major work worth tens of thousands of euros. “One firm was about 20% more expensive than the other two,” he told Delano. “When we asked the salesman why this was he told us, ‘We are more expensive because of our name--the other two firms you have contacted are very good so I would recommend you go with them.’”
BLACK MARKET WORKING Non-resident firms who work “on the black” are a bugbear for some local businesses. According to one owner of a small decoration firm who wished to remain anonymous, this is a “major problem that amounts to substantial unfair competition”. He spoke of vans with workers from across Europe being paid less than the minimum wage, lacking the formal training certificates required in Luxembourg, and without social security and insurance cover. Clients might find these operations online, in the press, through leaflets, or from
a knock on the door. These could be teams of painters who can do a quick job, or more often guys with high-pressure hoses who offer to clean walls, driveways, patios, and so on. Sometimes these teams offer cut price work, but they might also be sufficiently pushy so that clients end up paying over the odds. This is to say nothing of the potential for shoddy work without the chance to make a claim. Patrick Koehnen of the Fédération des Artisans, a handicraft trade as sociation, complains that the relevant enforcement agency, the Inspectorate of Labour and Mines (ITM), doesn’t have sufficient resources to do their jobs correctly. “The law was reformed in 2017, and this gave the ITM more means to sanction through fines and the ability to close sites if firms can’t supply documentation about salaries and the required skill level of em ployees,” he noted. “But there are still not enough staff at the ITM to ensure that the law is followed.” There is a feeling held by many in the in dustry that inspectors tend to focus
on larger sites. Often these feature multiple layers of subcontracting, with maybe the 5th or 6th level more likely to feature firms that fail to follow the rules. “If there are inade quate controls, honourable firms miss out, staff work in bad conditions, the state misses out on receipts, and clients risk receiving poor service,” Koehnen added.
CHECK-UPS: NOT PERFECT One of the potential giveaways that teams are working without the nec essary certificates and respect for Luxembourg social and salary rules is an international number plate. However, local independent real estate agent Claude Fettes told Delano that there was little chance of illegal workers getting away with scam operations for long. He specialises in purchasing and renovating older properties, and uses many different companies based both in Luxembourg and in neighbouring countries. “It is my experience that nearly always people living near a site will call the ITM, the customs or the police if June 2018
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they see a foreign number plate on a van,” he commented. He also noted that police regularly make enquiries when doing their rounds. This view was supported by another decoration firm we spoke to: “ITM controls happen regularly, every few months, but I get the impression large sites are controlled more often, not least because there can be multiple sub contracting relationships.” One firm told us how they sold a van second hand with their logo on it. A non-resident firm bought this and used it for a number of weeks, fooling clients into believing they were from this well-known, respected firm. However, once the ITM were notified, the firm had to repaint, he said. That said, in the words of one interviewee: “In general, I think many people are aware of the potential scams that are out there.”
A BOOMING MARKET Quotes from Luxembourg firms are higher for a number of reasons linked to supply and demand. “There is a housing boom and it’s causing a bottleneck with huge demand,” Fettes noted. As demand increases, so does the price. “I am frequently disappointed that you never receive loyalty bonuses,” he added. “I have worked with some local companies on numerous occa sions, and rather than cutting prices they are more likely to put their prices up over time,” he said. This boom also means it’s hard to find experienced people who can carry out good quality work, and schools are not producing potential new hires quickly enough. “The educational system’s CATP vocational training qualification gives students
the basics, but we need to add two to three weeks of on-the-job training until they are really up to speed with what we require,” noted Franco Di Tomaso, the owner of Peinture Franco Di Tomaso, a decoration firm based in Esch-Alzette. “Even so it is difficult to find people with this basic training,” he added.
LOWER SALARIES The reason for this is that salaries are relatively low. A survey in 2017 by the recruitment firm Hays pointed to monthly gross salaries going from €2,300 for new recruits up to €4,000 for those with more than 15 years’ experience. A technical manager could hope to earn up to €5,000€6,000 with 15 years’ experience. By way of comparison, a national statistics office Statec study from 2016 said, on average, workers in the manufac turing sector earned about 20% more, employees of the retail/car mainte nance sector 10%, the public sector 40% more, with financial sector staff earning double. Moreover, the increasing cost of living and housing makes Luxembourg
less attractive to immigrants. Cross- border workers fill many vacancies, but again many are sought after near where they live, and prefer to work in their home regions where they can still earn a good livelihood without the need to sit in traffic jams each day. A long-standing small family painting business owner said: “It’s becoming increasingly difficult to find good conscientious people, and when you do often they leave to find better paid jobs, often with the commune. I’ve been obliged to take people who I wasn’t convinced about, and often they have not had the skills or devotion to the job I would have liked.” In the absence of a personal recom mendation or a sort of T ripAdvisor service for home maintenance staff, there is always an element of potluck. Picking Luxembourg-based firms with reputations to maintain may be the safest option, but this reas surance comes at a price. But then most of us enjoy higher earnings in Luxembourg than we would in other countries, and maybe we just need to pay the going rate.
WHAT IS A LUXEMBOURG FIRM? Many home maintenance firms are principally located abroad, but have a Luxembourg address. This is required to enable these firms to charge just 3% VAT on renovation work on homes built more than 20 years ago. Some of these firms are caught cutting corners regarding the minimum wage, minimum qualifications, whether insurance and social security is paid, if safety procedures are being followed, and so on.
Text by JESS BAULDRY
Photography by LALA LA PHOTO
YOU’LL NEVER WORK ALONE The concept of working in shared office spaces, known as coworking, is rapidly catching on in Luxembourg, where office rents are high.
t first glance, Bamhaus looks like a row of abandoned build ings besides a worn-out rail track. But on closer inspection, this leafy street in ArcelorMittal’s Dommeldange site is buzzing with creative energy. Films and music are edited here, costumes are designed and art is made by the 20 or so tenants in this creative coworking hub, which began in 2014. Tempted by low rents, self-employed sound engineer Ben Barnich was one of a handful of people to establish an office in the sprawling old industrial complex. “There was so much space, I barely needed it. The idea from the beginning was to get more people here and make something more diverse with more knowhow under one roof,” Barnich explained. It helped that the buildings had been renovated as a film studio in the 1990s. Relics of that era remain in the cinema, a private screening room, and the make-up room with its light bulbframed mirrors, soon to be another creative space. “There’s a lot we’re still benefiting from today. Nevertheless, they’re old buildings. If you don’t maintain them, they fall apart,” Barnich said, adding that he also invested his own time and money to make the space workable. Today, Bamhaus occupies around 1,500m2, spread across two rows of buildings. Coworking spaces range from caver nous workspaces, like Barnich’s private space, to smaller, private offices, open space with desks, and large open creative spaces. In addition to the cinema, Barnich and his colleagues have developed a bar area, a spray room and a maker space, equipped with carpentry tools, areas which are June 2018
accessible to all tenants to work, hold meetings, host events or rehearsals. “You get more space than just a desk,” he said, adding: “We tried to develop this place organically, with the people there and around the needs that arise.” The main attraction for tenants is the low price--€250 per person per month in a city where average office rents are €31.40 per square metre according to JLL’s 2017 market
report--and flexibility. But it is clear that they get more than just a working space--tenants are also part of a network. “I think it’s nice because everyone’s services get enhanced in a certain way; they can offer more or have a closer connection,” Barnich said, explaining that in the freelance world, recommendations are key. Bamhaus is a typical creative hub, converting an unused space into low-cost and flexible working space
BAMHAUS A. The coworking space, seen on 17 April, is located in repurposed industrial buildings
“IF YOU WERE THERE TO WORK A BIT, SHARE A LOT AND HAVE BARBECUES TOGETHER, BASICALLY, YOU WERE A GOOD FIT.” LUCILE BARBERET
B. Sound engineer Ben Barnich cocreated Bamhaus C. Guitars line the wall of Barnich’s workspace D. A chandelier provides a touch of shabby chic to the space E. Barnich adapted the space to his needs F. Motion designer Steve explains Bamhaus is close to his home G. A sign urges coworkers to recycle H. The screening room was created by the film studio I. No coworking space is complete without a bar
for cash-strapped artists. It is not the only one of its kind--the 1535° C reative Hub in a former ArcelorMittal factory in Differdange was renovated and opened by the commune in 2013. It was not long after that coworking spaces for startups in other sectors began to mushroom in Luxembourg, the biggest of which was Nyuko.
WORKING IN A NEST Created out of a merging of The Impactory and Business Initiative, the not-for-profit opened on rue de Hollerich in 2015, where it offered coworking for startups, meeting rooms and a host of support activities for startups. “We wanted to build a community that would benefit everyone,” Nyuko press officer Lucile Barberet said. “If you were there to work a bit, share a lot and have barbecues together, basically, you were a good fit.” With 35 desks in the open space, the office frequently reached capacity. It did not faze tenants who would simply find a corner of the kitchen to work in. What was important was that the space provided an environment away from the stuffy confines of corporate culture, which would be more con ducive to creative thinking processes and where anything is possible. Patrick Ittah was among the first workers to settle at Nyuko, with a spin-off project for his employer. He chose the space because of its
ORIGINS Coworking is a concept where people work in a shared space which encourages collaboration, networking and mentoring. The first coworking spaces were Spiral Muse, which opened in San Francisco in August 2005, and St. Oberholz, a café founded in Berlin in September 2005. June 2018
proximity to the train station and the flexibility it offered, enabling him to accommodate a growing team within a short timeframe. “The word that comes to mind is ‘nest’,” he said, re calling the cosy atmosphere of Nyuko. Ittah said that he forged contacts with other tenants with which he remains in touch today. “The networking was valuable, but it wasn’t the main pur pose,” he said. The team eventually outgrew Nyuko when they doubled in size and moved on to a coworking office with private space, enabling them to register the company there.
ENCOURAGING CREATIVE THINKING While most tenants tended to be self-employed people who don’t want to or cannot work from home, Ittah’s example reflects a new shift in the uses of coworking spaces. “We’ve had employees from banks and the Big Four come to the coworking space. It helps them to be more creative, changing the atmosphere between the office and here,” Barberet said. Demand for coworking spaces is clearly growing and because of that Nyuko has moved on and adapted its offer. It moved to the House of Entrepreneurship in rue du Labo ratoire in April, where its coworking activities are now managed by the Luxembourg City Incubator. The space has 200 desks, this time with both private and open spaces. “What is interesting here is that we can get advantages of both formats, because you’ve the private offices here and if you want you also have open spaces where you can mingle and ask ques tions,” Barberet explained. Another advantage of the new office is 24/7 access through a badge system. “That’s interesting for startups. They can come in at weekends. We also had coworkers working with South America who had to work when South America was working,” Barberet recalled. PRIVATE SECTOR DRIVERS Until recently, the entire coworking system was largely driven by the public sector and not-for-profits, but June 2018
its business potential has not escaped the notice of corporates. Countless companies, including Paul Wurth and BGL BNP Paribas, have their own sector-specific incubator hubs for innovation and research startups. But service companies are also now springing up, offering general co working spaces. The newest is Silversquare, which recently opened office space, meeting rooms and communal areas for 250 coworkers in rue Glesener, in the Gare district. “Companies nowadays are faced with the choice between traditional solutions like business centres where they rent a space but there’s no community or incubators, if you’re a startup, or workspaces which are mainly open, so you don’t have a lot of private space,” Silver square country leader for Luxembourg Claudine Bettendroffer said. “The missing link was to have one space which offers private and open spaces and all the services of a business centre.” Luxembourg is the fifth coworking space opened by Silver square since it was founded in Belgium ten years ago. The plan is to eventually open up to four per year in Belgium and Luxembourg. Bettendroffer said there is a “huge market” for mixed coworking spaces for startups and
J. The spray room for artists K. Light bulbframed mirrors remain from the site’s days as a film studio L. The project room for artists is the newest space M. An artist explains his work
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N. The entire site spans 10,500m2 O. Upstairs is the open coworking office space P. Barnich shows the meeting room Q. Coworker Erik Abbott at his workstation R. A clothing designer works S. A coworker concentrates on his work T. The Bamhaus site is rented from ArcelorMittal
“THE MORE SPACES THAT ARE CREATED, THE MORE COMPANIES ARE CREATED.” CLAUDINE BETTENDROFFER
established freelancers, and she suggested that demand will continue to grow. “What I saw in the last years, especially in the startup ecosystem, is the more spaces that are created, the more companies are created,” she said. What is more, like Nyuko, in Silversquare’s Brussels spaces she has observed a trend for larger firms to locate small spin-off teams in coworking areas. “Sometimes they are permanently in these new spaces, because it’s another way of exchanging ideas,” Bettendroffer said.
EVOLVING TREND While Luxembourg may have been slower to embrace coworking spaces than some countries, the trend appears to be continually evolving. With over 180,000 of Luxembourg’s workforce travelling daily from abroad, co working in the Greater Region also offers an attractive alternative for commuters. In 2017, Luxembourg commissioned a company survey to understand the needs of companies from coworking spaces in border regions. A fiscally messy area, because working in another country comes with tax status and social security complications, the easiest alternative is to locate such spaces in Luxembourg but next to the border. Prime minister Xavier Bettel is already one step ahead having last year announced that a coworking space should open in Esch-Belval in 2018.
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FOOD & DRINK
Text by AARON GRUNWALD
Photography by JAN HANRION/MAISON MODERNE
SALES GRIND COFFEE MARKET
$4.1M Value of fresh coffee beans sold by Luxembourg retailers 
91 TONNES Consumption of fair-trade certified coffee in Luxembourg 
$18.4M Value of standard fresh ground coffee sold in Luxembourg  $116,491,000 Value of imported coffee into Luxembourg  13.5KG Per capita coffee consumption in Luxembourg  $52.2M Value of total coffee sales, of all types, in Luxembourg cafés and bars  378,000 Number of 60kg bags of coffee imported into Luxembourg 
45% Percent of the world’s organic coffee consumed in Europe 
$25.7M Value of coffee pod sales in Luxembourg  8.6% Marketshare of organic food and drink products in Luxembourg, the 2nd highest sales rate worldwide 
€188 Per capita consumption of organic food in Luxembourg, the 4th highest worldwide  and the 2nd highest sales rate in Europe 
 Euromonitor International, 2017 figures;  Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 2015;  Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 2006;  International Coffee Organization, 2013;  Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 2014;  Research Institute of Organic Agriculture, 2016;  US Department of Agriculture, 2016
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Organic and fair-trade coffee, like most other food and beverage items, still represent a small portion of market in the grand duchy. Yet Luxembourg, proportionally speaking, leads the way in the segment. Delano spills the beans.
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Text by ALIX RASSEL
Photography by MIKE ZENARI
HUMAN RESOURCES SPECIAL REPORT THE ONLINE FUTURE OF TRAINING An increasing number of companies are moving their training programmes online. So how does this shift to the digital age impact employees and employers?
he House of Training (HoT) in Luxembourg acts as a broker for the training needs of the 90,000 or so companies registered with the Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce. Whilst many of these firms are very large and have their own internal training teams, a notable number need to use external resources. “Our main areas of focus are ‘formations pour le dirigeant d’en treprise’ (establishing a company) and ‘formations sectorielles’ (industry training),” explains Luc Henzig, CEO of the HoT. “The sector specific training is dominated by the banking and financial sector, which accounts for at least 50% of the courses deliv ered. However, sectors such as real estate and construction, engineering and architecture are also very popular.” HoT utilises 800 trainers who are experts in their field of study, with 36 full time staff. “The trainers all come from the sectors they represent,” says Muriel Morbé, the organisation’s head of programme management. “This means that they are experts in the fields they represent and can bring ‘hands-on’ knowledge rather than quoting from text books.” Whilst the training is not free, according to Luxembourg regulations, 1.5% of each firm’s total employee salary costs has to be put aside each year for training programmes. “This June 2018
LUC HENZIG AND MURIEL MORBÉ All companies in Luxembourg have access to organised training courses
means that all companies, particularly smaller ones, have the same access and level of training as the large corporations do,” states Henzig. Some of these trainings--such as in the hospitality and finance sectors--have to be completed before businesses can be established in Luxembourg, according to government rules. However many courses are taken by people who aren’t legally required to do so. “As with all things,” explains Morbé, “it is never bad to be overly prepared.”
GOING DIGITAL The HoT uses various methods for conducting training, including courses held at their offices, onsite training
and an increasingly popular demand for e-learning. “In 2019 we aim to roll out a series of e-learning trainings, utilising the expertise that has already been established by existing interna tional organisations, but specifically focused on Luxembourg,” says Henzig. “There is no point in reinventing the wheel if there are e-learning courses already available; we just work with our partners to ensure they are relevant to the needs of the Luxembourg market and authorities.” “E-learning is becoming more popular as it allows the employee the freedom to complete trainings at their individual pace and time,” Henzig reckons. Monica Jonsson, founder of
MONICA JONSSON E-learning can be time- and cost-efficient
CoachDynamix, a consultancy, agrees: “The popularity of e-learning has increased quite rapidly in recent years and this is no surprise given the continuous efforts for companies to achieve overall efficiencies and reduce costs where possible. In addition to being cost-effective, there is, of course, also the benefit from an employee point of view that it allows for a greater flexibility for them to take the training when it works best for them.” At present there is still a large gap between those organisations able to offer e-learning (usually larger, mul tinational companies) and those who can only offer external training; this is something that the House of
Training hopes to remedy with the launch of its new platform. “E-learning will be available to all chamber members, regardless of the size,” explains Henzig. “So that all individ uals will have equal access.” E-learning is another example of how companies are moving to digital solutions to increase their cost effec tiveness and speed of service, but does it come at a cost for employees? “I used to have time out of my working day dedicated to specific trainings,” explains “Clare”, who works for a large multinational organisation. “Now the onus is on me to complete the trainings without any allocated time. This means that often people are doing trainings at home or staying at work longer, which defeats the work/life balance objective.” “Frank”, an employee of a large international finance company, concurs: “There is the danger that trainings are something else that ‘has to be done’ and that the contents aren’t properly assimilated by the employee. In short, we are just ticking the box. This could become particu larly problematic if it relates to trainings for regulatory or other legal requirements.” Jonsson can also see the dilemma of digital courses. “E-learning is very
valuable when it comes to developing technical skills, keeping employees up to date about company values, policies, processes, procedures--en suring the same message gets com municated to everyone--and helping them learn latest updates on industry relevant topics such as regulations, compliance, ethics, etc. However, when it comes to developing ‘soft skills’, e.g., leadership, communication, time management or team work, the value of e-learning is not as straight forward. In my experience, e-learning can cover the ‘basics’, but is limited when it comes to really developing lasting skills in this domain. The reason for this is that as human beings we are all different and there is no ‘one size that fits all’.”
ADDITION, NOT SUBSTITUTE Online programmes are certainly another way of developing training needs, but it is an addition to existing methods, not a substitution. As Henzig explains: “E-learning is not ideal for every situation, which is why the House of Training will continue to offer onsite and classroom trainings. However, it does open doors, par ticularly in terms of cost and efficiency that weren’t previously available to smaller companies.”
HOUSE OF TRAINING The outfit offers approximately 700 training modules. Around 20,000 individuals take its classes each year. Courses are organised by job roles and industry sectors, as well as for professional development. icon_website www. houseoftraining.lu June 2018
HR SPECIAL REPORT
Text by JESS BAULDRY
Photography by MIKE ZENARI
TOAST OF THE TOWN We often take communication skills for granted. But the art of communication is more subtle and powerful than many realise. Toastmasters clubs help to unlock this magic skill.
killed communicators apparently earn more money, have better marriages and are highly employable. These are just some of the findings that have emerged from a handful of scientific studies on the subject. But they are not always the first reasons people join a Toastmasters club. “I went there mostly for socialising because I found people which were like-minded and because of the recognition,” Oana Marangoci of the Green Heart Toastmasters Club says. “It changed me in a very pro found way. I was a very shy person, but I came out of my shell.” Part of Marangoci’s positive ex perience comes from the fact her club offered a “safe environment to practise”. “They were very encour aging and made me stay and evolve.” Marangoci began working through the Toastmasters training manual two years ago. She passed the first stage, becoming a “competent leader and communicator” within just 18 months. The certification, however, is nothing in comparison to the valuable communication skills, which benefit her work and personal life. “What I found useful was presentation skills and time management. At the beginning it was a real struggle to fit a speech into 5-7 minutes. I also improved a lot my language and voice projection. This was mostly due to the workshops we had.”
SOCIAL CLUBS Green Heart Toastmasters Club is one of six social clubs in the Luxem bourg area, the oldest of which is the Bossuet Gaveliers. The Orateurs du Jeudi is the only French-speaking club, while Toastmasters op Lëtzebuergesch June 2018
was launched in May as a club where people with minimum B1 level in spoken Luxembourgish can practise their language skills. Another social club, Pitch Craft 4 Entrepreneurs, was founded at the beginning of 2018 and has yet to gain the official Toast masters charter. There are also a further five corporate clubs, established by companies exclusively for their staff. All of the clubs follow the Toastmasters curriculum, Pathways, an updated version of the earlier,
more general, manual-based training. Now available online, Pathways enables members to focus more on the communication matters they want to improve rather. It involves giving speeches, and taking on other roles like organising meetings, or being an evaluator, feedback being integral to the Toastmasters pro gramme. It takes on average two to three years to finish a path in this programme, though learners work at their own pace. Participants can
BUSINESS SKILLS Entrepreneurs are not traditionally the focus of Toastmasters group, says Pitch Craft 4 Entrepreneurs founder Evelyn Holzeis, pictured on the right, with Katy Dyzewska
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WORKPLACE LEARNING BBH’s “To be discussed” is one of five corporate Toastmasters clubs in Luxembourg
also take part in contests within the area, division and district. Clearly, the Toastmasters trend is growing, particularly among the business community.
ENTREPRENEUR SKILLS Pitch Craft 4 Entrepreneurs, which began in February 2018 and meets twice a month at coworking space The Office, is evidence of this. The social club was founded by jeweller and coworking resident Evelyn Holzeis. “We’re targeting more freelancers, entrepreneurs and self-employed individuals. Other clubs don’t really have that much of a focus on this type of demographic,” she says. “We basically want to create a safe envi ronment for everyone to learn how to communicate with their clients, with their employees, if they have a team as an entrepreneur or a startup business. Even your body language, how you communicate. It expresses whether you’re confident and it also helps you sell your brand.” A natural introvert, Holzeis says the idea of public speaking and June 2018
creating a club around it really pushed her beyond her comfort zone. How ever, she has already noticed a change. “It’s about awareness. As you read and hear others speak you become more aware of the different tools your body and voice have when you speak,” she says. The club follows the Toastmasters curriculum, but adapts it to the group, for instance, tackling questions specific to entre preneurs in the “table topics” and speeches. “One of the skills that’s important for entrepreneurs is to be able to sell their own products in a storytelling way,” edutainer and group member Katy Dyzewska explains, adding: “Each of us has a different experience, different products. We can exchange experiences and feelings and maybe create some kind of collaboration.”
CORPORATE CLUBS Within the five corporate Toastmasters clubs is BBH’s “To be discussed”, which was set up in 2009 with 20 found ing members. An initiative from a member of the management team,
who was already a Toastmasters convert, the idea was to help staff improve public speaking skills, BBH senior vice president Nils Cullen explained. “As the club became more established, we realised there were many more benefits besides improving public speaking skills, including im proving meeting organisation and effectiveness, building self-confidence and networking.” Today, Toastmasters is part of the bank’s standard training curriculum and some 200 members and guests have participated in meetings, which are held every other Thursday at lunchtimes at the BBH offices in Luxembourg. While the skills learned are important at all levels, BBH sees that they also improve efficiency, a crucial element in a business where time is money and work pressures are constantly mounting. Cullen said: “Everyone is busy these days so it’s important we make the most of our meeting time--efficient meetings or presentations with clear, concise messages help improve the quality of discussions and drive action.”
SOCIAL TOASTMASTERS CLUBS IN LUXEMBOURG Bossuet Gaveliers, Casemates, Green Heart, Orateurs du Jeudi (in French), Saber Toastmasters (at Spangdahlem USAF Base) STILL IN THE MAKING Pitch Craft 4 Entrepreneurs Toastmasters op Lëtzebuergesch (in Luxembourgish) CORPORATE TOASTMASTERS CLUBS IN LUXEMBOURG Amazing Speakers (Amazon), European Investment Bank, Have Your Say (Eurostat), State Street Tales, and To be discussed (BBH) icon_website www.tmclub.eu
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Text by SARITA RAO
Photography by MIKE ZENARI
WORKING TO THE SAME DRUMBEAT Corporate team building is no longer the enforced drudgery it once was. These days, companies are trying out African drumming, escape rooms and even charity work to encourage employees to work to the same drumbeat.
leven people sit in a circle straddling African djembe drums. Everyone is concentrating. They must co-ordinate, first with the left, then with the right hand, to keep a collective rhythm. Ebrima “Kubra” Mass, in traditional Gambian dress, grins broadly and says: “You each do a different thing for your company, but everyone today must play the drums in harmony.” The people are from Halian, a UK IT services company with global operations including 120 people based in Luxembourg. “It brings us closer together to communicate better as a team, and this makes us more effective and better at business,” says Martin Sokolowski, the company’s resourcing director. He goes on to explain that the job has a lot of res ponsibility, particularly when they are tendering for a big contract: “We work long hours so it’s good to learn to relax too.” Mass grew up in West Africa in a very rich musical environment, per forming in resorts and teaching the djembe to tourists. In 2002 he moved to the Netherlands where he worked for more than a decade as a musician and instructor, before moving to Luxembourg in 2016. “People are usually apprehensive to try something new, but once they do they are rarely disappointed,” he says. He believes these corporate workshops are growing in popularity precisely because of an increasing awareness that we can greatly improve the quality of life by integrating healing therapies into our daily routines. His most common clients June 2018
EBRIMA MASS Music teaches staff members how to work in concert
are in banking and IT, where em ployees work in high stress environ ments, often spending long hours at their computers, making it difficult to connect with colleagues.
WORK COMMUNITY “A business is a community, and the value of a community is priceless. Drumming is a great icebreaker, and is a very effective way to get a diverse group of people communicating, listening to one another, picking up on non-verbal cues, and working together as a team,” he explains. For Mass, these sessions evoke togetherness and leave participants with a sense of belonging: “They learn through musical experience
just how important it is to collaborate and listen to one another, as well as recognising the value of their own individual contribution within the context of the team.” Cyrille Gobert, managing director of Halian’s Luxembourg division, first tried African drumming in a corporate workshop with another company. “I enjoyed it so much I took lessons. Then I found Ebrima and we tried our first workshop last year. The staff really appreciated it. We share these moments of emotion that I think we will remember for a long time,” he says. Jens Christian Haugaard runs Outperform in Luxembourg City. The majority of his clients are companies who use the escape rooms for
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on-boarding new staff or introducing newcomers to the company and to Luxembourg. Sessions are also run for leadership teams focusing on motivation and communication, and sometimes even in the recruitment process. “Escape games are a self-learning experience. Participants must think ‘how do I communicate’, ‘how do I cope with stress’, ‘how do I react under pressure’ and ‘what are my problem solving skills’ in order to find the solution to get out of the room,” says Haugaard. During these sessions his company also monitors the participants to give constructive feedback. Although Outperform was esta blished in 2016, Haugaard has been working within organisational and professional development for some 20 years, mostly in his native Denmark. He is clear that corporate team building must move with the times: “Many companies still use old school methods. Much of today’s training focuses on transmitting knowledge and maybe even motivation over the course of a week. We focus much more on concrete behavioural changes and improvements needed to adapt to new demands in order to achieve better results.” He uses a mix of coaching, training, escape games and focused e-learning, which is tailored for specific companies. “Team building is a number one priority today. The market is full of competitive products, so the only difference is often the team. Luxem bourg also has a big mix of nationalities and cultures, so it’s important to agree what the team stands for and how it will work with other colleagues and customers,” he says.
POWERFUL TOOL Cristelle Ponsard from ING Luxem bourg agrees: “Team building activities are a powerful way to improve com munication, motivation and engage ment. ING puts a lot of importance on maintaining a great working at mosphere and we encourage our people to have fun at work and to celebrate successes.” She believes that enjoyable activities allow a team to get to know each other in a different context and break June 2018
CRISTELLE PONSARD Team building activities improve communication
down hierarchical and personal barriers. ING teams get a dedicated sum of money to spend on team building, and the freedom to choose what works best for them. “We believe that each team is different and must be able to express its identity and creativity. Some go to the Christmas markets in Germany, others have tried escape rooms or doing charity work such as cleaning and painting rooms in a children’s association,” says Ponsard. Mass’s experience is backed by thousands of years of history: “For millennia, drumming has been a fundamental group activity for com munication. People have used drum ming to release stress, raise spirits, enhance clarity and develop community bonds. I have no special technique; I am just following my people’s century-long tradition of uniting people around a drum circle.”
STUCK FOR AN ORIGINAL IDEA? BROTHERS EVENTS They run team building sessions, such as learning magic tricks, secret missions, the Middle Ages challenge and a corporate DJ workshop. icon_website www.brothers.lu FANCY INVOLVING YOUR TEAM IN AFRICAN DRUMMING OR ESCAPE ROOMS?
EBRIMA MASS African drumming workshops for companies, schools, churches, community groups, special needs or those in care homes. icon_facebook Ebrima Mass Djembe Tambana OUTPERFORM Escape games, coaching, training and tailored corporate programmes. icon_website www.outperform.lu
LANGUAGE CAMPS 2018 IN LUXEMBOURG
15.07.18 – 21.07.18 French camp, horse riding (Luxembourg-City)
22.07.18 – 28.07.18 French camp, arts: theater, circus, magic (Lultzhausen)
For other dates, please contact BERLITZ LUXEMBOURG 89–93, Grand-Rue 1661 Luxembourg Tel. +352 26 38 32 48 email@example.com www.berlitz.lu
Book a Berlitz Holiday Group in French, German or English in the same time with a camp, and receive 10 % discount on the total amount! For more information, please call us on the following number: +352 26 38 32 48
PERSPECTIVES We asked three industry experts:
“What skills are missing today from Luxembourg’s labour force? In 2-5 years, what skills will be in short supply?”
SACRED HEART UNIVERSITY EXECUTIVE EDUCATION
LEADERSHIP SKILLS FOR THE FUTURE LEADER
Esther Celosse Adjunct professor of management
ecent conferences on fintech, startup pitching competitions, blockchain, cryptocurrency events and other socalled “disruptive” developments explain the changes in technology and the need for innovation; but they also enhance the challenges faced by current and future leaders in Luxembourg. Managing multi-generation teams, leading digitalisation processes and using social media to communicate with customers and employees are only some of the new skills required when leading a company to growth. Leaders should understand the impact of digitalisation on business processes and the relationship with their customers and employees, but also support their mana gers in leading the inevitable changes. So how do current and future leaders become aware of the additional skills they need in these times of change? And above all, how can they learn the missing skills? In our experience, we have realised that a training course must satisfy two requirements: supply the participants with a specific knowledge on a topic, but also assist them with the interpersonal skills needed to lead a group with confidence. For this reason, we have created a com bination of traditional teaching with oneto-one coaching and mentoring sessions led by experienced professors mainly for courses in the areas of business strategy, digital marketing, change management, leading people and project management. Good leaders never stop learning, or as Simon Sinek said: “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”
INSTITUT NATIONAL DES LANGUES
LANGUAGE SKILLS, A BURNING ISSUE IN THE LUXEMBOURG JOB MARKET Karin Pundel Director
t is difficult to know exactly what skill set and knowledge the fast-changing work environment in Luxembourg will require in the future. However, witnessing people’s eagerness to learn a new language-or to refresh and extend their knowl edge of a language--every day, I can state confidently that language skills will definitely continue to be essential. Not only does multi-language pro ficiency improve employability and positively affect promotion opportu nities, it also allows us to communi cate our thoughts and feelings to others. Languages are an important tool for integration and in this con text the knowledge of at least one of the three official languages in Luxembourg is necessary. Of course, in Luxembourg’s in creasingly multicultural and multi lingual society mastery of English, the de facto lingua franca of the 21st century, is equally crucial to succeeding professionally and per sonally. Taking all this into conside ration, adequate language education provision is of paramount impor tance to help people develop their foreign language competence. In addition to private language schools, public players like Institut National des Langues occupy a significant position and help people to learn efficiently by promoting excellence and innovation in language teaching.
survey of 225 professionals in Luxem bourg’s financial sector showed that although technical skills are of prime importance, concern is in a soft skills gap. Workforce entrants in Luxembourg already possess the requisite hard skills and continue to train well enough to meet technical skill demands. Pointing a way forward, Clearstream Luxembourg (survey Ruisi, 2014) explained that the gap in soft skills could be bridged with languages, presentation expertise, conflict or cultural management. Technol ogy’s impact is multifaceted and has creat ed a negative spillover effect on interper sonal, communication and critical thinking skills. The question is whether these soft skill deficiencies will either abate or accelerate. This author believes the latter is more likely. What economists call human capital spillovers are individuals impacting on each other in myriad ways. For example, sociological evidence points to a decrease in the use of drugs among teenagers in the UK partly due to the role of technolo gy as a detractor. These non-linear effects on the labour force must be better under stood. A final note is that the ever-accele rating pace of technology may actually erode what we think we should address. Today’s perceived soft skills gaps may or may not be so important tomorrow. Schools are excellent test-beds for the future as young people often determine whether a new technology succeeds or fails and they will increasingly run the workplaces of the future.
INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL OF LUXEMBOURG
BRIDGING THE GAP IN SOFT SKILLS
Dr. James Mulli Upper school teacher, business and economics June 2018
Delano presents a selection of upcoming business, informational and networking events for Luxembourg’s international community. Starting times omitted from all day happenings. Advance registration or fees may be required, so consult the link indicated for details. All events are held in English unless otherwise noted. BEST PRACTICES
Tigfi Professor David Howarth of the University of Luxembourg speaks on “The politics of too big to fail” to the financial ethics group.
SGG Sir Bob Geldof (pictured) and the fund manager Gina Miller are among the speakers at this industry event that asks: “Can the finance industry contribute to a better society?”
icon_when Wed 20 June, 12:00 icon_where Cercle Munster, Grund icon_website www.tigfi.org
Amcham Lisa Obringer speaks on “Knowledge management using ‘Communities of Practice’--a new methodology for tomorrow” at this business luncheon. icon_when Mon 11 June, 12:00 icon_where H otel Parc Belair, Luxembourg-Centre icon_website www.amcham.lu
British Chamber of Commerce Andrew Notter and Keith Amoss facilitate “Leading change-bringing people with you”, an HR breakfast workshop on team cohesion. icon_when Wed 13 June, 08:30-10:00 icon_where B adenoch & Clark, Luxembourg-Gare icon_website www.bcc.lu
Luxinnovation This workshop presents a national additive manufacturing study and “examples of successful R&D activities carried out by Luxembourg industry and research institutes”. icon_when Thu 14 June, 09:00-12:00 icon_where 1 avenue du Rock‘n’Roll, Esch-Alzette icon_website www.luxinnovation.lu
RISK CONFERENCE CRYPTO TALK
Alrim The Luxembourg Association for Risk Management (Alrim), along with the World Economic Forum, hosts the 5th Global Risks Conference. icon_when Wed 20 June, 16:30 icon_where 19 Liberté, Luxembourg-Gare icon_website www.alrim.lu
ROBUST COMPUTING Bridge Forum Dialogue Klaus-Heiner Lehne, president of the European Court of Auditors, speaks on “The European Court of Auditors, advocate of the tax payer”, followed by a Q&A session. icon_when Mon 18 June, 18:30 icon_where Hemicycle, Kirchberg icon_website www.forum-dialogue.lu
Meetup Bitcoins Blockchains Luxembourg The monthly meeting of this blockchain social group focusses on Coinplus Solo, a physical cryptocurrency account from the local startup Coinplus. icon_when Tue 10 July, 17:30 icon_where Siegfried Von Westeschgaart, Luxembourg-Limpertsberg icon_website www.meetup.com
University of Luxembourg The Uni hosts the 48th IEEE/IFIP International Conference on Dependable Systems and Networks, an academic forum on keeping computer systems reliable and secure. icon_when Mon 25-Thu 28 June icon_where Alvisse Parc Hotel, Dommeldange icon_website dsn2018.uni.lu
FIND MORE EVENTS Check Delano’s digital agenda for the latest happenings: www.delano.lu/agenda
icon_when Tue 26 June icon_where To be announced icon_website www.sgggroup.com
The Network Former professional athletes Irina Derbina-Karotom and Virginia Anderson (photo) talk on how to “focus and concentrate whilst performing in stressful or disruptive environments”. icon_when Wed 11 July, 19:00 icon_where To be announced icon_website www.thenetwork.lu
Caitlin Childs (CC BY-SA 2.0) British Chamber of Commerce Creative Tools (CC BY 2.0) Duerino (CC BY-SA 4.0) University of Luxembourg Maison Moderne Markus Spiske (CC0 1.0) World Bank/Simone D. McCourtie Coinplus
mini MBA 2018 FUTURE-PROOF YOUR BUSINESS 8-day Leadership & Innovation Programme · Luxembourg City
The Paperjam Club is pleased to announce the launch of a new 8-day Leadership & Innovation Programme in partnership with Solvay Brussels School of Economics and Management. The sessions for the Mini MBA Programme will be spread over 8 days in October and November 2018 at the Cercle Cité in the heart of Luxembourg City.
at i o n -2 0 1 8 for m n i e i-mba n i mor m / m.lu pe r ja u b . pa
4 modules will be delivered: Strategy, Finance & HR, Innovation, and Customer Development. DATES 1, 2, 22 and 23 October 2018 5, 6, 26 and 27 November 2018
CONTACTS & APPLICATIONS Julien Delpy firstname.lastname@example.org (+352) 20 70 70-415 Pauline Schmaltz email@example.com (+352) 20 70 70-409
Text by MARGARET FERNS
Photography by MIKE ZENARI
FROM “SUIT” TO SURF COWBOY This financial sector executive has been riding musical waves for a quarter century.
hen Louis Wright first picked up a bass
guitar at the age of 14 he was, frankly, terrible. However, as the only bassist around at the time he was given a chance by a local band and spent the entire summer holiday teaching himself to play like his heroes of the time; Sting, Paul McCartney and Geddy Lee. It wasn’t long before he became less terrible and was soon playing along to The Police, The Stranglers, Queen and The Beatles. Fortunately, he is really very good now and has been bassist/singer with the Surf Cowboys for the last 25 years. Started in 1993 as a studio project, the Surf Cowboys actually dates back to the 80s at the European School. Since then it has released three albums, had a few number 1s locally and opened for Deep Purple, Toto, Status Quo, Simply Red and many more. From Kneip business development manager by day to raspy-voiced surf dude by night, Louis (pictured at Guit-Art in Bonnevoie) loves the collaborative creative aspect of being in a band, and especially enjoys still being in a school band in his 50s. He loves the goose bumps that come with performing and the way he can unwind and become someone else while on stage. For him it is the best way to relax after a stressful day as a “suit”. “As soon as we play the first chord, you feel like a teenager again, we might have got older and heavier (musically of course), but I look around at my mates and all I see is a bunch of friends having a great time and dreaming about becoming rock stars one day.” From the band’s own songs, Louis’s favourite is ‘Run for Your Life’, which he wrote when he was 18 and recorded when he was 50. The song was mixed by then guitarist Martin Kalregard, who is now a successful producer in Sweden. icon_facebook Surf Cowboys June 2018
DAD BAND Louis Wright has been in Luxembourg since 1974, when he attended the European School. He studied at the European Business School in London before starting his career as a bond dealer at KBL. He then made a change and managed Connie’s jeans store for 11 years, before re-entering the financial sector for three years at Internaxx, followed by three years at Luxembourg Air Rescue for a breath of fresh air. He has been a senior business development manager at Kneip for the past 11 years. He speaks English, French, Luxembourgish and German. Far from being a boy band, Louis describes the Surf Cowboys as a “dad band” as he is the proud father of three boys, aged 15, 19 and 21.
C T IC & ALT
I V E MU S I C T A N
Radio E N G L I S H NE
, CHAT & MU
The diar y
RIDE THE BLUES EXPRESS
Belgian chain Knokke Out has opened a bar-restaurant in Rives de Clausen. The venue specialises in events and parties, while upstairs diners can enjoy a sumptuous buffet option featuring a large choice of hot and cold dishes. icon_where R ives de Clausen, Luxembourg-Clausen icon_website w ww.knokkeout.com/ luxembourg
FOR MEAT LOVERS
Tanja de Jaeger has partnered with model and actor Mickey Hardt to open Katchi The Beef Club, her third venue in the city. De Jaeger, who already owns wine bar Dipso and club diner Charlotte with different business partners, says that while vegetarian dining is trending, meat eating is in Luxembourgers’ DNA. icon_where Place Guillaume, Luxembourg-Centre icon_facebook Katchi The Beef Club
Brauhaus has replaced the rather short-lived Franz on the rue de la Poste. The new brasserie, opened by Concept+Partners group, is aimed at beer lovers and fans of simple but quality local cuisine, with a menu that includes bouchée à la reine, kniddelen (dumplings) and steak de cheval. icon_where R ue de la Poste, Luxembourg-Centre icon_website w ww.brauhaus.lu
A series of workshops and lectures is being held at the National Museum of Natural History to mark this year’s Asteroid Day on 30 June. Visitors can also tour new exhibitions with a focus on the museum’s meteorite collection. icon_where Rue Münster, Luxembourg-Grund icon_website www.mnhn.lu
GROOVE IN GRUND
One of the most popular free festivals of the summer, the Blues‘n’Jazz Rallye takes place on 21 July this year. The event sees some 60 acts perform on open-air stages in the Grund and in Clausen, where the streets are blocked off to traffic. icon_where Luxembourg-Grund & Clausen icon_website www.bluesnjazzrallye.lu
The sixth Luxembourg Polo International tournament takes place over the weekend of 6 to 8 July. icon_where Rue des Celtes, Luxembourg-Merl icon_website www.polo.lu
FANCY SOME CRUMPETS?
Purple Sage is a new cosy café-style venue that serves fair-trade coffee, organic teas and fruit, and farm fresh fare, as well as specialising in crumpets of all sorts. icon_where rue de Bonnevoie, Luxembourg-Bonnevoie icon_website www.purplesage.lu
The annual Schueberfouer fun fair this year opens on 23 August and runs through 11 September on the Glacis. icon_where Glacis car park, Luxembourg-Limpertsberg icon_website www.fouer.lu
SKIP SCHOOL TO HOP
The head of Luxembourg’s Catholic Church wants school kids to have the day off to attend traditional religious events. In a speech prior to the start of the Sprangprëssessioun, Archbishop JeanClaude Hollerich called it a “disgrace” that education minister Claude Meisch has not given kids the day off next year, when the jumping procession doesn’t fall during school holidays. Hollerich also complained that many pupils had been unable to take a day off school to attend the Octave this year because they had exams. Traditionally, schools around the country organise a trip to the cathedral during the pilgrimages for their pupils. The flip side of organised school trips, however, is that the parents of non-Catholic students who don’t want to attend the Octave have no option but to arrange alternative care for the children on that day. Meisch replied to Hollerich’s outcry by tweeting that although schools would not be able to organise official trips to Echternach for the event in 2019, students who attended with their parents, or as a member of a music group or with their local parish, would be granted the day off. Meanwhile, former mayor of Echternach Jos Scheuer launched a petition for kids to be allowed to skip school to hop in the procession. His argument, however, is not based on purely religious grounds, but rather that the Sprangprëssessioun is recognised as part of Unesco’s “intangible cultural heritage” list--a status that was famously mocked on BBC’s Have I Got News For You back in 2010.
Knokke Out Maison Moderne Mike Zenari Martine Huberty David Edgar/Creative Commons
IT’S A KNOKKE OUT
Some 40 or so international blues acts play on 11 stages at Fond-deGras and Lasauvage over the weekend of 14 and 15 July. The 15th Blues Express festival features some big names in the genre, including Richie Kotzen and Archie Lee Hooker. icon_where Fond-de-Gras & Lasauvage icon_website www.bluesexpress.lu
DUTCH TREAT King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima of the Netherlands were in Luxembourg for a state visit at the end of May. As well as walkabouts, audiences and state dinners, the couple were debriefed on Luxembourg’s efforts in the circular economy.
out this at the Rotondes talks ab The music programmer lés festival and the live music summer’s Congés Annu scene in Luxembourg.
SIP/Emmanuel Claude & Charles Caratini Cour Grand-Ducale/Cyril Moreau/Bestimage Maison Moderne (archives) Eliot Lee Hazel
MEET AND GREET A. Crown Prince Guillaume and Crown Princess Stéphanie greet the Dutch royal couple at Findel airport B. Queen Máxima greets crowds outside the grand ducal palace C. The spotlight is too much for a girl presenting flowers to the royal couple D. Grand Duchess María Teresa and King Willem-Alexander during a toast at the official state dinner
és ’s gig at Cong ys Ariel Pink unpredictable sa ) op (t r se the most Marc Hau probably be Annulés will
In the heady days of 2007 when Luxembourg and the greater region were the European capital of culture, a young man was put in charge of programming music in a boxed venue in the corner of the Rotondes site. Marc Hauser brought a slew of emerging talent to Luxembourg that year and continued to do so when the venue moved to the Carré Rotondes site in Hollerich and then back to Bonnevoie once the Rotondes had been cleaned and readied as a permanent cultural venue. He also saw an opportunity to fill a gap in the summer, when other cultural venues shut down for the holidays, and created the Congés Annulés festival--now in its tenth edition. The ever-modest Hauser probably doesn’t see himself as a pioneer, but alongside the likes of Fred Baus at d:qliq and Luka Heindrichs from De Gudde Wëllen and Food For Your Senses, as well as the Schaltot collective that founded the Out Of The Crowd Festival, there is no doubt he has helped open up the local music scene. “Choice has increased massively over the last ten years, smaller clubs started to programme emerging international bands,” he says. “This has given rise to more open-minded audiences, curious to discover new music, and has also resulted in more people attending gigs.” Congés Annulés is renowned for its eclectic programme, which Hauser says is essential to cover different tastes and satisfy a wider audience. “Unless you’re a real music nerd, it’s almost impossible to attend the roughly 20 concerts in a row at Congés Annulés in August. There must be at least one band you should like.” This year’s programme includes neoclassical composer Poppy Ackroyd, Atlanta indie-soul band Algiers, New York cult trio Blonde Redhead, London electronic artist Throwing Snow, and Australian power-pop quintet Rolling Blackout Coastal Fever. But when pressed to choose his own favourite on this year’s bill, Hauser plumps for what he says “should be the most unpredictable gig--Ariel Pink.” CONGÉS ANNULÉS icon_when 27 July-24 August icon_where Rotondes, Luxembourg-Bonnevoie icon_website www.rotondes.lu
Interview by DUNCAN ROBERTS
Text by DUNCAN ROBERTS
Photography by LALA LA PHOTO
Ambassadore opens hous
lthough the open house at the residence of the British ambassador John Marshall on 19 May was not billed as a royal wedding viewing event, it soon became clear that the nuptials of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle was one of the main attractions. But those guests who preferred to bask in the sunshine were treated to displays of Scottish country dancing, music from the St George’s International School Jazz Combo and work from British artists. They also enjoyed scones and shortbread or purchased hand-painted wedding souvenir mugs courtesy of the British Ladies Club, or chatted with representatives of Brill, the British-Luxembourg Society or the British Chamber of Commerce. The ambassador himself gave guided tours of the residence and guests also got a chance to view an exhibition commemorating 100 years of the RAF and its connections with Luxembourg.
GARDEN PARTY A. Ambassador John Marshall (left) welcomed guests B. Yolande Messena, Zamira Pode Hirsch and Thomas Flammant C. Guests watch the royal wedding on their mobile devices D. Huxley flies the flags E. Guests were treated to displays of Scottish country dancing F. Joe Lister and Maisie G. Enid Isaac and Mousumi Das H. Marie Louise Ashworth and Amy Amann I. Chris Atkinson and Ann and John Overstall
HOMES AND GARDENS
Text by MARGARET FERNS and MAGALY PISCAREL
n e d r a g r u o y E n joy t u o h t i w , r e this summ sweat a p u g n i k wor Summer is here, although sometimes in Luxembourg, you can be forgiven for not noticing it. If you are in any doubt, the tell-tale signs are sun (sometimes), as well as thunder and lightning accompanied by torrential rain and temperatures soaring to the high 30s that make you want to lie down and give up the will to live.
very once in a while, though, we get a belter of a summer in Luxembourg and all indications are that 2018 is going to be a good one. So, let’s make the most of it and get outside on hot days and long lazy summer evenings. For some people summer means mowing the lawn, planting and preening and generally working up a terrific sweat before collapsing of heat exhaustion. This article on summer gardens proposes absolutely nothing of the kind, being more for those of us who prefer to enjoy summer by just chilling.
STAYING SAFE IN THE SUN: HYDRATION In a sudden heat wave, emergency rooms are filled with people who have chilled a bit too much and finished up too hot. Sunburn and sunstroke can be dangerous, especially in young children, so let’s take care. Delano asked Cecile Bens of the Calista Institute, a beauty parlour, and co-owner of the natural products shop Nature Elements, what steps we should take to stay well in the heat. “Exposure to the sun leads to an increase in our body temperature, so hydration is essential,” Bens began. “Start by drinking at least 1.5 litres of water per day. Other drinks, such as coconut water, fruit juices and fresh smoothies are also good.” The bad news is she does not recommend alcohol or sugary drinks as they can accelerate dehydration. June 2018
“EXPOSURE TO THE SUN LEADS TO AN INCREASE IN OUR BODY TEMPERATURE, SO HYDRATION IS ESSENTIAL.”
“Our diets also play a role,” Bens added. “Foods that are rich in beta carotene [such as carrots, sweet potatoes, tomatoes and mangos] are known for their skin protection effects. Vitamin A provides skin protection as well and can be found in cheese, eggs, parsley and green vegetables.” She also explained that the essential fatty acids present in grape seed oil or in certain fish such as salmon and tuna help the skin to recover after exposure to the sun.
SKIN CARE Ideally, we should take care of our skin all year round, not just when the sun decides to make a guest appearance. According to Bens, we should, for example, “perform a scrub once a week to prepare the skin for
the sun and to develop an even and long-lasting sun tan”. What is really important is to cover up, especially children. “Hats, sunglasses and T-shirts [anti-UV T-shirts, for example] are essential to protect children safely. Apply a thick layer of sun cream and re-apply at least every two hours, more often if they have been swimming.” Above all, Bens recommends avoiding the sun between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.; instead “stick to shaded areas”. On the subject of which sun creams to use, she had this advice to give: “Give priority to biological sunscreens because they use mineral filters that reflect light and act as a mirror, unlike other filters that stay on the surface of the skin and create a waterproof barrier against ultraviolet rays.
CECILE BENS Watch what you eat… and drink
Organic cosmetics are also free of chemical preservatives [such as parabens] and other harmful synthetic products. They are active immediately, contrary to chemical sunscreens, for which it is necessary to wait about 30 minutes before exposure to the sun.”
TOP TIP: INSECT REPELLENT Bens explained a way of naturally repelling the pesky insects that accompany good weather. “Urucum is a little-known product but it is very effective. In fact, it is 100 times richer in beta carotene than carrots. Urucum is a thorny shrub from tropical regions of the Americas. Amazonian Indians traditionally use it by applying it to the skin to protect themselves from the sun and mosquitoes. You can use it in food supplements in the
form of tablets, or powders to add to your juices or dishes. It can be used externally as a complexion enhancer and is often used in organic make-up products.”
ENJOY YOUR TERRACE The founder of landscape architect company Gaarden Karisma, Nicola Senior, shared some simple tips on how to optimise your exterior space and enjoy it to the fullest. As soon as the first rays of sun touch down, people start planning how to arrange their outdoor space. But with all the textures, colours and shapes to choose from, it can be difficult to know where to start. According to Senior, there is something to suit everyone’s taste. However, this year, she notes, the trend is “sober”;
symmetry, light grey, polyethylene, fibreglass, and square and rectangular pots. The more understated the decorative objects, the more the flowers and plants will be highlighted. She suggests seasonal flowers such as petunia, geranium, chrysanthemum and roses, among others. To fully optimise your terrace or balcony space, Senior recommends using square pots, wall plants, modular square tables, favouring larger plant pots. For instance, use three large pots instead of six small pots. Hanging planters are not only functional, but they also protect the plants or flowers from the hot or cold floors. Senior explained that, “dark pots heat very quickly so the plants need more water, they are more vulnerable on terraces”. For long June 2018
HOMES AND GARDENS
and rectangular spaces, it is preferable to put a pot on each side and add a rectangular planter. You should also avoid floral arrangements that are too complicated, with too many different plants and colours. Lighting is also an important element as it deepens the space. To combine practicality with aesthetics, Senior suggests aromatic plants, something that is also a popular request from her clients. For small areas, why not cover the ground with realistic artificial turf? It has all the advantages of grass, but it does not require maintenance and it usually stays green all year round. Above all, remember that plants need care and it is important to protect them against parasites and weather conditions, Senior explained.
WELCOME WILDLIFE When Delano contacted Parc Merveilleux’s veterinary officer Dr. Guy Willems and Elisabeth Kirsch, a biologist and nature conservation advisor at the green advocacy NGO natur&ëmwelt, they both stressed the importance of letting nature take its course. Of course, there is no need to let your garden grow into a jungle, but leaving a “wilder” area is more likely to attract wildlife. Beyond mowing the lawn less often or preferably not at all, planting native natural hedges and letting flowers grow are important. “Promote fruit trees that flower in spring to feed insects, and fruit in autumn to feed the birds,” explained Kirsch. Nut and oak trees will make the squirrels happy, said Willems. A pile of brushwood, fallen leaves and dry grass will not only be used by birds to make their nests but will also make a perfect habitat for hedgehogs. If you wish to welcome hedgehogs into your garden, make sure that there is a hole big enough in your fence to let them come in. Kirsch even recommends a pile of rocks for the kitchen garden’s best friend, reptiles, which crave worms, snails and slugs. Birds have difficulty finding food during winter with the ice and snow, but other seasons offer them a large selection of insects. This is why Kirsch advises only feeding birds in cold seasons when nestlings need food high in protein, which is hard to find at this time. If you do feed them, make sure the food is always clean to avoid diseases. Manmade bird nests are a must in gardens, except in areas with lots of June 2018
cats and dogs. You can also accommodate insects like bees, ladybugs, butterflies and earwigs. You too can encourage insect pollination with insect hotels, made of dry stone walls, drilled holes, stones, wood and wire, explained Willems. However, be careful with pesticides. Opt for natural agents against aphids, such as plant broth from basil, oats, potatoes, garlic and ivy to protect biodiversity.
TOP 5 APPS Who said nature and technology do not get along well? Delano has selected a list of free Android and IOS resourceful applications for all ages that will connect you to Mother Nature. Garden Tags: Your plants and flowers too have their own Instagram.
Garden Tags connects you to likeminded gardeners from beginners to experts. Create a profile, share photos to get likes and comments, follow other gardeners to get inspiration and advice, invite your friends, access the encyclopaedia to find a plant, and add plant care tasks to your diary. Pro Landscape Home: Looking to give a fresh look to your garden or terrace? This landscape design app might be just what you need. Upload pictures of the area you would like to design and start designing your dream landscape. Find plants by climate zones, draw in grass, mulch and pavers, and add the finishing touches such as fountains, statuary and outdoor furniture. Share your creation on social media with the “before & after” mode.
NICOLA SENIOR Sober planters show off your flowers better
INDIVIDUALLY MANUFACTURED INTERIORS & FURNITURE
Showroom : 16A, rue Gabriel Lippmann L-1943 Luxembourg | +352 27 36 53 43 | firstname.lastname@example.org | www.nbr.lu
HOMES AND GARDENS
ADDRESS BOOK GAARDENKARISMA A landscape design company that has been designing, maintaining and transforming gardens in Luxembourg for over 15 years. icon_website www.gaardenkarisma.lu NATUR&ËMWELT The main organisation for the protection of nature and the environment in Luxembourg. icon_website www.naturemwelt.lu
NATURE ELEMENTS Nature Elements is 500m2 of organic and natural products. In Howald it is open Monday to Friday from 8am to 7pm and includes the restaurant La Table Bio, which has sit-in and take-away menus. icon_facebook Nature Elements
PARC MERVEILLEUX An amusement park with a wide range of attractions including exotic birds, animals in their natural habitats a pony ranch, children’s self-drive cars and more. Open every day from Easter to early October. icon_website www.parc-merveilleux.lu
Leave a little “wild” space in your garden
400,000 scientists and naturalists. You can also record and share your observations to create quality research data. This educational app is perfect for the whole family. SkyView: You do not need to be an astronomer to find stars or constellations in the sky. This stargazing app guides you to stars galaxies, constellations, planets, and satellites’ location and identifies them without using data signal or GPS. All you need to do is to point your device at the sky. Another function lets you jump to the future or the past and see the sky on different dates and times. This real-time cosmic data will delight budding explorers. With the return of the summer season comes the return of the joys
of gardening, as well as evenings outdoors. However, a word to the wise, there are a few rules in order to ensure neighbourly love continues.
OUTDOOR RULES If you are planning a shindig this summer, be aware that each commune has its own rules and regulations on how much noise you can make and until when (usually up to 10 p.m.). Breaching these rules can even lead to fines ranging between €25 and €200. Other regulations on cutting grass, burning leaves, construction work and using glass recycling bins, etc. apply during the day. Our advice: check with your commune, as the rules can vary slightly.
Anti-Mosquito Prank: Sun, holiday, joy… summer definitely has its highs, and thanks to pesky mosquitoes, its lows too. If research has not proved (yet) the efficiency of mosquito repellent apps, reviewers seem quite enthusiastic. The application emits an ultrasound noise that is similar to the sound of the bug’s natural predators. The pitch is so high that most humans will not notice anything. INaturalist: Green bird with small wings, red flowers with dots. At some point, we’ve all tried to look up on the internet the name of an animal or plant that we saw. This app helps you identify the plants and animals around you and aims to get you connected with a community of over
BEWOSST PLANZEN !
How can we keep Nature natural ? The way we look at our gardens and lawns is going to have to change: without using chemical weed killers – so let’s accept this and make the most of the daisies and clover that are growing back on our grass. We withdrew the synthetic chemical weed-killer “Roundup” from our shelves along with all other products containing glyphosate. We removed from our gardening departments all pesticide plant protection products: herbicides, fungicides and synthetic insecticides. We decided to stand up for nature! A natural garden provides plenty of healthy relaxation and loads of enjoyment!
“LET’S GARDEN NATURALLY!”
Quality without compromise
Text by ALIX RASSEL
Photography by MIKE ZENARI
Hair raising mbourg ip between a pro -Luxe How an unlikely friendshchildhood mentor raised more than basketball player and a ren’s cancer charity. $8 ,000 for a global child
t the tender age of eight, Scott Morton met Scott Ungerer in Syracuse, New York. Ungerer was a sophomore at high school, seven years older than Morton and a talented basketball player, just like Morton hoped to be. What developed between the two was an unlikely friendship. Ungerer became Morton’s mentor and role model. Although Ungerer moved to Holland and then Germany, where he played in the Bundesliga, the two remained close. Ungerer eagerly monitored the progress of Morton’s basketball career initially in Durham, England, and then to Basket Racing Luxembourg, where he currently plays. When Ungerer’s three-year-old son was diagnosed with a rare form of brain cancer in 2015, Morton was amongst many others to offer support and raise funds for treatment. However, despite the best efforts of medical staff, Ungerer’s son, Luke, passed away in 2016, leaving him devastated but with an overwhelming desire to help other children suffering from cancer. “Scott was and is always so positive and optimistic,” explains Morton. “He put his own grief aside in order to try and ensure the same thing didn’t happen to other children.” Luke had been treated by the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, which provides funding for research into childhood cancers. Ungerer’s goal was to raise as much money as possible for the foundation so that a grant could be given in Luke’s memory. “I initially got involved in raising money for the foundation from selling drawstring bags and then T-shirts,” explains Morton. “However, the goal was always to grow my hair. That way, I not only raised money for the foundation but could donate my hair to be used in making a wig for a child with cancer.” It took two very long and frustrating years to grow his hair long enough for the June 2018
challenge, and Morton is the first to admit that he hated it. “My hair just looked awful and when it was long enough, I just put it in a bun immediately. I have so much admiration now for women with long hair, it takes time and commitment!” On 4 April this year, Nathalie and Manuel de Abreu from NM Coiffure on boulevard Royal came to the basketball court at the International School of Luxembourg, where Morton helps to coach, to shave off his hair. NM Coiffure covered all the costs and donated the hair to a company that makes wigs for children in Belgium. “It was really great to have the hairdresser’s support me as well as ISL and Basket Racing Luxembourg,” says Scott. Scott raised more than $3,500 in sponsorship money and over $4,500 from selling Lux City T-shirts supporting the foundation at basketball games. “The response was overwhelming and I am delighted to say that we have raised enough money to sponsor a grant for the research done via St. Baldrick’s Foundation.” Whilst Scott hopes to continue raising money for the foundation in the future, he admits that he may need a little break before growing his hair again. But it was certainly worth it.
SCOTT MORTON Not only raised money but also donated his hair for wigs for children with cancer
INFORMATION St. Baldrick’s Foundation is always looking for “shavees” to join or organise head-shaving events. The charity says such events have gained major momentum since starting in 2000. “Today, we have more than
1,000 head-shaving events taking place around the world at pubs, restaurants, schools, churches, parks, firehouses, military bases.” icon_website www.stbaldricks.org
A multi-purpose deposit system designed in Luxembourg to transport meals. Whether at the restaurant, canteen or takeaway, the ECOBOX can be used almost everywhere. The multiple use of the ECOBOX will eliminate many disposable packagings. This initiative reduces the volume of waste because it does not only scale down the number of packages, but also the amount of food waste.
An action of: LE GOUVERNEMENT DU GRAND-DUCHÉ DE LUXEMBOURG Ministère du Développement durable et des Infrastructures Département de l'environnement
Partners: LE GOUVERNEMENT DU GRAND-DUCHÉ DE LUXEMBOURG Ministère du Développement durable et des Infrastructures Administration de l'environnement
MÉI LAANG GENÉISSEN www.ecobox.lu email@example.com
Text by NATALIE GERHARDSTEIN
Photography by MIKE ZENARI
“Sri Lanka u” changes yo Der Ploeg le Kamani and Dirk Van Sri Lankan-Dutch coup home for over 20 years , have called Luxembourg ardrop island ” in the grand duchy. but still celebrate the “te
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IN MY SUITCASE
DIRK AND KAMANI VAN DER PLOEG Dirk Van Der Ploeg, honorary consul of Sri Lanka in Luxembourg since 2016, remembers his first trip to the island nation in 1994 well, since it was also when he met his wife, Kamani. He had gone because “a friend said it was beautiful”, and it was his first time outside Europe. Kamani recalls her first memories of Luxembourg: “It was funny when I saw snow for the first time --I took an entire roll of photos.” In the beginning, the couple only knew one other Sri Lankan in the grand duchy, but now they have contacts with over 25 families, plus dozens more in Belgium. Dirk is proud that Sri Lanka has been represented for the last two years at the Luxexpo Vakanz Foire (vacation fair), where he and tour operators encourage others to visit the island. “Everyone who visits Sri Lanka brings back not just memories, but a new outlook,” he says. “Visiting Sri Lanka changes you.” The two visit Sri Lanka themselves roughly every 6-12 months. June 2018
necklace from handmade g day, I wore a re “On my weddin , and our wedding rings we eller y.” my mother-in-lawcountry has beautiful gold jew e in Sri Lanka. Th
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“Every fam and we pra ily in Sri Lanka has a recently ce y in front of it each Buddha statue, m holiday wh lebrated Vesak [ed orning. We . giving] in ich involves celebra note: a Buddhist the Nethe ti rlands and ons and alms in Belgium .”
Illustration by Jan Hanrion(Maison Moderne)
WHAT I REGRET LEAVING BEHIND “I always want to bring back durian fruit, but it is forbidden to take on the plane because of its strong, unpleasant smell. The fruit, however, is tasty and very healthy. Dirk loves durian too, so whenever we are in Sri Lanka we eat it a lot from the roadside stands.”
Text by DUNCAN ROBERTS
: w e i v e r p n Seaso s d n a h t a e r g n i e r u t l u c d Théâtre, ilharmonie and the Granrld. Ph the es, nu ve ral ltu wo er cu Luxembourg’s two premin for attrac ting some of the finest talent in the tio uta rep a d rne ea ve ha
nder the leadership of two relatively new and relatively young directors the Philharmonie and the Théâtres de la Ville de Luxembourg are forging ahead with innovative and exciting programmes for the 2018-19 season. Stephan Gehmacher, 45, has been at the helm of the Philharmonie since 2013. He has built on the groundwork laid by his predecessor, Matthias Naske, by developing a wide-ranging season that focuses not only on the greats of classical music, but also contemporary, jazz and world music and a fantastic educational programme for kids of all ages. Tom Leick, 48, took over from his mentor Frank Feitler at the Théâtres de la Ville de Luxembourg in 2015 and has also managed to put together an exciting season for 2018-19. It includes some truly world-class theatre, dance and opera, and the evolution of Leick’s own baby, the TalentLab programme that encourages and promotes young local artists.
CLASSICAL GREATS As usual, the Philharmonie welcomes three artists in residence next season. Acclaimed classical pianist Yuja Wang (who will also tour with the OPL), conductor Philippe Herreweghe, who specialises in period performance of Bach in particular, and jazz pianist and composer Brad Mehldau. The venue will also host performances from some of the outstanding classical music talent in the world today, including Spanish conductor, viola player and composer Jordi Savall, Chinese superstar pianist Lang Lang (currently recovering from an injury to his arm), award-winning French soprano Patricia Petibon and British conductor Sir Simon Rattle, who returns for his annual visit with the London Symphony Orchestra. Other world-renowned orchestras including the June 2018
Vienna Philharmonic and the Royal Concertgebouw will also make guest appearances. But Luxembourg artists are also given a chance to shine in the Phil spotlight, with vibraphonist Pascal Schumacher teaming up with the OPL for his new project, and Gast Waltzing reprising his Grammy awardwinning performance with Angélique Kidjo. And the Rainy Days festival has put the United Instruments of Lucilin and Noise Watchers on its programme.
MODERN ICONS Also appearing at Rainy Days is iconic German industrial noise outfit Einstürzende Neubauten. And a whole series of concerts by other non-classical artists has also been lined up. They include singer Gregory Porter, Malian singer-songwriter Rokia Traoré, Icelandic sound artist Ólafur Arnalds, jazz guitar legend Bill Frisell, and the hugely entertaining pianist Chilly Gonzales is also on the programme. And, of course, the Philharmonie will host a wide range of other classical, jazz and world music concerts in its auditorium and chamber music hall, as well as children’s performances and workshops aimed at children, and ciné-concerts including live
scores of The English Patient and Buster Keaton’s The General.
FANTASTIC OPERA Over at the Grand Théâtre, the season opens with a new production, in English, of The Beggar’s Opera by Ian Burton and Robert Carsen. Robert Wilson’s awardwinning staging of La Traviata follows in October, and the great director returns in April 2019 for a world premier of his version of The Jungle Book (in French with songs in English) for which he has worked with American pop sisters CocoRosie. Leonard Bernstein’s only full-length opera, A Quiet Place, also comes to the Grand Théâtre courtesy of Opera Zuid. And a visually stunning version of Beethoven’s Fidelio is also on the programme. There is a reprise for the home-grown production of Rumpelstilzchen (with English surtitles), and the popular Douglas Rintoul returns to Luxembourg in November with a production of Mike Leigh’s classic 1970s dark situation comedy Abigail’s Party. And local director Anne Simon has picked another edgy and witty play, Aaron Posner’s Stupid Fucking Bird, for a run at the Capucins in January. It will feature some of Simon’s favourite
“AKRAM KHAN’S GISELLE IS THRILLING, MODERN AND ALIVE.” DAVID JAYS, THE SUNDAY TIMES
DELANO PICKS A. Akram Khan’s Giselle with the English National Ballet and the OPL is a highlight of the dance season B. Bach scholar and conductor Philippe Herreweghe is an artist in residence for the Philharmonie’s new season C. Jazz legend Bill Frisell plays a solo gig in the Phil’s chamber music hall in November D. Robert Wilson’s staging of La Traviata promises to wow audiences E. William Forsythe’s Duo is part of his Quiet Evening of Dance F. Anne Simon delivers another witty and edgy American relationship comedy with Stupid Fucking Bird G. British baritone Simon Keenlyside stars in a concert version of Rigoletto with the OPL H. Jazz pianist and composer Brad Mehldau, here with his trio, is an artist in residence
Laurent Liotardo Wouter Maeckelberghe Michael Wilson Uwe Arens/Sony-BMG Lucie Jansch Marion Dessard
BOOKING DET AILS GRAND THÉÂTR Tickets for all sh E ow icon_where 1 rond-point s are on sale now. Schuman, Luxembourg-L icon_website ww w.theatre impertsberg s.lu F
THÉÂTRE DES CAPUCINS Tickets for all sh ow icon_where Place du Théâ s are on sale now. tre, Luxembourg-C icon_website ww w.theatre entre s.lu PHILHARMON IE Tickets for indivi du on sale around on al shows go advance of the co e month in icon_where Place de l’Eur ncert. ope, Luxembourg-K icon_website ww w.philharm irchberg onie.lu
actors including Isaac Bush and Larisa Faber.
I. The New Circus of Vietnam celebrates the end of the year at the Grand Théâtre J. Yuja Wang is not only an artist in residence but will also tour with the OPL and perform a “pop” concert with Igudesman & Joo K. Malian singer-songwriter Rokia Traoré is one of the superstars of world music who will perform at the Phil next season L. Award-winning French soprano Patricia Petibon performs with the Cetra baroque ensemble M. Grand Finale is the closing performance from Hofesh Shechter’s residency at the Grand Théâtre N. A visually stunning Fidelio is on the Grand Théâtre programme
Kirk Edwards Bernard Martinez/Deutsche Grammaphon Monika Rittershaus Rahi Rezvani Dragon Images Carl Fox
SUPERLATIVE DANCE The undoubted highlight of another superlative dance season comes in June next year when Akram Khan and 46 dancers from the English National Ballet, together with the OPL, perform Giselle. The production features visual and costume design by Tim Yip, who worked on Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. But there are plenty of other highlights in the dance programme including a residency for the Hofesh Shechter Company in October. December sees the Ballet BC perform in Luxembourg for the first time, as well as a visit from the New Zealand Dance Company. The traditional end-of-year shows feature the acrobatics and music of the New Circus of Vietnam. The Tango Fire Company of Buenos Aires stops off on its world tour in January. Angelin Preljocaj brings his piece Gravité to the theatre in January, and William Forsythe’s A Quiet Evening of Dance is performed in June.
Text by JESS BAULDRY
Photography by MATIC ZORMAN
s e g a f o k c o R
al region , Luxembourg’s Mullerth There’s a strange pull tory draws in people from all walks of life. whose rocky promontounderstand its appeal. Delano takes a hike to
ith striking rock formations peppered with 600 kilometres of hiking trails and a thick, dark forest, the Mullerthal region has seen visitor numbers rise steadily in recent years, many of which give something back to the area. “The first summer I was here, I took my two boys to Kohlscheuer near Consdorf where there’s a series of narrow caves you can walk through and come out the other side,” Matthew Olson-Roy tells Delano. “I had never seen these narrow caves before. They are almost hidden. You could pass right by them and not even know they’re there. That part was unique and inspiring.” He encouraged his sons to write about the area, an exercise which eventually prompted him to put pen to paper. The result was Humonstrous, a children’s story about Mullerthal trolls. The story is loosely based on the region’s myths, as well as some Finnish legends, and inspired by its rock formations and magical atmosphere. “Not only are there rock formations, there are shadows, sounds of water and birds, that help you to imagine this other world,” Olson-Roy explains. His book for 6- to 14-year-olds (depending who is reading) is published on the parent storytelling app Bedtime Stories and serves as an entertaining alternative hiking guide for families. “If you read the story in the Mullerthal, you see exactly where the main character walks,” Olson-Roy says.
ORAL TRADITION He and the scores like him, who like to settle in a secluded corner to write, are among a long line of scribes for whom the region has served as muse. The most well-known are Nicolas Gredt and Edmond de la Fontaine, who recorded its myths and legends, which were passed down through oral tradition over several generations. Tales of forbidden love, usually ending in tragedy, are throughout them--though it is unlikely any are based on actual events. “The legends are often linked to the rock formations,” hiking guide Alain Muller explains. And with hulking cliffs that resemble castles or sleeping giants, it is easy to see why simple countryside folk would make the connection. The area exerted its magnetism over people as far back as 2,000 years ago when Luxembourg was occupied by the Romans. June 2018
CHECK IT OUT THIS SUMMER A. The Mullerthal caves inspired author Matthew Olson-Roy’s book for children B. Tour guide Alain Muller has been hiking in the Mullerthal since he was eight
INTO THE VALLEY “There are reports of symbols used by the Romans which we find in the region,” says Muller. These symbols have been linked to the all-male Roman cult of Mithras, temples for which were mostly underground caves. “Researchers say there are parts of the region where the cult was celebrated by Romans.”
take a torch and shine it into the cracks of the rocks and you might see another rarity: a luminous moss called Schistostega pennata, which are rarely found elsewhere in Europe. “It’s very small, not spectacular but it’s exceptional. You don’t see it often outside of Ireland and Scotland,” according to Muller.
A ROMAN CULT For many, the attraction is the sense of calm one finds in the Mullerthal. “That’s what gives the place its charm,” Muller says. It was this that prompted monks from the Echternach monastery in the 1900s to create small chapels in isolated spots for rest and meditation. “They are usually exceptional places.” Attracting more than 100,000 visits per year, particularly along the popular Mullerthal Trail, calm is not always guaranteed. But, having walked in the area since the age of eight, Muller says there is still “plenty of choice for paths so you can always find places which are isolated.”
HIDDEN SECRETS The Mullerthal as a place of hidden secrets is another theme that runs through the region’s history. During the Napoleonic Russian campaign, farmers hid their cattle and gold in the Mullerthal’s caves to prevent it being taken by soldiers. During World War II, resistance members used its complex of hidden passages and caves to evade capture from the Nazi occupiers. And, it was in Heffingen, close to Larochette, that in 1935 a teacher discovered the 8,000-year-old skeleton of a hunter-gatherer known as Loschbourg man. The continuous rock promontory no doubt hides plenty more secrets, which caretakers of the area hope to safeguard with a bid for Unesco Global Geopark status. The status recognises geographical areas where sites and landscapes are managed in a way which protects the geological resources, educates people and develops the area in a sustainable manner. If successful, Luxembourg will become one of around 130 geoparks in 35 countries.
TREAD CAREFULLY Visitors may not be aware but the wildlife in the Mullerthal is also quite rich. In addition to its thick tree canopy of oaks and other varieties, whose knotted roots creep like rope coils through the rocks, it is also home to a filmy fern known as Hymenophyllum tunbrigense, more commonly found on the Atlantic coast. Next time you visit,
VISITING WITH KIDS Download Matthew Olson-Roy’s Humonstrous for an alternative tour guide when hiking in the Mullerthal. icon_website www.getbedtimestories.com TRAIL TIME The Mullerthal Trail is a self-guided, 112-kilometre path through the region. Not for the faint-hearted, shorter versions are available. icon_website www.mullerthal-trail.lu TOURIST OFFICE Find maps, guides and more at the Mullerthal tourist office website or offices. icon_website www.mullerthal.lu VISIT ECHTERNACH Echternach is the capital of the Mullerthal region. Rich in history and culture, it’s worth a visit. icon_website www.visitechternach.lu GEOPARKS Luxembourg will learn if it has Unesco Global Geopark status in 2019. icon_website www.unesco.org/geoparks
Text by DUNCAN ROBERTS
14 shows you must see music summer is all about the With a few exceptions, ak . There is plenty of variety h a host as the theatres take a bre two or three months, wit to enjoy over the next rs and world music on the bill. of indie bands, old rocke
EVGENY KISSIN Piano preludes Russian born British and Israeli pianist Evgeny Kissin performs a solo piano recital. The programme opens with Beethoven’s Hammerklavier sonata, but then is dedicated to a selection of Sergei Rachmaninoff’s preludes--the first seven from the Opus 23 series and three from the Opus 32 set. These form part of the 24 preludes the Russian wrote that cover all 24 major and minor keys.
icon_when 20 & 21 June icon_where Grand Théâtre, Luxembourg-Limpertsberg icon_website www.theatres.lu
icon_when 21 June icon_where Philharmonie, place de l’Europe, Luxembourg-Kirchberg icon_website www.philharmonie.lu
JEAN-GUILLAUME WEIS History of dance Luxembourg choreographer and dancer Jean-Guillaume Weis is joined on stage by Joseph Simon and guests for his latest work, Driven. The dancers are given free space to express themselves as the work explores what brings people together, makes them different and makes them unique. “Styles and generations combine to create a small piece of the history of dance,” Weis says.
JOSÉ MONTALVO Multiple Carmen(s) French choreographer José Montalvo uses Bizet’s Carmen as the inspiration for his latest work. Montalvo’s productions have been described as being “as fanciful and generous” as their author. His choice of Carmen is particularly apt, as it was his mother’s favourite role as a dancer. Indeed, he believes that a Carmencita slumbers in every woman.
ELĪNA GARANČA Park live Latvian mezzo-soprano Elīna Garanča is the guest star for this year’s Kinnekswiss Loves… concert with the OPL. Music director Gustavo Gimeno conducts a programme featuring works by Tchaikovsky, Chabrier and Massenet as well as two excerpts from SaintSaëns’ Samson and Delilah and several arias and orchestral pieces from Bizet’s Carmen.
icon_when 26 & 27 June icon_where G rand Théâtre, Luxembourg-Limpertsberg icon_website www.theatres.lu
icon_when 29 & 30 June icon_where Grand Théâtre, Luxembourg-Limpertsberg icon_website www.theatres.lu
icon_when 30 June icon_where Kinnekswiss, municipal park, Luxembourg-Centre icon_website www.philharmonie.lu
BRYAN ADAMS Greatest hits The Canadian rocker brings his “Ultimate Tour” to Luxembourg. His Ultimate album is a greatest hits package with the now ubiquitous new tracks added to entice fans--‘Ultimate Love’ and lead single ‘Please Stay’. But Adams fans will surely be expecting him to play a string of hits, including favourites such as ‘Can’t Stop This Thing We’ve Started’, ‘Summer of 69’ or ‘Heaven’. icon_when 24 June icon_where Rockhal, Esch-Belval icon_website www.rockhal.lu
FIRST AID KIT Swedish harmonies Three years after their first show in Luxembourg, sisters Klara and Johanna Söderberg return to den Atelier on the back of a critically acclaimed new album. Ruins features guest musicians including Peter Buck and Laura Veirs. It further develops First Aid Kit’s distinctive vocal harmony style, while “keeping its rough, rustic edges,” according to Marcy Donelson of AllMusic. icon_when 3 July icon_where den Atelier, Luxembourg-Gare icon_website www.atelier.lu
Danielle Rowe Sheila Rock Universal Music
NEDERLANDS DANS THEATRE Stirring threesome An evening of three pieces. Shoot The Moon offers a glimpse into the love life of three different couples. The Statement takes a contemporary world view of power, conflict and morality. And Woke Up Blind is inspired by two love songs by songwriter Jeff Buckley--‘You and I’ and his unique cover of Van Morrison’s ‘The Way Young Lovers Do’.
Matthew Welch The Feldman Agency
RINGO STARR Star-studded The legendary Ringo Starr brings his All-Starr Band to the Rockhal for a Luxembourg premier. The band welcomes back Men At Work singer Colin Hay and also introduces new member Graham Gouldman, one of the creative brains behind 10cc. Founded in 1999, the band has featured a bucketful of stars over the years including Jack Bruce, Todd Rundgren and Peter Frampton.
ROCK UM KNUEDLER Local showcase Brought forward to avoid clashing with the World Cup Final, the annual celebration of Luxembourg rock and pop music is always a great occasion. The line-up had not been announced by the time Delano went to press, but with free entrance and a cracking atmosphere created by the local artists and their fans, this is a neat festival that you shouldn’t skip.
CHELSEA WOLFE Fierce and fragile Gothic neo-folk singersongwriter Chelsea Wolfe returns to Luxembourg with her latest album. Hiss Spun features Wolfe’s long-time producer Ben Chisholm as well as contributions from Queens Of The Stone Age guitarist Troy Van Leeuwen. Critic Heather Phares said: “Both fierce and fragile, Hiss Spun presents an artist in compelling control of the entire scope of her expression.”
N.E.R.D Pharrell in the house Superstar singer and producer Pharrell Williams joins Chad Hugo and Shae Hale to make their debut in Luxembourg as N.E.R.D. The group was formed as an offshoot of Williams and Hugo’s The Neptunes but has landed major success in its own right with hits like ‘Lapdance’ and ‘She Wants To Move’. Latest album, No_One Ever Really Dies, features contributions from Rihanna and Kendrick Lamar.
icon_when 10 July icon_where Kulturfabrik, Esch-Alzette icon_website www.rockumknuedler.lu
icon_when 11 July icon_where Rockhal, Esch-Belval icon_website www.rockhal.lu
icon_when 4 July icon_where Rockhal, Esch-Belval icon_website www.atelier.lu
icon_when 7 July icon_where Place Guillaume II, Luxembourg-Centre icon_website www.rockumknuedler.lu
RUFUS WAINWRIGHT Passionate artist Recognised as one of the great male vocalists, composers, and songwriters of his generation, Rufus Wainwright has released a string of acclaimed studio albums, including 2007’s Release The Stars, as well as a recording of his stunning shows at Carnegie Hall in which he sang Judy Garland songs. A unique and passionate artist, Wainwright comes to Luxembourg courtesy of den Atelier.
MEYOUZIK World on stage The annual festival of world music in all its glory, MeYouZik brings to the capital city a fantastic atmosphere and a great line-up of artists. Held later than in previous years, and now over two days, the festival is a celebration of music from Africa and eastern Europe, the Americas and the Mediterranean. Stages and a global food village are set up around the city centre.
ALT-J Gorgeous blanks Now a trio, the Leeds band went from recording in their student dorm to global superstardom in just five years. Latest album Relaxer received mixed reviews, with The Daily Telegraph calling it “deeply gorgeous and utterly baffling”, while Pitchfork claimed its “dialed back” production showed the band to be “perfectly nice, perfectly blank lads”. The truth, we suspect, lies somewhere between.
icon_when 14 July icon_where Conservatoire, Luxembourg-Merl icon_website www.atelier.lu
icon_when 14 & 15 August icon_where Luxembourg-Centre icon_website www.meyouzik.lu
icon_when 20 August icon_where den Atelier, Luxembourg-Gare icon_website www.atelier.lu June 2018
Text by NATALIE GERHARDSTEIN
Summer on the farm ACROSS THE BORDERS AMUSEMENTS GALORE A 1-hour drive from Luxembourg, Eifelpark is a great place to take younger kids. It features numerous rides, slides and shows, as well as wild animals-including bears--and a bird of prey show. icon_where Gondorf, Germany icon_website www.eifelpark.com/en
WATERCOLOURS FOR YOUNGSTERS Until 1 July, children aged 8-12 can try their hand at watercolour painting after visiting the L’aventure de la couleur exhibition, which explores the use of colour in modern and contemporary art. For this youth workshop or others throughout the season, register online or on site; spaces are limited.
om Kass and his partner Anja Staudenmayer are directors of the farm, which has been operating since 2012, and for over 15 years they have offered pedagogical activities for youngsters. The farm is located in what Kass calls “beautiful countryside”, and it allows visitors more than a glimpse into organic farming based on the Demeter guidelines. They can actually take part. Kass says his favourite visitors are children. “We work together with them to show them normal activities taking place on the farm.” Such pedagogical activities range from feeding the animals to seeing how the cows are milked, learning about seasonal produce, and much more. Although springtime tends to be the best opportunity to catch sight of newborn animals, Kass says there are normally piglets on the farm year-round. The farm is also home to around 100 cattle and 200 laying hens as well as plenty of June 2018
horses, goats and rabbits to keep visitors captivated, especially the younger ones. Kass also says there is plenty of space, allowing animals to roam freely. The adjacent Kass-Haff Naturata shop allows visitors to purchase specialties, further providing insight into the life cycle on the farm. Products range from milk and potatoes, to salami and other meats which are processed by the Niessen butchery. Milk from the farm is also used to make cheese, which is sold at the shop and elsewhere. Kass regularly welcomes visits from school and other groups, for example, for birthday parties. But “the farm is always open”, he says--though normally visitors leave before 7 p.m. Indeed, parents and their children are welcome anytime, as the farm is generally open on Sundays and holidays as well, although it’s always a good idea to call ahead. KASS-HAFF icon_where Rue de Luxembourg, Rollingen icon_phone 26 32 05 06 icon_facebook kass haff
icon_where Centre Pompidou, Metz, France icon_website www.centrepompidou-metz.fr
CALLING BOOK LOVERS The town of Redu, Belgium, boasts over 30 shops with new and used books, some of which are tucked into shelves in former barns and stables. Visitors will find a vast collection of graphic novels, a historical printing museum, and a variety of boutiques and restaurants. icon_where Redu, Belgium icon_website www.redu-villagedulivre.be
Kass/Chrëscht Berrend & Nicole Lanners
Each year, some 6,000 people visit the Kass-Haff, an organic farm based in Rollingen, near Mersch.
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30 16 14 42 58
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42 38 42 38
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t n e s n o c e v a h u Yo n m u l o c s i h t p e e to k ns t answers reader questio nis lum co e vic ad o’s lan This month, De royal wedding and World Cup. on allergies, the
Dear Auntie Eleanor, how have recent data leak scandals like Cambridge Analytica and the introduction of GDPR impacted your online behaviour? --Thierry in Thionville Gentle reader, if you have ever looked for me on Facebook or Twitter, you will know that I take privacy very seriously. That’s right, I’m not on social media and nor will you find any images of me online, except for that photo of me with a stupid scarf at the office Christmas lunch, which I can’t seem to get removed from Google. The trick is discretion and to duck when someone gets out a camera at social occasions. I mean, honestly, did you really think they created this nice social media platform free of charge as a gift? I may be old but I’m not gullible. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go and catch up with my GDPR emails. I’ve never heard of half the outfits I’m opting out of. Dear Auntie Eleanor, the nice weather always makes me want to garden. Yet, I am allergic to almost all sorts of pollen. How can I avoid hay fever in Luxembourg? --Donna in Dickweiler Gentle reader, there is nothing like a warm, sunny day to remind you to take your antihistamines and make you realise that you are allergic to all the things you love. Listing all allergy-creating plants would require a whole page, but some of the most June 2018
common plants to avoid are amaranth, camomile, chrysanthemums, daisies, cypresses, mulberries, oaks and ryegrass. The good news is that Mother Nature provides allergen-free plants that are more common than you might think. Fruit trees, such as apple, cherry and pear, not only provide produce, they bloom sneeze-free blossoms. Other allergy-free plants include roses, tulips, magnolias, rhododendrons, geraniums and cacti. And try St Augustine grass: you will be able to enjoy your lawn without getting puffy eyes and a runny nose.
Dear Auntie Eleanor, I’m curious: did you celebrate the royal wedding in style? --Kate in Junglinster Gentle reader, of course I couldn’t miss the royal event, although I’ve seen many in my day. At first I was tempted to watch it in the comfort of my own home, sipping some Pimm’s, but I decided to step out to the British ambassador’s residence, where an open day took place (see page 74). Good thing I did, because there was no better place to be. After saying hello to some friends, I grabbed a cuppa and a scone (I’m a jam first kind of gal, in case you’re wondering) and went inside to watch the
wedding. I thought Meghan Markle looked perfectly poised in her Givenchy Haute Couture gown; what an entrance she made at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle. Her mother was the quintessential mother-ofthe-bride. And Prince Harry? Well, what can I say… handsome as ever, and he looked completely enamoured. I was happy to see the personal touches they added to their ceremony. Dear Auntie Eleanor, the World Cup is just around the corner. As neither Luxembourg nor the US has qualified, I wonder who you will be supporting? --Gareth from Watford Gentle reader, first of all, I am delighted that my column has finally reached the sceptred isle. Unfortunately, I must disappoint and declare that I will not be supporting the three lions this time. Even though England’s team is packed with youthful talent, I am aghast at the thought of that little snide Dele Alli collecting a winner’s medal. Sadly, the best-looking team, Italy, also failed to qualify; I always enjoyed watching the Azzurri strut their stuff in their smart uniforms. So, although sense tells me that Brazil or Germany will prevail in the end, my support must go to plucky Iceland who so delighted everyone at the Euros two years ago. There’s nothing this gal likes more than to do the synchronised thunderclap and chant “Hú” in unison with my Viking friends.
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