WINTE R 2
L U X E M B O U R G
E N G L I S H
L L G L É C K A M E I E J
THE BUBB LY
O E R
#48 WINTER 2017
IR AFFA T N E CURR ESS B U S I N T Y LE LI F E S
P O P
O U R D AY - BY - D AY G U I D E TO N E SEASO V I T S E F THE
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LETTER FROM THE EDITOR
RI NG O U THE OL T D
I politicat’s been a hel l l shock s that hof year packe ave dw We can do bett led to great dith er in 20 ivisions 17. .
016 began with the inauspicious if they won a majority next October, they death of David Bowie. Seldom has could do enough to cause serious damage a celebrity death sparked such an intense to Angela Merkel’s prospects of a fourth outpouring of mourning on social media. successive term as chancellor). Rarely has a star been deemed worthy of Luxembourg, thankfully, has managed so many column inches dedicated to a to withstand the seemingly insuppressible legacy. It was the unexpectmarch of populism across edness of Bowie’s death--just Europe. The Grand Duchy’s IT IS two days after the release, ADR spends its time making on his 69th birthday, of nonsensical claims about the IMPERATIVE Bowie’s latest album--that loss of Luxembourg identity THAT caused the most pain. and tilts, nay, rages, against AS MANY But there were plenty windmills with its spurious FOREIGN more profound shocks to defence of the Luxembourg RESIDENTS come in 2016. Shocks that language. Fortunately, when AS POSSIBLE could cause many people a Luxembourg holds local USE THE lot more pain in the long elections on 8 October 2017 run. Back in February, the many foreign residents will PRIVILEGE odds on a dual forecast also be eligible to vote. FolTO VOTE predicting a vote in the UK lowing the defeat last year NEXT for Brexit and a Trump of the referendum on allowing AUTUMN. triumph in the US presidential non-Luxembourgers to parelection were longer than ticipate in electing national those on Leicester City winning the English parliament, it is imperative that as many premier league. Both those upsets came foreign residents as possible use the privilege to pass, but already many who contributed to vote next autumn. Delano is urging its readers to make just to the political shocks on both sides of the Atlantic are expressing buyer’s regret. one New Year’s resolution for 2017. If you 2017 could deliver similar upsets in have lived here for five years or longer, France and Germany, with the Front Na- pledge to go to your local commune and tional’s Marine Le Pen making a viable get yourself on the electoral register. Excontest out of the race to enter the Élysée ercise your right and act to make 2017 a Palace and the Alternative für Deutschland more positive year than 2016. party making waves in Luxembourg’s neighbour to the east (although it would DUNCAN ROBERTS be an upset of Leicester City proportions Editor-in-chief
ON MY MIND
The new laws on equal pay and requiring female candidate quotas of 40% on party electoral lists (www.chd.lu) – Xavier Bettel being named among People Magazine’s sexiest leaders (www.people.com) – watching films as part of the selection committee for the next Luxembourg City Film Festival (www.luxfilmfest.lu) – blind tickets for next August’s Food For Your Senses Festival (www.ffys.eu) Winter 2017
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DELANO WINTER 2017
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HOW TO BUILD BRIDGES
MAKING AN EFFORT OR NOT?
What challenges do city-states, in particular mid-sized financial capitals like Luxembourg, face in the world? And what can Luxembourg City teach others?
Refugees face specific challenges in their path to integration.
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NEW LAW COULD HELP STARTUPS
Is the “111” company formation law all that it’s cracked up to be?
YOUR 2017 TAX BILL
The government has revamped the fiscal system. Here is Delano’s guide to the changes, who will be impacted most and how to pay the least taxes.
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ON THE NIGHT TRAIN
A GREAT TRANSFORMATION
STARS AND CHARITY
What do American exchange students in Differdange think of the Grand Duchy’s public transport system? 10
American economist Jeremy Rifkin unveiled details of his “Third Industrial Revolution” plan to remake Luxembourg’s economy.
Luxembourg’s Michelin awards, Red Cross gala ball, and Daniel Balthasar on his new recording.
HOLIDAY MIXER HITS THE DOT
FROM FLYING CARPETS TO CAPED CRUSADERS
An early Christmas party was the scene for a different sort of networking. 30
DIGITAL DELANO HIGHLIGHTS: DIGITAL WWW.DELANO.LU HIGHLIGHTS
SHARING THE MARKET
Attendees were stunned when election results rolled in during an early morning event hosted by the US embassy. 12
12TH OUT OF 149
Internet sites are changing consumer habits, but even this Luxembourg resident who rents out a room thinks Airbnb should be better regulated.
Luxembourg in Legatum Prosperity Index 2016 Search for “wealth & happiness list” The International Bazaar is a timeless tradition, but always full of new adventures.
DIGITISING FINANCE IN AFRICA
This Luxembourg-based outfit is bringing fintech to Africa, and was a finalist for the 2016 European Microfinance Award. 54
RUSSIAN WALTZ FOR CHARITY
Luxembourg’s Russian community want to share a bit of their “culture and warmth” at this annual gala.
EU BLUE CARD BLUES
STRESS-FREE FLYING Dispatches from Delano writers: Wendy Winn doesn’t regret having her hearing tested, and you might not either; the reality of Brexit starts sinking in for current and future UK university students; the Grand Duchy’s military budget and strategy have been blasted by auditors; a Luxembourg MEP has a plan to regulate robots; the world’s largest development bank, based in Kirchberg, comes up short in its governance practices, reckons an anti-corruption pressure group; and who’s Princess Tessy?
“Nervous?” “Yes.” “First time?” “No, I’ve been nervous lots of times.” If you’re afraid of the skies, this course is probably much better than just watching Airplane! 74
It was hyped as Europe’s answer to the US green card, but that’s not exactly how it’s worked out.
Make-A-Wish Luxembourg’s Winter Wonderland ball raised more than €27,000 to help grant wishes to seriously ill children.
DON’T CHANGE HOW YOU CHANGE
The Mudam chief’s surprise resignation has been the talk of the town, but now his accusers are on the spot. 24
Photographer Patrick Galbats shares a souvenir from the Christmas market.
Where the Union Jack made a brief disappearance Search for “missing flag”
Who carried the motion “Is a new financial services sector necessary?” at the Paperjam Club’s recent Oxford-style debate?
19 shows this Christmas and new year season, plus an interview with a dashing baritone and some family-friendly theatre.
A former biochemist has found new passion in an old trade.
Delano’s advice columnist helps solves readers’ holiday gift and winter tyre conundrums.
HOUSING IN LUXEMBOURG
Three figures explain the property market Search for “20%, 30%, 40%”
ARTS ACTIVISTS IN ACTION Guerrilla Girls get Greater Region show Search for “Not ready to make nice”
WANT MORE? Sign up for Delano’s “10 things to do this week” and “10 things to read this week” email newsletters. Go to the bottom of our home page.
Legatum Institute / Stolen Oranges Staff Idea Foundation Guerrilla Girls
CURRENT AFFAIRS ON THE NIGHT TRAIN
MOBILITY IN LUXEMBOURG A. Mallory Dunn tells Delano contributor Martine Huberty that “people are excited” about the night train service, during an interview in November B. Mallory Dunn, Daniel Isakoff, Madison Lapolla, Joanna Brown and Olivier Wolber, students at Miami University’s campus in Differdange C. Staff and students during a Thanksgiving dinner in November D. Dean Thierry Leterre E. & F. Differdange railway station shortly before 8 p.m. www.delano.lu/NightTrain16
CHARLES GOERENS The Luxembourg MEP launched a call for British citizens to be allowed to opt in for associate EU citizenship post-Brexit. Winter 2017
One of the best-known expats in Luxembourg, the radio presenter, musician, former basketball player and ISL teacher passed away in early November.
The prime minister is the seventh highest paid politician in the world with a reported salary of approximately €311,000 according to news site 24/7 Wall St.
Differdange reportage: Lala La Photo
Provisional late night train service begins 11 December, so Delano spoke with American exchange students at Miami University’s campus in Differdange about using public transport in Luxembourg. As the students live with local families, it is an issue for all of them. They have experienced problems that many locals raise, ranging from delays to harassment on late trains. “Sometimes the buses are really late or just don’t show up,” said Daniel Isakoff, who lives in Kirchberg. Joanna Brown said: “My biggest problem with trains is that I don’t feel safe when I am alone late at night in the train. It’s scary.” Mallory Dunn said: “The last weekend we’ll be here we’re actually looking for a hostel to stay in, just because we want to stay out longer and not worry about having to get the last train.”
In a statement issued on the website of Turkey’s ministry of foreign affairs spokesperson, ambassador Hüseyin Müftüoğlu wrote that Luxembourg is “one of the leading countries in Europe that provide support to terrorism.” The statement was a response to an interview Luxembourg foreign minister Jean Asselborn gave on German radio in which he said that the Turkish regime’s response to a failed coup attempt was reminiscent of the “methods used during Nazi rule.” The Turkish statement said that Asselborn was foreign minister “of a country whose contribution to the efforts to combat terrorism at the global level is controversial” and that his remarks were “totally unsubstantiated” and displayed a “lack of knowledge of history and his inability to make an objective assessment.”
Cour grand-ducale/Gregori Civera
The fourth grandchild of Grand Duke Henri and Grand Duchess Maria Teresa was born on 28 November to Princess Claire, the wife of Prince Félix. The boy is the couple’s second child--Princess Amalia (pictured with the couple) was born in June 2014. The prince, who had not been named by the time Delano went to press, is fourth in line to the throne.
WHAT FUTURE FOR THE EU POST-BREXIT? The future of the European Union must be a more social Europe where the European citizen sees and understands the advantages of being part of that union, says Carlo Klein. For most people the Brexit decision was a shock, but I have to admit that the pro-Brexit voters have one point: the EU is too far removed from its citizens, and as a consequence they are not ready for deeper integration at the moment. What are the major reasons for this situation? There is too large a distance between citizens’ problems and European decisions; there was too fast an enlargement of the union for political reasons; the euro was also introduced for political reasons without considering the economic conditions required to create a currency area. So, should the EU be cut back to be a kind of free-trade agreement between sovereign states, with reduced power for European institutions? Who really wants a more integrated EU anyway? Even in the so-called “core countries” there seems to be less and less support for further integration; manifest in the development of populism, nationalism and regionalism in different parts of the union. The refugee crisis has definitely not contributed positively to solving the problem. Whatever the criticisms directed at the functioning of the EU, we should not forget the initial aim of the union, as recently recalled by J. Lanchester in The New Yorker magazine when he quoted Jean Monnet, one of the founding fathers of European integration. “The European Federation… is indispensable for the maintenance of peace.” Even its most severe critics must admit that this goal has been achieved.
Monnet’s idea of pooling economic resources to avoid fighting for them still makes sense. Therefore, the free circulation of goods, services, capital and people within the union must be maintained. To convince citizens of this necessity, the European institutions have to communicate in a much better way about the achievements of the EU. Despite all these problems I don’t think that a scaling back of European integration would be the correct decision. A domino effect must be avoided: the risk is too high that member states ask for fewer and fewer common decisions and may even launch their own Brexit. Such a scenario would cast serious doubt over the future of peace in Europe. Why shouldn’t we try to keep the union more or less as it is? Maintain the four freedoms within the union, but improve the functioning of the euro zone by completing the banking union, the capital market and considering a common fiscal policy. Imbalances have to be tackled, be they deficits or surpluses. EU citizens should benefit from free markets, which also means that those who lose out under the four freedoms should be helped by improved social policies. Then they will become more aware of the fact that the EU is a union created to improve its citizens’ well-being and to guarantee peace in Europe.
Carlo Klein teaches economics and social sciences at the Athénée de Luxembourg and international economics at Miami University in Differdange. Winter 2017
Annabelle Denham (archives)
Text by DUNCAN ROBERTS
Photography by LALA LA PHOTO
BREAKFAST SURPRISE T
here was a sense of disbelief among many attendees of the election breakfast hosted by the US embassy in Luxembourg on 9 November. Ambassador David McKean addressed guests in a sombre mood and talked about the need for American leaders to heal wounds and bridge divides in the country as it faced stiff challenges.
The ambassador said that no nation can forge ahead alone. “Our alliances and partnerships are going to be more important than ever. I’m confident that the United States will continue to both support and rely on its allies and friends, particularly in Europe.” But McKean admitted he was unsure what impact the result would have on his future in Luxembourg.
US ELECTION RESULTS A. Marc Angel (second left), Colette Flesch and Alex Bodry B. UK ambassador John Marshall, US ambassador David McKean, and Austrian ambassador Gregor Schusterschitz C. Prime minister Xavier Bettel with representatives from the American Universities Club of Luxembourg (see page 48) D. Alison Shorter-Lawrence, Kevin Cardiff and Yvonne White E. Andrea Klouda and Kristi Roberts F. Paul Schonenberg and James O’Neal G. Stephanie Shaheen and Daniel Pattarini H. US ambassador David McKean and his wife Kathleen Kaye I. Loris Laera, Matthieu Schmit and Pitt Sietzen
MORE AMAZED FACES:
J. Roy Reding speaks with a journalist K. Claude Adam and Pia Bisenius L. Jen Van Ette and Chinwe Obianwu M. Jugera Ibrahimi poses with a cardboard cutout poster of Hillary Clinton N. A couple takes a selfie with Xavier Bettel speaking with the US ambassador David McKean and his wife in the background O. Christopher Lilyblad and Françoise Kemp pose with cardboard cutout posters of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump P. Karim, Noah and Soren Gigler Q. Aniela Bettel and Christine Lalive d’Epinay R. Julie Wagner and Guy de Muyser S. A Dixieland band plays ‘When you’re smiling’ T. Armin & Elisha
SAY WHAT? Speaking up (loudly) for the hearing impaired.
have thought about it--no one would ever get mad at someone half-blind for walking into a wall, would they? But if you constantly ask people to repeat themselves because you’re half-deaf, you tick people off. I know, because I used to annoy nearly everyone. Maybe I still do, but not because I can’t hear. Until I got hearing aids in October, my
kids thought I just wasn’t listening. My first response to everything they said was “what?”, followed by a long pause, and then I’d repeat what I was guessing they said. “You did hear!” they’d complain. Sure, I heard (but not my phone buzz or the doorbell) but I didn’t understand. And there’s a big difference between hearing and understanding, as anyone married will know. But how is it possible to hear something and not understand it, unless it’s a foreign language you don’t speak or dolphins? I thought I just needed everything amplified, until I had to repeat single words during a hearing test. They were easy, loud words. Man.
Hat. Car. I got them wrong, which showed how much I had been relying on context. Later, during the fitting for my hearing aids, specialist Philippe Malchaire showed me a chart displaying letters that I can and cannot hear due to my particular hearing loss. You never really miss the letter F till it’s gone. Or T or D. It’s not uniform--you can lose the ability to hear certain ranges of sounds--and I realised that I’ve been playing verbal Jeopardy for years, and it’s exhausting. Clara Zaffagni (pictured) had the same problem. Her husband didn’t believe she really couldn’t hear the baby crying at night; he thought she just didn’t want to get out of bed.
She’s staring at my mouth as we talk: ten years of not hearing well have made Clara proficient at lip-reading, but two years ago she realised even that wasn’t enough. “It became impossible at work, especially during meetings,” she says. “It isn’t that they are uncomfortable, it’s just that it’s a nuisance.”
Information is available in French and German by searching for “Services Audiophonologiques” on www.sante.public.lu.
Reported by WENDY WINN
POST-BREXIT UNI CHALLENGE The UK is a favoured destination for students from Luxembourg wishing to pursue higher education, but that might soon change.
ccording to a French proverb “travel shapes youth” and Grand Duchy students can vouch for that. The Unesco Institute for Statistics says Luxembourg is one of the rare countries in the world that has more students studying abroad than at home. While the top three destinations are Germany, Belgium and France, the UK is the fourth most popular choice. Last year, 1,219 young residents asked for financial aid to study in the UK. But since the Brexit vote these students--and all those who had plans to follow their path across the Channel--have expressed understandable concerns. Not only because they are apprehensive about the less welcoming environment, but also because costs might go up and admissions become more difficult. Currently, Luxembourg (and other EU) undergraduate students pay the same university fees as UK students, the so-called “home fee” (maximum £9,000 per year). Non-EU students pay a higher “overseas fee” (from around £4,000 more per year up to three times the home fee). Nobody knows what agreements will be made once the UK exits the EU, but additional hurdles are expected.
However, those already studying in a UK university, and those starting in 2017, have been promised they will be able to do so under present regulations. “International students make an important contribution to our world-class universities, and we want that to continue,” Jo Johnson, Britain’s universities minister (pictured), stated shortly after the EU referendum result. These students “will have their eligibility maintained throughout the duration of their course [which] will provide important stability for both universities and students.” Universities UK welcomed the announcement, but is now calling on the British government to provide similar reassurances to EU students who want to apply for courses starting in the 2018-19 academic year. “Throughout the transition period our focus will be on securing support that allows our universities to continue to be global in their outlook,” says Julia Goodfellow, president of Universities UK (UUK). In July 2015, the then home secretary, Theresa May, wrote to other ministers in a (later leaked) letter saying universities should “develop sustainable funding models that are not so dependent on international students.” But universities were already aware that political rhetoric was starting to discourage students from abroad. Winter 2017
Jo Johnson MP on Flickr
A NUISANCE Also a nuisance were certain sounds she suddenly heard again. “The car indicator drove me crazy,” she confesses, “but I don’t even notice it now.” Clara was in her early 30s when she noticed she had a problem. There’s no age limit for needing a hearing aid, but there is a hearing loss limit to get hearing aids. You have to have a 30% hearing loss before national insurance will pay for them, and they cost about €1,800 for the basic pair. If you think you have a problem, you can take a test at lots of hearing centres or opticians, often free of charge. If the test indicates a serious problem, you’ll be sent to an ear doctor, and if doctor detects a serious problem, you’ll be tested again by the health ministry. If you qualify, the trial period starts, where you try various models and get several adjustments before going to the ministry again for a final check-up. It’s like taking up a new hobby for a few months. The day I got mine, it was like The Wizard of Oz going from black and white to colour. But when I heard a loud humming noise that night, out on a walk in my quiet neighbourhood, I thought my hearing aids were defective. Nope. They were picking up the sound of constant traffic. Turns out my neighbourhood is not as quiet as I thought. So there’s that, but there’s also the letter F. And birdsong. I think it’s a pretty good trade-off.
Two years prior, Sheffield University and its student union launched a #WeAreInternational lobbying campaign. More than 100 universities and organisations across the UK have since joined forces to advocate for international students, staff, research and collaborations for higher education and, since the
Brexit vote, their mission seems all the more important. While it’s clear that Luxembourg and other EU students can count UK universities and numerous organisations as their allies, there is no way of knowing if that will be enough after 2018. Reported by NEEL CHRILLESEN
A DAMNING REPORT ON THE ARMY Luxembourg’s military planning and spending have been blasted by auditors.
or the first time ever, the Cour des Comptes (comptroller and auditor general) has issued a report on the Luxembourg army’s budget and staffing, and it is not flattering. From dilapidated barracks to badly planned investments, and the absence of strategic planning in defence spending and recruitment, the report gives a stern assessment on the state of the army and national defence, noting a neglect by politicians of all colours over the past two decades. Let’s start with investments. In 2014, Étienne Schneider, the defence
minister, noted that the army’s equipment did not align with its needs. The military owned 48 Dingo armoured vehicles (one from the Netherlands pictured), when 20 would have been enough, and there was nowhere to house them all. There were not enough trained personnel to operate them, and there was no space for the newly acquired Dingo simulator either. Two years later, the Dingo simulator still has no dedicated building even though it has been delivered. In its official response to the auditor’s report, which was published in late October, the Defence Department said the building should have been finished that same month. In mid-November, work was continuing.
In 2005, an A400M military plane was ordered, yet reported delays mean that the estimated delivery date is now in 2019. The Defence Department responded that there would not necessarily be any delivery delays and cost overruns with the Airbus order. At the same time, Luxembourg has agreed to finance part of a military airport to house its plane in Belgium; but the Belgians have not even decided on the site of that facility. Some buildings in the barracks on the Herrenberg in Diekirch are in an advanced state of dilapidation. The report said that renovations should be speeded up to give personnel a modern and adequate infrastructure to work in: the attractiveness of the army is at stake. In terms of recruitment, the army is doing badly and barely manages to maintain 2007 levels. To fulfil Nato obligations, the current government has pledged to increase defence spending from 0.4% to 0.6% of GDP by 2020. Its objective has been to favour investments which have a positive economic effect on Luxembourg from 2016 onwards. However, the Military Equipment Fund has dedicated €328m in 2016 for “other spending to increase military efforts” which does not list a single specific investment. The Defence Department argues that the projects will be identified as the planning effort develops, and in line with evolving bilateral and international needs. Finally, the “white book” promised by the defence minister in 2015 on Luxembourg’s defence policy is still not published; the one from 2014 was binned a year later for being outdated. If a new white book is published, it would increase transparency on defence policy and would inform the public and parliament on what the government’s strategy actually is. Schneider said that the environment has changed and the Defence Department has employed more staff to produce a new strategy adapted to the changed geopolitical environment. Reported by MARTINE HUBERTY
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I’M AFRAID I CAN’T DO THAT I
f you have read the book I, Robot by Isaac Asimov, or saw the movie featuring Will Smith, you’re already familiar with the Three Laws of Robotics: “1: A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm. 2: A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law. 3: A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.” Of course, this is pure science fiction. But those three laws just appeared in a draft European Parliament committee report on robots and artificial intelligence. In this non-binding document, which could potentially be endorsed by the full parliament in January, Mady Delvaux, a Luxembourg Socialist MEP, calls for the creation of a legal framework for such machines. “Robotics and AI have become one of the most prominent technological trends of our century. The fast increase of their use and development brings new and difficult challenges to our society,” writes Delvaux. Therefore, the reasoning goes, “robots and AI would increase their interaction with humans,” raising “legal and ethical issues which require a prompt intervention at EU level.” What should Europe do then? A law, Delvaux answers. She wants the European Commission to draw up rules to define smart robots and establish a classification and registration system for them. It would also tackle the issue of robot liability, and the issue of “allocating responsibility for damage caused by robots.” In addition, Delvaux wants a “European agency for robotics and Winter 2017
artificial intelligence” that would provide analysis and expertise. Then, concluding her draft text, she looks beyond the EU and calls for “regulatory standards under the auspices of the United Nations.” Last but not least, Delvaux would like robotics engineers and robot users to comply on a voluntary basis with a “Charter on Robotics”. And to be sure it happens, she actually wrote the charter herself, in an annex of the report. According to the text, engineers should abide by a few principles, such as beneficence (robots should act in the best interests of humans), non-maleficence (they should not harm humans), autonomy (everyone should be able to make uncoerced decisions regarding interactions with robots), and justice (there should be a fair distribution of the benefits of robotics). As for users, they would be “permitted to
make use of a robot” and “have the right to expect [it] to perform any task for which it has been explicitly designed.” But they would not be permitted “to enable it to function as a weapon.” In the Brussels bubble, sources describe the report as far-fetched. It tackles some very theoretical issues, and the commission does not seem very eager to create a specialised agency or to draft law on robot liability. Despite several messages left with her office, Delano could not reach Delvaux for comment. Search for “Civil Law Rules on Robotics” on www.europarl.europa.eu.
Reported by JEAN COMTE
INVESTING IN INTEGRITY? The world’s largest multilateral development bank, which is based in Kirchberg, does “not yet conform to the highest standards” in governance, according to an anti-corruption pressure group.
he European Investment Bank should make progress in terms of integrity, accountability and transparency, the NGO Transparency International stated in a report, Investing in integrity?, released in November. The EIB dispersed €62.4bn in financing in 2016, and is in charge of the separate European Investment Fund’s €23.6bn portfolio and €315bn
European Fund for Strategic Investments (better known as the Juncker plan). For comparison, the World Bank lent about €57.5bn in the fiscal year ending June 2016. While the EIB “is scrupulous in applying financial safeguards and auditing its accounts” and facing up to cases of fraud, the advocacy group wrote, it does little to punish offenders. “At the time of publication, only three companies across the globe are currently barred from EIB funding due to corruption or fraud,” compared to 820 at the World Bank. In response, an EIB official told Delano: “Exclusion is not the only sanction and remedy available.” TI wants the EIB to join
A Luxembourg MEP calls for EU and international standards for robots.
Reported by AARON GRUNWALD
QUICK BIO Born Tessy Antony, 28 October 1985 in Luxembourg City
Education Lycée Technique Mathias Adam, Pétange Richmond, The American International University in London: degree in international relations SOAS University of London: MSc in international studies and diplomacy Career 2002: signed up to Luxembourg Army 2004: part of Nato’s KFOR mission in Kosovo Current: ambassador for UNAids; co-founder of Professors Without Borders foundation; co-director DS-48 security firm www.professors withoutborders.uk
illustration will be done by jan on wednesday
Hobbies Swimming, scuba diving, spinning, skiing and hunting, music (member of the Niederkorn Fanfare)
" WOMEN ARE JUST AS STRONG, HARD-WORKING AND QUALIFIED AS MEN, BUT THEY ALSO CREATE A DIFFERENT ATMOSPHERE." Princess Tessy may not have the high profile of some other members of the royal family, but she is quietly making waves in the field of international relations and as an advocate for women’s rights. When she gave birth to Grand Duke Henri and Grand Duchess Maria Teresa’s first grandchild, Gabriel, some six months before marrying their third son, Prince Louis, Princess Tessy’s stock among the conservative elements of the Luxembourg public was hardly soaring. The marriage of Crown Prince Guillaume to Stéphanie and then of Félix to the glamorous Claire hardly helped. But Tessy, who has since had a second son, Noah, with Louis, is due a reassessment. In October she wrote a brave and intelligent article for The Telegraph in the UK. The column talked about her UN peacekeeping service and addressed the issue of violence against women--and Tessy revealed that she had “experienced a degree of attempted abuse” while in the Luxembourg army. Now 31, Tessy is a co-founder of the Professors Without Borders foundation, which aims to reverse the brain drain by taking teachers to
the developing world rather than drawing students away from it. Tessy is the foundation’s director of logistics, but she also teaches a class in diplomacy and international organisations in the summer schools in Sierra Leone. A UN global advocate for young women and adolescent girls, Tessy wrote that her time as a UN peacekeeper made her feel part of a special mission. “Female UN peacekeepers can defend, support and encourage all women to speak up and fight for each other in a world where violence is unfortunately a reality.” More recently, she and Louis joined Prince Harry of England at an awards ceremony for the programmes and volunteers who help HIV sufferers in the UK’s minority communities. Tessy delivered a much-praised speech at the event, labelled the “nOSCARS”. Back home in Luxembourg, she is an active member of the Luxembourg Protection Civile’s Groupe de Support Psychologique. Winter 2017
Illustration by Maison Moderne
the “cross-debarment” network run by several international institutions, where a sanction by one is a sanction by all. But the EIB official said it can’t due to EU law; unlike other development lenders, “EIB decisions can be challenged before the Court of Justice of the EU.” At the same time, the TI report warned that “there is an ongoing risk that senior managers at the bank have too much discretion to favour companies from their ‘home’ countries.” The EIB’s nine management committee members, the NGO pointed out, are responsible for projects from their home countries (in addition to sectoral duties). The bank official countered that the committee “makes collective decisions by consensus, and if a vote is needed, by majority, i.e., no [committee] member can decide on his or her own.” In addition, technical staff assess all projects beforehand and final decisions are then taken by the board. However, TI noted that EIB board directors are usually senior member state officials who often have limited time to review EIB management recommendations since they only meet ten times a year. The bank official replied: “Projects and recommendations are discussed in much detail by the board--and they address questions to the bank management whenever they deem necessary--both during and prior to their meetings.” Then TI said the bank suffers from “a lack of transparency, as none of the EIB’s governing bodies publish their minutes”; generally speaking, only meeting summaries are released. The EIB official said there are “ongoing discussions” internally on publishing EIB board and EFSI Investment Committee minutes, and the public can already seek disclosure of board minutes by filling a public information request (firstname.lastname@example.org). However, “the publication of the [management committee’s] preliminary debates on operations would likely harm the decision-making of the [board of directors].”
Text by STEPHEN EVANS
Illustrations by MAISON MODERNE
HOW TO BUILD BRIDGES City-states have connected people since ancient times, and places like Luxembourg continue to perform this function. What is a city-state and what particular challenges do they face? What can the success of Luxembourg teach the world, and what can it learn from others?
emnants of what is thought to be Chinese silk dating from around 1000 BCE have been found in ancient Egyptian archaeological sites. This is early evidence of trade along the Silk Road which linked Asia to the Mediterranean via an array of oasis cities in central Asia. This route connected markets and production centres, with many of the way stations themselves becoming significant urban centres.
Many modern small, internationally connected places perform a similar function.
CITY-STATES AND MEGACITIES A city-state generally features a main urban area which contributes the lion’s share to a compact national entity. Luxembourg certainly fits into this category, and like Singapore and Hong Kong, it is a highly successful, diverse and sophisticated trading hub. Places such as Cayman Islands, Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, Jersey and the Isle of Man have lesser roles and tend to be solely specialised in financial services. Qatar and Brunei are city-state petro-economies, and Europe has several other less economically
dynamic examples including Monaco, Vatican City, San Marino, Andorra and Malta. Many of these countries perform a bridging role, bringing people, businesses and countries together. At the other end of the scale “megacities” are more than ever a feature of the world economy. The corridors linking Boston, New York and Washington, and Los Angeles and San Francisco account for about a third of America’s output. Greater London generates half of the UK’s GDP, and the Tokyo-Nagoya-Osaka megalopolis is home to two thirds of Japan’s population. China’s Pearl River Delta, Greater São Paulo, and Mumbai-Pune are also becoming more integrated. Business
CITY STATEHOOD IN THE BLOOD Luxembourg City has been a constant for over a thousand years as events have swirled around. Prized for its military value for much of this time, the fortress city was passed back and forth between emperors and conquerors. It is possible that this ingrained experience of seeking to thrive in a complex world of shifting alliances inform attitudes in the Grand Duchy to this day. When the steel industry developed in the 19th and 20th centuries, the newly self-autonomous country first grew wealthy thanks to access to German markets and capital. Now the country is at the centre of a kaleidoscope of overlapping economic links. For example, the car components industry connects suppliers and clients in the industrial heartlands of Germany, France, Italy, the US and more. In the investment funds industry, Luxembourg consolidates work within the EU, while facilitating connections globally. Even for the symbolism, the plans to help companies mine asteroids points to the need to keep looking outward, questioning previous assumptions and acting afresh.
THE SHARP RATE OF GROWTH HAS SEEN THE EMERGENCE OF CENTRALLY PLANNED URBAN AREAS.
and cultural activity has always thrived most readily in well-connected population hubs, and this has been taken to a new, globalised level recently.
JUST BE OPEN There is no secret to this success. City-states and megacities alike are open to the world, seeking to trade as widely as possible within their regions and more widely. Inward migration is also vital. Luxembourg and London, Singapore and San Francisco seek to attract the best brains and skills from around the world. In China and India migration is largely internal, as rural areas feed the urban powerhouses. OPPOSITION RISING There is no universal support for this model, of course. Many once thriving urban and rural areas face difficult times as old industries change and even die. The perception can grow that some cities are growing at the expense of declining areas. News about immigration to other parts of the country can add to the unease about how things are changing. The uncomfortable reality is
that history has many examples of towns and economic activities which have grown and then declined. There is often little that outside intervention can do to reverse these tides. Indeed, seeking to do so can hamper growth in places that are ripe for expansion. Globalisation also stands accused of exacerbating global poverty. History and recent events point to the opposite conclusion. Economic output in Europe changed little in the 1000 years to the 1400s, with most people working just to survive. Subsequent growth of trade, communication and technology resulted in our modern societies, where definitions of poverty now include the inability afford consumer goods and foreign travel. Absolute poverty is defined in many different ways, with some using the figure of $1.25 of consumption a day. The International Monetary Fund suggests that 43% of the worldâ€™s population lived with less than this in 1990, but this had halved by 2010. Clearly this is a low benchmark and more needs to be done, but progress is being made. This dramatic fall in grinding poverty is mostly due to trade and Winter 2017
TRADE LINKS World trade should grow by 3.6% in 2017, says the Wolrd Trade Organization
globalisation. China, India and other Asian countries have tapped into global markets, enabling people from poor rural areas to better themselves in cities. This trend has also helped the less well-off in the developed world, improving the quality and the cutting cost of everything from clothes to smartphones. Many people in the west have seen their jobs and communities affected by shifting economic and trade patterns, but many more been able to reap the benefits of better, cheaper goods and services. The main culprit for slower growth in the west is linked to reduced ability to be productive due to a lack of skills. Only difficult, slow reforms can fix that.
GLOBALISATION FATIGUE? Pierre Gramegna, Luxembourg’s finance minister, spoke recently of the political rise of nativism and nationalism as a potential sign of “globalisation fatigue”. Brexit, Donald Trump, Marine Le Pen and other anti-globalisation forces are gaining support. The idea that Winter 2017
restricting trade will regenerate domestic economies is seductive. Addressing an Alfi conference on 22 November Gramegna warned that the assumption that the globe was moving towards a more open future may need to be questioned. If so, this would have major implications for Luxembourg.
LEARNING THE LESSONS “How did certain cities grow to become international nodes in a web of global relations?” asked Markus Hesse, a human geography and demography researcher at the University of Luxembourg. Professor Hesse and his colleague Catherine Wong have recently started a threeyear project investigating the similarities and differences between three “relational cities”: Luxembourg, Singapore and Geneva. This National Research Fund (FNR) supported project will also investigate the social and planning implications of these cities’ international business focus. Singapore in particular shares with Luxembourg a recent history of spectacular growth, also mainly
thanks to acting as a financial services hub for its region. Geneva has seen more measured growth, but all three places have a reputation for a businessfriendly environment, multilingualism with openness to immigration, and specialisation in cross-border trade. Hesse pointed to the growth in the desire to control and regulate international financial flows as presenting a challenge to these three cities. International regulations have already forced change, and more is likely to follow.
THE EFFECT ON URBAN AREAS The sharp rate of growth has seen the emergence of centrally planned urban areas. The Kirchberg has the benefit of proximity to the central business district, but the consensus of town planners is that it lacks many of the attributes of successful urban districts. Hesse said: “The jury was still out on new projects such as Belval and the Ban de Gasperich, which are projects driven by the need to feed business growth.” His research project will seek to learn lessons from how others have coped with these pressures.
EXPAND EXPAND YOUR YOUR LANGUAG E LANGUAGE SKILLS! SKILLS!
LEARN Luxembourgish • French LE ARN Luxembourgish • French german engLish • Portuguese g erman • • e ng Lish • Portuguese itaLian sPanish ita Lian • • sP anish • • cchinese hinese INS TITUT NATIONAL S LANGU ES INSTITUT NATIONAL DE DES LANGUES
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Text by ALIX RASSEL
Photography by SVEN BECKER
MAKING AN EFFORT, OR NOT?
THE CONNECTIONS PROJECT: WWW.ASTI.LU
Refugees face language and cultural challenges in their integration into Luxembourg.
s most international residents will have experienced firsthand, integrating into a new country takes time and effort. Many expats who have lived in Luxembourg for several years still find it hard to form relationships with Luxembourgers if they have not mastered the Luxembourgish language or worked and lived alongside nationals. So how are the 3,000 refugees and asylum seekers, mostly living in shelters, expected to integrate when they are separated, not just by language, but also physically and professionally? For Husain Jasem, who came to the Grand Duchy from Syria in October 2015, language was the major hurdle to integration. “When I arrived in Luxembourg I found it difficult as I did not speak any of the national languages.” Twenty days after arriving, Jasem enrolled in an intensive French language course and then started volunteering at the refugee camps in order to practice with the local volunteers. “I was able to improve my French and also learn a bit of Luxembourgish through the volunteering experience,” he says. “I would advise other refugees and asylum seekers to do this as well; it makes life a lot easier for them.”
semester. “I think the Luxembourgish government is doing a lot to help,” states Jasem. “However, making language courses both mandatory and free for individuals granted refugee status, as well as those still awaiting it, would make a huge difference.” For “Fadiyah” (not her real name) from Afghanistan, integration is more complicated. “In many Muslim countries women are not permitted to receive an education,” she explains. “My husband does not want me to go to language classes or to socialise with westerners, so I feel very isolated and unable to live life as easily as I had in Afghanistan.” Fadiyah’s children are at Luxembourg state schools, but she is unable to help them with their homework. “I feel that I am not a very good mother in this country and I am very depressed.”
“The Connections” project, established in March 2016 by the Association de soutien aux travailleurs immigrés (Migrant Workers Support Association) was designed to assist refugees and asylum seekers integrate into Luxembourg society through language courses, internships and volunteer opportunities. However, the first group to begin the course was comprised of 42 men and only two women. A course specifically for women is scheduled for the coming months, yet for women like Fadiyah, it is not a viable option. “Maybe to Luxembourgish people, it looks like I don’t want to integrate and that I am ungrateful,” laments Fadiyah, “but that is not the case at all, it is just a difference in culture.”
LANGUAGE IS KEY Hamoda Alcomali, also from Syria, who was granted refugee status in 2013, agrees: “Language is the most important thing to learn, after that, other aspects of life become easier.” Whilst both Jasem and Alcomali proactively sought French courses to " MAKING LANGUAGE COURSES BOTH MANDATORY aid their integration, they are not a AND FREE FOR INDIVIDUALS GRANTED REFUGEE STATUS, mandatory requirement and it is up AS WELL AS THOSE STILL AWAITING IT, to the individual whether to attend, WOULD MAKE A HUGE DIFFERENCE." albeit at a reduced cost of €10 per HUSAIN JASEM (PICTURED ABOVE) Winter 2017
INCREASE IN APPLICATIONS According to a report from the ministry of foreign affairs, 1,690 people had requested asylum in Luxembourg during the first 10 months of 2016. This is an increase of 5.9% (95 more people) compared to the first 10 months of 2015. The largest numbers of requests this year, 14.1%, are from Syrian nationals.
Text by DUNCAN ROBERTS
WHOSE AFFAIR IS IT ANYWAY? The ongoing debate surrounding the resignation of Mudam director Enrico Lunghi has overshadowed other domestic news since October.
he worlds of art, media and politics have collided in almost unprecedented fashion in Luxembourg since early October. That was when RTL television broadcast an outtake of an interview with Mudam director Enrico Lunghi. In the short sequence Lunghi appeared to grab freelance reporter Sophie Schram by the arm and threatened never to speak to her again if she broadcast the incident. Schram, working for RTL’s Den Nol op de Kapp (nail on the head) investigative programme had been asking Lunghi why Mudam did not offer local artist Doris Drescher an exhibition. In the original broadcast on 20 September Lunghi gave clear answers to her questions. But almost two weeks after the original interview, RTL broadcasted the outtake footage showing Lunghi reacting angrily when Schram asked what he didn’t personally like about Drescher’s art. Schram apparently visited a doctor a full ten days after the incident complaining of pain in her arm, and lawyer Pol Urbany was interviewed saying that he wanted Lunghi to face charges of causing bodily harm.
TABLES TURNED Prime minister Xavier Bettel, in his role as minister for culture, even waded into the case, calling Lunghi’s behaviour unacceptable and launching a disciplinary investigation into the incident. Lunghi then made an apology that Schram accepted. The museum’s board of directors said it “disapproved of his outburst,” but following his apology “reiterated its confidence in its managing director”.
But on 28 October, in a move that shocked the art world, Lunghi sent a resignation letter to the Mudam board. The tables were turned when RTL released unedited footage which showed Lunghi and Schram continuing their interview in a respectful manner after the arm-grabbing incident. What had been the “Lunghi affair” now focused on RTL director Alain Berwick--accused by some of abusing his power--and even Bettel. The prime minister did not escape the crossfire, with many commentators questioning his hasty censuring of Lunghi. Lunghi’s resignation, however, stands. The Mudam board, which
was also criticised for not standing by their man, said it would now launch a process to find a suitable replacement. Meanwhile, Mudam staff sent an open letter to the media in support of their soon-to-be ex-boss: “Since taking over from MarieClaude Beaud eight years ago, Enrico Lunghi has worked unstintingly for the success of the museum and we are honoured to have been able to be associated in this beautiful project alongside such a humanly generous person. His personality, which is both respected and esteemed by the art world, has also contributed to the international reputation of Mudam.”
THE LUNGHI LETTER In a letter to the International Committee of Museums and Collections of Modern Art, Lunghi admitted that he “got nervous for a few seconds” and that he “pushed down [Schram’s] microphone because I wanted to talk to her ‘off the record’”. But he says that Xavier Bettel nor anyone at the ministry of culture asked for his version of events and that the Mudam board did not express real support for him. “I know I can resist all professional critics because of the quality of my work, but I cannot accept the vile and dishonest violation of my honor and reputation. I will sue the authors of this defamation,” he wrote.
ENRICO LUNGHI Received support from the culture scene, many journalists and Mudam staff Winter 2017
Photography by PATRICK GALBATS
PLACE DE LA CONSTITUTION, 24 NOVEMBER, 4:58 P.M. Many new family memories will undoubtedly be created this holiday season. Photographer Patrick Galbats went to shoot one of the capital’s Christmas markets (www.winterlights.lu) shortly after it opened. While he was there, Galbats realised that he missed the Marché de Noël’s special seasonal flavour: “I remember the Christmas fair as a market with hot wine, nuts, the Canadian who sold his white sugar candies... today, with the Ferris wheel, the trampoline and carousel, it’s become more and more similar to the summer fair.” He found “many parents with their young kids” when he visited place de la Constitution on this late Thursday afternoon. “The trampoline was the most visited” attraction. One reason he liked this particular picture is because it shows the three fair rides all in the same shot. AG Winter 2017
BUSINESS Jeremy Rifkin has presented a roadmap for the “Third Industrial Revolution”. Amid uncertainty surrounding the US elections, the vision of Rifkin, an American economist, is welcome reassurance that we are still on the right path. He addressed a full house at the Luxembourg Sustainability Forum 2016 to unveil the “Third Industrial Revolution” project, a 475-page roadmap for Luxembourg’s future. More than 300 people worked for one year to develop the strategy. “We are at a new stage in the journey,” Rifkin said. “We’re moving toward ‘Smart Europe’.” Luxembourg has become the first EU country to develop a comprehensive systematic plan across all sectors to make this journey. Indeed, it is the first EU member to receive European Investment Bank funds for its transformation into a sustainable country.
RIFKIN REPORT A. Étienne Schneider, Luxembourg’s deputy prime minister, and Jeremy Rifkin, an American economist, arrive at Luxexpo for the Luxembourg Sustainability Forum in November B. Serge Allegrezza of Statec speaks C. More than 800 people attended D. Christian Scharff, chair of IMS Luxembourg, which organises the conference E. Jeremy Rifkin speaks about his “Third Industrial Revolution” report F. Nicolas Schmit, Luxembourg’s labour minister www.delano.lu/Rifkin16
Named CEO of the Luxembourg House of Fintech, a new publicprivate promotion outfit. www.lhoft.com Winter 2017
The number of points needed to spark a round of “indexation”, or automatic rises in salaries and pension payments. According to Statec, the inflation index was 831.29 points at the end of October 2016; indexation will occur will it exceeds 831.84 points. The last indexation increases were in October 2013, when the index stood at 820.24 points. www.statistiques.public.lu
Other institutions 15% European Court of Justice 16%
European Commission 31% WHERE THEY WORK
European Parliament 18%
European Investment Bank 20%
Number of EU civil servants employed in Luxembourg, representing around 2.5% of the Grand Duchy’s workforce.
Rifkin conference: reported by Tonya Stoneman, photography by Emmanuel Claude > Photo of Nasir Zubairi: Alfi > Employment figures: EU institution reports
A GREAT TRANSFORMATION
NIDA KHAN The software developer says CATCHING UP WITH…
Julien Becker (archives)
Luxembourg’s government will invest €25m in Planetary Re-sources,, an asteroid mining firm backed by Google’s Larry Page and Virgin Group’s Sir Richard Branson. >>> The EU-US “Privacy Shield”” data privacy deal faces a third challenge before a European court in Kirchberg, this time from a trio of French organisations. Cases from Austria and Ireland are also before the European Court of Justice and EU General Court. >>> ArcelorMittal posted lower income for the 3rd quarter of 2016, compared to the same period in 2015, but higher margins; the steel giant also reduced its debt load by 27%. >>> The Irish government said it would contest, before the EU General Court, the European Commission’s decision to force Dublin to collect €13bn in back taxes from Apple. >>> “President Trump has made a lot of promises in the campaign, but since the day he was elected, the words he chooses and the ideas he defends are pronounced in a more calm way,” Luxembourg’s finance minister, Pierre Gramegna, told Bloomberg TV. >>> Doctena, a Luxembourg-based online medical booking firm founded by Patrick Kersten (photo), acquired its larger Germany rival, Doxter. >>> The Luxembourg branch of Bank of Communications, China’s fifth largest bank, received official approval from the Grand Duchy’s finance ministry. >>> Xavier Bettel, Luxembourg’s prime minister, introduced Infrachain, a national blockchain initiative.
her recent business startup course has been encouraging. Originally from Lucknow, India, Nida Khan landed in Luxembourg from Romania with her husband at the end of 2007. Having studied in computer science with a focus on Islamic finance, she is the creator of the Islamic Finance iOS app, the world’s first Islamic finance education app on the Apple platform. “The app was launched in 2013 and updated to incorporate features demanded by the users. The Android app was launched in September 2016.” It has a five-star rating and has been praised for its usability and appearance, all designed by Khan. “The app describes the basics of the Islamic finance sector in a very graphical way for ease of understanding. At the same time, it provides finance news from a lot of popular sites,” she explains. Brimming with new ideas, Khan took part in the third edition of the Entrepreneurial Women Project organised by the Luxembourg-Poland Business Club of which she became a member in September. “The project aims to educate us on the basics necessary to start and run a business in Luxembourg. It has taught me that starting my own venture is doable and that it’s worth pursuing your dream.” Open to all nationalities, participants come from diverse backgrounds, including the US, India, Kyrgyzstan, Hungary, Israel and Germany. Apart from giving practical information about law, taxation and how to create a business plan, participants can test their ideas and get feedback from others. Many new connections are created, and some participants later on decide to collaborate. “The choice of speakers and the positive environment educates, inspires and develops the spirit of entrepreneurship. Each Saturday brings us a step closer to the implementation of our business idea. It’s a win-win affair for all participants, who leave the project with realisable dreams in their eyes and diplomas in their hands,” she says. Having completed a masters in information and computer sciences from the University of Luxembourg in 2015, Khan is presently waiting for a date from the institution’s Interdisciplinary Centre for Security, Reliability and Trust to start her PhD in fintech, on a subject related to blockchain. Search for “Islamic Finance” in the iTunes App Store or Google Play Interview by SARAH PITT Photography by ANNA KATINA Winter 2017
Text by WENDY CASEY
Photography by ANNA KATINA
HOLIDAY MIXER HITS THE DOT
ll those of you bucking the trend and delighting in the early arrival of Christmas would have greatly appreciated the Hub Dot Christmas party held in late November. The event boasted a unique formula for getting women (and several men) together, endorsing their dreams and showcasing some amazing stories. “We’ve been in Luxembourg for two years now and have created an incredibly strong community,” says Hub Dot’s Carlotta Benedetti. Upon arrival, each guest takes a coloured dot indicating their aspirations for the evening: yellow for those with an idea but in need of help, through to blue for those wishing to socialise. Amanda Munn sported a blue dot and is a keen advocate: “I always leave with so much positive energy.” Joanna was equally enthusiastic: “This is such a fantastic opportunity to meet other open-minded women. You can talk freely and without any emotional baggage.” Another staple of Hub Dot events: 12 “storytellers” had 90 seconds to convey their messages before an audience of around 120 people.
DIFFERENT KIND OF NETWORKING A. Lyna Boyle B. Carlotta Benedetti of Hub Dot (www.hubdot.com) C. Claudia Marotto and Camilla Cuppini D. Christelle Cornet and Sarah Battey E. Raquel Devillé, Christina Rivellini and Maria Grazia Beffi F. Marco Heil of Île aux Clowns and Marcel Hagendoorn of Make-A-Wish Luxembourg G. Hub Dot’s Christmas networking event, “Make someone happy”, held at Stay Interior & Style, in Bertrange H. Paola Pagliasso shares her 90-second story
ANNICA TORNERYD’S EMOTIONAL TALE:
The Ultimate Spa
Text by MARTINE HUBERTY
Photography by MIKE ZENARI
SHARING THE MARKET The internet is changing consumer habits, but there is more than one business model when it comes to the “sharing economy”.
KATY FOX The sharing economy means exchanging with neighbours and thinking ecologically
pps and online platforms now make it easier than ever to connect people who share a common interest or who want to share a skill, a good or a service. The umbrella term “sharing economy” denotes economic and social activity involving online transactions. But there are also downsides for more traditional businesses. Katy Fox, founder of the Centre for Ecological Learning Luxembourg, and also the wider Transition group, is part of a cooperative localist environmental movement which provides a platform for local citizen action groups. “How do we meet the challenges of climate change and resource expletion? Permaculture is a design system to establish production and social systems that are inspired by nature. The Transition movement takes permaculture and puts it into the urban context. I founded this ASBL as an experiment: people had similar problems around wanting to change their lives, but they didn’t know how. So I started this network and people could talk to each other and were like: ‘Wow, I am not alone!’”
NEIGHBOURHOOD APPROACH Fox explains that “our action groups bring people together to do their own projects, like Transition Bonnevoie, which organise some public spaces in their quarters. In the Minett, they have a cooperative, a grocery store, a garden, a house. As our organisation gets a bit older, we also do professional projects. We are employed to do bigger funded projects where we consult with the commune to work on different community Winter 2017
" I STARTED THIS NETWORK AND PEOPLE COULD TALK TO EACH OTHER AND WERE LIKE: 'WOW, I AM NOT ALONE!'"
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garden projects or changing energy use at the local level. We will build an earthship in Rodange next year. An earthship is an autonomous house that deals with its own waste. It’s made of natural and recycled material. It produces its own electricity and has no need for additional heating. You can even grow bananas inside!” They will rent out a room in the earthship and organise workshops there. The movement also organises the do-it-yourself festival, which will take place three times next year, and the repair workshop café sessions, which are always a huge success.
" ALL THE PLAYERS IN THE MARKET SHOULD COMPETE USING THE SAME RULES." FULVIO, WHO RENTS OUT A SPARE ROOM ON AIRBNB
But the sharing economy has other aspects as well. The financial crisis and the ensuing austerity has made consumers more aware of their spending habits and more creative with earning money in a range of ways, such as sharing their possessions with others or selling their used goods. There are plenty of local Facebook groups where people can sell their stuff, including “She sells her mess” and the “Velo Okkasiounsmaart”. Another growing market is dedicated online platforms which are more profit driven, such as Airbnb, where people rent out a room or entire flats. Fulvio offers a room to people via Airbnb in the city centre, and shares his motivation for doing so: “The main reason is that it allows me to meet a lot of people from different countries. I live in the city centre; accommodation is expensive and I didn’t want to pay a €1,000, €1,500 a month just on rent, so Airbnb is a good way of partially cutting the costs.” Winter 2017
ALAIN RIX The Horesca trade group has counted more than 300 rooms in Luxembourg that are regularly rented out on Airbnb
But Horesca, the hospitality industry trade group, thinks this growing trend causes unfair competition. Alain Rix, its chairman, states that “Horesca is not categorically against Airbnb, under one condition: if they fulfil the same obligations that we, hotels, have. This means having a fiche d’hébergement [official registration form], pay VAT, pay taxes, have security, and all the rest that running a hotel entails. Legally, everyone who is offering accommodation to anyone is obliged to do this. However, there is no control with Airbnb. You have no clue who is offering a room. We counted recently around 300-360 rooms which are offered on Airbnb.”
(UNDER)REGULATED MARKETS Fulvio (who didn’t want his family name printed) understands the arguments: “Hotels have always been the major players in the market and every time there is disruption, the idea is criticised. It makes sense to regulate Airbnb, because otherwise the
competition would not be fair. I rent out my room but I don’t pay taxes and am not regulated, versus a hotel which is regulated and paying taxes. The profit margin of the hotel will be reduced, or the hotel might have to offer the room at a higher price than mine, in which case my room might be more competitive. All the players in the market should compete using the same rules. It makes sense to regulate and control Airbnb because it produces income.” Rix identifies another important problem: “It makes the Luxembourgish housing market even more vulnerable to speculation and increased rents as is already the case--look at New York. Airbnb needs to give access to its clients to the state.” All these very diverse forms of the sharing economy bring new challenges for the legislator, but also opportunities for people to increase their income. A balance needs to be struck which allows people to earn more money while making sure these earnings are not illegal.
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Text by ISABELLA EASTWOOD
Photography by LALA LA PHOTO
CHAMBERS HOPE 111 LAW BOOSTS STARTUPS For Luxembourg, 2016 has been a year of innovation, development and transformation, as the country steadily strives to enhance cultural and commercial multiplicity. While the Grand Duchy is universally recognised as a financial hub, the next step--generating more diverse economic output--is still ahead.
arlo Thelen, managing director of the Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce, recently said firms like Airbnb and Uber are shaking up traditional structures, and, in turn, adaptation and modernisation is necessary. While the internet is inaugurating a “sharing economy”, public institutions need to make the risky business of doing business more attractive to the bound brains of smaller countries, like the Grand Duchy. This worldwide shift in the business world is at the heart of new national legislative and administrative processes. At the initiative of the American Chamber of Commerce in Luxembourg, the Grand Duchy’s government is introducing a new kind of company form that will launch in January: the Sàrl-S. Sàrl is the French acronym for a “limited liability company” and the S at the end stands for “simplified”. Amcham dubbed this type of corporate structure a “111 company” on the premise that one person should be able to start a firm in one day with just one euro. The new law coincides with the foundation of the House of Entrepreneurship, a Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce led initiative meant to ease the passage into the entrepreneurial world by serving as a “one-stop shop” for company founders. Backers say these are two of many steps aimed at making entrepreneurship not only accessible, but also natural, to Luxembourg’s population. Winter 2017
Amcham has hosted annual talks on the Sàrl-S for the past three years; to promote the new legislation it, along with several other business groups, held a “How to set up a 111 company” seminar in November. However, the process of making this legal structure a reality has been in the works for much longer: six years, in fact, Félix Braz, the justice minister, said at the event.
BUSINESS SEMINAR As Karl Horsburgh, a financial advisor, put it to the audience, “entrepreneurship is about creating your future,” and the inception of the Sàrl-S or 111 company is set to facilitate these creative procedures. How? In short, by reducing the cost: setting up a Sàrl-S requires a lot less money than the traditional Sàrl. The main reason is the minimum capital requirement has plunged from €12,400 to €1. As one of the main hurdles that any burgeoning business without a solid
financial foundation struggles to overcome, the government, as well as Amcham, hope that this mechanism will be an inviting incentive to those wishing to become entrepreneurs. Another form of financial relief comes in the form of the personal deed. With notary fees running up to €1,000 to draw up official paperwork, the private deed bypasses these somewhat. However, the Luxembourg Trade and Companies Register (known by its French acronym, RCSL) still has to review the private deed to ensure all mandatory information is
ENTREPRENEURIAL EVENT A. J. and N. The “How to set up a 111 company” seminar, organised by the American Chamber of Commerce in Luxembourg, with several other business groups, on 8 November 2016 at Autopolis in Bertrange
" ENTREPRENEURSHIP IS ABOUT CREATING YOUR FUTURE." KARL HORSBURGH
present and the deed is legitimate. The precise price of this procedure has yet to be confirmed. The registration forms will be available online once the law becomes effective on 16 January 2017. The registration fee for a Sàrl currently stands at €106, but that is liable to change for a Sàrl-S. D
SIMILAR TO SÀRL Otherwise, the Sàrl-S is nearly identical to the Sàrl. The same turnover tax, value added tax and social security rules apply. This means 111 company owners pay taxes on corporate income, VAT starts at €2,500, and these types of firms still pay employer social security contributions. The trading permit, a law that Luxembourg maintains despite it being abolished in most other European countries, is still necessary. A standard business permit--for commercial and industrial activities--only costs €24, bringing down the total administrative price of starting a business to about €150. However, 111 companies are not meant for every type of entrepreneur. While Thelen emphasises the opportunities for technology and ICT entrepreneurs, Emilie Pirlot of the Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce and Vincent Hieff at the Ministry of Economy told Delano following the event that the Sàrl-S is generally aimed at low investment businesses, such as architects, independent >
B. Carlo Thelen of the Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce C. Members of the Startuparts-Luxembourg for Startups group, including Santhosh Kannadasan (third from left) and Antony Martini (third from right). Also pictured: Pedro Castilho of the Indian Business Chamber of Luxembourg (fifth from left) D. Ariane Iranpour and Linda Bos E. Ana Barreiro and Pedro Gouveia F. Seated in the front row: Paul Schonenberg of Amcham, Félix Braz, the justice minister, and Karl Horsburgh, a financial advisor who spoke at the seminar G. The seminar was organised by Amcham (www. amcham.lu), with support from Avris (www.avris. lu), Brave Youth (www.braveyouth. com), Chambre de Commerce Luxembourg (www. cc.lu), Chambre de Commerce Luxembourg Cap Vert (cclcv. com), Indian Business Chamber Luxembourg (www.ibcl.lu), LuxembourgPoland Business Club (www.lpbc. lu), Romania Luxembourg Business Forum (www.romlux.org), Startuparts (www. startuparts.com), and The Network (www.thenetwork. lu). Delano was media partner. H. Anna Wiaz and Joanna Grabowska of the LuxembourgPoland Business Club I. Madalina Stoian of Avris, Nicolita Balaci, Maciuca Andrea and Georgiana Sidor
engineers or consultants. Thus, the Sàrl-S is most suitable for intellectual professions and those with low initial capital. Hieff said in an interview: “As a rule of thumb, as soon as your required investment exceeds €12,500-the minimum share capital for a Sàrl--it makes more sense to create a Sàrl.” However, they recommend that business projects be reviewed individually, which leads to the new House of Entrepreneurship.
NEW ONE-STOP SHOP This outfit further eases the transition from self-employed to entrepreneur. The government-led initiative brings all the various administrative processes and information centres together into one physical place. Aside from becoming a hub for entrepreneurs to come together, network and exchange business tips and practices, it offers free consulting services. The House of Entrepreneurship provides tailored advice and assistance to any and “every company throughout their lifecycle,” to help improve their portfolios and services, according to Thelen. The establishment is to be the “engine of the simplification process” of the Luxembourg entrepreneurial economy, unifying partners and players, investors and entrepreneurs. It lets company founders go through all administrative procedures in one space (instead of ten), aids in arranging appointments with multiple administrative contacts on the same day, and speeds up the process of contacting the Ministry of Economy (which issues business permits). This was achieved in multiple operations: first, through merging the “Espaces entreprises” (companies desk) at the Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce and the former “guichet unique” (one-stop service centre) at the Ministry of Economy. Second, through connecting and drawing in additional, external organisations. So far, 11 different public and private partners have become involved, Thelen stated during the Amcham conference. These include the Adem jobs agency, Chamber of Trades and creative hub 1535°. Winter 2017
Since 111 companies are not yet the norm in Luxembourg, the particular disadvantages of this type of legal structure are still unclear. However, there are several legal restrictions, according to the experts Delano interviewed. Only “natural” people (that is, no company or other institution) can be shareholders or managers of a Sàrl-S, and they cannot be so of more than one Sàrl-S at a time. A protective measure for the company’s creditors dictates that each year 5% of the profits must be allocated to a special reserve until it reaches €12,000. There are several other costs: companies are required to prepare financial statements, make company register and VAT filings, and owners must still pay personal income tax and employee social security contributions. Lastly, it’s unclear how banks will react to this change in legislation. Hieff speculates that they might ask for additional personal guarantees now that the initial €12,400 cushion has been removed. The final advantages of a Sàrl-S? The main point is limited liability at a lower cost. The Sàrl-S provides the same legal protection a traditional Sàrl would have, limiting personal responsibility. Pirlot clarifies: “When an entrepreneur starts his activity as
K. Valentina Kaschina, Lisa Francis-Jennings of The Network, and Anemone Thomas L. RazvanPetru Radu of the Romania Luxembourg Business Forum and Marc Devillet of Autopolis M. Félix Braz, Luxembourg’s justice minister
O. Evguenia Jeitz P. Daniela Janicijevic and Soufiane Saada Q. Lysiane Hanriot-Jolivald and Stéphane d’Acremont R. Melvin Tjon Akon and Borce Stojkovski S. Amarjit Singh Kleir and Anita Singh Bains-Sangha T. Philip Underwood, Natalie Underwood, Neil Underwood and Janice Allgrove
self-employed, he assumes full responsibility towards third parties [the debts of the business] and commits his personal assets. For the Sàrl-S, as well as for the Sàrl, liability of the partners is, in most cases, limited to the amount of their respective contributions.”
STEPPING-STONE For the venture capitalists among us, the Sàrl-S increases the amount of potential that Luxembourg has to offer. Lastly, it’s a stepping-stone into the business world that makes networking easier for corporate amateurs, and an opportunity to start something and see it grow. As similar legal structures successfully exist in France, Germany, Belgium and the UK, the Sàrl-S is likely to become an important part of the economy. However, it’s less probably to be an ultimate game changer. Delano reckons that the Sàrl-S is an important step in the path towards economic diversification and towards opening up the business world to the young, ambitious and inventive. But only time will tell. <
RESOURCES Amcham www.amcham.lu House of Entrepreneurship www.houseof entrepreneurship.lu
Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce www.cc.lu Luxembourg Chamber of Trades www.cdm.lu Luxinnovation www.lux innovation.lu
Nyuko www.nyuko.lu Winter 2017
Interview by SARAH PITT
DIGITISING FINANCE IN AFRICA
Opportunity’s data spanning the last decade, we are looking at customer interaction and trends so as to develop new credit methodology for our various products in Africa. You can almost think of it as a public-private partnership, an enhancement by adding technology to an already well-defined recipe. What kinds of unique products do you offer? DvN: Through our partnership we can offer previously excluded people first-time access to credit, in real time, within a couple of minutes, using a phone in the most remote locations. You can score somebody based on their social media platform and their mobile wallet account, rather than the traditional way of having to look at a bank account or credit bureau, which many of our customers don’t have because costs are too onerous. Why is financial inclusion important? Vicki Escarra: The recent McKinsey study shows that if the two billion people currently without access to financial services were included, GDP would increase by $3.7trn and 95 million new jobs would be created across all sectors. With Mybucks technology and banking knowledge, in three years we will be able to double the number of clients we serve to six million. There are great economic and social impact reasons for doing the work we’re doing. What does the future look like for the microfinance sector? VE: Microfinance as we know it today is obsolete. More and more organisations are going to be moving towards fintech because it is the future way people are going to do banking. DvN: Banking and interoperability between bank accounts has changed and traditional institutions need to change with it. <
DAVE VAN NIEKERK The South African-born entrepreneur has 16 years’ experience in the microfinance sector and is a strong believer in and promoter of investment in Africa’s financial sector. He is CEO of the fintech firm Mybucks, which recently partnered with Opportunity International, an NGO that provides financial services to the developing world. www.mybucks.com VICKI ESCARRA With a background in the private sector, as chief marketing officer of Delta Air Lines, and experience running the largest non-profit organisation in the US, Feeding America, she joined Opportunity International as global CEO in 2012. www.opportunity.org EUROPEAN MICROFINANCE AWARD Opportunity Bank Uganda was a finalist for this year’s European Microfinance Award, which is presented by Luxembourg’s foreign ministry. But the winner was the Kashf Foundation, which provides funding and management tools for low-cost private schools in Pakistan. The prize comes with a €100,000 donation to the charity. www.delano.lu/ Microfinance16
the pyramid, such as people operating below the poverty line, small businesses, small agricultural farmers, people who need finance for education or home improvements. We work for the financial inclusion of this market segment today, so that they become the customers of tomorrow. We use technology but also need an agent network and people in the field to train customers to use the system. Why did you choose PORTRAIT Luxembourg as your headquarters? DvN: Luxembourg is a primary destination for microfinance institutions and funds because Dave van Niekerk (pictured), regulators understand microfinance CEO of Mybucks, a Luxem- and are stringent and good at it, and bourg-based fintech company it is favourable from a monetary serving African countries, perspective due to the preferential and Vicki Escarra of US- tax status. based NGO Opportunity You were among the 2016 European International presented their Microfinance Award finalists. What joint project, Opportunity was the project? Bank Uganda, at this year’s DvN: Opportunity Bank Uganda, European Microfinance Week, recognised for financial products for low-income families to help with held in Luxembourg City. education costs and support for low-cost schools, made it to the Sarah Pitt: What is Mybucks? Dave van Niekerk: Mybucks is Africa’s three finalists out of 30 applications first formal fintech, launched in 2012. from 19 countries. Mybucks has We currently operate in 13 countries just taken the bank over from Opin Africa, and have banking licences portunity. It is a typical example of in five. Our long-term plan is for the a traditional bank that’s been around majority of the countries to obtain a for a couple of years that we’re now banking licence to handle full transac- enhancing through technology, tions digitally. We have now been in giving clients mobile access to their partnership with Opportunity Inter- money and information and pre-apnational for one year and are in the proved credit offers. process of taking over a number of How will Mybucks and Opportunity their banking institutions. Together we complement each other? are tackling the segment of the market DvN: Fintech businesses are all about that needs uplifting, needs access to data. Our top class artificial intellifinance services not currently served gence team in Africa does machine learning with credit scoring using a by traditional financial institutions. Who are your customers? computer algorithm that looks at DvN: We have a clear mandate to customers’ data and history. Being continue to serve the bottom end of able to analyse and understand
Service clé en main et organisation
YES, we do.
Text by STEPHEN EVANS
Photography by MIKE ZENARI
TAX REFORM, TAX SAVINGS Low to moderate earners will benefit from the tax “reform” that takes effect next year, but high earning residents and some non-residents could pay more. Will you be affected?
f you are a low or medium earner resident in Luxembourg, these changes are good news. “Most people will pay less tax in 2017,” explained Jean-Philippe Franssen, partner for human resources & payroll services at the consultancy Grant Thornton. He reckons the least well off will see €200 more in their pay packets per month. The highest earners will pay slightly more. The problem will come for non-residents with a spouse or civil partner working outside the Grand Duchy. “These people could be several hundred euros worse off from 2018, if these measures are passed,” said Franssen. There is consensual support for the planned reform as regards residents, given that the move is somewhat redistributive. Opposition is focused on the proposed changes that would hurt married or partnered frontaliers (cross-border commuters). The bill is still being debated in the Chamber of Deputies.
FROM THE RICH TO THE LESS RICH The temporary 0.5% budget balancing tax introduced on all salaries in 2014 is withdrawn. The current top rate is 40% on income in excess of €100,000 per annum, but from next year two new tax bands will be added: at 41% from income earned over €150,000 and 42% from €200,000. Tax credits will vary depending on income. At the moment, all employees receive a €25 “tax credit” per month (€300 per year) direct to their pay slips from the state. These will now vary depending on income. The credit Winter 2017
YOUR 2017 TAX BILL
will rise from between €300 and €600 for those earning less than €11,265 per year. For those on between €11,266 and €40,000 it will be €600, thereafter tapering off to zero at annual income of €80,000. Tax credits for single parents will double to €1,500 per year for those earning less than €35,000 per annum, tapering away to zero at €105,000.
OTHER CHANGES Employees will be able to receive higher value meal vouchers (chèques repas) up from €8.40 per day worked to €10.80. The cost of these are deducted before tax, with two-thirds of the cost paid by employers and one-third by employees. Tax on bank account savings interest income (known as withholding tax) will rise from 10% to 20%. This can be avoided by subscribing to an investment product, such as investment funds or life insurance. There will also be an increase in the tax exemption for children living outside the home, a measure that applies mostly in the case of divorce. There is also a new change designed to free up the housing market. Capital gains tax on property sales will be reduced by 75% for transactions conducted between 1 July and 31 December 2017. The changes mentioned above are automatic, but to take full benefit from the reform, taxpayers will need to take several proactive measures. Of the many ways that tax can be written off (see box on page 44), the amounts have generally been increased. The one exception is that loan interest deduction and insurance premiums have been merged, with deductions for either possible up to €672 per year. There are new incentives to use zero emission cars and bikes, and there will be tax breaks for lower
LAURA FOULDS Married working couples should look into how they want their income taxed
" I HAVE SEEN CASES WHERE PEOPLE OWE
TENS OF THOUSANDS, BUT THAT MONEY HAS ALREADY BEEN SPENT OR INVESTED, MEANING THEY HAVE TO TAKE OUT A LOAN TO PAY THEIR TAX BILL." Winter 2017
would then have to choose tax class 1, which is taxed more heavily than tax class 2. Alternatively, the income earned abroad can be declared in Luxembourg. These changes are “complex and incomprehensible” and should be “withdrawn from the current draft law”, said the Chambre des Salariés Luxembourg (Chamber of Employees). The CSL is the official representative of the unions, and they are consulted on all relevant legislation. It would be unusual for the government to act with their firm opposition. “A new bill of law should be introduced later when all the tax complexities and economic and social consequences have been discussed,” said a CSL communiqué. Even if the tax reform bill passes by the end of this year, cross-border commuters will have time to adapt as beneficial transitional arrangements are planned for 2017. The new rules would take effect for the 2018 tax year.
" THESE PEOPLE COULD BE SEVERAL
HUNDRED EUROS WORSE OFF FROM 2018, IF THESE MEASURES ARE PASSED."
JEAN-PHILIPPE FRANSSEN Taxes will go down for most Luxembourg residents
polluting company cars. The home “rental value” calculation of the tax return has been removed: a fiddly detail that added little. The government has said the “regime for non-residents will be aligned with that of residents”. This sounds reasonable enough until you look at the details. Under current proposals, “certain people are at risk of having to pay more tax from 2018,” noted Philippe Graces, whose firm AssCoFisc specialises in working with frontaliers, even if “most people will be able to reduce their tax bill given the range of tax breaks suggested”. Some could lose several hundred euros a month.
MAJOR QUESTION MARKS FOR NON-RESIDENTS Frontalier households that earn all their income in Luxembourg will mostly be better off, just like their resident colleagues. The problem comes when their spouse or partner Winter 2017
has an income abroad. Currently, married or partnered non-residents chose the advantageous tax class 2, without any need to declare their spouse’s income in Luxembourg. From 2018 this would change, with the spouse being taxed either in the country of residence or in Luxembourg. In the former case, the frontalier
TAKE CARE TO SAVE FOR TAX BILLS Independent of the reform, there is a longstanding quirk in the tax law that many are not aware of. Double income partners often end up receiving an additional tax bill at the end of the year. The main salary earner is taxed at source at the level appropriate for their income, but their spouse or partner is taxed at 15%, regardless of how much they earn jointly. After the tax return is filed, the household will receive a bill for the tax owed
TAX CHANGES 2016
Budget balancing income tax
0.5% (introduced 2014)
Top rate of income tax
40% on income in excess of €100,000 per annum
41% from €150,000 42% from €200,000
Bank savings interest withholding tax
Meal vouchers maximum
€8.40 per day worked
€10.80 per day worked
Single parent tax credit
€1,500 (dependant on income)
Tax exemption related to children living outside the household
€3,480 per child
€4,020 per child
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PHILIPPE GRACES Certain people are at risk of having to pay more tax from 2018
SOME WAYS TO CUT YOUR TAX BILL NOW You’ve still got time to act to receive tax breaks for this tax year. Talk to your bank or advisor for full details.
by the second taxpayer, often up to 25% of the second taxpayer’s salary. “Every year I deal with many expats or newly married couples who are hit by unexpected tax bills,” said Laura Foulds of Analie Tax & Consulting. In many countries salaries are taxed at the appropriate level at source via the HR department at work. “The 15% rule is seen as positive by some as it enables them to pay less tax now, with the bill coming some months down the line. However, if you are not expecting this, you might have a problem,” she explained.
In the most extreme cases, households can find themselves having to fund three years of unpaid tax: the bill for the previous year, save for the current tax year, and prepay quarterly for the next tax year. “I have seen cases where people owe tens of thousands, but that money has already been spent or invested, meaning they have to take out a loan to pay their tax bill,” noted Foulds. After three to four years the situation generally settles down and couples can pay quarterly estimated tax payments which minimise the large year tax bills.
CHANGES TO EXISTING TAX BREAKS Mortgage interest (1)
Before tax reform
In 2017 after tax reform
€1,500 for first five years, €1,125 for the five subsequent years, €750 thereafter
€2,000 for first five years, €1,500 for the five subsequent years, €1,000 thereafter
Loan interest (1)
Insurance (1) (2)
Personal pension fund
€1,500-€3,200 depending on age
€3,200 for all
Home saving loan schemes (1)
€1,344 if aged under 40
€3,600 per annum
€5,400 per annum
Zero emission cars (electric and hydrogen)
Bikes & electric bikes
An aspect of the tax reform would avoid these complications, as married couples will have the option of being taxed separately while sharing the benefits of being taxed together. Their tax would then be taken more accurately at source from each salary each month, with them able to claim back tax advantages later.
REFORM TO GIVE A SOLUTION? However, Foulds is sceptical that this will be a practical solution. “There are some couples who choose to keep their financial affairs separate and for them this is a welcome change. For many others this option could result in a higher tax overall, particularly where there is a significant difference in salary levels between the spouses or situations change during the course of the year.” The couple has to choose to be taxed separately before the start of the year. Foulds would have liked the tax reform to change the withholding tax system to a more accurate position or give couples the option of having different levels of withholding for the second spouse depending on their specific situation, e.g., 15%, 25%, 35%. The method by which a couple would signal their intention to be taxed separately has not yet been defined.
Other policies: Claim back up to €672 multiplied by the number of people in your family for each of the following: life insurance, health care insurance, civil responsibility (3rd party) insurance and housing saving plans. Charitable giving: up to one million euros can be written off by donations to officially approved Luxembourg-based charities. Home help: Cleaning staff, a nanny, crèche fees, or help for the aged can be written off up to €3,600 per year. Personal loans: Write off €336 per person in the household for loans. Housing loans: Interest related to the purchase, construction, renovation, and redecoration of your home can be taken into account.
Source for tables on pages 42 and 44: Analie Tax & Consulting; (1) Deductions per member of household (2) Additional deduction available for certain lump sum life insurance premiums
Retirement saving life insurance: Annual payments from €1,500 to €3,200 can be written off depending on your age.
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Text by STEPHEN EVANS
SOLAR PANEL INVESTMENT If you are a homeowner, here is one way to make money and help slow climate change.
nterest rates are close to zero, and other investment options are limited. Meanwhile, the climate is changing in front of our eyes. State aid for solar power could help with both. How does this work? The government wants to help you turn your house into a solar power production plant: generating electricity and injecting it into the grid. Not only can you receive a 20% subsidy for the investment cost of installing solar panels on your house, but the state will guarantee you a price for the electricity you generate for 15 years. If all goes to plan, this would be sufficient time to recoup the cost of the investment and make a financial return over the 15-year period. Given that most of the solar panels are fully guaranteed for a minimum of 10 years, with a performance guarantee of 80% efficiency for 25 years, in normal circumstances, you would probably continue to benefit from selling electricity after the total investment cost has been fully paid off.
LONG-TERM PROJECT One downside is that organising this work is quite fiddly, with contractors to be hired, equipment to be purchased, reimbursement forms to be completed, insurance contracts taken out to cover potential material damage, maintenance to be organised, and performance monitored. As well as the solar panels and an inverter, you would need a metre to measure the electricity you are injecting into the grid. You can pay companies to take care of coordinating this work. One example is the Enosolar package offered by the energy firm Enovos. This product includes the equipment Winter 2017
North Roof length: Roof width: Orientation: Investment: 15-year return: Annual return:
12m 6m East €19,188 €22,979 3.11%
Centre Roof length: Roof width: Orientation: Investment: 15-year return: Annual return:
10m 5m South €13,397 €19,802 6.92%
South Roof length: Roof width: Orientation: Investment: 15-year return: Annual return:
15m 8m West €31,824 €42,745 5.15%
ESTIMATES OF ENOSOLAR INVESTMENT AND RETURN Source: www.enovos.lu
and the installation, five-year supervision, insurance, and an output guarantee. The amount of electricity you can generate and the return you can expect depends on several factors. As the chart shows (with figures taken from Enovos’ website) it is better if your roof is large with few windows, and faces south in the sunniest part of the country. The nearly 7% return that would result from a favourable configuration compares very well to bank interest rates which are currently tending toward zero or even lower. A projected 2% return from a less favourable configuration suggests the investment would probably keep pace with inflation. As with any investment, there is a chance that things will not go
exactly as planned. Enovos help here by guaranteeing a five-year output minimum based on their initial estimation assessment. They also supervise the installation remotely to make sure it is working efficiently. Nevertheless, for some investors there would be a substantial outlay and potential that the returns would disappoint. On the other hand, if this investment was part of a wider portfolio, and in these uncertain times, the prospect of just preserving your savings over the medium term is not to be sniffed at. In short, this is a relatively lowrisk investment. You would also have the satisfaction of knowing you would be helping to generate the green energy we need to combat climate change.
Text by SARAH PITT
Photography by MIKE ZENARI
BRINGING US ALUMNI ALL TOGETHER Gather round, American university graduates, there’s a new club in town and it’s dedicated to you.
hey all attended university in the US, albeit at different institutions, and kept in touch with fellow alumni. But now they’ve created a networking supergroup. Thibaut Partsch, Laurent Cornou, Pascal Cardonnel and Andreas Papadimitriou form the committee of the new American Universities Club of Luxembourg. Hailing from Switzerland, Belgium, France and Greece, and each at the top of their game in the legal and finance sectors at public, private and EU institutions, they already represent the diverse profiles and nationalities of US graduates working and residing in Luxembourg.
SHARED EXPERIENCES Six US universities are currently represented here by alumni clubs: Georgetown, Harvard, Stanford, Cornell, Columbia and Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management. “We are setting out to create a common framework for all graduates of US universities living in Luxembourg,” says Partsch, president of the Harvard club since 2009. “We want to make sure that there is one community where people from different backgrounds have a forum to meet and to share the experience of having studied in the US.” The American Universities Club aims to bring together the existing US alumni associations in Luxembourg, which each have between 30 and 100 members. “All members of affiliated alumni clubs are automatically members of the new umbrella club,” explains Cornou, president of the Kellogg association. The idea for such an umbrella club has been gathering momentum in Winter 2017
their minds for some time, but it was only in spring 2016 that ideas turned to action and the club was formally founded in November 2016.
DIVERSIFYING NETWORKS The club’s aims are manifold: “We want to expand networks, but also to integrate new people arriving in Luxembourg from American universities into this very international environment; to provide support, to set them off on the right foot, and to be a point of contact,” explains Papadimitriou, who went to Kellogg.
Likewise, they are keen to spread the positive word about alumni clubs and encourage them to sprout up. “We have all helped other clubs to set up and we want to continue to do so and promote the idea of alumni clubs in general. For example, there are many NYU [New York University] graduates here, but they don’t have a club yet,” elaborates Cornou. Another important goal is to help their community interact with Luxembourg society. “Our members include former ministers; one of the Harvard club members has been instrumental to the development
PASCAL CARDONNEL AND ANDREAS PAPADIMITRIOU While the new association was created for graduates of US institutions, the committee hopes the club will also help connect nonUS graduates
" A GOOD LINK FOR LUXEMBOURGERS AND FOREIGNERS TO MEET, SHARE AND EXCHANGE IN A RATHER INFORMAL WAY." > THIBAUT PARTSCH
of SES; and the founder of Bargello ice cream shop is part of Columbia club. We all bring something special to Luxembourg, which we would like to share,” states Partsch. In addition, the new umbrella group is keen to highlight the benefits of US study to any existing students in Luxembourg who may be interested, and to offer support and guidance. “Very few students from schools in Luxembourg apply let alone consider going to study in the US. The prospect of applying can be extremely intimidating and complex and the application alone can be a daunting process. We recognise that there might be interest among students but that it is a far-off reality. We want to help to break down the obstacles in their path and underline that studying in America is not an inaccessible dream and has many advantages,” says Cardonnel, who attended Georgetown.
STRENGTH IN NUMBERS In one sense, the American Universities Club has been formed in order to try and improve the services of the individual US alumni clubs, to improve attendance ratings and to attract members. A significant problem for all the clubs is that people are busy and therefore attendance to social occasions is relatively low. “You often have the same people show up, who after the third and fourth time know each other very well, and so there is little networking going on. Our purpose is to unite the various clubs to be able to offer more to their members by diversifying events to suit a greater variety of tastes,” states Papadimitriou. “We suppose there are about 600 alumni from different US universities living and working in Luxembourg. The exact number we don’t know, but we hope to find out by welcoming
them!” states Cardonnel. Partsch adds: “We want to be a partner to US clubs but also a face to the other non-US clubs so that we can exchange more and create a better dynamic.”
AGILE DEVELOPMENT The club took on Thanksgiving as its very first event, held on 5 December. “Part of the vocation of our club is to bring people together to enjoy a meal. We chose House 17 because we find that the venue is in line with our image as it provides a good link for Luxembourgers and foreigners to meet, share and exchange in a
rather informal way,” says Partsch. The club will organise social activities and conferences and will assist other clubs in the organisation of their own activities. From blockchain events to US marine balls, previous events have centred around guest speakers on intellectually challenging subjects such as economics, politics and finance. They also organise visits and tours of interesting companies and buildings in Luxembourg. Papadimitriou concludes: “For the new club, we are not aiming to have a strict event schedule; our focus is on agile development. The opportunities are endless.”
MEET THE BOARD The American Universities Club of Luxembourg’s committee members are: • Pascal Cardonnel (Georgetown) • Lucien Clavier (Cornell) • Laurent Cornou (Kellogg) • Edward Gluschenko (Harvard) • Thibaut Partsch (Harvard) • Frank Roessig (Stanford) • Alexander Tkachenko (Columbia) www.universities club.net
THIBAUT PARTSCH AND LAURENT CORNOU The American Universities Club of Luxembourg board members were photographed at House 17 in Luxembourg City Winter 2017
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CHANGING REALITIES FOR ALTERNATIVES If the alternatives industry has a problem, it is lack of outlets for the amount of capital invested. Luxembourg’s investment fund centre is thriving as a result.
AIFMD II At the Alfi European Alternative Investment Funds Conference, Verena Ross, executive director of the European Securities and Markets Authority, said she understood the need for regulation to be consolidated, and unintended consequences taken into account when planning new rules. There are general industry expectations that an AIFMD II will result from a review of the directive in 2017. No sign was given when non-EU countries might receive a renewal of the alternative funds passport.
t the Alfi European Alternative Investment Funds Conference in November, the opening panel discussion gave an overview of this booming sector and how professionals are coping with demand. There is currently $536bn of global private equity investment seeking projects, said Alain Kinsch, EMEIA private equity fund leader at EY. Real estate investment funds are also flush, with a survey of the 150 largest managers reporting $125bn fresh investment having been raised in 2015/16. Although hedge funds’ disappointing returns mean they are somewhat out of favour, there is now a record $3trn assets under management globally.
" WE HAVE THE CHALLENGE OF ATTRACTING QUALIFIED HUMAN RESOURCES." Jérôme Wittamer, chairman of the Luxembourg Private Equity & Venture Capital Association, said that increasing focus was now on backing companies in their earlier growth phases, due to demand pushing up the cost of investing at later stages. With Basel III having made banks more wary of lending, the alternatives industry is stepping in to lend businesses, real estate and civil engineering projects. “Wait and see” is the attitude adopted for Brexit. In the short term if asset valuations drop this could create the potential for good value investments. Wittamer added that the European Investment Fund (part of the EU’s EIB group) was currently the number one venture capital investor in the UK. Sources suggest Winter 2017
ROSA VILLALOBOS More needs to be done to make Luxembourg attractive for both families and singles
that about two dozen UK-based financial sector firms have made enquiries about moving operations to Luxembourg. However, if they were to do so, the offices would probably not have more than a few dozen staff.
RECRUITMENT CHALLENGE Although the panel praised Luxembourg as a centre for alternative fund servicing capability, they said more could be done. “We have the challenge of attracting qualified human resources,” commented Rosa Villalobos, Luxembourg managing director of Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets. She
requested more investment in the things that make the country attractive to families and single people. Daniele Spada, head of Lyxor Managed Account Platform, Luxembourg was also complementary, saying the local funds ecosystem was very comprehensive with a flexible regulatory environment. However, the speed of regulatory approval could be increased, with a later panellist citing 6-9 months as being the norm for some vehicles. Hence why the new RAIF structure is welcomed, as it enables asset managers to create a new fund quickly.
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Text by MARTINE HUBERTY
Photography by MIKE ZENARI
EU BLUE CARD BLUES Somewhat inspired by the US green card, has Europe’s blue card really helped employers hire third country nationals?
n 2008, the EU adopted the “EU Blue Card”, a work permit which was supposed to make it easier to employ anyone from outside the union who has highly sought after qualifications. Luxembourg adopted the directive entirely, and ranked fourth in absolute numbers of EU blue card holders among the member states in 2014 (323 for 2016 so far). Marc Kieffer, secretary general of Fedil, Luxembourg’s business federation, sees a great need for highly qualified workers: “Luxembourg is a country that has an exceptional need for highly qualified people. Economic development requires ever-increasing qualifications, which cannot be entirely covered by our labour market, our own education system and even the education system of the entire Greater Region. The Greater Region has its limits and therefore we need to look at Europe and even beyond for these highly qualified people. Our growth sectors are not anymore traditional manufacturing industries, but mainly services. We see great potential in the ICT sector. For Luxembourg, the idea of a European blue card is great.” Fedil has made an interesting survey on the needs of employers: in 2016, in the ICT sector, over 50% of the qualifications sought are master or PhD level diplomas, 30% bachelor and only 12% BTS (a vocational certificate equivalent to the HND in the UK). These results clearly indicate a pressing need for highly qualified ICT people. The government has therefore lowered the salary requirements for ICT employees to 1.2 times the average salary, while for all the others it is 1.5 times the average salary Winter 2017
(see box on page 58). As these salaries are relatively high, a lower threshold should make it easier for employees to fulfil these criteria.
NOT AN EU RESIDENT PERMIT Joram Moyal, lawyer and partner at MMS Avocats, argues however that the scheme has not realised its potential: “Everyone had hoped to get an EU residence permit. When it came out in 2008, people thought: ‘Oh wonderful, you can start off in Luxembourg and then move to the Netherlands,’ but no! It is called European blue card to attract highly qualified workers to the EU, but you cannot benefit from the freedom of movement!” “While it’s true that if you have a European blue card from one country, it is easier to get one from another country, but you still need to do the whole process again. If you came to work here from Azerbaijan and you get a job offer in Sweden, you still cannot just take your EU blue card and work in Sweden. You need to get a Swedish residence blue card,” states Moyal. He has worked with clients who wanted to get a blue card, and says the procedures are cumbersome and take too long, which puts off potential employers from hiring third country nationals: “The employer needs a lot of patience. He needs to register the job with the job agency, but the agency doesn’t need to confirm that no one
else has applied for the job. The employer needs to wait for the prospective employee, because the procedure takes a long time. The involvement and patience from the employer are key.” It is also tiresome for jobseekers: “If, say, you’re from Azerbaijan and you have two PhDs and are the best in IT, first you have to come to Luxembourg on a tourist or business visa and find a job. You find a job with a company and they say: ‘Can you start next week?’ No, you can’t, you have to get the papers ready. You have to get translations of your papers, an excerpt of your criminal records, you have to get all your diplomas ready and everything translated into one official language in Luxembourg, though English is accepted. Then you go to the embassy or send it to the ministry in Luxembourg. Usually, you need at least a month, if not two, to get all your documents ready, certified and with an apostille, and then send it to the embassy. The ministry then sits on it. If you send it in June, you’re sure you won’t get an answer till October. From the day you found an employer until the day you get your permit it will be four to five months. Finding an employer who is willing to go through this effort is difficult. It is easier to come to Luxembourg through another scheme as a transfer worker or posted worker. That is why the European blue card is not the most attractive scheme.”
IN THE ICT SECTOR, OVER 50% OF THE QUALIFICATIONS SOUGHT ARE MASTER OR PHD LEVEL DIPLOMAS. FEDIL
PAPERWORK Experts suggest EU blue card applicants apply as far in advance as possible and check with the Luxembourg embassy or consulate prior to completing all the documentation
" IT IS CALLED EUROPEAN BLUE CARD TO ATTRACT HIGHLY QUALIFIED WORKERS TO THE EU, BUT YOU CANNOT BENEFIT FROM THE FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT."
JORAM MOYAL Blue cards are often granted to transfer and posted employees, and not new hires Winter 2017
Kieffer agrees: “The procedure is very complicated. For example, the affidavit for common law countries cannot be done with just anyone. The list of the required documents is indeed very long. Everyone tries to get through the procedure as quickly as possible, but because of all the administrative burdens, the system doesn’t make that much sense.” In essence, it depends on how many applications the Ministry of Immigration receives; the procedure has to be done and dusted within three months according to official guidelines; lately it has taken the ministry only six weeks as the workload was lighter, according to Laurent Peusch, a senior official with Adem, the national employment agency. Moyal doesn’t see the blue card as a real choice for young graduates, as employers have to wait for three to five months before they can start working. But Kieffer disagrees: “This is a real talent hunt. I see it as an
opportunity to get young people to Luxembourg.” However, he identifies other problems to Luxembourg’s attractiveness for young people, such as the living costs and the culture: “We have high salaries but also high living costs. If you don’t live here, you have more money left than if you did. This may be another disadvantage. A few companies left, because Luxembourg was not attractive enough for young people. The nightlife hardly exists.” He adds that “we face stiff competition from the other member states. Other countries have simplified procedures where it can be done in 14 days, like in Italy, the Netherlands, Spain or Sweden.”
NEEDED IN TECH SECTOR However, Fedil and other partners are actively looking for qualified third country nationals: “We try to market ourselves positively. The government policy promotes Luxembourg as a service provider, as a dynamic and
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innovative economy; hence we want to attract talent to Luxembourg. As the greatest need is in the ICT sector, next year we will open a stand on the Cebit conference in Hanover [the world’s biggest ICT confab], together with the House of Training and other partners. We are planning to recruit and interview people there. Long before the conference starts, contacts and networks are set up and we hope to bring some talents back to Luxembourg. We are aware that we’re not the only ones; the whole EU, the whole world is there for this hunt for talents. The EU blue card might help us there because all our criteria are at least objective: the degree and the salary.” Moyal argues that the blue card has some positive elements as well, especially for transfer and posted workers who want to stay in Luxembourg: “With the blue card, you are allowed to work in the same sector as opposed to just for one employer. For transfer and posted workers, there is a time limit to their stay. The first is for 12 months and can be renewed again for 12 months. Then they have to leave or find another solution. The usual solution is that after 18 months they ask for a blue card. They come over on a certain basis and once they are here, they ask for a more permanent solution. They want more flexibility and, as they are already here, they have more time to sort it out.” Indeed, the blue card is valid for two years (unless the contract is shorter than that, but you get to stay for three more months), for one profession only with all employers; and in only one sector. This is still much more flexible than the conditions for a transfer worker.
BEGIN SOONER THAN LATER Both Moyal and Kieffer offer some helpful tips for anyone trying to get an EU blue card: “To start as early as possible with the process. The employee should, before he starts looking for a job, get all the information on how the procedure works,” says Kieffer. Winter 2017
MARC KIEFFER The blue card scheme is most relevant for the technology sector
" I SEE IT AS AN OPPORTUNITY TO GET YOUNG PEOPLE TO LUXEMBOURG." Moyal adds: “The internet website guichet.lu is very precise and if you follow it, you will succeed. If you are abroad, I would recommend speaking with the Luxembourg embassy because they have the insight and speak with the ministry here and might be able to help you.” Moyal also has tips for employers who are thinking of recruiting outside the EU: “We’re usually dealing with cases who work for companies here, where the companies don’t want their employee to deal with all the hassle, so they charge a lawyer to do it for them. If you don’t have a lawyer you might be frustrated because you don’t
understand why it’s being sent back, as a tiny thing is missing.” Meanwhile, this summer the European Commission submitted a proposal to reform the directive by reducing the duration of the employment contract from 12 to 6 months; to reduce the salary requirements to between 1 and 1.4 times the average salary; to reduce the salary requirements to 80% of the average salary for young graduates in certain sectors; and to reduce the time frame after which an employee can move to another EU country from 18 to 12 months. Fedil and the lobby group Business Europe support these changes.
WHAT ARE THE CRITERIA TO GET AN EU BLUE CARD? A non-EU national must have an offer for: an employment contract of at least one year; remuneration of at least equivalent to 1.5 times the amount of the Luxembourg average gross annual salary (that is, say, €47,964 x 1.5 = €71,946 in 2015), or at least equivalent to 1.2 times the amount of the Luxembourg average gross annual salary (€47,964 x 1.2 = €57,556.80 in 2015) for the professions in groups 1 and 2 of the International Standard Classification of Occupations (ISCO) and for which the government has identified a particular need for workers from a non-EU country; and hold a higher education diploma or have a specialised professional experience of at least five years. www.guichet.lu
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Text by STEPHEN EVANS
Photography by MAISON MODERNE
DON’T CHANGE HOW YOU CHANGE
he motion “Is a new financial services sector necessary?” was debated at the recent Oxford debate organised by the Paperjam Club (part of the same company as Delano). Most agreed that continued renewal was needed rather than revolution. Pro: “We shouldn’t discard much about the financial system that is good, but change is obviously required as the world is changing, and banks have to adapt to new technology and regulation,” said Alfred Steinherr of Sacred Heart University. Jean-Sébastien Zippert of the responsible investing group Etika argued that the industry must continue to increase the supply of ethical financial products sought by consumers. Con: Philipp von Restorff of the Luxembourg Bankers’ Association stated that all economies need efficient banking systems. Tom Theobald of Luxembourg for Finance regretted that journalists often find it easy to appeal to readers’ prejudices when they suggest this country is a systematic location for unethical practice. All agreed more education is needed globally and locally.
MORE FROM THE DEBATE: WWW.DELANO.LU/ FINANCEDEBATE16
OXFORD DEBATE A. The Oxfordstyle debate on the motion “Is a new financial services sector necessary?” organised by the Paperjam Club (www.paperjam. club) and held at Banque Internationale à Luxembourg in Hollerich. The “pro” side lost: the vote was 68% yes/32% no before and 49% yes/51% no afterwards. B. Speaking in favor of the motion: Alfred Steinherr of Sacred Heart University and Jean-Sébastien Zippert of Etika C. Speaking against the motion: Philipp von Restorff of the Luxembourg Bankers’ Association and Tom Theobald of Luxembourg for Finance D. Audience member Magali Paulus quizzes panellists E. Guido Gennen and Vinciane Istace F. Anaïs Bove and Alessandro Palagiano G. Evangelos Papadopoulos and Rusiko Gvaberidze H. Rune Wangsmo and Olivier Sciales I. Alexandre Copper, Julien Pétré and Natacha Trunkwald
What? Still not on jobs.lu!
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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 and fees may be required, so consult the website indicated for details. All events are held in English unless otherwise noted. Mon 12 - Thu 15 Dec
IEEE 2016.cloudcom.org Luxembourg hosts the 8th International Conference on Cloud Computing Technology and Science, which covers topics from big data to virtualization. Parc Alvisse Hotel, Luxembourg-Dommeldange
Tue 13 Dec LuxFlag www.luxflag.lu Breakfast seminar on funding and investing in climate change projects following the Paris accord. Speakers include the foreign ministry’s Marc Bichler. PwC, Luxembourg-Gasperich, 08:30 – 10:00
BUS TOUR & SPEED MEETING Tue 13 Dec
IMS Luxembourg www.imslux.lu Part of the “Part&Act” initiative, where companies find how they can get involved with NGO projects, either by donating equipment or services. Kulturfabrik, Esch-Alzette, 12:00-18:30
2 – 9 – 10 – 11 – 16 – 24 Jan Toastmasters www.district59.eu Bossuet Gaveliers, Casemates and Green Heart Clubs are 3 of 8 Toastmasters public speaking groups in Luxembourg that meet 2 evenings a month. Click on “Go…” on website for venues and times
Tue 10 – Fri 13 Jan 2017 Alfi www.alfi.lu Members of the Association of the Luxembourg Fund Industry head to three major Asian markets to present and network with investment leaders. Taipei, Tokyo, Hong Kong
Always getting ready for what’s next. Winter 2017
MONTHLY MEETING Thu 12 Jan
Wordpress Meetup www.meetup.com Tips for users at all levels, and “after the presentations we’ll all have a drink and continue to build the Wordpress community in Luxembourg”. Location to be announced, 19:00
MEMBERS ONLY MIXER
Mon 6 Feb Amcham www.amcham.lu Luc Frieden, a former finance minister and now candidate for the European Parliament, speaks on “Positioning Luxembourg for growth and prosperity”. Venue to be announced, 12:00
FINTECH & FUNDS Wed 25 Jan British Chamber of Commerce www.bcc.lu BCC members begin the year with an exclusive networking cocktail hosted by John Marshall, the UK’s ambassador. Spaces very limited. British ambassador’s residence, Luxembourg-Centre, 18:30
TAX TALK Thu 2 Feb
British Chamber of Commerce www.bcc.lu The chamber’s next “evening business tax forum” will cover the latest international rules, including automatic exchange of information. Deloitte, Luxembourg-Neudorf, 18:00
Tue 7 Feb www.paperjam.club David Louis of the Charles Russell Speechlys law firm presents the “Investment management and fintech: two intertwining routes?” workshop. Neimënster, Luxembourg-Grund, 14:00-17:15
FIND MORE EVENTS Check Delano’s online agenda for the latest happenings: www.delano.lu/agenda
Maison Moderne archives > Bernard Spragg.NZ > Charles Russell Speechlys
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Where are you going to eat today?
Text by TONYA STONEMAN
Photography by MIKE ZENARI
BACK STITCH A former biochemist has found new passion in an old trade.
fter living abroad for 25 years, Danielle Schoder returned to Luxembourg to find her home had changed, and so had she. Her friends had moved on and found new groups and, having lived in Brussels, London, Paris, New York and Tokyo, she preferred the company of international friends. During her time away, another development had transpired: her professional life as a biochemist doing cancer research had dissipated. “I worked at the university hospital for 15 years, but had to stop when we moved,” she recalls. Transferring from one country to the next with her husband’s company meant that she had to put her career on the shelf. She doesn’t have any regrets, though, as the experience was challenging and enriching. “I learned Hiragana and travelled a lot in Asia,” she says. “In 1980, it wasn’t as easy as it is today. There wasn’t a lot of information. Everything was in Japanese. I had to learn the language to get through daily life living there with three children.” In time, Danielle’s children moved away and she found herself wanting the camaraderie and daily rhythm that work provides. So she signed up for Mamie et Moi, an initiative that brings together people who love to knit and allows them to sell their creations. The concept works like this: Camille Alexandre and Cristina Picco have organised a group of about 20 grandmas who knit articles for babies, kids and adults from a specific line of patterns. When you buy something, it comes with a tag telling you which grandma made it and she gets to keep a portion of the proceeds. The initiative also offers knitting classes. Winter 2017
MY OTHER LIFE
Danielle initially learned to knit in primary school in the 1950s, but stopped when her first baby was born. “I didn’t knit again for 30 years,” she says. “So one day I joined a group of ladies knitting in Parc de Merl. I started to get together with them once a week for knitting afternoons and we became close friends. We also do cultural activities and go out for walks or meet in each other’s homes to discuss books and politics. It was really nice after having been away 25 years to make new friends.” The group has tied up two loose ends of her life: she is revisiting an old craft and has made new friends. “I knit in the evenings after dinner while I’m watching movies or listening to music,” she says. “It’s an excellent tool to get rid of daily stress and has given me an occupation that I needed.” Danielle just finished 11 children’s hats, 12 bustiers for newborns and four little autumn coats. She has no plans to slow down.
TYING UP LOOSE ENDS Danielle Schoder knits for Mamie et Moi www.mamieetmoi.com
Where are you going to eat today? The answer is at your bookstore.
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SWEDISH BISCUITS Cactus has started to stock Sweden’s popular Gille biscuits. Using locallysourced ingredients, the biscuits are said to be pure and natural--which probably accounts for its 40% market share in Sweden. www.cactus.lu
NEW SOPHISTICATION New bar Bellamy has finally opened its doors in the former premises of Colony. It could hardly be more different--gone are the lads watching football and in comes a floral wallpaper. But it does serve hot snacks until late in the night. Bellamy - Bar & Cookery
FRESH SUNFLOWERS Sunflower Montessori crèche officially opened its new Bertrange facility in November and has announced another new addition for next year. The Eagle Building crèche will open in Findel in early 2017 and will feature Sunflower’s usual high standards of health and safety, access to gardens and the forest and a 99m2 gym. www.sunflower.lu
TRIFOLION TRIBUTES The Trifolion in Echternach is hosting a quartet of tribute acts in January --a Simon & Garfunkel Revival Band on the 5th, Steve Pitman’s Elvis birthday bash on the 14th, the Abba Gold concert show on the 27th and a Bee Gees musical titled Massachusetts on the 28th. www.trifolion.lu
BLUE MAN GROUP Den Atelier has announced it will put on five performances by Blue Man Group at the Grand Théâtre over four days in November 2017. www.atelier.lu
NO MORE ECO FAIR Organisers Mouvement écologique have pulled the plug on the annual Oekofoire after 29 years. President Blanche Weber said that the fair was a victim of its own success in promoting green lifestyle so well that it no longer had unique pulling power. www.meco.lu
IN FULL BLOOM After a stint as a temporary bistro at Design City, Bloom has now opened permanently. Billing itself as a “coffee shop with soul”, it serves speciality coffees and teas, and “handcrafted” food for breakfast and lunch. Bloom coffee shop
TWO STARS SHINE AGAIN ON MOSCONI Three years of hard work and perseverance have paid off for chef Ilario (photo) and front of house manager Simonetta Mosconi. Their eponymously named restaurant in the Grund was awarded two stars in the Michelin Belux guide, which was unveiled in a ceremony in Ghent in Belgium on 21 November. The restaurant had lost a star in 2013. “The chef convinced the inspectors with his audacity,” said Michael Ellis, the international director of Guides Michelin. “Refocused on his kitchen, each of his dishes offers the diner a real explosion of Italian flavours. Dining at Mosconi is like rediscovering authentic Italian dishes prepared using quality ingredients that perfectly showcase their value: it is a real joy for the senses.” Simonetta Mosconi told Explorator, which, like Delano, is published by Maison Moderne, that she was delighted for her husband and his team. “When you have lost something, you suffer, but this shows you can get it back through hard work.” There were no other additions to the Grand Duchy’s total of Michelin stars, with all ten one-star restaurants retaining their status. They are: Clairefontaine and La Cristallerie in Luxembourg City; La Distillerie in Bourglinster; Favaro in Esch-surAlzette; Léa Linster in Frisange; La Gaichel in Gaichel; Le Patin d’Or in Kockelscheuer; Ma Langue Sourit in Oetrange; and Guillou Campagne and Toit pour Toi in Schouweiler.
Olivier Minaire Cactus Anna Katina
The diar y
A. Lydie Polfer, Xavier Bettel, Grand Duchess Maria Teresa, Michel Simonis of the Luxembourg Red Cross and Daphné Reckinger B. Florence Reckinger-Taddeï (far left) and the ball’s organising committee C. Stéphane Aubert and Stéphane Bern D. Soprano Cécile Rives entertains guests
A DIFFERENT Y KIND OF ENERG
fans lthasar surprised music Local musician Daniel Ba u’, Yo In e liev Don’t Be with his latest single, ‘I ly with disco. ed am ash un ts flir ich wh D.R.: The new song is upbeat and funky. Why the change? D.B.: The last EP we did, The World Is A Mess, was made at Abbey Road Studios. It was so expensive I couldn’t afford to have the whole band there, so I wrote six acoustic songs without drums that we could get done in two days. So now we have a new album recorded with the full band, which has a different kind of energy. I have the feeling I need to push myself in new directions. Some newer bands have one trick that they cling to, but in my music I want to express the whole range of human existence. I get tired when I listen to stuff that stays in the same range. D.R.: In the studio is the work with the band a collaborative effort? D.B.: I’ve been learning on the go. When I made my first two albums I took my musician friends and I was showing them how to play drums and bass; and I am not a drummer or bass player. I wanted it to sound a particular way. But after that we became a real band and I realised that when I let people do what they really can do it gets better and less sterile, the music starts to live. With this album we recorded almost everything live in five, six, seven or eight takes--which is something we have never done before. It was really fun to do, because nobody was bored waiting for his turn to play. I booked the studio for ten days, but we were finished in eight days. D.R.: Was it your first time in the Wisseloord Studios in the Netherlands? D.B.: Yes, I always try to find a new studio to inspire us. I was looking at one studio in Norway, which was far off on an island but it didn’t offer any possibility to escape-so if you’re stuck with the band you’re really stuck. Maybe next time when I do some solo stuff again. The Wisseloord Studios are amazing. I have never seen so much equipment… they have so many instruments just standing there waiting for you. The album Presence of Absence will be released at the end of March 2017. www.danielbalthasar.com Interview by DUNCAN ROBERTS
RED CROSS COLLECTS OVER HALF A MILLION A gala evening with a 1920s theme marked the 20th anniversary of the Red Cross Luxembourg’s annual charity ball on 19 November. The event attracted 400 guests, including prime minister Xavier Bettel and his husband Gauthier Destenay, and Grand Duchess Maria Teresa, the organisation’s president. An auction hosted by royal watcher Stéphane Bern helped raise a total of €520,000.
Text by WENDY WINN
Photography by LALA LA PHOTO
s t e p r a c g n i y l f From s r e d a s u r c d e p a c to MORE STANDS:
t’s right up front at the International Bazaar, and it gets bigger and better every year. But some things don’t change--like much of the dedicated team that has been volunteering at the Book Stand for decades. Linda Woodhall started here in 1994, after having chaired and worked for the British Stand before that, from 1978. “It’s a great chance to catch up with old friends,” she says, and she isn’t only talking about people, she’s talking about books. “Unpacking and sorting them is a delight. It’s wonderful to see the range of material people are reading these days and to see old favorites again.” The team is as diverse as their tastes as the books, Woodhall says, and “we all end up spending lots of money here.” It’s tempting to buy bags full, and people do. Last year, to the tune of €20,000. While the Book Stand’s a long-time favourite, the Croatian Stand’s a newbie, in just their second year. It’s a stand-out, with volunteers in big red and white checks and colourful fruit piled high on display. “The fruit was flown in from Dubrovnik,” says Ivana Schumacher Filipovic. “It’s grown where the river goes out to sea, and has all the flavor of the region.” A bite of a mandarin proves her right and the exotic feijoa tastes like both apple and kiwi. The bean soup and meat patties look more like local Luxembourg staples, but Filipovic says they’re nothing like them. “Ours tastes like winter, with spices from Croatia.” Winter 2017
A. Linda Woodhall at the Book Stand during the 56th Bazar International (www.bazarinternational.lu), held 26-27 November 2016 in Kirchberg B. Barbara and Ivana at the Croatia Stand C. Monolie and Mia at the Croatia Stand D. Lydie Boursier (with Squidly) and Soussila Hurpaul at the India Stand E. Kathy van Merkom and Katia Boeren at the Netherlands Stand F. Sandrine Rafael and Luc Weitzel at the Portugal Stand G. Gauthier Destenay, the Indian honorary consul Ambi Venkataraman, and Luxembourg’s prime minister Xavier Bettel H. Charlotte I. Annette Mai & Sabine Kay at the Germany Stand J. Madiha Sharaf and Shariq Arif at the Pakistan Stand K. Paty and Karla at the Mexico Stand L. Marc and Annick M. Pierre Blondelle and Dominika Uhríková N. Katerina and Basheer O. Sandra and Brigitte P. Sofia Leszczynska, Maria Leszczynska and Barbara Mazur at the Poland Stand Q. Misaki and Ami at the Japan Stand R. Jana, Emma and Zdenka at the Czech Stand S. Nicole, Sylvie and Mireille T. Victoria and Luc U. The Tuna Mixta Internationale de Luxembourgo music group performs
Text by ALIX RASSELL
Photography by LALA LA PHOTO
z t l a w s n a i s s Ru y t i r a h c r o f rous nights of the year, One of the most glamoll takes place in the the Russian Charity Ba stigious Cercle Cité. grand ballroom of the pre
ince its foundation the Russian Club of Luxembourg has established a broad range of related non-profit organisations aimed at promoting Russian culture and strengthening ties with the Grand Duchy. One of its main spin-offs, the Russian Charity Ball is an annual highlight. The sixth ball takes place on 14 January 2017, at the Cercle Cité Luxembourg. “The first Russian ball took place in 2011,” says Nadejda Muller, president of the Russian Charity Ball in Luxembourg. Originally from Siberia, Muller speaks five languages, including Luxembourgish, and has lived in Luxembourg for 16 years. “I think it is so successful because it is a glamorous event, rich with Russian culture and warmth. People come back year after year for the experience.” For many Russians living in Luxembourg the event coincides with the Russian Orthodox celebration of Christmas as well as the Christian Epiphany celebrations, making it accessible to all denominations. “Whilst many attendees are Russian,” adds Muller, “we also have Luxembourgers, Europeans and other nationalities attending. In fact, it was similar balls that take place in Vienna, London, Monaco and across the globe that inspired us. There is always something for everyone!” The menu is typically Russian and includes specialties such as karavai (a sweet, aromatic bread traditionally served at festivities), caviar and gelée de vodka, as well as smoked trout and lobster. Alongside the opulent feast, there will be a variety of entertainment including a fashion show, performances from the Russian harpist Anastasia Sergeeva and Chic Planet Orchestra with Tatiana Reshetnikova. “The dancing is always a highlight of the evening for me,” says Muller. Winter 2017
FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THE BALL: WWW.BALL.RUSSKI.LU
“The atmosphere is very amicable as our guests have known each other for many years, they really enjoy the event.” In addition to providing an evening of entertainment and cultural exchange, the ball also supports two important children’s charities, SOS Villages d’Enfants Monde and Podsolnuh. Through SOS Villages d’Enfants Monde, the ball supports a facility in Pskov, and a project in the Ukraine called Tomolino. The Podsolnuh (sunflower) Foundation purchases medicines for children suffering from primary immunodeficiency. This is a rare disease that causes the development of severe chronic infections and the inflammation of organs and tissues. “Without treatment, children with PI can become terminally ill particularly as a direct result of infectious complications,” explains Muller. Over the last five years, €230,000 has been raised to support these charities. Tickets to the ball are not freely available to the public but via the balls’ sponsors, partners and previous attendees. For details, contact email@example.com.
RUSSIANS IN THE GRAND DUCHY Around 3,000 Russian nationals currently live in Luxembourg. 2016 was the 125th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Luxembourg and Russia. There is a Russian primary school in Luxembourg called Kalinka for children aged 3 to 12. www.kalinka.lu
The Russian Club of Luxembourg was founded in 2009. www.club.russki.lu
Deputy prime minister Étienne Schneider is a regular guest at the ball. Even if you cannot attend the ball, donations to the charities supported by the ball can be made via the organisation’s website.
Since 2008, Russia has had a stand at the Bazar International. www.bazar-international.lu/ bazaar-stands/russia
ING OPEN inster l Jung
Your Partner for Individual Coaching Solutions arrange your free info appointment www.luxfit.com
IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Text by DUNCAN ROBERTS
Photography by MIKE ZENARI
me form of aviophobia . le who fly suffer from so urse to help tackle op pe of % 30 d an 25 n ed co Betwee s developed an acclaim National airline Luxair hanow offering its seminars in English . the fear of flying , and is
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Fly Without Fear
fear of flying can manifest itself in many ways--from feeling nervous and unwell to a total breakdown and panic attack. But aviophobia itself doesn’t exist, says Jörg Wimpfheimer, a psychologist who leads sessions during Luxair’s Fly Without Fear courses. “People fear death or have a fear of heights or have agoraphobia or claustrophobia, and there are a lot of people who are afraid that they don’t have control,” he explains. “But once they have experienced one of these, they then develop a fear of that fear.” Pilot Laurent Donteri, who has been flying for 16 years and has been a captain at Luxair for eight years, says that although around one-third of passengers who board aircraft are afraid of flying, there are many more whose fear is so great that they avoid flying altogether. Unsurprisingly, more women than men attend Luxair’s courses, because men are afraid of admitting their fear. “Statistics show that aviophobia affects men and women equally, but participants are divided two-thirds to one-third female to male.” Many women also Winter 2017
develop a fear of flying as soon as they become mothers, says Donteri. Anyone who faces a fear tries to avoid it. But there are thousands of different strategies that people use to manage their fear, says Wimpfheimer. “Men in particular might have a stiff drink to calm their nerves. But it can also be talking to the passenger sitting next to you, looking at a book or magazine without really reading, listening to music, taking medication like Xanax or Valium.” But the surest method to effectively overcome a fear of flying for the long-term is to take Luxair’s two-day seminar, which is now being offered in English for the first time. A study by the University of Luxembourg after ten years of the courses revealed that over 90% of participants are still flying. However, it is important that the aviophobe is a willing participant, says Donteri. Luxair will not accept people who have been cajoled into taking the course by family or friends or even their employers. On the other hand, friends and family can pay to join course participants on the flight at the end of the two days.
HOW DOES IT WORK? Saturday • Participants introduce themselves and describe how great is their fear of flying. • Technical explanation of the aircraft and its safety certification and what happens during turbulence. • Joint lunch. • Pass through normal airport check in and security to become familiar with procedures. • Board a stationery aircraft with cabin crew. Explanation of cockpit instruments. • Cabin crew presentation. Sunday • Psychological presentation explaining the need for fear to survive. • Teaching of various techniques to make panic attacks biologically impossible. • Joint lunch. • Return flight to a destination around one hour away-participants do not disembark and return to Luxembourg on the same plane. • Upon landing back in Luxembourg, participants receive a diploma at the airport lounge. INFO Luxair’s first English-language Fly Without Fear course is on 29 & 30 April, 2017. The course costs €650, which includes lunches and the return flight. For more information : firstname.lastname@example.org www.luxair.lu
Text by MARINA LAI
Photography by ARTHUR RANZY
Wonderful fundraiser MORE FROM THE CHARITY BALL: WWW.DELANO.LU/ WINTERWISH16
uests arrived dressed to the nines, in ball gowns and tuxedos, for the “Winter Wonderland”-themed ball, Make-A-Wish Luxembourg’s 3rd fundraising gala. They were greeted by a cocktail reception and a silent auction where they could bid on more than 30 prizes, including Latin dance classes and Amazon Kindles. It seemed as though every business in the city had pulled together to support Make-A-Wish. Although the charity is well-known all over the world, it was less than five years ago that Dutch native Marcel Hagendoorn brought the idea to the Grand Duchy. “I learnt about this charity working in Australia and I felt that I really needed to do something meaningful with my time, because the effects are really life-changing for the children.” Having granted just 19 wishes in the last four years, Marcel said the biggest obstacle is getting more people involved.
GALA & AUCTION A. MC Jim Kent on stage during Make-A-Wish Luxembourg’s “Winter Wonderland” charity ball held at the Cercle Cité; the event raised €27,700, which will help grant more than seven wishes to seriously ill children. (www.make-a-wish.lu) B. Wendy Caceres and Lisa Sarfati, volunteer organisers of the MakeA-Wish Luxembourg fundraiser C. Jasmin Kirchmann and MakeA-Wish Luxembourg’s Marcel Hagendoorn shortly before the gala began D. Bethan Davies, Carole Miltgen and Kieran Lynch E. Ada Strock, Miss Luxembourg 2016 F. Sara Tarantino and Filipe Fernandes G. Olga Mischenkova and Daniela Parasciuc H. Curt and Megan Narwold, and Erin Pickens I. Photographer Christophe Van Biesen standing by “The Fabled City”, which he donated for auction
A nice table for beautiful moments Le Jacquard Franรงais
Luxembourg-Ville: 44, Grand-Rue / T. 227 327 / Shopping Center
/ T. 26 310 240 / www.tapishertz.lu
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With so many different nationalities living in Luxembourg, the festive season is celebrated here in many ways. But a trip into the capital city to marvel at the illuminations and visit the Christmas markets is unavoidable. And ringing in the new year with a glass or two of crémant is almost obligatory.
Text by DUNCAN ROBERTS
Photography by MAISON MODERNE
LIGHTS, LIGHTS, LIGHTS Luxembourg City’s Winterlights illuminations glows with the light from some 200,000 bulbs strung across 30 kilometres of garlands (www.vdl.lu). (4)
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GENEROUS LOCALS Pollsters consistently show that Luxembourgers are among the biggest spenders at Christmas time. A 2015 ING International Survey recorded that Luxembourg residents spend €300 on gifts, placing them equal with France and behind only the UK, the USA and Australia. (1)
PACKAGE HOLIDAYS The Luxembourg City Tourist Office is offering Winterlights packages for tourists from €80 per person. The package includes a welcome cocktail, dinner featuring Luxembourg specialities, a guided walk, museum passes and vouchers for the Christmas market--but visitors have to pay for accommodation and travel (www.lcto.lu). (3)
BOOKISH GIFTS Books topped the most desired gift among Luxembourgers in 2014, followed by cash and cosmetics or perfume. Luxembourgers clearly listen, as books were also the gift most offered, followed by cosmetics and chocolate. (7)
OLDEST CHRISTMAS MARKET Founded in 1570, Strasbourg’s Christkindelsmärik in place Broglie is the oldest Christmas market in France. It was no.1 in Forbes’ magazine’s list of best Christmas markets in Europe. And it’s just a day trip by train (www.cfl.lu). (6) Winter 2017
CELEBRATING IN STYLE On top of gifts, Luxembourgers spend around €700 on end-of-year festivities. (2)
LOOK AT THE TREE! The centrepiece of the place d’Armes Christmas market is a 16-metre high Caucasian fir from Bigonville--the tallest tree in the capital city. (5)
Sources: (1) ING, (2) Luxembourg government, (3) LCTO, (4 & 5) Ville de Luxembourg, (6) Tourism Alsace, (7) Deloitte Luxembourg
Merry Christmas !
Open from Monday to Friday from 10.00 a.m. to 7.00 p.m. and on Saturdays from 9.00 a.m. to 6.00 p.m. 69, parc d’activités Mamer-Cap • L-8308 Capellen │ Tel.: 26 30 30 1
Vouchers to cut out
* Gift voucher usable on any purchase above 40€. Only one voucher per purchase. Not valid on reduced prices, wedding & birth lists, small electrical household appliances & BABIBUTZ accessories. Voucher not redeemable for cash. Cannot be combined with other vouchers. Valid until 31st December 2016.
* Gift voucher usable on any purchase above 80€. Only one voucher per purchase. Not valid on reduced prices, wedding & birth lists, small electrical household appliances & BABIBUTZ accessories. Voucher not redeemable for cash. Cannot be combined with other vouchers. Valid until 31st December 2016.
MERRY X-MAS !
* Gift voucher usable on any purchase above 120€. Only one voucher per purchase. Not valid on reduced prices, wedding & birth lists, small electrical household appliances & BABIBUTZ accessories. Voucher not redeemable for cash. Cannot be combined with other vouchers. Valid until 31st December 2016.
MERRY X-MAS !
MERRY X-MAS !
MERRY X-MAS !
* Gift voucher usable on any purchase above 150€. Only one voucher per purchase. Not valid on reduced prices, wedding & birth lists, small electrical household appliances & BABIBUTZ accessories. Voucher not redeemable for cash. Cannot be combined with other vouchers. Valid until 31st December 2016.
R E E H
Text by DUNCAN ROBERTS
N O S
Photography by MIKE ZENARI & MAISON MODERNE
MAKING F O T S O M E S TH Y A D I L O H E H T
The time around Christmas and New Year is best spent celebrating with family and friends. After what many consider to have been a horrendous 2016, the need to get into what is called the holiday spirit has never been stronger. But not everyone in Luxembourg’s international community has the opportunity, or indeed the inclination, to head back to their native country for the festive season. So, Delano brings you a day-by-day guide to enjoying the very best that Luxembourg has to offer over the next month of so, from what’s on suggestions to advice on staying fit, from fashion tips to a choice of the best crémants.
SAT. 1 0 .1 2 GRAB DESIGNER GIFTS
It’s the opening day of the annual Marché des Créateurs, an event that attracts some 20 leading designers and design companies from Luxembourg, the Greater Region and beyond to sell their products in Mudam’s Jardin des Sculptures. This year’s event includes a products design workshop, a vocal performance from Sascha Ley as the Snow Queen and three food trucks parked on the forecourt. The event continues on Sunday 11 December. 10:00-18:00 Mudam, Luxembourg-Kirchberg www.mudam.lu
HEAR SEASONAL SONG
Voices International presents its Christmas Cantata programme by Nils Lindberg. The multinational vocal ensemble performs in four venues in the lead-up to Christmas. The concerts are always very lively and packed with an eclectic selection of seasonal songs from around the world. More performances on 11, 17 & 18 December. 20:00 Belair Church, Belair www.voicesinternational.lu
SUN. 11.12 SHOP, SHOP, SHOP
With just 14 days left until Christmas, an opportunity to go shopping on a Sunday is too good not to miss. Stores in Luxembourg City are open all afternoon and there is also a gift wrapping workshop. Shops also open next Sunday, 18 December. www.cityshopping.lu
TAKE TO THE ICE
Kids and adults love skating at Knuedler on Ice in the city centre. The rink is open until 9 p.m. all day every day until 8 January, with an extension until 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. And even if you are not keen on gliding around the ice, you can grab a hot drink and a bite to eat at the adjacent food village. www.winterlights.lu
CATCH LAST SCROOGE SHOW If you haven’t yet seen it, don’t miss the final performances of BGT’s production of A Christmas Carol. The theatre troupe has created an authentic show from an adaptation by June Lowery and directed by Tony Kingston, featuring song and live sound effects. 15:00 & 20:00 Mierscher Kulturhaus, Mersch www.kulturhaus.lu
IT’S COSY OUTDOORS Christmas markets are now a ubiquitous feature of the festive season throughout Europe. In Luxembourg, the market on the place d’Armes was traditionally the place to meet friends for a Glühwein and a Gromperekichelcher or a bowl of Bouneschlupp. But now a relatively new market on the place de la Constitution allows visitors to sample seasonal dishes from around the world, such as raclette and tarte flambée, as well as from a guest “host region”, which this year is northern Portugal. There is also an advent market on the place de Paris and a smaller market open to charities selling their wares for a good cause at the Puits Rouge on the Grand-Rue. A novelty this year is a gourmand market down in the Grund (on the car park near the bridge). The brainchild of Vins Fins and Oscar’s Bar, with Updown, Scott’s Pub, Aula cafe and Liquid. The town of Dudelange has also been attracting visitors in their droves over the last few years as its Christmas market has a medieval theme. As well as stands selling gift items, the market also hosts fire spectacles and concerts in keeping with the theme. www.vdl.lu & www.dudelange.lu Winter 2017
TUE. 13.12 TAKE LUNCH AT THE PHIL
MON. 12.12 WIN GIFT BOOK
With all that rushing around for last-minute gifts, and the stress of end-of-year deadlines at work, take time out to relax on a Tuesday lunchtime with some live music at the Philharmonie. The Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg, conducted by Andrew Manze, performs a free concert in the grand auditorium. 12:30 Philharmonie, Luxembourg-Kirchberg www.philharmonie.lu
VISIT POP-UP WINTER GARDEN
The “Aquarium” at Casino Luxembourg has been transformed into a pop-up winter garden. An extension of the Ca(fé)sino, which serves some delicious food at the project, was developed with Design Friends and serves as a showcase for the work of designers from both Luxembourg and Lorraine. The garden is open until end of February. www.casino-luxembourg.lu
Renowned broadcaster Stéphane Bern is a familiar figure on French television and radio, especially sought out for his knowledge on royalty. But Bern’s family on his mother’s side comes from the Grand Duchy and has returned to his native country for his latest book--Luxembourg, history, landscape and traditions--which is packed with photos by Guillaume de Laubier. The book is available in English from bookshops and makes for a great gift. Delano has one copy to give away to readers. To enter the draw to win the book, simply email email@example.com with the answer to the following question: Where is the castle pictured on the cover of Stéphane Bern’s book about Luxembourg? Deadline is Monday 19 December.
ANNE FABER CHEF, AUTHOR AND BROADCASTER What is your favourite Luxembourg Christmas tradition? I like going to the Christmas market in the city centre in the afternoon of the 24th December. Most of my old school mates turn up there and it feels like a big reunion. What food can you not go without at Christmas? Each year, I’m looking forward to having my daily slice of Stollen with my morning coffee. That’s just pure bliss! Also, having lived in the UK for 12 years, I now can’t do without mince pies (shortcrust pastries filled with alcohol-soaked dried currants and candied fruit) and Christmas pudding with brandy butter for Xmas. What is going to be the food trend for 2017? I think the Danish hygge trend is going to take off in Luxembourg in 2017. Hygge is the idea of making things cosy, so there will be an emphasis on comfort food and warm drinks--consumed in spaces that make you feel relaxed and comfy. Think slow-cooked stews, curries, spiced cakes and marshmallow hot chocolate. www.anneskitchen.lu
Butter Rose The recipe of “Rose” brand butter has not changed since 1932. It has been handed down from generation to generation, which is the source of its quality of authenticity and hence Luxlait’s little secret. The best possible quality made from the most natural ingredients, without preservatives or chemicals.
It is a quality unsalted butter, prepared using cream acidified by selected bacteria. Because of its quality, the Luxembourg government has awarded it the quality label of “Rose butter, a National Brand of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg”.
Luxlait Association Agricole Am Seif • L-7759 Roost/Bissen firstname.lastname@example.org • www.luxlait.lu
GO UP TO ELEVEN
Wednesday evenings at Mudam see the museum stay open until 11 p.m. and offer special events and guided tours of the exhibitions. This evening’s performance is by the Rhysom Danz Kollektiv. Titled Fluidity, Field, Form, the dance explores the fluidity of existence, the organisation of space starting from a liquid state up to “becoming a form”. 19:00 Mudam, Luxembourg-Kirchberg www.mudam.lu
SEE ENCHANTING FILM
For a taste of pre-Christmas magic, head to the Cinémathèque for a screening of one of its great restoration films in the shape of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s The Tales of Hoffmann. Based on Jacques Offenbach’s Opéra Fantastique, itself taken from short stories by romantic novelist ETA Hoffmann. The 1951 film impressed Cecil B. DeMille and influenced the likes of George Romero and Martin Scorsese, who said the film was “truly unlike anything I’d ever seen before! Every element transfixed me!” 20:30 Cinémathèque, Luxembourg-Centre www.cinematheque.lu
WED. 14.12 SEASON’S GREETI
CONNY PERTL FITNESS COACH Where is your favourite outdoor place in Luxembourg to go for a refreshing aerobic workout in winter? My favourite outdoor place in Luxembourg is definitely Bambesch. It’s a nice forest area where you can go for a longer run, starting a VTT tour or just do your bodyweight workout including hill sprints. What simple exercise can people do indoors to stay fit over the holidays? The festive season may be the most wonderful time of the year, but for many of us, it’s also a period where finding the opportunity to squeeze in a workout becomes a real challenge, due to a busier-than-usual social schedule. This quick and effective holiday workout will help you beat stress and stay fit all season long. POWER SKIP: This blood-pumping cardio move will help you get warmed up. Begin with both feet flat on the floor. As if you were marching on the spot, lift your left knee to your waist while simultaneously pumping your right arm to the sky. Switch sides and alternate movement 32 times. Keep your chest proud and back straight while performing the exercise. Variation: Boost the intensity by jumping the standing foot off the floor. WALK THE PLANK: Starting in a prone plank position, with weight on the hands and balls of the feet, walk your hands and feet out simultaneously to the right, keeping your abs tight, shoulders away from ears and core strong. Make sure your body stays straight and keep your buttocks down. Repeat, before switching directions and walking out with your left hand and foot, twice. Complete this exercise four times, each direction. PLIÉ SQUAT: This move is designed to work your quads, glutes and core. Stand with feet wider than hip-width apart, toes pointing outward. With hands on your hips, squat down until your buttocks are parallel to your knees. Return to standing position. Repeat this move 16 times. Variation: Turn up the heat of this already challenging move by placing your hands behind your head. TRICEP DIPS: This power move uses your body weight to tighten and tone the backs of your arms. Sitting on your chair or stool, place hands on seat beside your hips, fingers facing forward and feet flat on the floor. Lift buttocks off sitting area, arms straight but don’t lock your elbows. Next, bend your elbows and lower yourself toward the ground, keeping your body close to the chair. When elbows are bent as far as comfortable (aim for around 90 degrees), push yourself back up to the starting position. Repeat 16 times. Variation: Add an extra challenge to this move by extending one leg straight out for a count of eight, then switch sides for remaining reps. What fitness achievement were you most proud of in 2016? I am very proud of two people I coached during a period of ten months for a series on RTL. They wanted two unathletic, overweight people willing to do the Ironman in Remich. Menn and Nico finished the Ironman in eight hours, both of them lost around 25kg fat and built up lots of muscle. Now, they cannot live without sport, they changed their nutrition habits and their story encouraged many other people to change their lifestyle and to take up sport. Coaching two motivated people like them, with this result, makes me realise why I do this job. www.fitnesscoach.lu
WATCH SILENT CLASSICS
MAKE UNUSUAL BID FOR ART
The Cinémathèque is the place to be again this afternoon for a screening of three silent classics-Charlie Chaplin’s The Adventurer and Buster Keaton’s The Goat and Cops. The event is part of the cinema’s Kino mat Häerz programme aimed at elderly film fans, so take the kids and mix the generations in the spirit of the season. 14:30 Cinémathèque, Luxembourg-Centre www.cinematheque.lu
BEST BUBBLY In its November Désirs supplement, Paperjam asked five professionals to test 12 Luxembourg crémants. The results were surprising. Here we present the top five that you might like to buy for your end-of-year celebrations.
KRIER MILLÉSIMÉ 2013: “A greatly elegant crémant with fine bubbles… fresh fruit bouquet with a hint of peach… nicely balanced… best as an aperitif or with a cold starter like monkfish carpaccio.” www.krierfreres.lu
This year’s Troc‘n’Brol art auction takes place over two days rather than one evening, allowing visitors even more time to browse the art on show and bid for the unique works. This is not a cash auction, the bids should be unusual and in the form of other goods or services--anything from a massage to a personally cooked dinner--which bidders write on post-it. The artists decide which bid wins their piece of work, and everyone has a party. The viewing starts on Friday evening and the winners will be announced at around 9 p.m. on Saturday 17 December. 18:00-01:00 & 12:00-22:00 (17 December) Rotondes, Luxembourg-Bonnevoie www.rotondes.lu
The Philharmonie is at its best on a crisp winter’s night, illuminated and welcoming. So head there for Andrew Manze conducting the OPL with solo pianist Denis Kozhukhin. The programme features Haydn’s symphony no. 103--The Drumroll--and his piano concerto no. 11, as well as Carl Nielsen’s fifth symphony. 20:00 Philharmonie, Luxembourg-Kirchberg www.philharmonie.lu
DESOM BRUT ÉLÉGANCE: “Powerful and distinguished… complex bouquet... apple sauce and ripe peaches… silky texture… try as an aperitif or with a buttered fish or a fowl in a sauce.” www.desom.lu
Reported by FRANCE CLA
by JULIEN BECKER RINVAL > Photography
LAURENT KOX PRIVILÈGE: “Intense fruit and eau-de-vie… rounded taste with an agreeable subtle bitterness… try with a foie gras and apricot chutney, chicken with morels and even with cheese.” www.domainekox.lu
GALES HÉRITAGE: “Great finesse with an elegant bouquet of peaches and nectarines… an agreeable yet subtle acidity… great choice as an aperitif that will please everyone.” www.gales.lu
SCHUMACHER-KNEPPER ALEXANDRE DE MUSSET + BERNARD-MASSARD MILLÉSIMÉ 2014: “SchumacherKnepper is a nicely full crémant with a fresh aroma of exotic fruit… then reveals a smoky hint in the mouth.” “BernardMassard is a fresh crémant with subtle citrus notes. Easy to drink as an aperitif.” www.schumacher-knepper.lu & www.bernard-massard.lu
S AT. 1 7.1 2 WATCH CULT CLASSICS
The Cinémathèque is screening a short season of “cult classics before Christmas,” which includes Ingmar Bergman’s masterpiece Fanny och Alexander. The film features a memorable Christmas scene, although much of the story is quite bleak--as Xan Brooks in The Guardian puts it, Fanny och Alexander is an “opulent family saga, by turns bawdy, stark and strange.” The version shown here is the short 178-minute edit. 19:00 Cinémathèque, Luxembourg-Centre www.cinematheque.lu
SUN. 18.12 JOIN IN CAROLS FOR CHARITY
A traditional family concert of Rhythm & Carols is held in aid of children’s charities. Organised by Amcham and Lions Club Luxembourg-Amitié, the concert features students from the percussion ensemble of the Conservatoire. 16:00 Conservatoire de la Ville de Luxembourg, Luxembourg-Merl www.amcham.lu
WATCH THE NUTCRACKER
The Utopia and Utopolis Belval cinemas are screening the Bolshoi’s production of Tchaikovsky’s ballet The Nutcracker--a Christmas treat for the whole family. 16:00 Utopia cinema, Luxembourg-Centre & Utopolis, Esch-Belval www.utopolis.lu
WATCH WHITE CHRISTMAS
The Cinémathèque’s “cult classics before Christmas” season concludes with the heart-warming Irving Berlin musical starring Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen. As well as the famous title song (which first appeared in the 1942 film Holiday Inn), the film also features another seasonal favourite, ‘Snow’. 17:00 Cinémathèque, Luxembourg-Centre www.cinematheque.lu
MON. 19.12 HEAR CHRISTMAS ORATORIO
One of the most popular and magnificent works written specifically for Christmas, JS Bach’s Weihnachtsoratorium is performed at the Phil by the Concert Lorrain, the Dresdner Kammerchor and Pueri Cantores from Conservatoire de la Ville de Luxembourg. Tenor Christoph Prégardien conducts, with other soloists including soprano Joanne Lunn, alto Christianne Stotijn and bass Peter Kooij. 20:00 Philharmonie, Luxembourg-Kirchberg www.philharmonie.lu
ERIK ABBOTT ACTOR, DIRECTOR AND THEATRE CRITIC What was your personal highlight at the theatre in Luxembourg in 2016? As an audience member, I’d have to say that it is a toss-up between two productions Anne Simon directed this year, Mister Paradise and Other Rare Electrical Things Between People... As a theatre artist, the opportunity to work with Peter Zazzali and Christine Probst on The Fever for Actors Rep in October was an amazing experience and a real personal highlight in my career. There is something special about going to the theatre during the festive season--do you have any striking memories of shows seen at Christmas time? In 2012 I was in London just before Christmas. I was able to see a production of A Christmas Carol by the theatre company Antic Disposition. It was staged in Middle Temple Hall, a 16th-century Inn of Court. The production was perfectly suited to the extraordinary setting, and it was a wonderful show that moved me in ways no other ever has. I was on the verge of tears during Scrooge’s final conversion. Antic Disposition is reviving it this season. If you get to London during the season, go see it. As an actor, a great Christmas theatre memory I have is from a tour I did in the US of A Child’s Christmas in Wales. We played one night in a small town in the Midwest in an area that had strong cultural and historical ties to Wales. During the show, we could sense that this particular performance was reaching the audience in a way that was very special. When we sang ‘We’ll Keep a Welcome’ at the end of the show, we could hear people humming and even singing softly along with us--and crying. That’s what you always hope to be doing as theatre artists--giving the audience something, moving them in some way--but to know that you’ve been able to do it to that degree with a performance is very rare. Are there any upcoming English-language theatre productions that you are particularly looking forward to watching? Probably the one I’m looking forward to the most is Peter Brook’s Battlefield. Brook is revisiting part of The Mahabharata that he did in the 80s that I unfortunately never saw. I’m also excited about seeing Julian Sands in A Celebration of Harold Pinter and Anne Simon’s production of Love and Understanding in February. www.actorsrep.lu
WATCH LA BOHÈME
Puccini’s opera inspired by Henry Murger’s novel romanticising life in Paris’ Latin Quarter remains hugely popular. Talented young Belgian Karel Deseure conducts this Opera Zuid production, which is in association with the Luxembourg City Conservatoire. Other performances are on 18 and 22 December. 20:00 Grand Théâtre, Luxembourg-Limpertsberg www.theatres.lu
WED. 21.12 JOIN SING ALONG
The annual Chrëschtkonzert for charity at the Philharmonie has become a joyous occasion that the whole family can enjoy. The first half of the concert sees the OPL conducted by Pierre Cao and the Tölzer Knabenchor under the baton of Christian Fliegner perform a programme of works by JS Bach. The second half is when the audience joins in a rousing sing along to popular Christmas carols in a number of languages, including ‘Deck the Halls’, ‘Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht’ ‘O Tannenbaum’ and Luxembourg song ‘An der grousser hell’ger Nuecht’. 20:00 Philharmonie, Luxembourg-Kirchberg www.philharmonie.lu
WENDY CASEY FASHION CONSULTANT AND JOURNALIST What in particular have you most enjoyed about fashion in 2016? I love the fact that young street trends heavily influenced 2016 fashion; ultra-high waist, skinny jeans and leggings, cropped tops and jumpers, satin bombers and flat shoes--never ever heels. Sneakers, brogues and monk straps all featured heavily which hardly surprised me since I only have to look at my 18-year-old daughter Lily to see what’s hot and what’s not. The other day I popped into Zara to buy myself a pair of her favourite black, ultra-high waist leggings. My accompanying friend also bought a pair, as did around eight of my Belle Étoile clients who fell in love with them during the autumn fashion festival. Please don’t tell her! What advice would you give to people dressing up to celebrate New Year’s Eve? “Layer it up!” Layers serve an invaluable dual purpose, keeping you warm and protecting your modesty. Velvet is scorching hot this winter--worn as a jacket over a lace top and sequined camisole it takes a lot of beating. So, as you begin to heat up and the urge to party on down becomes irresistible, simply peel off a layer or two, reveal that décolletage and throw some well-rehearsed moves on the dancefloor. It really is a no-brainer. What do you think will be the major fashion trends for 2017? Pinstripes are going to be everywhere, in fact stripes in general are a key 2017 trend--from deckchair to nautical. White trouser suits à la Bianca Jagger are worth investing in, as are midi, knife-pleated skirts and more faded, distressed denim. The flare is still fighting for a place in our wardrobes but is really taking some heavy punches. As always, the January sale rails will be filled with them so if they’re your cup of tea, wait patiently and then take your pick of the best. Winter 2017
Hip record label Chez.Kito.Kat marks its tenth-year anniversary with a concert and party. The label has unleashed some 57 releases from around 20 artists, including Luxembourgers like Mount Stealth and In Circles, over the decade since it was formed by a trio of passionate musicians. The party features live performances from Metz indie quartet Twin Pricks, Luxembourg trip-hop duo Synthesis and instrumental hip-hop artist Sh’napan. There will also be DJ sets by Kuston Beater, Shizuka and Norset.D. 20:00 Rotondes, Luxembourg-Bonnevoie www.rotondes.lu
LOCAL GIFT IDEAS
JEAN MULLER CD: One of Luxembourg’s most talented and internationally renowned classical musicians, pianist Jean Muller recently released a new CD on Soupir Éditions. The collection features works by Brahms and Prokofiev as well as more modern composers György Ligeti and Ivan Boumans. www.pianistjm.com
GIVE A HEARTY HO HO
If you’ve grown tired of the traditional Christmas markets by now, then head to den Atelier for its very first afterwork-preXmas party. The venue will be turned into a winter wonderland with stands serving seasonal fare and a wide range of fancy winter cocktails. Entrance is free. 15:00 den Atelier, Luxembourg-Gare www.atelier.lu
SAT. 2 4 .1 2 GET TOGETHER AT XMAS MARKET
Many expats who celebrate Christmas on the 25th rather than the 24th gather at the Christmas markets for one last get together, to meet friends over a Glühwein and enjoy the atmosphere.
ATTEND MIDNIGHT SERVICE
The Anglican Church of Luxembourg is hosting a traditional midnight service with readings and carols. 23:00 Konvikt Centre, Luxembourg-Centre www.anglican.lu
GUY REWENIG IN ENGLISH: Luxembourg author Guy Rewenig has been delighting local readers with his novels, children’s stories and satires. Now, one of his books has been translated into English for the first time. Your Heart of Ice is Hot As Vice – Miniatures is a compilation of four works published by Éditions Guy Binsfeld. www.editionsguybinsfeld.lu
A SEASON TICKET TO THE PHIL: Each Christmas the Philharmonie puts together a number of concert ticket packages that can be offered as a gift or bought for one’s own listening pleasure. They cover a range of concerts including some of the great classical works, surprising performances from around the world, and for lovers of piano. www.philharmonie.lu
SIGNATURE BUBBLY: Leading crémant producer BernardMassard has launched another of its limited edition range of bottles, designed by four artists from Luxembourg and Belgium. The Cuvée de l’Écusson bottles come in beautiful boxes and the cork capsule features more artwork as well as a special code that can be used to enter an online contest. www.bernard-massard.lu
SPECIAL JEWELLERY: We’ve said it before, but Danish goldsmith Stine Bülow’s jewellery has a magical element. Her pieces have a raw element about them, but they are also very feminine. They are subtle, but stand out from the crowd. www.stinebulow.com
SLEEK DESIGNS: Vietnamese-born designer Ha Dang creates stunning clothes for her own Redwood by G label. Her style has been described as “serene and gracefully understated.” www.redwood-by-g.com
NEAT PATTERNS: At Yileste, Stéphanie Comes designs her own patterns and fabric prints to create urban wear clothes with a beautifully sophisticated fit and discrete yet uplifting details. www.yileste.com
MADE IN LUXEMBOURG: If you really want to give someone a gift that bears the signature of being made in Luxembourg, then head to the Luxembourg House concept store on rue de l’Eau where you will find everything from Léa Linster’s famous madeleine cakes to scented candles, from cider to children’s clothes. Luxembourg House on Facebook Winter 2017
SUN. 25.12 ATTEND MORNING SERVICE
The Anglican Church of Luxembourg is hosting a Christmas morning service--a familiar custom for many UK families who attend church before heading home for a traditional Christmas dinner and then settle down to watch the Queen give her annual address to the nation. 11:00 Konvikt Centre, Luxembourg-Centre www.anglican.lu
WED. 28.12 GO TO THE MOVIES
This is the real dead period in Luxembourg, the hollow days between Christmas and New Year’s Eve when many cultural venues take a break. So why not head to the cinema and take in a seasonal film? There are plenty to choose from this year, from the crass Office Christmas Party (sadly not a special from the British TV show) to the commercial cash-in of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story; from the “inspirational” animated features Ballerina and Sing, to the eagerly awaited sci-fi dramas Arrival and Passengers. www.utopolis.lu
TAKE A HIKE
Boxing Day is a day for recovery from the excesses of the previous day, traditionally a time to visit friends or to go for a long walk with loved ones and come home to a warming hot chocolate.
T U E . 2 7.1 2 TAKE THE KIDS TO A SHOW
The Chrëschtdeeg am Theater programme launches with eight shows across the next three days at the Grand Théâtre, Théâtre des Capucins and Rotondes. Most performances are without dialogue, making them accessible to anyone and any age. For the full programme see the Kids section (page 94) in this edition.
THU. 29.12 VISIT A MUSEUM
Luxembourg City’s museums have so much to offer right now you really are spoiled for choice. From the city history museum’s fascinating Football Hallelujah! show to Mudam’s exquisite Wim Delvoye retrospective and including the Villa Vauban’s recent acquisitions and Aude Moreau’s The Political Nightfall multimedia show at the Casino. www.museumsmile.lu
SAT. 31 .1 2 GO TO GOSPEL PARTY
FRI. 30.12 HEAD TO THE SALES
One of the joys of the festive season is a chance to pick up bargains at the winter sales. In Luxembourg they start on 30 December and carry on until 28 January--a whole month to spend that money you got as a gift from an elderly aunt. www.cityshopping.lu
The traditional New Year’s Eve show at the Grand Théâtre this year features Queen Esther Marrow’s Harlem Gospel Singers. In town for two nights only, the 75-year-old veteran of the gospel scene has performed with the very best including Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald and Harry Belafonte. More recently she has worked with German songwriter and producer Xavier Naidoo. A post-show dinner and party in the foyer of the theatre can also be booked. 19:00 (show), 21:30 (dinner) Grand Théâtre, Luxembourg-Limpertsberg www.theatres.lu
SUN. 01.01 HEAR GOSPEL
Ring in the New Year with the uplifting sound of Queen Esther Marrow’s Harlem Gospel Singers. 17:00 Grand Théâtre, Luxembourg-Limpertsberg www.theatres.lu
CATHY MUTIS MIXOLOGIST Do you have a favourite cocktail creation using champagne or crémant? Yes, my favourite champagne cocktail is The Boos. This is a revisited Cointreau Fizz with raspberry. What is your ideal way to spend New Year’s Eve? My ideal St. Sylvester is having time to share with my friends and family. But, the best is a cocktail with my wife in the sun at the seaside. Do you usually make New Year’s resolutions? No resolutions for me because I am unable to say no to a good glass of spirits. We only have one life! www.boosgroup.lu Winter 2017
Text by DUNCAN ROBERTS
19 shows e you must se
EXPLORING BECKETT 5 exquisite pieces The Story In Motion Project ends 2016 with five short plays by celebrated Nobel Prize winner Samuel Beckett. Timothy Lone directs an international cast featuring dancer Gianfranco Celestino, actresses Ann Comfort and Rhona Richards (photo) and mime artist Caspar Schjelbred. The five highlight the diversity of Beckett’s work--from the intimate Rockaby, in which a woman sits in a rocking chair listening to memories, to the political work Catastrophe which Beckett dedicated to Václav Havel. Also on the bill are Act Without Words II, Not I and Footfalls. 8, 9, 10, 14, 15, 16, 17 & 18 December Théâtre Ouvert Luxembourg, Route de Thionville, Luxembourg-Bonnevoie www.tol.lu Winter 2017
THE LAST HOTEL Potently compact A new work by Donnacha Dennehy and Enda Walsh, The Last Hotel premiered at the Edinburgh Festival in 2015 to critical acclaim. It is a dark drama, set in a shabby hotel, inspired by a true story of an Irish woman’s assisted suicide in 2002. Claudia Boyle, last seen in Luxembourg as Mabel in Mike Leigh’s The Pirates Of Penzance, delivers a powerful performance as the Irish woman. The Skinny called the work a stunning new opera with a taboobreaking subject that will become a classic of our times. “It has bleak vision but is shot through with a love of life.”
BATTLEFIELD Cycle of destruction The great Peter Brook makes one of his regular visits to Luxembourg with his long-standing collaborator Marie-Hélène Estienne to direct this work they have adapted from The Mahabharata and a play written by Jean-Claude Carrière. It is a tale of the endless cycle of human destruction that, says Michael Billington in The Guardian, “evokes the apocalyptic aftermath of a great war between rival members of the same family”. The timeless epic is packed with rich language and the result is what Billington calls “breathtaking” and “a dazzling piece of theatre”.
A CELEBRATION OF HAROLD PINTER Sands by Malkovich In a performance apparently “devoid of pretension or glittery trappings”, Julian Sands manages to get to the soul of the Nobel winning playwright in A Celebration of Harold Pinter. The show, directed by John Malkovich, is the result of a collaboration between Sands and Pinter for a special performance in London in 2005. Later, the work was performed at the Edinburgh Festival in 2011 and it then toured the world. Variety said that Sands delivers a performance with “pugnacity, precision, and a little of the dry humour of an exacting writer.”
10 & 11 January 2017 Grand Théâtre, Luxembourg-Limpertsberg www.theatres.lu
12-14 January 2017 Grand Théâtre, Luxembourg-Limpertsberg www.theatres.lu
19 & 20 January 2017 Théâtre National du Luxembourg, Luxembourg-Merl www.tnl.lu
Caroline Moreau Patrick Redmond Martine Pinell Baldur Bragason
year is down time and bridge into the new The Christmas season but things pick up quickly in January at many culture venues, ed English-language theatre productions with a bundle of acclaim s pop and classical musicians. and concerts by illustriou
Terry Linke Jean Louis Fernandez Tristram Kenton
ACADEMY OF ST. MARTIN Beethoven triple Violinist Joshua Bell conducts the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields in a concert featuring three works by Ludwig van Beethoven. The evening opens with the overture Beethoven wrote for Heinrich Joseph von Collin’s play Coriolan. Bell then plays the now famous violin concerto and the programme closes with the sixth symphony, The Pastoral. 9 January Philharmonie, Luxembourg-Kirchberg www.philharmonie.lu
AKRAM KHAN Live cinema A popular choreographer and dancer and regular visitor to the Grand Théâtre, Akram Khan brings his latest work, Until the Lions, to Luxembourg. An original reworking of the epic Mahabharata, the show sees Khan exploring the notion and the physical expression of gender. Khan performs with two female dancers, Ching-Ying Chien and Christine Joy Ritter. 20 & 21 January Grand Théâtre, Luxembourg-Kirchberg www.theatres.lu
KID COLLING CARTEL Blues explosion Winner of the 2016 Luxembourg Blues Challenge, Colombian-Luxembourg singersongwriter and guitarist Kid Colling and his Cartel band releases its debut album with a show and party at den Atelier. In the Devil’s Court is blues rock oriented with plenty of Kid’s trademark guitar sound, but will also feature some funky bass and Hammond B3 organ. 14 January den Atelier, Luxembourg-Gare www.atelier.lu
LSO & RATTLE Sixth of the best Sir Simon Rattle returns to the Philharmonie with the London Symphony Orchestra to perform Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 6, The Tragic Symphony. Mahler himself conducted the premiere in Essen in May 1906. It was extremely well-received, with contemporary Austrian Alban Berg famously writing that “There is only one Sixth, despite the [famous Beethoven work] Pastoral”. 21 January Philharmonie, Luxembourg-Kirchberg www.philharmonie.lu
SERGEY KHACHATRYAN Violin star The Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg, conducted by its musical director Gustavo Gimeno, is joined by Armenian violinist Sergey Khachatryan for a concert that will later be broadcast on Radio 100,7. The programme features Ravel’s Pavane for a Dead Infanta, Shostakovich’s second concerto for violin and orchestra and Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring. 19 January Philharmonie, Luxembourg-Kirchberg www.philharmonie.lu
2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY Live cinema An eagerly anticipated live cinema event co-produced by the Philharmonie and the Cinémathèque, this concert sees the OPL and the WDR Rundfunkchor Köln conducted by Frank Strobel perform the score to Stanley Kubrick’s classic sciencefiction film. The music includes the famous Blue Danube Waltz by Johann Strauss and Also sprach Zarathustra by Richard Strauss. 26 & 27 January Philharmonie, Luxembourg-Kirchberg www.philharmonie.lu
THE DIVINE COMEDY Playful pop One of the finest songwriters to emerge from Northern Ireland, Neil Hannon brings The Divine Comedy to Luxembourg for the first time. With ten albums over a period of 20 years under his belt, Hannon last year released Foreverland, which was his first new collection of songs in six years. The new record features many of his trademarks--catchy orchestral pop songs with witty and playful lyrics. 27 January den Atelier, Luxembourg-Gare www.atelier.lu Winter 2017
BON IVER Compelling knottiness Justin Vernon brings his band back to Luxembourg four and a half years after a memorable show at neimënster. But Vernon returns with very different material in the shape of widely acclaimed album 22, A Million, which has been called compelling for its knottiness and was compared by Pretty Much Amazing to Radiohead’s Kid A in that it simultaneously pushes away and pulls closer its audience. 27 January Rockhal, Esch-Belval www.atelier.lu
THE RAKE’S PROGRESS Faustian story Inspired by William Hogarth’s memorable engravings, Igor Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress features a libretto by poets W. H. Auden and Chester Kallman. A Faustian story of a youthful and idle rich libertine who squanders his fortune and ruins his life, this Théâtre de Caen co-production is directed by David Bobée, whose first opera it is. Benjamin Hulett and Marie Arnet take the lead roles. 3 & 5 February Grand Théâtre, Luxembourg-Limpertsberg www.theatres.lu Winter 2017
DRACULA AND THE ECO WARRIOR Provocative adaptation A new adaptation by the American Drama Group Europe of Bram Stoker’s classic novel aims to rejuvenate the story by moving it away from Gothic horror towards a wider relevance. It explores climate change, global warming, climate change denial and urban pollution. The production will not preach to its audience, but rather hopes to provoke debate. 27 January neimënster, Luxembourg-Grund www.neimenster.lu
BASTILLE Synthy anthemic people Sometimes a band comes along whose apparent universal appeal just slips us by. Such a beast is Bastille, whose “anthemic and synthy debut album” Bad Blood took the world by storm in 2013. Follow-up album Wild World was released in September 2016, and although single ‘Good Grief’ provided a moment of brash popbeat euphoria, it did little to convert the unappreciative. 31 January Rockhal, Esch-Belval www.atelier.lu
JEFF HERR CORPORATION Surprises and improv Luxembourg jazz drummer Jeff Herr is joined by tenor sax player Maxime Bender and double bass player Laurent Payfert on stage for a performance with special guest guitarist Adam Rogers, who has had a prolific career as a session musician. The trio plays free improvisations but also throws in some surprising covers from the likes of David Bowie or Jimi Hendrix. 1 February Philharmonie, Luxembourg-Kirchberg www.philharmonie.lu
BLOSSOMS Indie-pop saviours One of the hottest young acts of the year in the UK, Blossoms from Stockport released their eponymously-titled debut album in August to critical acclaim and commercial success--it entered the UK charts at no.1. Reviewer Andy Gill wrote that Blossoms were being hailed as the “saviours of indie pop” and that their songs contained “sparkling melodies and seemingly blue-chip hooks”.
HALF WAIF Postmodern anguish Nandi Rose Plunkett formed Half Waif with longtime friends Zack Levine and Adan Carlo three years ago. The band released its second full-length album Probable Depths in May 2016, and has received favourable notices from indie music magazines like No Fear Of Pop, which said it was “awash in a stunning blend of Neolithic imagery and postmodern anguish.” 8 February de Gudde Wëllen, Luxembourg-Centre www.atelier.lu
FUTURE OF THE LEFT Rage against the hypocrites Amidst all the justified hype surrounding Sleaford Mods, the brilliant bile and “roaring dissent” of former Mclusky frontman Andrew Falkous in his band Future of the Left is often sadly overlooked. The band plays uncompromising alternative rock and thrives in raging against the establishment. As AllMusic reviewer Heather Phares puts it, “Falkous remains ruthlessly efficient at deflating blowhards and hypocrites.” 8 February Rotondes, Luxembourg-Bonnevoie
5 February den Atelier www.atelier.lu
Sebastian Nevols Celina Carney
Text by DUNCAN ROBERTS
Photography by MIKE ZENARI
g n i h s a d e Th baritone o orgio “the Dove” Valentin Florida-born singer Ge rg by way of Detroit and Brussels. ou has landed in Luxemb
LISTEN AT: WWW.GEORGIOTHE DOVEVALENTINO.COM
ith a string of gigs in his native Florida, Italy and Manchester under his belt, Georgio “the Dove” Valentino is busy promoting new single ‘Satyros Ironykos’. Co-written with former Orange Juice bassist David McClymont, it was recorded in Melbourne by legendary Birthday Party, Bad Seeds and PJ Harvey guitar player Mick Harvey. Despite moving in such illustrious circles, Valentino remains humble about his work and his distinctive voice. “When I was younger I was chasing another animal,” he says. “But as you get older, you just accept this is who you are and this is what you do. There is something liberating about that.” What Valentino does is make music that is passionate and mesmerising, cinematic and enigmatic, yet keenly aware of the musical legacy that has gone before. On his 2014 double album Mille Plateaux, which he describes as “an aural Rorschach test”, there are homages to Chuck Berry and “unsung” Italian crooner Piero Ciampi (of whom Valentino is slowly, but surely, writing a biography). Though his body of work is varied, the one constant is Valentino’s rich timbre--a voice described by one reviewer as “dashing baritone”. But the singer finds it difficult to see himself as others see him. “I used to be a terrible singer and have evolved into an adequate singer,” he says. The singers he admires, people like Scott Walker and Paul Quinn, are hard acts to follow. “There is not just texture and colour there, but also such a range.” Valentino paid tribute to Quinn during a residency at modern art museum Mudam in 2014--Valentino has a passion for art, writing a weekly arts column for a Brussels magazine and having the sleeve of Mille Plateaux adorned with four images by “the father of ‘Sexpressionism’” Steven Johnson Leyba. Valentino also hopes to write a book about Quinn, whom we agree is criminally underrated. Given his other obsession with Ciampi, it seems that Valentino has a thing for championing neglected singers. Winter 2017
Text by WENDY WINN
Share the gifrte of live theat WALL TO WALL AT MUDAM Every weekend
through 8 January 2017, artists challenge you to let your imagination run wild--after getting inspired by seeing the Wim Delvoye exhibition. www.mudam.lu ZUMBA ON ICE It’s not a new cocktail; it’s a cool new sport with hot moves you and the kids can try at the Kockelscheuer ice rink, Wednesday evenings. www.sport50.com
t might not come wrapped in paper and tied up with ribbons and bows, but there’s a present waiting for your whole family offered by Traffo and the Théâtres de la Ville de Luxembourg. It’s the Chrëschtdeeg am Theater programme, and it’s like a big box of chocolates to pick from, with shows at the Rotondes, the Grand Théâtre and Théâtre des Capucins from 27 to 30 December. Particularly yummy looking are several productions without words, and therefore no language barriers. For example, there’s a 15-minute show, Rêveries, aimed at ages 3 and up, which sounds really cosy. It is free and plays continuously between 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day in the courtyard of the Grand Théâtre from 27 to 30 December. Winter 2017
Then there’s a mime, Monsieur und Madame Poiseau (photo) (27 December at 3 and 7 p.m.) in which an elderly gentleman plans a surprise party for his wife’s 75th birthday. In L’arbre (29 December at 11 a.m., 3 and 5 p.m.), the Via Verde theatre company creates a dream tree house, while on 29 and 30 December, juggler Loïc Faure presents his solo show Hom(m). All of these goodies can be devoured by people from ages 5 or 7 up to 99, so leave great-great-grandma at home with the dog and bring the rest of the family. Hang on there! There’s a present still unopened! Isn’t it great finding another treat when you thought the fun was over? On 27 December, when Christmas 2016 has just become a Christmas Past, pack up the kids to see A Christmas Carol at the Capucins. The lovely Larisa Faber and Damien Thill bring this classic to life, at 11 a.m. in Luxembourgish and at 3 p.m. in English.
The best gift of all during the festive season is time spent together as a family. The Chrëschtdeeg am Theater programme allows you to do just that.
FATHER CHRISTMAS HOLIDAYS IN FRANCE Nearby Sierck-les-Bains becomes a Christmas village, with a big market, kids’ workshops, music, food and 1,000 teddy bears. www.siercklesbains.fr
Text by MARINA LAI
Photography by MIKE ZENARI
Grocery shopping revolutıon Ouni is the first zero waste shop in Luxembourg. Its members plan to transform your grocery shopping experience.
he name Ouni, which means “without” in Luxembourgish, sums up the philosophy of the new grocery store in the Gare district of the capital city. Doing away with packaging, the store sells produce that is organic and locally sourced where possible, and also free of parabens and chemicals. Vanessa Paul is one of the founding members. “Five out of six of us are mothers,” she explains. “Perhaps that’s why we feel so strongly about creating a healthier environment for the next generations.” Paul and co-founders Rebecca Maroko, Caroline Lam, Patricia Tompers, Anne Jacoby, Saskia Mechling and Kasia Krzyzanowski launched an appeal for members to join Ouni in February. So far around 600 members have invested in the project. With each share costing €100, prospective members can easily buy in and become part of the cooperative. The concept has already proved to be extremely popular, and the collective reached their target of raising the initial €180,000 they felt was required to start commercial activity within just three months. By the end of September its capital had surpassed €200,000. In addition, those who fancy a more hands-on approach can become active members who work two hours a month to help at the store. Finding a store with convenient parking with a good location was a priority for the founders, so they eventually settled on a premises on rue Glesener in the Gare neighbourhood of Luxembourg City. As you enter the store, customers will be surprised to see that it is much larger than expected. “The aim is to eventually stock around 1,000 different products.
At the moment we have around 500,” says Maroko. The range of products exceeds that of a simple grocery store. With staples such as fresh fruit and vegetables, there are also organic dairy products, dry products such as grains and pasta and household essentials. In order to help the customers incorporate conscious living into their lifestyle, Ouni also stocks reusable goods such as face pads, handkerchiefs and cloth diapers. MINIMISING WASTE Lam wants customers to feel the full effects of minimising waste: “You can cut your own solid soaps and shampoos, so that you only take as much as needed. We even have refillable toothpaste!” This philosophy is applied throughout the store and customers can purchase any amount
of anything, no matter how small. “Another benefit of a zero waste store is that you can try so many new products without committing to purchasing the entire packet. Simply bring your own jar or purchase one and take as little as you wish.” Though it may seem simple enough to take away packaging and go back to basics, the members believe that perseverance is key. “Perhaps the first time you come, you forget your containers or you place product into a bottle that isn’t yet dry. You will learn from small mistakes but it’s important to keep going. After all, it’s not just a shop, it’s a revolution!”
READY TO LAUNCH Vanessa Paul, Caroline Lam and Rebecca Maroko inside the Ouni store a week before it opened
Ouni 55 rue Glesener, Luxembourg-Gare www.ouni.lu
s e h c è r c f o y l i m A fa t s r i f d l i h c e h t that puts ntessori crèches , of French-language Mo kitchen . L’Enfant Roi, the family h a shift to green products and a centralised wit g vin pro im r is fur the
WHAT IS THE STORY BEHIND L’ENFANT ROI?
Dominique Godard: After 12 years’ experience working in a conventional crèche, I wanted to create a new and better type of care for children. In 2004, I achieved this by opening the first French-language Montessori crèche in Luxembourg, located in a house I had custom-built in Strassen: the first of the L’Enfant Roi chain. Translating as “the child is king”, L’Enfant Roi puts the child first in everything it does. The Montessori pedagogical approach promotes respect and autonomy, so all spaces are designed to give children maximum independence, from low cots without bars to tables and chairs that are just the right size and materials placed
" L’ENFANT ROI HAS TAKEN A BILINGUAL APPROACH FROM THE START, OFFERING IMMERSION IN LUXEMBOURGISH AND FRENCH, AS WELL AS GERMAN OR ENGLISH." on child-height shelves. Through the urging of parents, who were very happy with our approach, we opened the Maria Montessori school in Strassen in 2007 as a separate entity, which is complemented by an on-site Maison Relais. We then opened a number of new crèches, all in custom-built spaces for optimal ergonomics. We now have seven crèches, located in Strassen, Bertrange, Findel and four in the Kirchberg area. We are always growing and developing, and are now building a central kitchen facility, as well as a new crèche in Capellen. Winter 2017
WHAT WAS THE MOTIVATION BEHIND CREATING A CENTRALISED KITCHEN?
Godard: We have always focused on serving high-quality food, and all of our crèches have their own kitchen and a chef who prepares all meals from scratch every day. Our menus are developed by our in-house paediatrician nurse, who focuses on providing a varied diet with minimal sugar and salt and avoiding added colourings and preservatives. Although we already offer organic meat and root vegetables, we have decided to make a full shift to organic food, with a focus on local producers with a low carbon impact. Our new centralised kitchen will help to make this possible. By preparing all of our meals in one place and having them delivered daily to each crèche, we can make larger purchases of high-quality ingredients, and ensure centralised quality control. We will also be able to offer new types of food prepared from scratch, such as bread and biscuits. WHAT ELSE ARE YOU DOING TO "GO GREEN"?
Godard: One of the tenets of the Montessori method is respect for others
and for the environment. So in addition to offering locally-produced, organic food, we are looking for environmentallyfriendly alternatives for other products. We stopped using disposable wipes for nappy changes many years ago, and now exclusively use cotton towel gloves. We recently did extensive research to find an environmentally-friendly yet comfortable and high-quality nappy, involving parents in the testing process. As for general cleaning products, we use the environmentally-friendly Ecolab brand. And it’s important to note that the Montessori method focuses on natural materials, so the children play with toys made from wood rather than plastic. WHAT IS YOUR APPROACH TO LANGUAGE LEARNING AT L’ENFANT ROI?
Godard: The Montessori pedagogical method promotes bilingualism, and we have offered French and Luxembourgish from the beginning. We take the approach of “one person, one language”. Our caregivers always speak in their mother tongue, allowing the children to learn each language naturally in an immersion environment. As a member of the “multilingualism expert
" WE AIM TO MAKE OUR CRÈCHES A NATURAL EXTENSION OF HOME WITH THE HIGHEST QUALITY OF CARE."
GROWING WITH A FOCUS ON QUALITY
group” of the University of Luxembourg, I am happy to promote the acquisition of these two important languages among children in Luxembourg. French and Luxembourgish will soon become mandatory in all crèches benefitting from cheque-service funding, as part of a wider multilingual strategy that also places value on the child’s mother tongue. In our own crèches, we now also offer German or English as a third language due to high demand from parents.
MORE INFO at lenfant-roi.lu FOUNDED In 2004 with the custom-built Am Piesch crèche in Strassen LOCATIONS 7 crèches in Strassen, Bertrange, Findel and Kirchberg, with a new project in Capellen, as well as a Maison Relais in Strassen for the independent École Maria Montessori.
WHAT ELSE SETS YOU APART?
Godard: In addition to offering the only francophone Montessori care in Luxembourg, we are also highly focused on the quality of our pedagogy and practices. We have our own accredited educational facility to train our staff across a wide range of subjects: pedagogy, child psychology, hygiene, health, management, etc. This ensures that all our caregivers understand and practise the Montessori method in all their interactions with the children. We believe that parents must have trust in their child’s crèche so we aim to stay in close touch with parents and to make our crèches a natural extension of home with the highest quality of care.
TEAM A family-run company, the L’Enfant Roi team includes an in-house psychologist, paediatrician nurse, and head of pedagogy.
PHOTOS LEGENDS A. "Pratical life" exercice at L'Enfant Roi crèche. B. Dominique Godard, founder and manager of crèches L'Enfant Roi.
PEDAGOGICAL APPROACH L’Enfant Roi offers young children a Montessori environment, with staff well-trained in the method. Children’s needs for autonomy, movement and freedom are respected through carefullydesigned spaces and materials for optimal learning and growth.
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native land. If you’re still stuck, chocolates, flowers or a nice bottle of wine will probably go down well. And, at this point, if you’re still not sure, kindly cancel your subscription to Delano.
thing in vice columnist on every This month Delano’s ad der questions on holiday gif ts Luxembourg answers reaponds to a reader’s complaint. and winter tyres, and res
Dear Auntie Eleanor, I love a good Glühwein, but where is the best place to sample it in Luxembourg? -- Simon in Junglinster Gentle reader, I am delighted that you are a fan of the old mulled wine--just like the angel Clarence in my favourite yuletide movie, It’s A Wonderful Life. But I am often disappointed with the sickly sweet beverage that is sold at the Christmas markets here. The best stuff should have a warming spiciness from the cinnamon, star anise, cloves and nutmeg and just a hint of zest--otherwise you might as well just heat a glass of Beaujolais nouveau in one of those new-fangled microwaves. Personally, I have been known to take a tipple of Konrad Café’s excellent and well-fortified Scandinavian Glögg. But if you do find yourself at the Christmas market and can’t resist, ask for your Glühwein with an extra shot of rum--that will warm the cockles of your heart. Dear Auntie Eleanor, what is a typical Luxembourg treat that I can send back to family and friends in my home country? -- Peter in Pfaffenthal Gentle reader, Bamkuch (tree cake) must make most Luxembourgers think of special family moments, so what better slice of the Grand Duchy to share? It also should be easy to ship and arrive in good shape. There’s a lovely recipe, in English, on www.anneskitchen.co.uk, Winter 2017
Dear Auntie Eleanor, I read your column in the October edition on roundabouts and national flags, and you were a bit harsh on the Belgians and French, don’t you think? -- Thomas in Trier Gentle reader, your poor auntie just hasn’t had time to get to the Germans yet.
but you can get one at any decent bakery around. A colleague who shall remain nameless says that he brings a box of Oberweis chocolate covered biscuits to his in-laws each Christmas, which is always well received (actually two boxes; one is discreetly passed directly to his mother-in-law). For children, and also easy to ship, try Boxemännercher, brioche shaped like little men (typically served for St. Nicholas Day, but you can blame the post). For more mature gift recipients, Beaufort Castle has a line of amusing blackcurrant, cherry and plum liqueurs; then there’s the rather distinct Maagbitter Buff, which, someone once said, “makes Jägermeister
taste like lemonade” (www.pitzschweitzer.lu). You could also take a chance on Kachkéis, a runny cooked cheese (cancoillotte in French or Kochkäse in German), although that might best be hand-delivered. Dear Auntie Eleanor, we’ve been invited to have dinner at a Luxembourger family’s home for the very first time. What should we bring? -- Henry in Hesperange Gentle reader, they’re Luxembourgers, not extraterrestrials. What would you bring in your home country? If that doesn’t help, you can give something “typical” from your
Dear Auntie Eleanor, in November, why does Luxembourg become obsessed with winter tyres? -- April in Colmar-Berg Gentle reader, this is a question that also used to have me perplexed. We seem to get snow twice a year and even then it’s what many North Americans would call a dusting rather than proper 3-feet snowfalls. To answer your question, in Luxembourg (and in Germany) it is illegal to drive in winter conditions--defined by the law as “black ice, packed snow, slush, ice or frost”--without winter tyres. Non-compliance can lead to a fine of €74, so you have been warned. What’s more, your car must be fitted with four tyres of the same type. It seems there is some physics behind the requirement for winter tyres. They are made from a rubber compound that doesn’t harden when it is cold--a problem familiar to many male readers, I am sure--and that can apparently help a vehicle come to a stop in a much shorter distance than with other tyres. ASK YOUR QUESTION Want to know something about Luxembourg? Contact Auntie Eleanor via AuntieEleanor@delano.lu. Please indicate if Delano can publish your name or if you wish to remain anonymous.
Illustration by Maison Moderne
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T H E TA S T E O F J OY
Delano Magazine Winter 2017