# 56 WINTE R 2
L U X E M B O U R G
E N G L I S H
FFAIRS C U R R E NT A BU S IN E S S LIFE STYLE
G L É C K A M N E I E J O E R
#56 WINTER 2018
STE P E D I S IN A FE A ST O F ENG LISH -LAN GUA GE S T H E AT R E A W A IT
Sustainabler n; səsˈteɪnəbləʳ (m); Tax, Audit, Advisory Creating “shared value”
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LETTER FROM THE EDITOR
A FITTI CELEBR NG ATION As 2017 that the winds to a cl os grand d uchy cae, there is mu c n be pr oud of h .
welve months ago, the world was facing stars, musicians and film directors, researchers the new year with some trepidation. and entrepreneurs both at home and abroad. The result of the Brexit referendum and The climax of the campaign is a live event the election victory of Donald Trump had celebrating these people on 13 December. left many people in shock, and the prospect Our research has unveiled a wealth of inof further political earthquakes at elections credible talent in some surprising fields of in the Netherlands, and in Luxembourg’s work. People like animation artist Tanja neighbours France and Germany, was very Majerus, who works on The Simpsons in Los real. But Dutch and French voters rejected Angeles, or elite BMX athlete Viki Gomez. their right-wing extremists, and after a Then there are the more familiar worthies, difficult autumn, Germany like René Closter, who has looks likely to find a pragmatic dedicated much of his life to solution to the political staleLuxembourg Air Rescue, or “THE mate that resulted from its world record strongman COUNTRY election. So, as it turns out, Georges Christen. NEEDED TO one of the biggest electoral Nobody is pretending that SHOWCASE shake ups of 2017 was in Luxembourg is perfect. But THE DIVERSITY there is much to celebrate Esch-sur-Alzette, where the AND socialist LSAP was turfed out about the country, its achievePOSITIVITY of local government for the ments and the people who first time in living memory. make it such an exceptional THAT MANY As the year winds down, place to live. This year has EXPATS however, thoughts should turn seen Luxembourg make inENJOY.” to the more positive. At the ternational headlines with its end of 2016, Luxembourg pioneering foray into the had just launched its “Let’s make it happen” space mining sector, and flood mapping campaign. To improve its image abroad, technology developed here helped aid efforts the country needed to showcase the diversity in the US following hurricanes Irma and and positivity that many expats enjoy so Harvey. Even on the sporting front, where much they have decided to make it their Luxembourg has so long struggled, Gilles permanent home. Muller and the national football team gave To this end, throughout 2017, Delano and us plenty to cheer about. Let’s hope that in its publishing house, Maison Moderne, has 2018 the grand duchy will continue to forge been honouring the people who help put positivity and celebrate its diversity. the grand duchy on the map. Under the “Celebrating Luxembourg” banner, we DUNCAN ROBERTS have profiled politicians, diplomats, sports Editor-in-chief
ON MY MIND Hoping Luxembourg actress Vicky Krieps gets an Oscar nomination for Phantom Thread-eagerly waiting to use the tram along the Kirchberg and the funicular at Pfaffenthal--working on the latest edition of MMM - Conversations about Publishing and Media. Winter 2018
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DELANO WINTER 2018 CURRENT AFFAIRS
The UK has long ruffled continental feathers with its long list of EU exceptions. But Europe has never been a monolithic bloc. So, who’s part of what?
The impact of the #metoo movement in Luxembourg.
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Theatre director Anne Simon and Tom Leick of Théâtres de la Ville de Luxembourg. NOTE TO OUR READERS
The next print edition of Delano will be published on 9 February 2018. For daily news updates, commentary and our weekly what’s on guide, visit www.delano.lu.
The ins and outs of owning an old or newtimer.
How much tax should a business pay? After the Paradise Papers disclosures, experts share their views on corporate tax planning in Luxembourg.
COVER STORY 74
A FEAST OF THEATRE Theatre fans are spoilt rotten by the selection of English-language performances in Luxembourg. Delano examines the must-see shows and speaks to the professionals bringing innovative new shows to Luxembourg.
Storytelling, singing and socialising in multiple languages.
We wish you an
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To all day dreamers, to the projects you have now, and to those still to come.
A SUITABLE BOY
GOING DIY FOR CHRISTMAS
Crossing continents to live openly as a gay man.
Bram staff add the personal touch to decorations at the popular clothing store.
Expat sheds light on climate change in 2-year study of Arctic community.
INSIDE THE CATHEDRAL
Delano’s snapshots from the Alfi PE & RE Conference.
DIGITAL DELANO DIGITAL HIGHLIGHTS HIGHLIGHTS
DEBT ALARM BELLS
Forecasts suggest public debt to reach 161% of GDP. icon_website www.delano.lu/current-affairs
A RESEARCHER ABROAD Delano discovers stunning treasures behind the scenes at Notre-Dame cathedral.
“Anyone can be the best ambassador for Luxembourg,” says scientist François Gaascht.
THE LONG CLIMB
Green councillor Sam Tanson on her party’s future in the capital.
Photos show the many faces behind the Bazar International. 72
A CHANCE MEETING
Massive Luxembourg turnout for 2017 Ironman World Championship.
Adventure travel startup The Outdoor Journal comes to Luxembourg.
Léa Linster, the chef and only woman ever awarded the Bocuse d’Or.
Balancing economic growth with population growth in a sustainable way. 48
Would you trust a computer algorithm with your money? The Luxembourg outlook.
Fondation Follereau’s fight against exclusion. 82
HAD A FEW DRINKS?
Delano’s quick guide to getting home during the party season. 84
KNUEDLER ON ICE
Magical winter lights at place Guillaume II for ice rink. icon_website www.delano.lu/pictures
We misidentified the founder of Just Arrived Ambassadors Club in our December 2017 edition; it was the idea of Laurent Ollier.
Find the hottest places to be active in Luxembourg. icon_website www.delano.lu/lifestyle
Forget mulled red wine and check out these winter tipples with a local twist! 96
Help your young thespians find their feet on the stage. 98
Delano’s advice columnist answers reader questions on carrying cash, bus changes and resolutions.
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Software developer by day, Philippe Lemaire talks about singing in a choir as part of the “Clocking off!” series.
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What career opportunities will Brexit jobs bring to Luxembourg?
A SUITABLE BOY Europeans take their freedom for granted, but Akbar Basha had to cross continents to live openly as a gay man.
hen Akbar Basha gained his Luxembourg citizenship a few months ago, it gave the 36-yearold from Tamil Nadu in India more than just a passport. Akbar is gay. In his homeland, according to Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which dates back to 1860 and British rule, sexual activities “against the order of nature” are punishable by a maximum sentence
of life imprisonment. “Gay people are often considered perverts, and there is little political will to talk about the subject,” he says. “Many gay people get married and live dual lives, bowing to social pressure or to satisfy family honour.” Family is very important to Akbar: “My parents sacrificed a lot to help me to succeed. When I was young, my father split firewood to sell in
support others in less “open” parts of the world. “India is a great country, and I still have faith in her,” he concludes. Akbar hopes to stay in the grand duchy: “I am Luxembourgish now, and I am very grateful and proud to be associated with this country, wherever I go Luxembourg will remain an onsen Hierzer--in the depths of my heart.”
The percentage of Luxembourg residents who are at risk of poverty, defined as 60% of the national median income in 2016.
Reported by SARITA RAO
BUILDING CULTURAL BRIDGES With a high-profile inaugural event under its belt, the Arabic Association for Cultural Exchange is looking to put on 101 Arabian Nights.
he head of the Iraq Short Film Festival Nizar Al-Rawi is known as a man of action who gets things done. So, it was little surprise that he has been instrumental in founding the Arabic Association for Cultural Exchange in Luxembourg. “We met several people from different cultural and professional backgrounds,” he explains. “We discussed how it is important to build cultural bridges between these two neighbours--the Arab world and Europe.” The issue is even more pressing, he says, since Europe has received
millions of Arab refugees over the past couple of years, and media coverage has mainly focused on war and security. “That makes the situation here in Europe more nervous, or less comfortable. We can achieve several goals, both culturally and socially.” Luxembourgers of the calibre of Bob Krieps, the former first advisor at the ministry of culture, were immediately intrigued by the project. He helped found the association and now serves as its vice president. And support from the Mateneen programme of the Œuvre Nationale de Secours Grande-Duchesse Charlotte has allowed the association to employ a refugee on a part-time basis. Al-Rawi is aiming high, and wants to focus on creating quality events. But the association also serves as a
Numbers sources: Statec, Cahier économique No 123, Rapport travail et cohésion sociale; Luxembourg Central Bank, Household debt burden and financial vulnerability in Luxembourg, September 2017; Family Ministry, 2016 annual report; Femmes en Détresse, 2016 annual report
order to buy food. My success is their success, so I want them to be part of every milestone of my life.” In June 2016, Akbar’s parents came to visit him in Luxembourg. “They have a great impression of the country and Luxembourgers, and they can see how happy and free I am to be myself. They even walked with me in the GayMat Parade and were totally at peace with my decision to apply for nationality,” he explains. Not only has Akbar built a house for his parents in India, but his income has enabled him to financially support his sister to become a teacher, his niece to train as a nurse, and his nephew to study engineering. Despite missing home, Akbar is passionate about his adopted country. “My Luxembourg friends are very open-minded,” he says. Born into a Muslim family, he attended a Christian school and prays at Hindu temples. “In India, most people would see me as a Muslim. Here, people just see me as Akbar with my multiple identities.” In 2016, Akbar’s story was the subject of an RTL documentary by Catherine Richard for the ‘routwäissgro’ series. His primary reason for participating in it was to create awareness of LGBT rights in his home country. The film was shown this year at the International Day Against Homophobia in New Delhi, and Akbar was invited to take part in the Chennai Queer Film Festival. “It was an emotional moment in my home state. When my mum spoke, the entire audience cried, highlighting that we in the Indian LGBT community are starved of love, understanding and acceptance, especially from family,” he says. He points out that if only 2.5% of India’s population is LGBT that would be 32.5 million people, more than 50 times the population of Luxembourg. Unsurprisingly, Akbar has been contacted by several gay people from India. He provides counselling for those in distress or needing support via Facebook, and he urges Luxembourg’s LGBT community to do whatever they can to
platform for Arab artists, many of whom say they do not always have easy access to European venues or festivals. “In this world you need trust, it’s not like business where you depend on a signature and bank statements. You have your word and the reputation of the artist,” says Al-Rawi. The association members have good connections with some of the leading Arab artists in the world, including the likes of calligrapher Muthana Al-Obeidi, oud constructor and composer Wissam Joubran, architecture historian Dr Khaled Al-Sultany, and film critic and Arab section programmer at the Dubai Film Festival Irfan Rashid. The association hosted its first event, a lecture by architect Ammar Khammash at Luca on “Nature as an architect” on 21 November. “Response has been very positive,” says Renée Aakrann. “But we have to plan way ahead with some of the venues we want to partner with. Their schedules are already full.” The association’s next event is a literature evening with Dr Claudia Ott, a scholar of Arab culture from Germany, who will present extracts from 1001 Nights and also from 101 Nights, a “little sister” book of stories that she discovered in the library of the Aga Khan. Plans for early next year include a calligraphy exhibition and a film screening at the Cinémathèque.
CORNERSTONE OF THE CITY CENTRE Headed to holiday mass? Delano took a look behind the scenes at the Notre- Dame cathedral in Luxembourg City on 21 November. The cathedral was built in 1621 and enlarged in 1935-1938. In the capital, mass is held in many languages, reflecting the linguistic diversity of the population: Luxembourgish, French, German and English. Smaller masses are held in the crypt. The sacristy has a dressing room for the priests and another which contains the robes of the statue of Our Lady of Luxembourg. Mary is the national patron saint and this particular statue has been revered since 1624. The statue has 63 robes and there are some gems among them. Alex Langini, curator of the diocese, explained that many of these robes were re-purposed from old princesses’ brides’ dresses. Taking some winding steps up a spiral staircase, the roof truss is truly impressive. Small wooden planks lead over the vaulted ceiling. MH
AT THE CHURCH A. A special 17th century chalice, which was beautifully decorated with several small enamel panels representing religious scenes B. A 17th century velvet priest robe C. The offering bags are in the sacristy, next to the entrance to the altar D. Robe for the statue of Mary from the 19th century, emblazed with symbols of Luxembourg, popular at a time of rising nationalism across Europe E. Henrique Boto, sacristan, explained the robes are carefully stored in acid-free paper F. The beams, sourced locally, date from the 17th century and are now reinforced with steel cables G. The organ dates from 1995
Reported by DUNCAN ROBERTS
114% Winter 2018
The debt-to-income ratio of Luxembourg households in 2014, up from 87% in 2010.
CATCHING UP WITH…
SAM TANSON The Green councillor talks about her party’s future in the capital’s local council.
am Tanson, who entered Luxembourg City’s municipal council in 2011 and became alderwoman after François Bausch was named minister for transport and sustainable development in 2013, said that her party had contributed significantly to the modernisation of the capital. “12 years ago, there were hardly any bikes in the capital, the car was the main mode of transport, and François Bausch and I tried to change the thinking on this by offering alternatives. After introducing the bike rental scheme, we have also opened calls for electric bike rentals, which the next council of aldermen will implement. We created the infrastructure for bike lanes, often without the support of the whole local council,” Tanson explained. She also mentioned the creation of an econeighbourhood in Limpertsberg, the banning of pesticides and the creation of new allotments as accomplishments. After the 8 October elections, the Greens were “astonished” that the DP immediately approached the CSV for talks, “considering our excellent results and the good cooperation we had with the DP over the past 12 years, where there were no real conflicts”. However, Tanson said the party would not be a loud and aggressive opposition: “We will have the same style of working in opposition as when we were part of the majority. We will not shout for the sake of shouting, but we will try to get things moving. However, we will not handle some people with kid gloves just because we had worked together for the past 12 years.” The detailed coalition agreement had not yet been signed when this interview took place (see page 14), but Tanson already criticised their method of working: “The council of aldermen, which has negotiated for weeks now, said initially that they would focus on content rather than the distribution of posts. But they have done it the other way around: they first allocated the jobs before the agreement was written out in detail. What they presented to the press on 10 November was rather meagre.”
Text by MARTINE HUBERTY Photography by MIKE ZENARI
The number of phone calls that the helpline SOS Détresse received in 2016.
2018 DRAFT BUDGET GETS CThe planned budget for 2018, which was presented by the DP finance minister Pierre Gramegna in October, had the leitmotiv of continuity, combined with generous benefits for families. However, Gramegna received average marks at best from several institutional bodies on his last budget before the 2018 elections.
he opposition CSV and ADR parties had already levelled criticism that the government was not reducing debt levels when the economy experienced growth levels of 3.4% growth. This draft budget forecasts expenditure rising by 6.49% compared to the 2017 final budget. That is €914.9m more than in 2017. Revenues should rise by 6.20%, so that the deficit should stand at €945.3m in 2018. The current calculations Winter 2018
of the government included the current demographic projections; 1.1m by 2060 and growth levels permanently at over 2%. The National Council on Public Finances (CNFP), which advises the government, said that everything was going well for the moment, but warned it was not sustainable in the long run, because of a rapidly ageing population and the increased social spending associated with that. It also specifically suggested decoupling the yearly budget from the multiannual budget. Growth levels were much lower than the forecasts on which the budget was based, and the revenue calculations should be accordingly revised downwards, the CNFP said. It also recommended raising the medium-term budgetary objective to between +0.25% and +1% of GDP for 2020-2022. The Court of Auditors, which checks public spending for parliament, issued several warnings as well. While the finance minister projects that debt levels will fall between 2017 and 2021, the Court of Auditors noted that this would largely be due to high growth levels, not any policies that would actively lower them. The Chamber of Commerce joined the chorus as well. Debt levels would effectively grow by 10% to €1.3bn between 2017 to 2021. Furthermore, lower than predicted growth levels were not taken into account, meaning there might be an “overestimation of revenues” and “uncertainties surrounding expenses”. The business lobby is disappointed that the 2018 budget and multiannual framework do not anticipate future budgetary, economic and social challenges. It also warns that the escalation of social security costs, especially pensions, “is around the corner”. The Court of Auditors also exami ned the sustainability of the pension system, and warned of “procrastination” so as not to jeopardy the pensions of future generations. Over the past few years, expenses related to pensions have been growing continuously, while contributions have not kept up. All things being equal, the general pension Winter 2018
The business lobby is disappointed that the 2018 budget and multiannual framework do not anticipate future budgetary, economic and social challenges.”
LUXEMBOURG PENSIONS Critics have likened it to a Ponzi scheme while Luxembourg’s finance minister says there is nothing to worry about. The Idea Foundation, a Luxembourg think-tank, took a different approach to pensions in its latest study, calculating rate of return for every euro worker put into the system depending on wage bracket. Based on the fact that 16% of earnings go into the pension pot and current life expectancies, its economists found that the higher the salary, the lower the rate of return on investment. For instance, a man earning €236,559 in his last year before retiring would see a 6.54% rate of return, while a man on an average wage of €78,853 would get a 7% rate of return. A man earning a below average of €39,426 would get a 7.45% rate of return. The rate would be even lower for people retiring in 2054, unless life expectancies for men increase. JB
system would be in deficit by 2023, and reserves depleted by 2043. The Chamber of Commerce also took issue with Gramegna’s assertions that investment levels are extraordinarily high to prepare the country for the future. Public investments by the whole administration in 2017 did not exceed 4.3% of GDP; the historical average from 1995 to 2017 was 4.17%. This would even decrease by 2021. It now remains to be seen whether the governing DP, LSAP and Green coalition heed any of these criticisms when the budget is amended and then comes up for a vote in parliament. Reported by MARTINE HUBERTY
The number of sick children that the Service Krank Kanner Doheem (sick children’s home care service) supported in 2016. The service had to refuse almost 400 cases, because they lacked caregivers.
Archive photo of Pierre Gramegna by Marion Dessard
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ast October, Luxembourg lawyer Tania Hoffmann was sitting on a Hawaiian beach. But the three-week vacation was not quite the relaxing holiday one might imagine. She was one of six Luxembourgers, plus a Dutch resident, who flew to Kona to compete in the Ironman World Championship. Ironman races involve a 3.86km swim, a 180.25km bicycle ride and finish with a marathon, all done without breaks. For Hoffmann, an Ironman athlete since 2011, it was her first time competing in the holy grail of races. And the achievement was all the more impressive given the financial and training constraints Ironman athletes face. Hoffmann trains between 15 and 20 hours per week, depending on her race schedule. Assuming that athletes qualify for Hawaii in their age category by competing in other Ironman races, they must pay their entry fee, flight and accommodation. All in, Hoffmann said the race set her back €4,500, a bill which is not subsidised except for elite (professional) athletes, who are few and far between. With that in mind, how is it that such a huge contingent from Luxembourg was able to compete? “It’s quite astonishing the number of competitors from our federation competing at world level,” president of Luxembourg’s triathlon federation Christian Krombach explained, adding: “I calculated the number of athletes per capita and came to the conclusion that we had the highest of any country.” Krombach is a triathlon veteran with 28 years’ experience and three Ironman world championships under his belt. He suggests the rise in participation in Kona is connected to Luxembourg’s high standard of living and love of Winter 2018
travel. Ironman also has an established place in Luxembourg. “We’ve people like Dirk Bockel who have been to Kona and represented Luxembourg a few times,” said Krombach. Another factor is the introduction of the Remich Ironman 70.3 in 2012. “It’s a bit similar to the ING marathon in that it brings new blood and gives visibility to the sport in Luxembourg,” Krombach observed. This and a growing number of other distance triathlons being organised in Luxembourg have helped swell the number of triathletes within the federation to 600, of which around 150 are thought to train and compete in Ironman. However, he says the real number of people practising Ironman is likely to be twice this because not all competing athletes are club members. Krombach cites the last Remich 70.3 where around a third of competitors were not club members. While the appeal of the sport continues to grow slowly in Luxembourg,
it appears to be failing to win over one particular group--women. Hoffmann explained that it is a global phenomenon that women make up less than a third of Ironman participants and this despite the fact that prize values are the same for both men and women. “Perhaps the reason is that men are generally more competitive,” she said. “Another reason is that women receive less consideration in sports events. There is still much discrimination in sport.” Reported by JESS BAULDRY
NEW COALITION TAKING SHAPE The DP and CSV have confirmed their intention to form a coalition to run the capital, and the composition of the college of aldermen, for the next six years.
n October’s local elections, the DP suffered heavy losses in votes and lost one seat on Luxembourg City’s municipal council, but remained the strongest party with 9 out of 27 seats. However, the winner was the CSV, which gained 2 seats and now has 7. The 12-year coalition between the DP and the Greens could mathemati cally have continued, but the DP local section decided to take the winner
of the elections on board--much to the chagrin of the Green councillors (see page 11). Under the agreement, Lydie Polfer (DP) will remain as mayor, while Serge Wilmes (CSV) will become the first alderman. He will take on responsibility for urban development (in collaboration with the mayor), parks and green spaces, architecture, IT and business relations. The college of aldermen will have seven members, Polfer announced on 10 November, one more than previously. Simone Beissel (DP) will continue to be responsible for infrastructure, new construction works (water, electricity and gas) and sports.
Six Luxembourgers and a Luxembourg resident competed at the 2017 Ironman World Championship. Why is the discipline so popular in the grand duchy?
Patrick Goldschmidt will take over environment and natural protection, mobility and hygiene. Colette Mart (DP) will keep education, while Isabelle Wiseler-Lima (CSV) will take over the youth, social work and gender equality portfolios. Laurent Mosar (CSV) will be responsible for the budget and finances. Both sides said the agreement was based on “respect” and “trust” after 12 rounds of negotiations. Polfer said that the council’s six priorities naturally flow from the unique situation of Luxembourg City. Due to the massive increase in resident population and employment, housing and mobility are two top priorities. The council wants to accelerate the construction of affordable and social housing. Several projects which are already in the planning stage will be continued. Other priorities are urban develop ment, education and social cohesion, the environment and security. On the latter point, Polfer indicated that studies with police and the judiciary would be conducted to see where further CCTV cameras could be installed, with a particular focus on the area around the central train station. The mayor also noted the willingness of the new college of aldermen to have more police officers on the streets, as their staff numbers in the capital had not increased in line with the rise in population. The coalition agreement was expected to be presented on 4 December, after Delano went to press. Questions were raised as to why Maurice Bauer (CSV), who had won more votes than Mosar, was not named to the council’s executive body. Wilmes explained that the local CSV section had undergone a renewal in terms of younger candidates, so Mosar was the only one with previous experience as an alderman, and therefore had been nominated unani mously by the local CSV section to take up the post. Bauer is set to be spokesperson for the CSV section on the council. Reported by MARTINE HUBERTY
“People know me better in New York than in Luxembourg.” Born 27 April 1955 in Differdange Education and professional career 1987 Wins her first Michelin star after transforming her parents’ restaurant into a fine dining showcase 1991 Opens second restaurant “Kaschthaus” 1996 Buys a vineyard near Remich, which produces Elbling 2010 Opens Pavillon Madeleine, a modern authentic brasserie 2011 Opens a Delicatessen near the Grand Ducal Palace Career highlights 1989 Awarded the Bocuse d’Or gold medal, the only woman who ever won the competition 1996 Awarded the Gastronomic Golden Key from Gault & Millau 2000 Starts writing a column for the German magazine Brigitte Since 2004 Awarded the Fondation du Mérite Européen
Léa Linster comes from a family who likes to cook; she is the fourth generation who owns a restaurant. Linster explained that she is “first and foremost a chef, not a businesswoman” and that being a chef “is a hard job with very beautiful side effects”. She took over her parents’ restaurant, and was awarded her first Michelin star at the age of 32. She reached the apex of her career by winning the Bocuse d’Or in 1989, the only woman so far to have won it. “My professional highlight was absolutely winning the Bocuse d’Or; to win a world prize, where many people were not happy that I won it--that a girl won it. I had to account for it afterwards. But I took it and have not regretted it for a second.” Linster seems to be disappointed by reactions in Luxembourg to her success: “In Luxembourg, no one gives credit to anyone,” she told Delano. Her career has had some ups and downs. She opened a brasserie in the train station in the capital in 1998, which she declared bankrupt in 2002. Linster said that “it wasn’t interesting anymore for me” and that the love went out of the project. However, she is multi-talented. Apart from writing several cook books and having a regular column in German women’s magazine Brigitte, she has also had her own TV show, Léa’s KochLust, and was a member of the jury on German TV show The Taste. She joked: “I am happy I have the Germans who like me.” Her son Louis will soon take over the business, making him the fifth generation of the family to work in the restaurant business. Winter 2018
Text by SARITA RAO
Photography by LALA LA PHOTO
GROWING A NEW CULTURE Luxembourg has put itself firmly on the map as an innovator, researcher and investor in the sciences. To incubate young scientists, the Science Festival demonstrates just how fun, simple and hands-on science can be.
he 11th Science Festival held at Neumünster Abbey and the National Museum of Natural History (MNHN) in November took more than a year to plan. Visitors could choose from 57 workshops, eight interactive shows and the exhibition at the museum. The aim: to discuss, discover, experiment and marvel at the many facets of science. “We wanted the public to actively participate in experiences and demons trations across all the disciplines of science,” says Michelle Schaltz of the MNHN: “It was also an opportunity for laboratories and research institutes in Luxembourg to show the public what they do.” The first two days of the festival were reserved exclusively for school children aged 9-15 years, who were invited to half-day workshops. This year there was an overwhelming 488 individual class applications, but only 267 classes (some 4,300 students) were accepted. “The registrations were almost full after just two days,” says Schaltz who is responsible for running the museum’s Science Club, which provides year-round after-school science activities for children 11-18 years. Some of the experiments for schools were lead by Scienteens Lab, a first for high-school students in Luxembourg. It runs an extracurricular learning centre at the University of Luxembourg that offers hands-on workshops designed to spark the interest of children and show them the latest trends and technologies in research. Activities are supervised by Winter 2018
experienced scientists and teachers from various disciplines. The aim is to encourage children to consider a career in science by providing insight into the day-to-day work in a lab. “Luxembourg is funding more research, and wants the country to become a centre for excellence in science. The Science Festival is not only about promoting the subject of science, but showing it’s an important part of our economic development,” says Schaltz. Luxembourg is currently conducting some groundbreaking research on Parkinson’s disease. The work, undertaken by the Luxembourg Centre
for Systems Biomedicine in conjunc tion with the country’s main hospitals, also involves partnerships with universities and institutes in the UK and Germany. “Most people know it as a disease that causes shaking, but sufferers also have issues with rigidity and vision which can affect sleep, swallowing and even cause depression,” explains Alexandra Schweicher. At the festival, her team takes children through the various effects of Parkinson’s disease. The first test involves tiny electric shocks to the wrist, which make the hands shake uncontrollably. Children are invited
ACTIVITIES AND EXPERIMENTS A. Youngsters’ interest in the sciences was under the microscope at the Science Festival in November
B. Stéphanie, Stefan, Annabelle and Frederik C. Fabienne, Marc, Lily and Timo D. The new Science Center was present with plenty of activities E. Getting to grips with Mudam’s unique graphic design F. Entertainment was played out in the Neumünster courtyard G. Dinosaurs are always a big hit with youngsters H. & I. A study in concentration
to try to pick up a spoonful of sugar or write their names, and quickly discover the difficulties. They can also strap rigid weights to their wrists and ankles to see how it affects movement, and try out simple tasks that require co-ordination by the brain. “Parkinson’s attacks the brain. Nerve cells die early and people have problems with motor skills,” says Schweicher. The study, which collects data on 800 people with Parkinson’s disease, will continue until 2019. Schweicher says that little is known about the causes of the disease: “It affects 1,000 people in Luxembourg, and often family and friends are not aware of its full impact. It can take a few years to make an accurate diagnosis, but we hope our research will help speed up diagnosis.”
PRIVATE SECTOR Much research is done in the private sector in Luxembourg, and one of the workshops, run by Goodyear, invites visitors to see how building a tyre is much like baking a cake--except a tyre has up to 60 ingredients. “Rubber is the main ingredient, but we add things to improve performance. Oxidants help tyres to remain in shape for longer and prevent deterioration. Wax provides traction on dry roads and silicon is an important ingredient to winter tyres,” says Laurent Poorters, an engineer at the company. Winter 2018
Research on tyre ingredients is done on small mixing machines that make a quantity the size of a rubber ball. The industrial machines can mix up to 370 litres of rubber in one go, using two rotors each the size of a car, and a mixer the height of a three-story building. Poorters showed visitors how winter and summer tyres react to minus 70-degree temperatures. The summer tyre sample snaps, the winter tyre sample simply bends. “The winter tyre compound is softer,” he explains. Goodyear has invested 50 million euros with the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology. Over five years the money will be spent on five projects, four covering the development of materials, and a fifth on data science. “Modern cars collect a lot of data through sensors and on-board computers. We can use it to draw some useful conclusions to help make the ride in our cars safer,” says Poorters.
MUSEUM’S REPUTATION The Science Festival is organised jointly by the MNHN and the Luxem bourg National Research Fund. First held in 1995, this year’s festival welcomed more than 10,000 visitors, and for the first time the City of Luxembourg was also a partner. The MNHN has forged a reputation for its exhibitions on natural sciences, as well as its collection of specimens. During the festival, visitors could also view its temporary exhibition on the cat family and participate in workshops on cat DNA and the feline senses. “The museum is much more interactive and rich in content than before. The truck with insects under microscopes is a must-see, as it shows common pests like ticks and fleas,” says Marina Lipovšćak, who attended the festival with her son. Parent and creator of LuxKids Lab Elfi Dontis cites the cryptology workshop run by Syn2cat as a big hit among both adults and children: “It showed the beauty of mathematics. Ancient civilisations mostly used letters for cryptology but nowadays we use numbers.” Winter 2018
Schaltz explains that it would not be possible to organise such a large-scale event without the participation of so many research institutes in the public and private sector, as well as non-profit and educational organisations. The Luxembourg science scene was brought together under one umbrella internet site science.lu in 2013. The site provides up-to-date information about current research, details of scientists and projects, and workshops or events in the grand duchy. Mr Science is also on hand to answer any questions.
INTERACTIVE FUN At the festival, a crowd of children gathers to find out how local comic hero Superjhemp can climb tall buildings. The answer is Luxembourg’s iconic Kachkéis, a runny melted cheese, which acts as a glue. Children are invited to heat milk in a test tube and create a cheese and cream mixture which, when painted on the back of paper, will stick it to the wall. Older children follow in the footsteps of Sherlock Holmes and learn how science has helped with crime solving. A crime scene investigation area houses blood, fingerprint and hair samples. Children can take these samples to various labs to see how DNA is tested,
J. K. & O. Curious minds are encouraged to ask questions L. Mats, Tanja, Pit and Menn M. Maya, Richard, Pauline and Flore N. Superjhemp was on hand for a number of experiments P. Q. R. S. & T. Hands on activities get children to have a feel for science
CATCHING THE SCIENCE BUG The next Science Festival will take place 6-10 November 2019, with an extra day planned to accommodate more school classes. But if you can’t wait, there are plenty of science workshop opportu‑ nities year-round for kids and adults. SCIENCE.LU The first port of call for all things sciencerelated--news, research findings, public events. icon_website www.science.lu NATIONAL MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY Talks for adults and children’s science clubs bring to life the natural sciences. icon_website www.mnhn.lu SCIENCE CENTER A huge interactive science playground, with regular shows and a school schedule. icon_website w ww.sciencecenter.lu
why fingerprints are unique and how human hair compares to that of a deer or dog under a microscope. In the covered forecourt the Luxem bourg Science Center encourages children to build towers using Jenga-style wooden blocks. The 3,000-square-metre centre, which opened in October this year, comprises a science playground full of hands-on experiences including a robot that plays table football, and a Faraday cage and electricity area. There are several well-equipped laboratories for regular science shows. It’s clear that science is firmly on the agenda in Luxembourg, not just at the Science Festival but through the numerous and regular workshops and activities run by the various institutes and science organisations in the grand duchy. The plan to make Luxembourg a hotspot for local and international sciences is well underway. The only fly in the ointment, says festival-goer Ivana El Assadi: “My kids keep asking when we can go again. I had no idea it was only every other year; what a shame!”
SCIENTEENS LAB A facility especially created to uncover what goes on in a lab. icon_website w wwen.uni.lu/ lcsb/scienteens_lab O
ODYSSEA Passionate about marine biology? Find out more about Luxembourg collaborations. icon_website www.odyssea.lu COMPUTER SCIENCES Hackers and coders in the family? Get them along to some of these workshops. icon_website www.syn2cat.lu icon_website www.hack4kids.lu icon_website w ww.workshop 4me.org LUXKIDS LAB For science-themed birthday parties, workshops and educational events. icon_facebook LuxKids Lab
EUROPEAN BLOCS MEMBERSHIP MAP
s Brexit talks continue to churn, there has been constant conversation about the UK’s future relationship with the EU. Will it sign on to Efta (like Norway) or the EU customs union (like Turkey) or something else (like Switzerland)? The negotiations have been tinged by frustrations on the continent with Britain’s long list of European opt outs. But Europe has never been a monolithic bloc. An interlocking series of alliances and agreements is more like it. Here is a (non-exhaustive) look at which European nations are members of which organisations, and who has what opt outs. AG
POLITICAL & LEGAL Visegrád Group Nordic Council Baltic Assembly Benelux EU Charter of Fundamental Rights opt out European Union EU candidate country EU potential candidate Council of Europe
Sources: the organisations’ websites, November 2017
FINANCIAL, ECONOMIC & TRADE Central European Free Trade Agreement Black Sea Economic Cooperation European Free Trade Area EU customs union European Economic Area Euro opt out Monetary agreement with EU Euro Zone
SECURITY, DEFENSE & HOME AFFAIRS EU justice and home affairs opt outs Pesco (EU security cooperation) Nato Common Travel Area Open border with Schengen area Schengen area
Text by JESS BAULDRY
Photography by MIKE ZENARI
WHERE TO AFTER #METOO? The hashtag #metoo/#balance tonporc seized social media in October as hundreds of thousands of people shared stories of sexual harassment and violence.
he #metoo movement didn’t result in outings of high-profile individuals in Luxembourg, as it did in the US. However, it gave voice to hundreds of women: the hashtags along with #echoch (the Luxembourgish equivalent) were used 1,301 times from 15 October to 15 November, according to social media analytics platform Talkwalker. “With the #metoo campaign, people are starting to be aware that what is happening is not ‘normal’, that touching someone without consent is not a compliment and most important of all, that it is a crime punishable by law,” Ricky and Milena of Luxembourg empowerment initiative XXyz told Delano. Anik Raskin of Luxembourg’s national women’s council (CNFL) meanwhile, said the movement had helped some women realise it was not their fault if they had been attacked. “It enables victims to be aware that it is a widespread phenomenon and that they are not ‘slightly to blame’ for what happened to them,” she said.
“ IF ALL THE WOMEN WHO HAVE BEEN SEXUALLY HARASSED OR ASSAULTED WROTE ‘ME TOO’ AS A STATUS, WE MIGHT GIVE PEOPLE A SENSE OF THE M AG N I T U D E O F T H E PROBLEM.” ALYSSA MILANO
TIP OF THE ICEBERG It also resulted in the creation of online communities such as the closed Facebook group #echoch Winter 2018
BLAME CULTURE Anik Raskin of Luxembourg’s national women’s council (CNFL) says #metoo helped women who are victims to stop blaming themselves for what happened to them
(Luxembourgish for “me too”). Started by and for women working in the arts and multimedia in Luxembourg, it enabled members to post their #metoo experiences in a more intimate group. One could argue that as a result participants were less likely to censor their posts and therefore gained more
from the experience. But we should not assume that writing about one’s trauma can be cathartic or empowering. It is clear that many women chose not to post, as was the case for Sara, a Luxembourger. “I chose not to post my story because it would have upset me way too much.
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“WITH THE #METOO CAMPAIGN, PEOPLE ARE STARTING TO BE AWARE THAT WHAT IS HAPPENING IS NOT ‘NORMAL’, THAT TOUCHING SOMEONE WITHOUT CONSENT IS NOT A COMPLIMENT AND MOST IMPORTANT OF ALL, THAT IT IS A CRIME PUNISHABLE BY LAW.” RICKY AND MILENA OF XXYZ
BEHIND THE HASHTAG The #metoo hashtag became a global social media movement after an anonymous commentator posted a call for victims to come forward and use the phrase, under the New York Times op-ed about the film producer Harvey Weinstein’s sexual misconduct allegations. But the line’s first use can be traced back to 2006 when social activist Tarana Burke used it on the MySpace social network to promote empowerment through empathy among women of colour who have experienced sexual abuse. She was reportedly inspired to use the phrase after a 13-year-old girl confided in her that she had been sexually assaulted and Burke regretted not telling the girl, “me too”. It was posted on 15 October by actress Alyssa Milano with a call to victims to repost. Winter 2018
Some of the stories even set me off.” There is little doubt the problem extends deeper than the experiences posted online. Last year, Luxembourg had the highest number of rapes (106) and indecent assaults (135) ever recorded. And incidents can be found across society. At the end of November, RTL reported that a woman working for Vianden commune was bombarded with pornography from co-workers. In September, it came to light that a man who systematically filmed up women’s skirts on buses was released without charge because of a loophole in the law. If the movement has been empowering for some, its effectiveness as a deterrent is debatable. “By denouncing these acts, it shows men that there are consequences to their actions,” Raskin says. It is perhaps true in the US with high-profile people being named and shamed. Luxembourg, however, has a tradition of not publicly identifying convicted criminals (unless it is an appeal for information) in the media because of the size of the country. That hardly helps victims of sexual assault to stick their heads above the parapet to name and shame. If Luxembourg has its own Harvey Weinsteins, and satirical media collective Richtung 22 recently confirmed that it does in the film industry, this tradition of anonymity could explain why the impact has resulted in few, if any, criminal charges there. A number of people have also questioned whether the movement impacted men’s views and behaviour toward women at all. “Those who should be ashamed of themselves couldn’t care less about a bunch of women posting comfortably from their homes ‘me too’,” Oana, a blogger living in Luxembourg, wrote recently. Responding to a call on social media for feedback, Brian echoed these sentiments. “I didn’t hear any men talking about it and now, I wonder if the ‘metoo’ women (mostly) just feel more vulnerable than before and disappointed that nothing has really changed.” Another hashtag, #HowIWillChange, was started as a way to encourage men to support
women who have been assaulted or harassed. It was posted six times on social media in Luxembourg from 15 October to 15 November, according to Talkwalker, and those six times were within the same frame. One male resident, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said while he supported exposing perpetrators of sexual violence, the campaign had raised some grey areas about sexual equality and gender oppression. “I’m definitely more cautious. Should I hold the door for a woman? Or does that suggest I think the woman is weak?” he said.
WHAT HAS BEEN THE IMPACT? Andrée Birnbaum, director of Femmes en Détresse, a support group for women, said her teams had not recorded an increase in reports from victims. One could argue it is too early to gauge the impact of the #metoo movement on Luxembourg. While it is no revolution, there is a feeling it has provoked a reflection on being a woman in today’s society and, thanks to social media, it has reached more people than any awareness-raising campaign has for years. “I know the fight will not be over any time soon, but I feel like there has been a shift. We need to work towards shifting in the right direction,” Milena said. Raskin agrees we should use the momentum of the movement to bring focused change. “I think a strengthening of the law, of course, but we also need to educate people further about equality and regularly raise awareness about the subject.” The timing of the movement’s rise, shortly before UN’s international day for the elimination of violence against women on 25 November, meant it won’t be forgotten just yet. This year, Zonta International Luxembourg mobilised organisations to host events in Luxembourg, including a flash mob, self-defence classes and film screenings. XXyz, meanwhile, organised a “reclaim the night” march against sexism, sexual harassment and sexual violence as well as a concert. “Our actions are complementary and in the end the most important is to show that we will not be silenced,” Ricky and Milena said.
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LIGHT RAILWAY The much-vaunted tram starts its first public services on 10 December. Initially linking the Rout Bréck-Pafendall station with the terminus at Luxexpo, the tram will operate seven days a week. The tram carriages feature LED lighting by Isabelle Corten in five changeable colours, which is designed to make passengers feel more welcome. They are quite effective at night, which is when our photographer Mike Zenari caught this tram during November’s test runs near the Coque. The tram carriages are 45 metres long and can each carry up to 450 passengers. They even have USB portals in between each pair of seats. The next construction phase should see the Glacis linked up to the current section by summer of 2018. Then the tracks will be extended towards the city centre and down to the Gare to eventually connect to the lycée in Bonnevoie by 2020. The final phase will see the tram linked to Findel airport in the north and to the Cloche d’Or in the south by the end of 2021. DR icon_website www.luxtram.lu Winter 2018
BUSINESS SHOP GOES DIY FOR XMAS
INSIDE BRAM A. The paper used for the décor is the same as the gift paper: “Bram gold” with its insignia B. They have already made 70 small and 30 big Christmas trees; one employee estimates that it takes around half a day to make a big one C. In total, they must have done around 50,000 paper rolls to set up their own unique trees D. Simone Pletz reckons it will take them until the beginning of December to have it all ready E. On especially good days, they can wrap between 500 and 600 gifts F. Nolena, an apprentice, arranges a display
“A BLACKLIST IS ALWAYS A DIFFICULT EXERCISE” Pierre Gramegna, the finance minister, on the proposal to create an EU blacklist of tax havens, located outside the bloc. Winter 2018
The average ATM withdrawal in Luxembourg, according to a European Central Bank report, the highest average in the EU. Germany came second (€109). France (€29) and Belgium (€27) had the lowest average cash withdrawals.
The former director of partnerships at the Nasa’s Ames Research Center has joined Luxembourg’s Spaceresources.lu initiative as a senior advisor.
Marion Dessard (archives) MECO Maison Moderne
A team of 10 is in charge of the Christmas decorations at Bram, the 11,000-squaremetre fashion store in the Concorde shopping mall. Simone Pletz, the team leader, decided to go with a do-it-yourself theme: all their Christmas trees and star decorations have been created by the staff. “The idea was to get away from the traditional green Christmas tree,” Pletz told Delano on 20 November. They use a metal frame and wrap around some chicken wire, to which they stick the paper rolls. They already started building them in September, and put on display after All Saints’ Day. While they don’t employ new staff for the Christmas period, they do take on students to do the gift wrapping. Pascale Welter, one of Bram’s longest-serving employees, says the Christmas period is one of the most lucrative for retail. “Luxembourgers still like the gift of giving.”
Luxembourg generates proportionally more in GDP from the space sector than it does from agriculture, Étienne Schneider, the economy minister (pictured, centre), said during a conference in Austin, Texas. >>> US company Spire Global became the latest space sector firm to open operations in Luxembourg and said it’s recruiting for business and engineering positions. >>> The Libo bookstore in the Gare district will close down at the end of December; Lucy Goosey’s Reading Adventure, which sells children’s and adult books, opened up in Howald. >>> 57% of workers polled in a Chamber of Employees survey said they would like the option to work remotely. >>> The Luxembourg state will recruit 1,290 personnel in 2018, including prison staff, teachers and tax administrators. >>> The European Banking Authority, an EU regulator, will relocate to Paris following Brexit, beating out Luxembourg, Dublin and Frankfurt. >>> All 1,400 employees at the Luxembourg-based freight airline Cargolux are expected to receive an advance bonus of €2,500, a figure that should be doubled in May 2018. >>> Packaging-free grocery shop Ouni was one of six firms to win a people’s choice award during the Luxembourg Sustainability Forum. >>> As Delano went to press, trading in the cryptocurrency bitcoin approached $10,000 on the Luxembourg-based exchange Bitstamp.
MORALITY: CRUCIAL, IN ALL MATTERS
The argument that tax rulings are legal, if not ethical or moral, is losing traction with the public, writes Franz Fayot. “Taxes are what we pay for a civilised society,” so goes a quotation carved in the front of the US IRS building in Washington DC. This comes to mind following the latest revelations of the ICIJ’s Paradise Papers about tax optimisation schemes involving structures set up in the Caribbean, but also in European countries like the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Belgium. The Paradise Papers did not reveal anything radically new. They do, however, confirm the sheer scale of the tax optimisation practice of the wealthy on this planet. More and more people ask whether it is acceptable not to pay taxes in the country where you live and work, at the rate applicable to normal people, because you can optimise your tax bill by using elaborate structures, involving offshore companies. Increasingly, public opinion leans to a clear “no” on this question. Even three years ago, the finance industry’s primary defence was that tax rulings were legal, even if not ethical or moral. Maybe this was true, but it proved a weak line of defence in the face of repeated revelations which show the shocking tax avoidance practices of the world’s rich and rightly prompt the outrage of the public. Legality without morality is more and more seen as unacceptable in a world of exploding wealth inequality, where 99% struggle to get by, while the 1% is getting filthy rich, reaching levels of wealth concentration not seen since the 19th century. On a recent RTL radio show, the reporter told me that Luxembourgers would
typically say: “Well, if they have to stash their money somewhere, let it just as well be here.” I am not convinced this is true anymore. With the recent European and international crackdown on tax avoidance through profit shifting (the OECD and EU Beps initiative), policy makers have signalled that it is not acceptable for companies to pay near to zero tax through sophisticated tax structuring. Initiatives such as country-by-country reporting, exchange of information, disclosure of tax rulings and anti-abuse rules set the new standards in the 21st century. I like to think that the time is over where a neoliberal finance minister of this country did everything he and his party could to stall the European efforts for more tax transparency for the short-lived, and reputation-wise disastrous, benefit of preserving the old private banking business. But we should not play a duplicitous game: we cannot pretend to be at the forefront of tax transparency and equality, and at the same time slow it down, for instance by protecting local stock option schemes for high incomes and by questioning the taxation of global digital players. This government did a great job in promoting tax transparency and in getting rid of the stain of “tax haven”. Let’s not spoil this effort. Let us be open, dynamic and reliable. And, when it comes to paying taxes, let’s make it happen! Franz Fayot is a Luxembourg MP with the LSAP and lawyer at the law firm of FischFayot. icon_website www.franzfayot.lu Winter 2018
Text by STEPHEN EVANS
Photography by LALA LA PHOTO
RISING WITH PRIVATE EQUITY
imes have never been better in the global private equity fund industry, with assets now above pre-crisis levels. There were just 30 private equity funds in Luxembourg back in 2004; there are now thought to be in excess of 2,000 of these funds in this country, with the industry estimating more than €400 billion in assets under management locally. This is equivalent to more than 10% of the total assets for all Luxembourg funds. At an Association of the Luxem bourg Fund Industry conference in November, there were numerous references to the country’s “toolbox” and “ecosystem” meeting the needs of the global industry. “Private equity has become a style of investing,” noted Eileen Burbidge of Passion Capital, a VC firm based in London. In a low- interest world, investors that have normally taken traditional approaches are increasingly turning to funds that support startups and growth businesses. “Unless there is World War III, private equity assets under management could triple to $15 trillion over next decade if current trends continue.” icon_twitter @ALFIfunds
ALTERNATIVE FUNDS A. Denise Voss and Alain Kinsch at the Association of the Luxembourg Fund Industry’s Private Equity and Real Estate Conference, 21 November 2017 B. Maelle Lenaers and Mevlüde-Aysun Tokbag C. Sven Rein and Lucienne Andring D. Eileen Burbidge gives the first day’s keynote speech E. Luciana Restivo (centre) and visitors to the Delano stand F. Pyrka Katarzyna and Sern Tham G. Christina McCarthy, Rocío García-Santiuste Azcúnaga, Ramzi Sahli and Eleni Kokkinou H. Brian McMahon, Nigel Williams and Vincent Lebrun I. Gilles Dusemon (centre) moderates a panel with Alain Rodermann of Expon Capital (left) and Oliver Heiland
J. Jérôme Wittamer speaks on the “Getting fund governance right; the manager and the investor perspective” panel K. Marc Kriegsmann and Helmut Hohmann L. Yves Knel, Alison Laird and Gillian Dalgleish M. Steven Scally and Abdel Hmitti N. Severine Herbiet and Ismerie Arnould O. Sophie Leissing and Gaffyn Price P. Gerry Brady and Dermot Mulvin Q. Tomasz Szubartowski, Alex Wedlich and Oliver Schütz R. Richard Browne, Paul Cornet and Timothy van Dijk
Interview by AARON GRUNWALD
“ THE BEST AMBASSADOR… CAN BE ANYONE”
How has scientific research in Luxembourg changed over the past decade or so? During the past decade, Luxembourg has strongly invested in scientific research and I am very confident about the future when I see the vision and the perspectives about research. I also appreciate the fact that Luxembourg wants to diversify and explore literally new fields such as spatial mining, especially when we know that iron mining and steel industry were important for the development and recognition of Luxembourg. What is your impression of the grand duchy now that you live abroad? From here, I see Luxembourg as a very small country, but it is a strong nation made of a mix of different cultures brought by people from different origins that gives to its inhabitants an open-mindedness, a tolerance and a multilingualism unique in the world. When was the last time you were proud of Luxembourg? It was during the last hurricane season in the US, when the authorities used maps generated by the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology. Otherwise, from a personal point of view, I am proud to be a Luxembourger every day. What does Luxembourg mean to you? Being proud of my origins, never be intimidated by someone or something bigger than me and keep and show how strong I am. What’s your favourite Luxembourgish word? It’s a word and an event, d’Schueberfouer, of course.
FRANÇOIS GAASCHT The native Luxembourger is a drug discovery researcher at the University of Minnesota BioTechnology Institute. He studied at the University of Strasbourg before working at the Laboratoire de Biologie Moléculaire et Cellulaire du Cancer, at the Hôpital Kirchberg, for his PhD thesis, followed by a post at the Fundación Medina in Spain, and then he moved to the US. icon_website www.cbs.umn.edu CELEBRATING LUXEMBOURG In 2017 Maison Moderne and Nvision celebrate Luxembourg by highlighting those who contribute positively to its international reputation. icon_website w ww.maison moderne.com/en/ celebrating luxembourg
“ I AM PROUD TO BE A LUXEMBOURGER EVERY DAY.”
University of Minnesota BioTechnology Institute/Jenna Privatsky
or the atmosphere in the Grund. However, it is still possible to bring “Luxembourg to the US” through dishes such as Quetschentaart during summer or Boxemännercher that I will try to bake for my colleagues for the Christmas period. Who do you think makes the best ambassador for Luxembourg abroad? For me, the best ambassador CELEBRATING for Luxembourg abroad LUXEMBOURG can be anyone, whatever his status or his age. This is a person that can convey the values of our country, while respecting the values of the host François Gaascht is a researcher nation and this--whether it is a small at the University of Minnesota’s or a heroic act--is a full-time job. So, Schmidt-Dannert Laboratory, every Luxembourger should be an where “I work on drug discovery ambassador when they are abroad. from natural sources.” Gaascht When you talk about Luxembourg talks about how he “brings to non-Luxembourgers, what do Luxembourg to the US” and they say? what he doesn’t know about Here in Minnesota, I am not surprised his native country, as part of that people don’t know Luxembourg. the “Celebrating Luxembourg” Some of them know very well this city in France or Germany… but I’ve series. also had good surprises. Many of Aaron Grunwald: Can you sum up them know it as a financial place, but in a few sentences what you do some of them mentioned, too, Vianden castle or the Casemates. In Wisconsin, for a living? François Gaascht: Briefly, I collect next to Minnesota, several small cities mushrooms during field trips in parks (e.g., Luxemburg) were established and forests. I identify them by genetic by Luxembourgish immigrants. I markers and I include them in our didn’t have the opportunity to go living biobank. Then, I screen the there, but I plan to visit them one biobank to discover new promising day when my parents will visit me. molecules that will be used for the Why did you leave Luxembourg? I decided to move abroad for profesdevelopment of new drugs. If someone said that you were a sional reasons and especially to acquire shining ambassador for Luxembourg, and develop new skills. It is something very common for researchers in order how would you take that? I would be very glad, but I would to gain experience, work on new also admit that when you are abroad, projects, collaborate with new people you realise that you know very little and expand our CV. It is also a pheabout your country. Here in the US, nomenon that we observe in Luxemdue to the distance, it is quite difficult bourg, where many people come from to promote Luxembourg by describing abroad to develop their skills but also its typical and amazing landscapes share their expertise.
RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT
Text by MARTINE HUBERTY
Photography by LALA LA PHOTO
NEW MATERIALS SNAPSHOTS The Future of Materials conference brought together industry specialists and academics to exchange ideas about how to apprehend the big changes in manufacturing that will affect the world.
eld on Monday and Tuesday 13 and 14 November in Luxembourg City, The Economist event analysed the modern materials “ecosystem”, from research and development, via supply chains, to business applications. Anatoly Chubais, chairman of Rusnano, explained that natural resources are finite. If things continued like today, the planet would be depleted by 2050. Climate change and environmental issues are other global challenges. He offered three possible solutions: ICT, energy efficiency and new materials. ICT would not be a solution to either, while energy efficiency would probably help with environmental issues and climate change, and partially help with resource depletion. However, he argued that creating new materials would definitely address many issues arising from climate change and resource depletion.
MATERIALS DATABASE Greg Mulholland of Citrine Informatics talked about his company, an artificial intelligence platform for materials and chemicals. It ingests large-scale data from countless sources--patents, research papers, technical reports, and existing client databases--and uses AI to guide the development and applications matching of next generation advanced materials faster than ever before. Following the talk, Alexandre Kremer of Systemiq in London, a conference attendee, told Delano: “I think that is really what we need. So many things happen all over the Winter 2018
world, so many materials are being developed. Today, if you want to solve most of the challenges, from an environmental perspective, we already have most of the technologies but we need to scale them. To do that we need to give people access to the materials, by showing them the performance of the materials. This would allow some very small startup or a research unit at a university to be connected with some big multinationals which are looking for those innovations.”
ELECTRIC SCOOTER Hugues Desprès, CEO of Ujet, which builds light electric scooters
in Foetz, talked about the philosophy of innovation and consumer changes. Deconstructing and reimagining life would be the next big opportunities. Taking the example of driverless cars, he wondered why we would need a driver’s seat at all, the seating could be like in a living room where people faced each other. Kristina Teppo, a master’s student in mechanical engineering at the University of Luxembourg who attended the event, found this session especially inspiring. She told Delano that: “A lot of current research focuses a lot on improving just a little, by 5%, or making things just a little cheaper, but we need to look for new
“THIS IS THE NEXT INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION AND WE’RE IN THE MIDDLE OF IT.” GEOFFREY CARR
FUTURE OF MATERIALS CONFERENCE A. Geoffrey Carr, science editor at The Economist, talks to Anatoly Chubais of Rusnano during the Future of Materials conference, 13 November 2017
technologies. We need to reinvent, make something radically different.” A panel on best practices brought together Karen Hanghøj from EIT Raw Materials, Michael Saltzberg from DuPont Industrial Biosciences, Egil Hogna from Hydro and Carl de Maré from ArcelorMittal. D
B. Around 200 industry representatives, experts and policymakers attended the event C. Hugues Desprès, CEO of Ujet D. Christina Lomasney of Modumetal, Bodo Fiedler of Hamburg University of Technology and Greg Mulholland of Citrine Informatics E. Greg Mulholland F. Jens Kreisel, Diane Wolter and Marc Schiltz G. Fabian Unterumsberger and Marina Knyazeva H. Kristina Teppo and Michael Mousley I. Marc Schiltz and Alexandre Verlaine
BEST PRACTICES Hanghøj talked about the circular economy, and that the value chain of raw material “leaks everywhere” at every stage. De Maré said that ArcelorMittal was striving for circularity, especially for water use. He stated that the longterm goal is for all mining into the Earth’s crust to end as a result of new techniques and the increased efficiency of recycling. He called on governments to create new policies to incentivise the recycling of goods like steel and other metals. He said: “At the end of the century, there will be enough steel in use and enough end of life products to maintain infrastructure.” Saltzberg said that we need real biodegradable materials for food packaging and cosmetics. He highlighted new biomaterials which DuPont intend to announce next year, including high performance polymers made from sugar and modified enzymes. The moderator, Geoffrey Carr from The Economist, argued that “this is the next industrial revolution and we’re in the middle of it”. Winter 2018
Text by JESS BAULDRY
THE LONG CLIMB TO THE TOP Indian entrepreneur Apoorva Prasad wants to shake up the world of adventure travel media with his Luxembourgbased, content-driven booking platform and magazine The Outdoor Journal.
WELL TRAVELLED Indian entrepreneur Apoorva Prasad, pictured in an unexplored valley in the Indian Himalayas, is a multimedia journalist, photographer and writer, and an experienced rock climber and mountaineer. He holds an advanced diploma from the Nehru Institute of Mountaineering, an economics degree from the University of Maryland, and a diploma in French cinema from the Institut Catholique de Paris The Outdoor Journal / Anant Raina
passionate climber, snowboarder and adventure traveller himself, Prasad set up The Outdoor Journal in India in 2013 to flag up locations and businesses that don’t always get the limelight and encourage “wilderness conservation” by inspiring travellers. At the time, he said adventure media had a very colonial bias: “It was really about white man goes to climb a mountain. The question is where are the stories coming from? What about the Sherpas? There’s so much more to tell,” he tells Delano. Prasad began the project in India, where he grew up, and has many fond memories of reported”. The team also went on to the booking site would list, it dawned holidaying in the jungles and mountain create a second version for the US on Prasad that there were no regulatory regions. Finding financial backing was market. When readers questioned standards covering important considnot easy, he recalls. “To come in with why the magazine didn’t organise its erations like insurance and cancellation an adventure travel startup and reinvent own adventure trips, it got Prasad conditions. Along with company COO media and talk about these lofty goals, thinking about the difficulties that Lorenzo Fornari and their small team, that was not what funders wanted to truly sustainable adventure travel Prasad created criteria companies hear! They looked at me like I was organisations had in reaching their must adhere to in order to be listed. kind of crazy,” he says. customer base. “At that point, I realised In addition, Prasad says that users Despite having a degree in economics we had to build a platform that’s a can also give their feedback on profrom the University of Maryland, combination of journalism as well as viders, just as they would on a site like Prasad says he felt very out of his booking, a market place platform for Airbnb. The next stage in the journey depth as CEO and even jokes he people to find the business operator sees The Outdoor Journal settling in “didn’t know what the word startup and book them,” Prasad said. The Luxembourg incubator Lux Future was at that point”. However, with a beta version of his platform, which Lab where Prasad says work is unproven background in journalism took two years to build, went live in derway to create a local journal. They (four years with France 24 in France, the summer of 2017. But the project are also looking to expand their team co-created men’s magazine Maxim in does not end there. While trying to of designers, editors and journalists. India and various freelance roles), a vet the adventure travel companies icon_website www.outdoorjournal.com deep passion for his subject and a willingness to learn, he says he climbed a “steep learning curve” to lead the project on. The magazine quickly gained readers and partners and was “ TO COME IN WITH AN ADVENTURE TRAVEL quoted or picked up by global media STARTUP AND REINVENT MEDIA AND TALK “because we were doing original re- ABOUT THESE LOFTY GOALS, THAT WAS NOT porting on news that wasn’t getting WHAT FUNDERS WANTED TO HEAR!”
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LUXEMBOURG POPULATION EXPLOSION
round 14,500 more people were resident at the start of this year than on 1 January 2016; this is nearly double the average annual increase seen during the first decade of this millennium. The vast majority of this rise was due to immigration, rather than births outnumbering deaths. This translates into an impressive longer term trend highlighted in a recent official report from Statec, the national statistics office. Even if we take the bureau’s most conservative estimate, the number of our fellow residents will increase by about 133,000 (+23%) in the ten years to 2025, and a quarter of a million (+44%) by 2035. In 2005, many people were sceptical of Statec’s claim that Luxembourg’s population would reach 725,000 by 2055. We’re now set to hit that mark in less than ten years’ time. That is the conservative prediction. In the high growth scenario, the population is on course to nearly double by 2060. This is based on projecting current trends, so much could change. But it would be unwise to dismiss this estimate out of hand. So far, the influx has been manageable, and the result is a more economically and socially vibrant country that continues to welcome new arrivals. However, is this sustainable? For housing prices to remain stable, around 5,000 new homes are needed each year. Only around half that number are being built, and increasing numbers Winter 2018
POPULATION ESTIMATES OVER THE COMING YEARS 2 017 maximum scenario 2017 minimum scenario 2005 maximum scenario
of modest houses are starting to cost €1m. Then there are the schools, hospitals, transport links, shops, offices, bars, football pitches and so on that need to be built.
HARD TO CHANGE COURSE Most voters appear content that Luxembourg is so attractive. But could the government try to reign in economic growth and thus reduce the rate of immigration? Maybe, but new arrivals are needed to keep the generous pension and health systems sustainable. Currently, 14% of the population are over 65, and under Statec’s projection, this is set to rise to about 18% by 2030 and 25% by 2060. If immigration of young people fell, the share of old people in the population would rise and current levels of social welfare spending would no longer be affordable.
When he was still prime minister, Jean-Claude Juncker raised the issue of high population growth, as he undertook mild reform of the pension system in the late 1990s. His party was heavily punished at the subsequent election. Little wonder that politicians have shied away from anything more than mild tinkering with the system since then. “In Luxembourg, demographics are largely governed by salaries,” noted Tom Haas, part of the economic modelling and forecasting team at Statec. “Businesses create the jobs and people follow, attracted by the relatively high net salaries on offer in Luxembourg,” he noted. Here too, it’s unlikely that political parties could advocate reducing salaries to control immigration that the vast majority of voters welcome.
We could be about to see a 23% increase in the resident population in the next ten years, and a near 50% rise by 2035. Outlandish, unbelievable figures? Maybe, but then the last major demographic prediction was broadly derided as being alarmist, and it underestimated the subsequent population boom.
TOM HAAS AND FRANÇOIS PELTIER In their latest report, the Statec forecasters reckon the number of people living here will hit one million in roughly 30 to 40 years
READ THE REPORT Bulletin n°3/2017 Projections macroéconomiques et démographiques de long terme: 2017-2060 is available in French on the Statec website. icon_website www.statistiques.lu DAYTIME POPULATION The report also looked at cross-border commuters. Currently around 181,000 people cross the French, Belgian and German borders to come to work here, and in just 13 years’ time, this figure could increase by half to 270,000. These frontaliers would make up the lion’s share of the increase in the national workforce, which is due to rise by over one-third to 570,000 by 2030. Winter 2018
Text by KENNY FELIX
Photography by LALA LA PHOTO
BEFORE YOU BUY A VINTAGE RIDE The economics of getting behind the wheel of a classic car.
et’s say that you have always liked vintage cars. You really fancy the way they look (or perhaps the way they make you look), but you are afraid of not having the mechanical skills required to take care of them yourself ? Maybe you haven’t acquired one yet because you’ve heard those cars can cost an arm and a leg to service, insure or repair? I needed guidance on in this complex market and wanted to have different viewpoints from specialists within the classic car world. I spoke with four experts; here’s what I learned. I first contacted Canio Marchione because he is directly involved with the cars themselves. If you like cars and live in Luxembourg, the name Marchione might ring a bell. He’s a well-known international champion at hillclimb racing (and was Luxembourg champion in 2016 and 2017) and is the director of the garage located in Luxembourg-Hollerich bearing the same name. The Marchione family moved to Luxembourg in 1982 and his dad founded the Garage Marchione in 1985. He has been working in the family business since 1998 after finishing his studies. The garage specialises in servicing, restoring and racing old wheels. “The vintage car market can be split into two separate categories: ‘youngtimers’, produced between the early eighties and the middle of the nineties, and ‘oldtimers’, that are older than youngtimers”. A youngtimer would be easier to drive every day (more comfortable and more reliable), usually cheaper to buy and to service (more cars and parts available) compared to an oldtimer. “The core element of our business is passion. Financially, sometimes we do not even make a decent profit with some restorations. Winter 2018
A. THIERRY HILGER In recent years, classic cars have become investment vehicles B. FRANCK MARCHAND Insurers have special policies for classic car owners
There is a lot of time and effort needed in the research of historical facts or rare parts to be gathered from around the globe and this is hard to charge back to the client for example.”
MARKET PICKING UP SPEED In the past years, classic car ownership has boomed globally, but I still did not know why there was such a change in the market. Thierry Hilger, board member of the Lëtzebuerger Oldtimer Federatioun, explained why his federation of 53 classic car clubs has been expanding over the past 20 years: “On one hand, the arrival of the internet, social media and various other means of communication have increased global interest in the subject. On the other hand, investors since 2010 have been trying to find new investment niches resulting from low interest rates globally and have found out that the classic car business could be extremely rewarding. Some cars,
in less than a decade, have quadrupled or quintupled their value.” Can this be true? Marchione showed me an example of a car that has completely gone mad in terms of value: the Lancia Delta Integrale, a car with a huge rallying pedigree. “My brother bought one in 1994 for €12,000 and the price of one of these in mint condition nowadays could go for around €120,000!” This sounds like a bubble that is about to pop, but Hilger reassured me by saying, “the market has been cooling down slowly [10 to 15%] for a year”. But I’m sure the prices will not drop massively as these cars are getting rarer to find in decent conditions. Hilger said that there is a big difference between how enthusiasts see the market and how Luxembourg authorities define things: “The law says that a car is considered as a ‘classic’ when it reaches its 30th birthday, following a law passed in
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ADVANTAGES OF OWNING CLASSIC CARS � Ease of maintenance with basic tools � Some youngtimers can be very reliable � Great community (forums, clubs, specialists around the globe, etc.) � Can be used every day for some youngtimers � Old school looks different from today’s standard cars (especially oldtimers) � A lot of fun to drive (driver focused, sensation of speed) � Can be seen as an investment, or at least will not depreciate if you take care of them � Are usually not too expensive for youngtimers DISADVANTAGES OF CLASSIC CARS � Prices are on the rise and some cars are way out of reach for a lot of oldtimers � Need some basic mechanical knowledge � Fuel consumption and emissions are high � Rust (the biggest enemy) � Hard to find in very good condition (some cars are restored badly) � Some parts may be hard to find for some cars � Not as safe, practical or comfortable as modern cars � Hard to find a place to service and maintain that you can trust
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CANIO MARCHIONE Seen with a 1968 BMW 2002Ti GR2, which his garage restored for a group 2 FIA race
February 2016. A beautiful coupé, such as an Aston Martin DB7, which is younger than 30 years, can be seen as a classic car by aficionados, but not in front of the law.” At 30 years and one day old, a car will automatically get classic car status (which means there is no need to re-register the car).
CUSTOMISED POLICIES “The owner will pay €25 of annual taxes instead of hundreds of euros for a younger car [depending on the engine capacity] and the frequency that you have to go for a contrôle technique [roadworthiness testing] at the SNCT [inspection agency] will not be annually, but every 2 years,” explained Hilger. The LOF has been working with the SNCT to develop a “light” test for classic cars that would be more permissive in some areas--emissions, for example--but would instead focus on the safety elements such as lighting, brakes, steering, suspension, corrosion, etc. The essential things that should prevent you from causing or having a crash, basically. Winter 2018
So, let’s imagine you have found your beloved old car. What happens if you have a road accident? How do insurance companies help you? I spoke with Franck Marchand, chief financial officer and chief actuary of Groupe Foyer, an insurance firm, and with Eric Profeta, auto product manager at AXA Luxembourg, another major insurer, to see if you can be decently covered by your insurance company. “We do take care of our clients very closely, and we have a specific product for the classic car owner,” Marchand said. “Usually with classic cars, prices are on the rise, unlike recent cars. Clients can come to Foyer and have their vehicles checked by our team of six specialists to give them a correct evaluation. Vintage car owners drive less and are very cautious behind the wheel of their car and we reflect this in their premiums. Also, a lot of our classic car enthusiasts have more than one vehicle and wish to be the only driver. As a result, the more cars they have, the less premium they will pay.”
A bond often develops between a classic car and its owner, and insurance companies do acknowledge this, as Profeta said: “Most of our clients have an affective relationship with their cars and we had to adapt our products accordingly. Classic cars often break down or get light cosmetic damages, and we have adequate solutions to keep our clients happy and help them in their ownership. We are part of this community and we have been partners with the ACL [Automobile Club of Luxembourg], the LOF and even a few of our agents participate at meeting and exhibitions. It’s a fascinating little world!” “Luxembourg has, depending on sources, between 5,000 and 7,000 classic vehicles,” noted Hilger. Why such a big variation in the estimate? Some of them (like tractors or old motorcycles) haven’t seen the road for decades and they are not sure if they still are really around. But, if your dream is to find an old vehicle trapped under layers of dust in an old barn (like I do), there might still be hope for you!
Text by ALIX RASSEL
Photography by LALA LA PHOTO
STORYTELLING VIA THE DOTS
everal local networking groups organised “European Entrepreneurs”, a three-day summit in November aimed at connecting people, networking, and exchanging ideas and stories. The event kicked off with a reception that aimed to break down the usual “networking” stereotypes, and focused on “storytelling” rather than the customary business card. The evening was put on by Hub Dot, which marked its 3rd anniversary in Luxembourg over the summer. Corinne Cahen, the DP minister of family and integration, said that organisations like Hub Dot “put an entrepreneurial spirit into Luxembourg”. However, several budding entrepreneurs attending the event told Delano that without existing capital or financial backing, it was virtually impossible to start a business, no matter how innovative the idea might be. One said: “If you or your family has money, there might be a possibility, but the costs [including social security contributions] are too costly for most people.” icon_twitter @HubDotLux
HUB DOT NETWORKING A. Corinne Cahen B. Christine Hansen C. Milena Takeva, Valentina Stella, Valerie Pederiva, Pamela De Giusti and Claudine Marotto D. Delphine Cardoen and Marc Ben Fatma E. Simona Barbieri of Hub Dot speaks. Around 200 people, mostly women, attended the “European Entrepreneurs: Lëtz Celebrate, Connect, Collaborate” event, held at the offices of EY in Kirchberg on 17 November F. Anne Louise Littlejohn and Dorothée Schneider G. Marie Guerre and Renaud Kieffer H. Catherine Henrotte, Diane Tea, Pierre Beck and Catherine Hoffmann
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FINANCIAL ADVICE FROM A ROBOT? Trusting a computer algorithm with your money might sound outlandish, but the fundamentals of investment are fairly simple, and so-called “robo-advisers” are cheaper than their human equivalents. Indicate how long you want to invest for and how much risk you can bear, and it will design a decent investment portfolio for you instantly. These tools have arrived in Luxembourg, so what’s the outlook?
he personal touch is lacking with online financial advice, but that’s the point. Algorithms are cheaper than paying salaries, and there is no evidence that their advice leads to the creation of bad investment options. Wealthy people with a range of assets held in several countries, or people nearing retirement will need advice from a banker or financial advisor. But robo-advising is generally for people with the limited goal of seeking an alternative to the miserable rates of interest currently available through bank accounts.
PROS AND CONS Technology offers an opportunity for people with as little as a few hundreds of euros to invest. Some providers offer hybrid solutions, with clients coming to a decision aided by a robot, and then discussing this with an advisor, either in branch or online. Personal advice could also become less attractive to smaller investors after new financial regulations come into force next year. At the moment, banks receive commissions from financial product manufacturers when they make a sale. However, these covert fees are to be banned from the start of 2018 under new European rules called Mifid II. Henceforth, all fees have to be stated explicitly, and this Winter 2018
change will put robots and human advisors on an equal footing as regards fee disclosure. Also the regulation requires banks to conduct “suitability tests” to make sure clients are able to bear the risks they will be taking. This process is fiddly, but is embedded in the robo-advising process. On the other hand, some people might need guidance if they are being excessively conservative or aggressive regarding investing. Also, when approaching pensionable age, most moderately affluent people will need advice of how best to manage their finances. Moreover, some robots might become exposed if markets turn severely negative, as there might not be a mechanism to help the client change course or to offer reassurance that the long-term strategy is correct.
TWO LUXEMBOURG OPTIONS Luxembourg was introduced to the robo-adviser concept in April this year with the launch of the KeyPrivate service by Keytrade Bank Luxembourg. After entering personal details and investment goals into an app on a PC or mobile device, the site then designs a portfolio. It creates a unique mix of 12 exchange traded funds (shares, bonds and precious metals) in different international markets to match one of ten risk profiles. There is a human element all the same, with a KeyPrivate investment committee checking whether news and upcoming events might skew the riskiness of any given profile. After investment, each portfolio is reviewed on an ongoing, automatic basis by the robot, taking market fluctuations into account. Clients can also step in to change their various investment parameters. Minimum investment is €15,000, and the service is provided at “a fee that is two or three times cheaper than a traditional wealth manager,” said
Thibault de Barsy, CEO of Keytrade Bank Luxembourg. There is a flat fee on total assets of 0.75% plus VAT per year. There is no upfront fee, no exit fee, no transaction fees, nor is there an extra charge even if the client rebalances their portfolio.
ROBOTS ON THE HIGH STREET Seeking to address a different market segment is the Banque et Caisse d’Épargne de l’État. They became the first high street bank to offer this service in the grand duchy after they launched SpeedInvest in mid-October. “We are targeting customers who are less accustomed to investing in financial markets, or are even investing for the first time,” explained Claude Hirtzig, head of banking for individuals and professionals. To achieve this end, they set a low entry level of €500 minimum initial investment, with clients able to top this up with as little as €50 a time. “This is really an alternative to a savings account, and we wanted to make this as easy as possible,” he added. Savers are asked eight questions, and on the basis of these answers, they will be assigned one of nine risk categories. Following this, the client will be offered a mix of funds that reflect this profile. End investments are ETFs with exposure to global markets, with the funds created by major global players. The annual
THIBAULT DE BARSY His robo-advice clients typically have €100,000€500,000 to invest
“WE ARE VERY HAPPY ABOUT THE PROGRESS OF THE ASSETS”
“WE CAME TO LUXEMBOURG FIRST BECAUSE THE REGULATOR WAS THE EASIEST TO DEAL WITH.” fee is a maximum of 1.25% on assets, with no entrance or exit fees.
GEOFFROY DE SCHREVEL At his firm, algorithms build portfolios for clients, rather than match clients up to preexisting profiles
FINTECH MADE IN LUXEMBOURG This country is also home to financial technology providers which power robo-advising solutions. Behind the KeyPrivate service is technology developed by Luxembourg-based firm Birdee. Established in June, it is now using its office on the boulevard Royal to serve the Luxembourg, Belgian, French and Swiss markets. “We came to Luxembourg first because the regulator was the easiest to deal with,” explained Geoffroy de Schrevel, CEO of Birdee’s parent company, Gambit Financial Solutions. “There were clear procedures to follow with the [Luxembourg regulator] CSSF as we sought their approval, a
process which was lacking in other countries,” he added. Birdee are able to offer these services cross-border to wealth managers seeking to get involved with robo-advising, and asset managers opening direct-to-customer distribution channels.
ANOTHER LOCAL PLAYER Gambit began about ten years ago offering automated investment advisory tools to be used in branch by wealth managers. They then adapted this offering to a pure digital experience. The Luxembourg office employs 15 people out of a group with 50 staff. “In fact, Birdee’s solution is neither a robo nor an advisor,” explained de Schrevel. He makes this distinction because their algorithms seek to establish a one-to-one relationship with
WILL ROBO-ADVISING TAKE OFF? These are still early days, with the concept having been launched globally for the first time in 2012. Even in the US--a market with a relatively sophisticated investing culture--this remains a small niche activity. Estimates vary, but at the moment assets managed by robots amount to much less than 1% of the US fund industry total. Europe might be an even harder nut to crack, and Luxembourg might be particularly resistant, if the results of a recent Europe-wide survey by ING Bank* are to be believed. Just over half of those questioned in the grand duchy said they didn’t “want automated financial activities at all”, compared to a European and US average of a third having this wholly negative view. Luxembourg’s figure was akin to that seen in our three neighbouring countries. Nevertheless, 42% of Luxembourgers said they would either be open to receiving advice from a computer programme, or willing to allow an algorithm to take a decision, as long as the client had final power of approval. GOOD EARLY REACTION So far, BCEE says they are more than satisfied with customer reaction.
* ING International Survey Mobile Banking – the next generation, May 2017
the client that is continually updated, building a portfolio to match, rather than matching a client to a range of portfolios. In recent months, a majority stake in Gambit has been taken by BNP Paribas, the French banking group. De Schrevel insists that Birdee will retain full independence, while continuing to offer funds from a range of providers. It remains to be seen if their solution will be deployed across the BNP Paribas group, which of course includes Luxembourg’s BGL BNP Paribas. A similar strategy is being followed by Investify, a one-time startup based in the Technoport business incubator which is now serving the German market, powering the solution offered by Hamburger Sparkasse. The firm has its eye on other European markets over the medium term.
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CLAUDE HIRTZIG Robo-investing could replace a standard savings account
“The initial ramp up has been faster than we thought, with people who we would not necessarily have thought would be interested trying the service,” Hirtzig stated. Even the relatively cash-strapped youth are getting involved, he said. As well, wealthier--sometimes very wealthy--older people are also trying it out.
“We are very happy about the progress of the assets managed in both Luxembourg and Belgium,” said de Barsy of KeyPrivate. He spoke of there being a “few dozen” clients in the grand duchy. At the launch, they said they hoped to attract €100m assets to the service by the end of the decade. He said the typical client had about €100,000-€500,000 to invest,
“PEOPLE WHO WE WOULD NOT NECESSARILY HAVE THOUGHT WOULD BE INTERESTED ARE TRYING THE SERVICE.” Winter 2018
but he was surprised to see multimillionaires also using the service for part of their holdings.
CHANGING, FAST OR SLOW “If we compare continental Europe with the UK and the US, then we are clearly behind, probably because here we have a different relationship to money, but the trend towards technology is clear,” said de Schrevel. People using the internet to lend and borrow money (peer-to-peer lending) have yet to take off in Luxembourg, but it can only be a matter of time he believes. “People are getting used to digital solutions like Uber and Airbnb, and they will want similar services in the financial industry,” he said. “Whether it comes quickly or slowly, change is coming.”
LOWER COST OPTION Most often, robo-created portfolios consist of lower-fee funds known as “passive” or “trackers”. Rather than have an analyst select securities (as in active funds), trackers are based on a benchmark index of shares, bonds, and even precious metals. Often returns are better than with actively managed funds, despite fees being much lower. Investors tend to own the funds directly and not via any intermediary. Generally, these are exchange traded funds which are listed on stock markets and are bought and sold like shares.
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Text by STEPHEN EVANS
Photography by MIKE ZENARI
WHAT IS A “FAIR” TAX SYSTEM? Is it unfair that multinational companies are able to create international structures to avoid paying tax when small, single country firms can’t? Is it fair that governments take money away from businesses that are providing jobs and producing products people need and want? What is the morality of taxation?
agali Paulus, a spokeswoman for the advocacy group Tax Justice Lëtzebuerg Collective, said: “The notion of fairness comes from the idea that everyone should be taxed in a similar way according to their profits and wealth.” “If there are changes to the tax system to stop activity that is perceived to be unfair, then multinational business will change their behaviour. But this debate needs to be based on efficiency rather than the moral swamp of trading people’s different views of morality,” argued Keith O’Donnell, the managing partner of Atoz Tax Advisers Luxembourg. LuxLeaks, the Panama Papers, and the recent Paradise Papers highlighted the extent of global corporate tax structures, causing a storm in the press and calls for action. They often highlighted businesses making the most of their sales and profits in large countries, but then moving these earnings through smaller, low tax international hubs. Yet despite the thousands of pages of data, they revealed almost no criminal activity, and nothing illegal happening through Luxembourg. “Luxembourg is certainly not the worst, but the point is we all benefit from services provided by the government and this means tax has to be paid,” Paulus argues. She believes businesses should have a wider res ponsibility to do the right thing for Winter 2018
KEITH O’DONNELL Companies create jobs
society. Businesses benefit when their staff are healthy and well-educated thanks to state-run systems, when transport networks work efficiently, and when crime is controlled by public law enforcement. Taxes are needed to make those work. However, isn’t the number one responsibility of companies to work in the interests of their owners? After all, this is how individuals behave. Also, businesses have a duty to staff to remain economically viable so they can continue to pay salaries. Moreover, corporations make a major contribution to public finances by employing people whose incomes
are then taxed, with sales taxes levied on the products they produce. In addition, withholding taxes and income taxes are paid when profits are distributed to businesses’ owners, or in other words when dividends are paid to shareholders. More often than not, multinationals are mostly owned by pension funds and insurance companies. Thus public and private retirement schemes and insurance policies rely on investments made into private companies.
WHAT DOES FAIRNESS MEAN? So what is “righteousness” and “fairness” when discussing economics and
LUXEMBOURG’S FINANCIAL CENTRE Contributing enough?
tax? “Corporations produce wealth, while creating new products and services that people need and enjoy, plus they create jobs,” commented O’Donnell. Then on top of this, societies also take money from the profits these enterprises make, thus “taxing the productive side of the economy”. Is it fair or beneficial to take money away from successful businesses, potentially making them less able to create jobs and new products? Questioned by an EU parliament committee about the morality of tax structuring through places like Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Ireland, O’Donnell sought to challenge
the premise of the argument. “The thrust of the panel’s questioning was ‘you advisers know what’s going on and should be stopping this’, to which I replied, ‘if you can tell me how much I should take off Dutch pensioners to give to French pensioners, then that’s fine, but I can’t make that judgement call’,” he said. Also, some argue tax optimisation by multinationals does not lead to all taxes being avoided, but to a large extent delayed. Businesses might build up a cash hoard, but eventually this will be used to pay dividends or to invest. In both cases this will trigger tax events. On the other hand, campaigners suggest that it should be up to elected governments and their agencies to decide where and how these monies should be spent.
A BIGGER QUESTION THAN TAX “The tax system can’t be fair if small businesses pay more tax than big multinationals,” insisted Paulus. But is it really corporate tax structuring that is making the likes of Starbucks so successful? They have a strong brand allied to negotiating muscle that enables them to secure prominent positions on the high street. These are key to encouraging people to pay over five euros for 300ml of foamed milk. Similarly, McDonald’s benefits
from its tax arrangements, but alternative fast and slow food outlets continue to flourish. For Jos van Bommel, an associate professor at the Luxembourg School of Finance, at the University of Luxembourg, tax is a relatively small part of a wider concern about the emergence of dominant players that make life tough for small businesses. “I wouldn’t go as far as to call the tax-driven advantage of multinationals ‘unfair’, but I do believe that it is desirable to reduce the current advantage to help foster competition and innovation by small single-country firms.” O’Donnell recognises that there are widespread concerns that a firm like Amazon is carving out a strong market position, “but it is in this position because it has a very successful business model that capital markets are willing to support over the long term,” he said. That said, he notes “small firms have the advantage of being more nimble as they seek to differentiate themselves.” If one were to judge the headlines, one would think this to be a simple question. The reality is a moral and technical maze. One thing is certain: if there was a workable way of addressing all these concerns, it would probably have been implemented by now.
WHAT ALTERNATIVES? All agree the current tax system is not perfect, so are there alternatives? There is a lot of talk of a unified EU tax system, but policy makers would have to be sure that this would not hamper European firms as they seek to compete in global markets. Some advocate taxing firms based on their income rather than their profits. Yes, this would mean bigger companies would pay more than smaller ones, in the countries where these sales take place, but what if a firm is currently going through a rough patch and is making a loss? Maybe when people talk about “unfairness” in the tax system, is the real concern about inequality between people? This is more dependent on individuals’ total wealth rather than their annual income. Maybe wealth taxes, property taxes and sales taxes are a fairer way to redistribute wealth. Or maybe not. Winter 2018
Text by DUNCAN ROBERTS
Photography by MIKE ZENARI
OPENING UP TO UKRAINE Ukrainian business leaders have set up a business club to help facilitate B2B relations between the two countries.
MANAGEMENT BOARD Evgenia Paliy is joined on the ULBC management board by Arnaud Lumet and Maria Dobrostamat. Lumet is a financial controller with over ten years’ experience in six countriesin business development. He was a co-founder of the Ukraine Music Export Office. Dobrostamat is a consultant who has worked in both the public and private sectors and has a diverse background in strategy development, improving business delivery and also in fundraising and reporting. icon_website www.ulbc.lu
fter three and a half years in Luxembourg working as a consultant to the European Investment Bank, Ukrainian lawyer Evgenia Paliy realised there was plenty of interest in opportunities for investment in her native country. But there was no formal set up to provide those potential investors with the right information or advice. The lack of an embassy, trade office or country specific chamber of commerce in Luxembourg prompted Paliy and her fellow board members--Arnaud Lumet and Maria Dobrostamat--to set up the Ukraine- Luxembourg Business Club. A Ukrainian association already existed to help out expats and promote cultural and social events. There are around 1,000 Ukrainians in the grand duchy, says Paliy. “But there are many more people here who used to live in Ukraine who also wanted information about the challenges and opportunities between the two countries.” The Ukrainian embassy in Brussels soon got on board to offer support, as did the Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce. “We are starting step-by-step and we have plenty of ideas and ambition.” The club launched a survey to find out what its potential members wanted, and to judge market reaction. “There are plenty of different sectors that are ripe for investment. The IT sector is very rich. [Ukraine] is the European India, so to say, and it’s just 2,000 kilometres from here.” Known for its fertile soil, Paliy says that Ukraine is also attracting a host of international agricultural companies who are eagerly waiting for a change in the law that will allow them to purchase farmland. Winter 2018
EVGENIA PALIY Wants to act as a liaison between Ukrainians and Luxembourgers
Paliy also reveals that the EIB is providing guarantees to Ukrainian banks who are providing loans to small and medium size businesses in the country. “This is wonderful, and not many people know about this.” In addition, adult literacy is one of the highest in the world at 99.8% (in 2015) and labour costs are very cheap. “So, possibilities for outsourcing are super great, not just in IT but also in human resources.” On the other hand, the high level of education and a strong showing in English- language skills mean that a sort of brain drain has been occurring. “Lots
of foreign companies just cherry-pick the best students from Ukraine universities,” Paliy explains. The current political climate has not helped retain talent in the country. The club is now planning a busy programme for 2018, which will include policy networking and educational events. Using their local contacts, the club will host speakers who will address the impact of the new Payment Services Directive, PSD2, for example, which comes into effect in January 2018, and the double taxation treaty between the two countries that became effective in 2017.
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Text by JESS BAULDRY
Photography by MIKE ZENARI
MAKING BREXIT WORK Around 25 banks, insurers and investment companies have confirmed they will establish operations in Luxembourg in the wake of Brexit. Delano examines what this means for job creation.
t has been said many times that Britain’s departure from the European Union will benefit Luxembourg’s economy as financial firms seek to maintain access to the EU single market. But the opportunities are not only financial--they also offer new career prospects in Luxembourg in insurance and asset management. The last official tally by KPMG Luxembourg (On the Brexit Journey, updated on 17 October 2017) puts the number of banks, insurers and investment companies setting up operations in the grand duchy at 24. The figure rose to 25 at the end of November when Japanese insurer Sompo International announced it would open a European headquarters in Luxembourg. That is more than twice the number opening in Ireland (11) or Germany (10) and most people agree, looks set to rise as the UK’s divorce negotiations with the EU continue. What is widely disputed, however, is the impact it will have on the Luxembourg labour force. The companies, themselves, preferred not to comment when Delano contacted a handful of them to find out more about their recruitment strategies in Luxembourg. The little information that is in the public domain has been interpreted from press statements talking up the creation of a “base for expanding and continuing activities in Europe”, as Sompo International said. The lack of clear information has resulted in widely differing predictions. Nicolas Mackel, head of Luxembourg For Finance, a state-backed promotion Winter 2018
body, stated in an interview with Sky News in September that he expected the post-Brexit rush to generate 3,000 jobs in Luxembourg. He was keen to point out 90% would be engaged locally. Contrast that estimate with the conservative forecast given by finance minister Pierre Gramegna just two months earlier, when he forecast “a few hundred jobs, at most”. Most industry experts support Gramegna’s qualitative growth, at least in the early stages.
MODEST JOB EVOLUTION Luxembourg insurance commission director Claude Wirion told Paperjam in September 2017: “One general manager and two control functions out of four could be sufficient at first” for creating these new offices in Luxembourg. Recruiters, who are in direct contact with many of the firms opening offices in Luxembourg, support this modest job evolution. “We’re not just talking about one job, it’s four to five people in finance, legal, compliance. In the beginning when they establish in Luxembourg, maybe in the first 6 to 12 months, they have just ten people. If the company does well, we can recruit more,” Aurélie Abarnou Helix, an associate in banking and financial services for recruiters Michael Page, told Delano. LOCALLY-SOURCING STAFF KPMG Luxembourg managing partner Georges Bock suggests in the first instance staff establishing the new offices will come directly from the UK. “In the short-term, the most likely solution will be to send existing employees and key personnel to Luxembourg,” he said. “For the medium and long-term, these companies will also look at the highly qualified personnel that is already available in Luxembourg, which
AURÉLIE ABARNOU HELIX Employers will be looking for an “entrepreneurial mindset and autonomy”
includes people in Luxembourg as well as the Greater Region.” Recruiters, however, disagree and suggest that in the early stages, only a small proportion of staff will be relocated to Luxembourg from the UK. Abarnou Helix cited the example of an insurance company which
“WE’RE ALWAYS RECRUITING FOR EXPERIENCED PEOPLE IN LUXEMBOURG, ESPECIALLY QUITE SENIOR PROFILES WITH 8 TO 15 YEARS OF EXPERIENCE IN LUXEMBOURG” Winter 2018
based in the UK, they will most certainly want to secure senior talent with local knowledge and product expertise,” Bock said.
“CONTRARY TO POPULAR BELIEF, THERE ARE NO CURRENT WAVES OF INCOMING TRANSFERS” opened a Luxembourg office five months ago, led by a UK director. “It’s maybe just ten people, but there are three people from the UK,” she said. “They don’t want to relocate people. If you relocate people, it means they don’t already work here and don’t have the knowledge that companies are looking for. We’re in a very special market in terms of competencies and regulation.”
ANDREW NOTTER Training helps, but a large number of jobs will “need proven and qualified specific experience” Winter 2018
SOUGHT-AFTER PROFILES Director of recruiters Badenoch and Clark Andrew Notter suggests staffing numbers will be 80% hired locally, and 20% relocated from London or elsewhere from abroad. “Contrary to popular belief, there are no current waves of incoming transfers. We observe that each company is making their decision based on various specific factors pertaining to their industry,” he said. Experts agree that the people working in Luxembourg (whether living here or in the Greater Region) whose careers
could potentially benefit from this phenomenon will be those with the most experience in regulation, compliance, risk management, finance, accounting and conducting officers. Abarnou Helix said over the past six months, her firm had been approached by two insurance companies and around six asset management companies regarding new hires. “We’re always recruiting for experienced people in Luxembourg, especially quite senior profiles with 8 to 15 years of experience in Luxembourg,” she said. Access to the European passport and stability aside, Luxembourg’s legal framework, the transparency around it and the vast knowledge across jurisdictions were certainly among the selling points that will have swung firms’ preferences in favour of Luxembourg. Therefore, they will look to harness this local know-how through their new hires. “If we look at companies which are
LOCAL KNOW-HOW Notter agreed that local experience was a key element in the profiles. However, he said that because of a strong demand for highly qualified and experienced candidates with specific regulatory experience in the financial services, recruiters will and do recruit from abroad. “Recruitment firms are targeting and attracting more candidates outside of Luxembourg and the digital evolution is creating an incredible amount of new vacancies in IT,” he said. Abarnou Helix added that her clients were mostly focused on profiles with relevant experience and a local network, “who are used to dealing with the regulators and have excellent knowledge of Luxembourg’s specificities, such as accounting norms, Lux Gaap, and Luxembourgish and European regulation.” Where candidates lack experience, training could certainly improve their chances of being hired for some of the new roles. “There will be some job opportunities where individuals could easily transfer their experience and by taking further specific training that is relevant to their job search requirement and demand will only increase their interview success,” Notter said, stressing that a large number of jobs will “need proven and qualified specific experience.” ENTREPRENEURIAL MINDSET Two other essential elements the new firms are looking for, explained Abarnou Helix, are an “entrepreneurial mindset and autonomy” to successfully establish the new offices. “For some people who have been working for a long time in asset management and insurance in a well-established company, sometimes they are looking for a startup mindset or challenging activity so this could match this kind of person.” Indeed, interested candidates should be aware that joining and managing new teams will
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WHO IS COMING TO LUXEMBOURG? According to KPMG Luxembourg, as of 17 October, the 24 confirmed banks, insurers and investment companies establishing offices in Luxembourg as a result of Brexit are: 3i, AIG, Blackstone, Carlyle, China Everbright Bank, Goldman Sachs, Hiscox, J.P. Morgan, M&G Investments, MJ Hudson, Morgan Stanley, Ping Pong, Rakuten Commercial Banking, Shanghai Pudong Development Bank, Liberty Specialty Markets, CNA Hardy, Columbia Threadneedle, EQT Partners, FM Global, Bank of America, ICG (Intermediate Capital Group), Ppro Group, RSA and Tokio Marine.
BREXIT JOBS Recruiters say there won’t be a stampede of newly transferred expats, nor initially a ton on new local hires, in the grand duchy
present different challenges to what they may be accustomed to because of the cross-cultural element of these new firms, which may be composed of staff from different work cultures. European director of funds sector recruiter Funds Partnership Rana Hein-Hartmann posted, on her company’s blog, advice to new companies establishing offices in Luxembourg, which is insightful to candidates looking to scoop up these new jobs. Her advice to companies to limit any potential cross-cultural friction was to “hire attitude and build skill, but only into the right people. It is more important to get the attitude right and building into people who will stay loyal,” she wrote. Winter 2018
One other key consideration for profiles that Wirion points out and which is often taken for granted in the finance and insurance sectors is that profiles should be able to speak English. “In our country, we have the advantage of being able to communicate in English,” he was quoted as saying by Paperjam. A strong grasp of the English language will likely therefore be a key asset for candidates.
MORE TO FOLLOW For candidates who miss the first wave of new post-Brexit jobs being created in Luxembourg, more jobs will likely follow. In the mid- to long-term, recruiters expect the number of hires
to increase, depending on the progress of Brexit negotiations and how quickly new firms settle in and become established in Luxembourg. “We do not expect to see any massive increase in jobs before the final package is confirmed after 2018,” Bock said, adding: “It has to be noted that in this matter, timing is crucial and that the first movers will be able to choose from the best talent on offer.” Given the way negotiations are progressing and the fact that much of what happens in the coming months will depend on political action taken, the only real certainty seems to be that the situation won’t be over by the scheduled departure date of 29 March 2019.
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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. RHYTHM & CAROLS
Amcham & Lions Club Luxembourg-Amitié Get into the festive spirit with some uplifting carols performed by Conservatoire students under the direction of Paul Mootz and Netty Glesener. This family-friendly, fundraising event will see all proceeds go to a children’s charity chosen by the Lions Club Amitié. icon_when Sun 10 December, 11:00 icon_where L uxembourg Conservatoire icon_website www.amcham.lu
University of Luxembourg Students from the master’s in information and computer science class will give a workshop on TensorFlow, an open-source software library for numerical computations that was developed by researchers and engineers working on the Google Brain Team. No registration required. icon_when Mon 11 December, 08:30 icon_where Maison du Savoir, Belval campus icon_website www.uni.lu
MANAGING AND COMMUNICATING DATA
Lhoft The group hopes to stimulate projects in the vertical field of fintech meets telecommunications at this proposers day. As well as a keynote presentation, attendees can see a range of project ideas presented in this domain. icon_when Wed 13 December icon_where Chamber of Commerce, Luxembourg-Kirchberg icon_website www.lhoft.com
icon_when Mon 11 December, 12:00 icon_where S ofitel Kirchberg, Luxembourg-Kirchberg icon_website www.amcham.lu
ILA Companies handle an overwhelming variety of data and the company secretary is responsible for storing corporate documents. Gain an overview of the legal guidelines for data storage and data protection in Luxembourg through this four-hour course. icon_when Tue 12 December, 08:45 icon_where Chamber of Commerce, Luxembourg-Kirchberg icon_website www.ila.lu
FIND MORE EVENTS Check Delano’s digital agenda for the latest happenings: www.delano.lu/agenda
ILA A 2.5-day program offering experienced executives and directors the essentials to be efficient directors. It covers the role and responsibilities of directors and key duties in legal and regulatory features specific to Luxembourg’s business environment. icon_when Wed 10 Janurary, 08:15 icon_where Chamber of Commerce, Luxembourg-Kirchberg icon_website www.ila.lu
CHRISTMAS LUNCH British Chamber of Commerce A traditional three-course meal and wine await guests to this festive networking lunch. Between courses, take a look at the #LuxUKLinks exhibition created by the British ambassador to Luxembourg John Marshall celebrating historic relations between the two countries. icon_when Fri 15 December, 12:00 icon_where Hémicycle, Luxembourg-Kirchberg icon_website www.bcc.lu
FUND GOVERNANCE Multi-chamber event Luxembourg finance minister Pierre Gramegna will be guest speaker at this festive lunch where he will talk about the national budget for 2018. In addition to a tasty lunch with beverages, the event promises plentiful networking opportunities with other business chambers.
DIRECTORS: THE ESSENTIALS
Speaker Bénédicte Souy of Moving People 2 Luxembourg, pictured, will help workshop participants understand different types of work permits available and the administrative procedures and laws associated with each type. The workshop is part of an HR cycle of events. icon_when Wed 17 January, 09:30 icon_where Neimënster, Luxembourg-Grund icon_website www.club.paperjam.lu
Alfi The Alfi Code of Conduct aims to provide boards of directors with a framework of high-level principles and best practice recommendations for the governance of Luxembourg investment funds and management companies. This seminar is reserved for Alfi members only. icon_when Wed 13 December icon_where Chamber of Commerce, Luxembourg-Kirchberg icon_website www.alfi.lu
SOCIAL NETWORKS AND WORK Anne Morel of Bonn Steichen & Partners leads this workshop to help employers understand their power to investigate and use information gathered correctly on social media. The workshop also explores potential monitoring methods and safeguards to avoid errors. icon_when Wed 17 January, 09:30 icon_where Neimënster, Luxembourg-Grund icon_website www.club.paperjam.lu
Edouard Olszewski Pexels LaLa La Photo Sébastien Goossens Pexels Marion Dessard Paperjam Club
Text by MARTINE HUBERTY
Photography by MIKE ZENARI
HITTING THE RIGHT NOTE Philippe Lemaire is a software developer by day, but he practises his singing every week in a choir.
hile music has been a passion from a young age (he learned to read music and play the trumpet in a village band when he was a kid), it disappeared from Philippe Lemaire’s life when he went to university and started working. “But somehow, I missed music, and so I joined the Univer sity Choir in 2013. I had never been in a choir before. In a village band, when you play an instrument, it takes up a lot of time practising. You need to interpret the music, not just hitting the right notes. You need to attend classes for years. However, you can sing anywhere, in the shower, in the car or wherever: you don’t need to have an instrument to practise. It is easier to get to the point musically when you sing than when you play an instrument--at least at the amateur level.” Lemaire likes the socialising aspect of the university choir and its diversity: the oldest member is 70, the youngest around 20. There are all sorts of nationalities and age groups among the 30-40 members, and they communicate in English. They often enjoy drinks or dinner after practice. The choir also has a voice coach and conductor, provided by the university. It often performs at concerts in collaboration with other choirs, which can take them travelling. Lemaire is still amazed at the recent joint winter concert with the Vilnius university choir in Lithuania: “We got a standing ovation in a church! That doesn’t happen very often.” But most importantly for him, “making music is good for relaxing and switching off.” Winter 2018
MUSIC WAS MY FIRST LOVE Philippe Lemaire first started working in the civil service after high school, but after a while, he decided to go back to university and study IT. He now works as a software developer. However, he sees parallels between his job and his love for music: “There is not much juxtaposition between IT and music. People who are good at music are often good at maths--somehow the same sides of the brains are used for both. Sometimes, I use things in the choir which I test afterwards in IT. I can experiment in music and this helps sometimes at work.” He did not wish to say more about his career, but was passionate when asked about his favourite song that the choir has sung over the past four years: ‘Sunrise Mass’ by Ola Gjeilo, a young contemporary composer of classical music. He made a plea to showcase more of these composers, who “produce amazing music, but are hardly played because they’re not old or dead yet.”
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Troisvierges · Luxembourg beLair · berTrange
The diar y BLOOD TESTS AT HOME
NEW BOOK OUTLET
Lucy Goosey’s Reading Adventure has taken over the former Chapter 1 The Book Loft space in EireLux. The shop sells children’s and adults’ books in English, French and German, as well as Christmas cards. icon_where 40 rue des Bruyères, Howald icon_facebook lucygooseysbooks
ALTERNATIVE XMAS SHOPPING
A handful of events over the advent weeks provide an opportunity to snaffle a unique and beautiful seasonal gift. BECOME A ROSE
Luxembourg’s Rose of Tralee committee is looking for Rose contestants for next year’s selection. Irish or females of Irish descent aged between 18 and 27 can enter. The Rose Ball is scheduled for 14 April. icon_website www.rose.lu
‘Paprika’ by No Metal In This Battle, directed by Gwenael François, won the best video and jury prizes at this year’s Video Clip Awards, held during Sonic Visions in November. Best upcoming young director was Cedric Letsch for Austinn’s ‘Olivia’, while the audience voted for Brebo’s ‘6 Stunden’ directed by Kevin Risch. icon_website www.sonicvisions.lu/vca
Kanner Jugend Telefon’s Bod mascot continues to represent the child helpline’s Englishlanguage service. A campaign featuring 12 postcards comes to an end this December, but the comic strips are still being used to create awareness of the KJT and its services. icon_website www.kjt.lu
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BOD CAMPAIGN CONTINUES
I Am Not A Refugee, a book by Frédérique Buck with photography by Sven Becker and Mike Zenari and designed by Maison Moderne, won two prizes at the Walfer Book Days. icon_website www.maisonmoderne.com
Startup Klin is offering customers in and around the capital city a pick-up and dropoff dry cleaning service at competitive rates. icon_website www.klin.lu
MARCHÉ DES CRÉATEURS icon_when 9 & 10 December icon_where Mudam, Luxembourg-Kirchberg icon_website www.mudam.lu
Fans of Iceland as a destination are in for some good news. Starting in May, Luxair will operate a direct flight between Findel and Keflavik International Airport. The weekly flights will operate on Wednesdays between 9 May and 20 June (the last return flight being on 27 June). icon_website www.luxair.lu
The annual Marché des Créateurs, held at Mudam this year, has a new title, “Jingle Sales”. The two-day market is curated by Anne-Sophie Gérouville, from L’Avenir, and features a wide range of designers selling their wares. Then the StijlMarkt holds its first ever event in Luxembourg over the weekend of 16 and 17 December at the Halle Victor Hugo. The market features stalls selling fashion and streetwear, accessories, furniture and furnishings, decorative items and art. But the most fun is to be had at the Rotondes, which hosts its Troc’n’Brol auction (photo) over the same weekend. This annual freewheeling art auction is back over two days. Artists will exhibit their work on Friday night between 6 p.m. and 1 a.m. Then, anyone can make a non-cash bid, of an item or service, on Saturday between 11 a.m. and 8 p.m. Each artist will select the winning bid for their own piece, which will be announced on Saturday around 8 p.m. The works will remain on display till 10 p.m. This is one way to find a truly original holiday gift, with a real story behind it--because buyers get to meet the artist personally and the fact they have accepted an offer indicates some sort of kinship in way of thinking.
Voices International, the community choir, has two more performances of its winter season concert, “Songs Of Hope”, on 16 December in the Bonnevoie church at 7:30 p.m. and on 17 December in the Kehlen church at 5 p.m. icon_website www.voicesinternational.lu
TROC’N’BROL icon_when 15 & 16 December icon_where Rotondes, Luxembourg-Bonnevoie icon_website www.rotondes.lu STIJLMARKT icon_when 16 & 17 December icon_where Halle Victor Hugo, Luxembourg-Limpertsberg icon_website www.stijlmarkt.de/luxemburg
Tom Weis Steve Eastwood (archives) Maison Moderne Skill Lab (screen grab) KJT
Picken Doheem offers patients a mobile, free of charge blood test service. Patients can book an appointment at the address of their choice via the service’s website by downloading its iOSor Android-compatible app. icon_website www.pickendoheem.lu
ASIA AND EARLY RISERS For the second edition of “Delano Live”, sponsored by ING, guests Makiko Witolla Hayashi of the Japanese Ladies’ Association and Mathias Lentz of Bofferding spoke about bridging the culture and business gaps between Asia and Europe. Then Ara City Radio’s Sam Steen gave the audience some insight into his early start as a DJ.
Maison Moderne Frode Ramone / Flickr
DELANO LIVE A. Richard Karacian and Barbara Daroca B. Joanna Hein-Hartmann and Daniela Serafim C. Duncan Roberts, Eric Anselin, Mathias Lentz, Makiko Witolla Hayashi, Sam Steen and Aaron Grunwald D. Thomas Seale and Margot Parra
er ht display ov The aurora lig , Nor way en Longyearby
r Dina g in Luxembourg, write Within months of arrivindy planning her next adventure, Brode -Roger was alrea unity living in the Arctic. to study a unique comm US national Dina Brode-Roger says that everything she has learned in her varied career so far is coming together for her latest venture--a study of the people living in Longyearbyen, a community of about 2,000 people living near Svalbard, in Norway. Passionate about putting climate change on the agenda, Brode-Roger has held a long-term interest in the Arctic. Since she was a teenager, she had dreamed of visiting Svalbard, one of the world’s northernmost inhabited areas, located on an archipelago between mainland Norway and the North Pole. The dream came true when she holidayed there with her husband in 2016. Brode-Roger says she was so affected by the trip that, while moving from Brussels to Luxembourg for her husband’s job, she began thinking up ways to return and draw attention to the work being done there. “I had many different ideas that came up. Slowly the idea for a PhD came together.” The writer devised a four-year project with two years on-site that would examine the perspectives of the scientists, miners, trappers, tourists and other people living there and the impact of climate change on the area. “Whatever you think about climate change, it’s going to impact our future. And we can see right now in Longyearbyen the many different ways it’s starting to happen. Of course, it’s not easy if you have politicians saying it doesn’t exist,” Brode-Roger says, adding: “I would like my project to help people get an inside under standing of some of the many things going on in the Arctic.” The study, which was accepted at KU Leuven in Belgium last spring will, she hopes, lead to several books: one looking at the work of scientists and researchers based there, one containing the perspectives gained from people living there and Brode-Roger’s own reactions. She also plans to create a podcast documenting the curious details of the area. A mother-of-two, Brode-Roger has led a varied career, working as a consultant, for TV, teaching and most recently concentrating full-time on her writing. In 2013, she published a young adult fantasy novel, Dragon Fire. She says what unites all these experiences is her interest in “identity and why people do what they do”. After a preliminary visit in spring 2018, her two-year exploration of the community will begin in September 2018. Interview by JESS BAULDRY Photography by LALA LA PHOTO Winter 2018
Text by DUNCAN ROBERTS
Photography by LALA LA PHOTO
rand Duchess María Teresa and Princess Stéphanie were the guests of honour at the opening of the Bazar International. They were joined by prime minister Xavier Bettel and his husband Gauthier Destenay, and speaker of the Chamber of Deputies Mars di Bartolomeo. The guests of honour were given a tour by Bazar president Erika Ehrhard and vice president Carmen Decalf. All weekend the event attracted crowds in their thousands, not to mention the 1,500 or so volunteers who man the stands, prepare food, provide entertainment and sell raffle tickets. The money raised at the event supports roughly 70 charitable projects around the world and in the grand duchy. This year’s principal recipient is the Fundebe foundation which provides health, drinking water and education infrastructure to rural regions in Benin.
GLOBAL REPRESENTATION A. Carmen Decalf, Princess Stéphanie, Xavier Bettel, Grand Duchess María Teresa, Gauthier Destenay and Mars di Bartolomeo at the Bazar International, 26 November B. Naja and Aviaja at the Scandinavia stand C. Madeleine Sander, Pauline von Hochberg and Theodor D. Volunteers at the India stand E. Del Lloyd and Mary Rose De Vries F. Caroline and Tatjana at the Lebanese stand G. Ilona of the Ukraine stand H. The Azerbaijan stand I. The Slovenia stand A
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Text by ALIX RASSEL
Photography by LALA LA PHOTO
humanitarian , work done by a French Taking its cue from theu now does much more than provide health the Fondation Follerea s. Communications direc tor Conny Reichling care for leprosy sufferer benefits those most in need today. explains how the charity
n 1936, a French humanitarian and journalist by the name of Raoul Follereau was travelling through South America when his car broke down near a small group of lepers. That chance meeting lead Follereau to dedicate his life’s work to eradicating leprosy and the social stigmatisation surrounding the disease. Thirty years later, a group of friends in Luxembourg founded the Fondation Follereau in order to assist with Follereau’s work, not only against leprosy but against exclusion in the poorest parts of the world. The Fondation Follereau is now present in nine different countries with 36 active projects. Its primary focus is one of healthcare, but unlike other organisations, it works directly with local NGOs. “Our partners and beneficiaries in the countries we are present in come to us with projects they feel would best aid the local community,” explains Reichling. “If the project falls within our criteria, we provide support and finance.” Since 2011, the foundation has focused geographically on Africa, where access to basic healthcare is limited, enabling it to establish and build long-lasting relationships with local NGOs. “Typically, the foundation will provide help and financing for anywhere between three and ten years, but it is our goal that the local community takes responsibility in the long-run.” Healthcare projects still include tackling leprosy but also infections such as Buruli ulcers, which is another disfiguring and debilitating disease affecting mostly children under 15 years of age. “Currently there is no prevention against the disease, but the foundation supports local hospitals that can care for the children and provide them with as normal a life as possible,” says Reichling. Winter 2018
Maternal healthcare is still a priority in many countries, including pre- and postnatal care as well as vaccinations, nutrition and sex education are provided in local health centres. It is crucial that the local community is responsible for staffing and running the local centres. “Of course, the local NGOs send skilled practitioners and volunteers to the infrastructures we support. But we use local doctors or assist with vocational training where necessary.” The foundation also supports street children and victims of child trafficking. Local centres provide not only basic essentials such as food and a bed, but also training to offer children the opportunity for a better future. These can be in anything from carpentry and sewing to mechanics. “In Mali, we provided two boys with mecha nical training and micro financing which has allowed them to set up their own garage fixing motorcycles,” Reichling explains. The foundation currently employs 11 people in Luxembourg and is funded partly by the state and through donations from both private individuals and corporations. “A monthly donation as little as 10 euros can buy food for two children for one day, or finance a crucial vaccination. It’s very little, but can be the difference between life and death.”
CONNY REICHLING Get the local community to take responsibility
FONDATION FOLLEREAU Fondation Follereau currently has projects in Mali, Burkina Faso, Togo and Benin amongst others. 28 January 2018 marks World Leprosy Day. According to the World Health Organisation, leprosy affected 215,000 people worldwide in 2016.
For more details or to get involved: icon_website www.ffl.lu icon_phone 44 66 06 1 icon_mail email@example.com
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Text by DUNCAN ROBERTS
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A FEAST OF THEATRE Our story unfolds as the Luxembourg theatre world prepares itself for a slew of Englishlanguage productions. The grand duchy’s only English-language magazine has invited a flurry of local directors, actors and theatre administrators to talk about this phenomenon.
ACT ONE W H AT ’ S G O I N G O N ? Scene: Maison Moderne offices in Bonnevoie, where Delano is based. Delano editor-in-chief Duncan Roberts is eagerly awaiting the arrival of his interview subjects from the Luxembourg theatre scene. Enter stage left Tom Leick-Burns, the dapper director of the city’s biggest theatres. He is shown to a meeting room, served a black coffee and settles into his seat. Duncan Roberts: Tom, welcome. Now the Théâtres de la Ville have a rich and diverse programme of English-language productions over the winter months. But what prompted the idea to put English surtitles on the Luxembourgish-language version of Rumpelstiltskin? Tom Leick: The production is on the main stage, and that’s a lot of seats. It’s the first time we are reviving the tradition of
TOM LEICK-BURNS As the director of Les Théâtres de la Ville de Luxembourg Winter 2018
doing a fairytale, which was done in the 1960s. We are proud of having a Luxembourg writer and director, but it’s a fact that 70% of our audience is not Luxembourgish. It’s a challenge to fill the theatre, because it is not an all-out family show.
DUNCAN ROBERTS As the editor-inchief at Delano
We wanted to reach out to a larger audience, to make it available to the international community. And, I want to think more and
A preview of English-language productions over the next few months.
more about the international perspective. There’s no reason this maybe should not be picked up. It’s a story that is not done that often. Duncan Roberts: If that is a big production, then you have Evita following hot on its heels. Tom Leick: Yes, it’s a big show. But technically it’s a welloiled machine that is coming over from London. It’s all about making it an event. It’s always fascinating to see how an audience responds to a certain title. It’s quite difficult to follow Mamma Mia (which played in 2015). Of course, Evita is a political subject. You can’t just say we’ll put on a musical and let it run its course. Duncan Roberts: Then things get interesting with Funeral Blues? Tom Leick: I am really looking forward to Funeral Blues. It is an intimate piece and it’s a bit of a gamble. We’re tackling something quintessentially British, W.H. Auden, with a French director and a French singer, a brilliant British actor, and a Luxembourg assistant director--you can’t get much more international than that. It will attract a very different audience. A doorbell rings off stage. Enter Anne Simon, the Luxembourg theatre director who, like Tom, studied in the UK. Her footwear is surprisingly sober. She brings her dog with her. She is quite calm considering that she is about to fly to New York to work on her latest project, Strangers, with that city’s Circle Thea ter company. Duncan Roberts: Anne, can you remind us how the collaboration with the Circle Theater came about? Anne Simon: I met the artistic director of the company, Isaac Bush, and we decided to work together. We adapted the Hansel and Gretel story, Trail of Crumbs, which opened in New York and then came to Luxembourg. This time we are doing it the other way
ANNE SIMON As the theatre director and programme coordinator at Théâtre National du Luxembourg
around, starting in Europe and then taking it to the US. Duncan Roberts: So, how has the creative process differed this time? Anne Simon: Trail Of Crumbs was a fully devised project, whereas Strangers has had more prep work on an original script. Though it’s still quite loose and the company can put in their own words.
Duncan Roberts: But you started with a main theme you wanted to
A Luxembourgish-language production with English surtitles, local author Ian de Toffoli’s take on the Grimm tale is directed by Myriam Muller and features a fabulous cast including Marco Lorenzini in the title role alongside Larisa Faber, Elisabet Johannesdottir and Pitt Simon. Suitable for children over the age of 10. icon_when 15-17 December icon_where Grand Théâtre, Luxembourg-Limpertsberg icon_website www.theatres.lu
tackle? Anne Simon: Yes, it’s about memory, and out of that came a discussion about Bioy Casares’ The Invention of Morel. In this fantasy world, it’s so much about representations of yourself and avatars. But I prefer to have an allusion without it having to be clear on stage. Sometimes I find when theatre tries to adapt stuff to set it so blatantly in the contemporary, it becomes a bit dull. With generic stories, it doesn’t work when it is too specifically tied to a location and time--especially in Luxembourg, which is so multi-layered and multicultural. You’re going to lose part of your audience. →
ACT TWO THE RESOURCES CHALLENGE Erik Abbott and Christine Probst-Staffen enter. They are vivacious and still giddy from the success of their production of Big Boys at Arendt House the previous week. Duncan Roberts: As one of the smallest professional companies here in Luxembourg, how does Actors Rep manage to finance its projects? Erik Abbott: Resources with a capital “R” is, and always has
been, an issue. That means first and foremost money. There probably isn’t a non-profit professional theatre company on the
planet that thinks it has enough money. We would like to be able
Seasonal comedy A sweet and funny half-hour play about a couple’s holiday plans with their family, Actors Rep’s seasonal play can be booked as an entertainment for seasonal parties and events. icon_when 8 & 21 December icon_where Rocas Café icon_website www.actorsrep.lu
Political musical This year’s big production from the West End for the festive season, Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical stars Madalena Alberto as Eva Perón. It includes familiar songs such as ‘Don’t Cry for Me Argentina’ and ‘Another Suitcase in Another Hall’. The production has received rave reviews, with The Guardian saying, “Evita is back with a bang”. icon_when 19-24 & 26-31 December icon_where Grand Théâtre, Luxembourg-Limpertsberg icon_website www.theatres.lu
to do shows with four and five people in them once in a while. For every person on stage, there’s probably an equivalent person off stage.
CHRISTINE PROBSTSTAFFEN As the theatre director, actor and associate artistic staff at Actors Rep
Christine Probst: It means that the director or assistant director has to wear multiple hats. And then there is the challenge of finding a space. Not just for performances, but also a permanent spot for rehearsals, for an office, for classes and workshops, for storage. If we had a space for classes and workshops, that would be an extra source of income and give us constant visibility. Duncan Roberts: Anne, have you noticed a difference between funding in Luxembourg and the States? Anne Simon: Circle Theater is a small company, so it’s hard to get finances together. But that means it’s interesting, to not go down the classical route of relying on state funding. Not that I think the arts shouldn’t be supported, but there should be a mix with commercial funding. We rely on state funding too much, and become a bit lazy. Other creative industries will run us over, because they are a lot more progressive in how they finance themselves. You have to think more outside the box to find finance for projects.
ACT THREE F I N D I N G A N AU D I E N C E Discussions turn to how to attract English-speaking audiences in what is a multilingual country with a strong tradition of theatre in French and German. Duncan Roberts: Tom, you were instrumental in getting some of the first professional English-language productions to come to Luxembourg. It seems like a gamble that has paid off.
Madalena Alberto as Eva Perón in Evita Winter 2018
was one of the first professional English-language productions. We are glad it’s established and that it works so well. But also, the broad appeal of the international component is
Tom Leick: Indeed, I think Design for Living in 2007 at the Capucins
mirrored in society here. I don’t think there is another European capital that can match the offer we have in so many languages. It’s a real strength. I think the audiences really appreciate what they are getting. Duncan Roberts: So, there is clearly a demand for English- language theatre, but how do you attract new audiences?
Christine Probst: There are the usual suspects that come to
every show, but with Big Boys at Arendt House there were faces
we had never seen. That is a huge part due to the fact that we
British company Told by an Idiot brings its Christmas show for kids and adults of all ages to Luxembourg. A blend of comedy, live music, acrobatics, dancing and audience interaction, the show has been described as “wild, mischievous and a whole load of fun”. icon_when 28 & 29 December (2 shows each day) icon_where Grand Théâtre, Luxembourg-Limpertsberg icon_website www.theatres.lu
cast a Luxembourger, Maximillien Jadin. Erik Abbott: There were a handful of newcomers from the Trump show we did in September who came back to see Big Boys. Christine Probst: It underlined how important it is to keep the momentum going, so we don’t fall by the wayside. Erik Abbott: That’s a challenge we face. We had a year and a half where we didn’t do anything, and although we are close, we have never really gotten audiences back to the level they were before that. But there is an audience to draw on, and there are parts of it, like the university, we haven’t managed to tap into yet. Christine Probst: Finding a performance space in the city is a commodity, too. There is a psychological barrier if you do a show
THE STANDARD BEARER
out of town. Though the more we do the more audiences will associ-
ate Actors Rep with quality and consistency.
ACT FOUR TA L E N T S E A R C H Each of the guests has performed on stage as well as been in creative and administrative roles in the theatre. The editor feels it is pertinent to ask about the struggle to find talent. Duncan Roberts: Tom, the co-production of Funeral Blues includes Luxembourg artists and crew, like pianist Cathy Krier. How important is that aspect?
ERIK ABBOTT As the theatre director, actor and artistic director at Actors Rep
Julian Sands returns to the TNL to direct Neil Dickson in Stephen Wyatt’s one-man show, The Standard Bearer, about the trials and tribulations of a Shakespearean actor in West Africa who is sent out on a cultural tour of local communities. Sands will also perform a solo piece titled Keats, Shelley, Ghosts and Lovers. icon_when 4 & 5 January 2018 icon_where Théâtre National du Luxembourg, Luxembourg-Merl icon_website www.tnl.lu
Tom Leick: It is a real and essential part of my vision going forward that we find a collaborative aspect when we do an international co-production. Like Anouk Schiltz doing the design for The Crucible last year. And now Anne Simon is going to direct Kindertransport, which will open next March at Doug Rintoul’s Queen’s Theatre in Hornchurch, London, before coming here. To have that opportunity is fantastic. So, whether on stage or behind the scenes, I want to include creative talent from Luxembourg. That will help develop the skills and experience and the professionalisation of the sector here. I need that added value. Duncan Roberts: Is it a challenge to find professional English- language speaking actors here in Luxembourg? Tom Leick: It brings out different qualities and colours if you don’t have native English speakers. The whole multilingual →
Theatrical poetry Director Olivier Fredj explores the poetry of W.H. Auden and the music of Benjamin Britten in this original co-production with the Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord. British actor Richard Clothier is joined on stage by bass-baritone Laurent Naouri and Luxembourg pianist Cathy Krier. icon_when 18, 21 & 24 January 2018 icon_where Grand Théâtre, Luxembourg-Limpertsberg icon_website www.theatres.lu Winter 2018
thing is a strength, something that singles us out. We have actors that have trained in Switzerland, Germany, Belgium, France. And they can all be in the same production and it will create a different result. Anne Simon: It depends on the play. If performers don’t play in their mother tongue in our own work, it’s not important. If we were doing Shakespeare then, yes. Strangers is not so much textbased. This time we have cast an African girl who is now based in London. And we’re currently still casting, and that is going from Germany to Cyprus to Iran.
EIRA As herself
Christine Probst: As a director, casting a talented Luxembourg actor like Maximillien, the lesson I learned was to hone in on the available talent outside the native English-speaking community, and how to embrace that more. Erik Abbott: We are actively looking for pieces that can work with an international cast.
BOOK NOW MY SISTER SYRIA
Refugee thriller A visiting production by the American Drama Group Europe, My Sister Syria will be performed for schools at 11 a.m. on 19 January. It is a dramatic exploration of the refugee crisis in Europe and its roots in the Middle East, a thriller and partly a drama documentary that follows a professional human rights activist. The performance is followed by a discussion with the audience. icon_when 19 January 2018 icon_where Neimënster, Luxembourg-Grund icon_website www.neimenster.lu
Original work A co-production with the Circle Theater New York, Strangers is written by Isaac Bush and Sloan Bradford, and directed by Anne Simon. The devised work “explores themes of connection, choice and mortality as they relate to modern threats of climate change, surveillance, the spread of disease and the fears of a rapidly changing world”. icon_when 27 & 30 January 2018, 1, 2 & 4 February 2018 icon_where Théâtre National du Luxembourg, Luxembourg-Merl icon_website www.tnl.lu
Christine Probst: But the behind the scenes people are often the hardest to find. People at that professional level are often working at one of the big theatres already. In a small community like Luxembourg there is an over-saturation of performers and not enough people on the technical side. I think it would be good if there was more of a connection between the film and theatre worlds. I don’t think they embrace each other.
ACT FIVE LO O K I N G TO T H E F U T U R E The guests are busy people. The editor realises he has to wrap things up, so asks one final question. Duncan Roberts: Theatre is clearly going strong here in Luxembourg , but what of the future--what are the challenges you may face, and what are your hopes and ambitions? Anne Simon: We want to reach out more across Europe. Especially in the era of Trump, it seems more important than ever that artists do collaborate regardless of borders. We want to build on that. Erik Abbott: We’ve done five years of production now. From the beginning, part of our vision was to establish something that becomes a long-lasting institution. But we want to remain our own thing; we just want to do provocative, passionate, professional English-language theatre. It would be great if when I retire and die, Actors Rep is still going on. Tom Leick: With Brexit looming, there is a potential threat to some funding. So, in that climate it is important to keep relationship with the UK theatres and production companies. The ultimate goal has to be that we as a theatre, but also as a country, develop a reputation as a producer of artistic works of a certain standard. The players exit, stage right.
THE END Winter 2018
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14 shows e you must se
CHRISTOPH SIETZEN Rising star Nominated by the Philharmonie as one of the “rising stars” of the European Concert Hall Organisation, Luxembourg jazz percussionist Christoph Sietzen performs a varied programme. It includes Stewart Copeland’s Sheriff of Luxembourg, specially commissioned by the Phil and Echo. icon_when 16 January 2018 icon_where Philharmonie, Luxembourg-Kirchberg icon_website www.philharmonie.lu Winter 2018
LSO-SIMON RATTLE Great voices Sir Simon Rattle conducts the London Symphony Orchestra with tenor Simon O’Neill and baritone Christian Gerhaher performing Gustav Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde, a work that Leonard Bernstein described as the composer’s greatest symphony. Also on the programme is Richard Strauss’ Metamorphosen. icon_when 19 December icon_where Philharmonie, Luxembourg-Kirchberg icon_website www.philharmonie.lu
GILBERTO GIL Smooth operator Some 50 years after the release of his first album, Brazilian superstar Gilberto Gil is still going strong. A father of the Tropicália movement in the late 1960s, Gil was hugely influential and one of the first Brazilian musicians to enjoy commercial success outside his country. icon_when 7 January 2018 icon_where Philharmonie, Luxembourg-Kirchberg icon_website www.philharmonie.lu
ISRAEL GALVÁN Party time Merging flamenco and contemporary dance, choreographer Israel Galván celebrates the music, rhythm, dance, food and laughter of La Fiesta, the title of his latest work. It is the fusion of these elements, and of the movements of the nine performers on stage that Galván explores. icon_when 11 & 12 January 2018 icon_where Grand Théâtre, Luxembourg-Limpertsberg icon_website www.theatres.lu
SIDI LARBI CHERKAOUI Iconic creation A regular at the Grand Théâtre, choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and his Eastman company join forces with the dancers of the Göteborg Opera to perform a breathtaking new creation. Icon explores the creation and fall of icons, for which Larbi has enlisted the help of sculptor Antony Gormley. icon_when 19 & 20 January 2018 icon_where Grand Théâtre, Luxembourg-Limpertsberg icon_website www.theatres.lu
2MANYDJS Brothers in arms David and Stephen Dewaele will perform a “massive DJ set” that should warm the cockles of everyone’s hearts--the Belgian brothers are renowned for their eclectic taste--at what promises to be a great club night. Also on the bill are Isaac d’Augny and Fred Baus from Radio Ara’s Bazar Eclectique. icon_when 19 January 2018 icon_where Den Atelier, Luxembourg-Gare icon_website www.atelier.lu
THE SCHUBERT ENSEMBLE Fond farewell Celebrating its final season after 35 years of acclaimed performances and recordings, critically acclaimed The Schubert Ensemble stops off in Luxembourg for a performance featuring Schumann’s Three Canonic Studies, Dvořák’s piano quartet No. 1 in D and Fauré’s piano quartet No. 2 in G minor. icon_when 21 January 2018 icon_where Château de Bourglinster, Bourglinster icon_website www.atelier.lu
Sébastien Grébille Jorge Bispo Alexander Schneider Rubén Camacho Mäts Backer Rob Brimson
ces, of quality live performan The new year brings a lotjazz musicians to a debut for a famous from iconic classical andgs of the indie and dance music scene. dance troupe and darlin
Brigid Pierce David Boni Wolfgang Klauke Joshua Rain
NILS FRAHM Unconventional With his unconventional approach to the piano and a desire “to play my music with freedom and create my own sound”, Nils Frahm has won over critics and fans to his blend of classical and electro nic music. He manages to balance sonic beauty with space to create wonderful mood pieces. icon_when 26 January 2018 icon_where Philharmonie, Luxembourg-Kirchberg icon_website www.philharmonie.lu
STEREOPHONICS Infectious rockers A perennial Delano guilty pleasure, Welsh band Stereophonics keep on making catchy as heck anthems that can sound both gritty and joyous. This is a band that delivers infectious, unpretentious fun by the bucket loads and has become something of a national institution in Wales. icon_when 30 January 2018 icon_where Den Atelier, Luxembourg-Gare icon_website www.atelier.lu
MOTHER AFRICA Township spectacle The Mother Africa circus troupe takes its audience on a journey back to the township, some 30km from Johannesburg, from which it first emerged. New Stories from Khayelitsha is a mash-up of spectacular circus stunts and traditional African live music and dance featuring breath-taking stunts. icon_when 7 February 2018 icon_where Kinneksbond, Mamer icon_website www.kinneksbond.lu
THE BOOTLEG BEATLES Fab four fans One of the original tribute acts, The Bootleg Beatles have been performing since 1980 although the band’s line-up has changed since. Hailed as “note-perfect” as they belt out the all too familiar hits, the band recreated the famous rooftop concert on the 30th anniversary in 1999. icon_when 8 February 2018 icon_where Rockhal, Esch-Belval icon_website www.rockhal.lu
MARTHA GRAHAM DANCE COMPANY Classics revisited Legendary choreographer Martha Graham’s dance company, founded in 1926, performs four pieces, including a suite taken from 1946’s Dark Meadow, 1936’s response to the menace of fascism, Chronicle, as well as later works Ekstasis and Lamentation Variations based on her iconic solo work from 1930. icon_when 3 & 4 February 2018 icon_where Grand Théâtre, Luxembourg-Limpertsberg icon_website www.theatres.lu
PETER BRODERICK Honest solo Solo artist Peter Broderick has released a string of recordings that feature multi-instrumentation and vocals. His most acclaimed release, however, was the simple piano and voice album Partners, which Pitchfork described as an homage to John Cage that veers into honest and heartfelt territory. icon_when 7 February 2018 icon_where Rotondes, Luxembourg-Bonnevoie icon_website www.rotondes.lu
BELLE AND SEBASTIAN Indie darlings Eternally labelled a student indie band, Belle and Sebastian have been going for over 20 years. Their band has enjoyed a rollercoaster of critical and commercial success, with plenty of highs and lows. New single ‘We Were Beautiful’ is a pleasantly memorable slice of horn-laden indie pop. icon_when 11 February 2018 icon_where Rockhal, Esch-Belval icon_website www.atelier.lu Winter 2018
Text by JESS BAULDRY
Photography by LALA LA PHOTO
Put down those keys!
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WINGMAN Wingman sends out someone to drive you home in your car. Rates start at around €18.50. icon_website www.drinkanddrive.lu CITY NIGHT BUS There are four different night bus routes in Luxembourg City, running until 3:30 a.m. at weekends. icon_website www.vdl.lu NIGHT TRAINS Trains run to Troisvierges and Rodange until the small hours at weekends. icon_website www.cfl.lu
uxembourg’s obsession with cars placed it top of the list for car ownership in 2015, with 661 passenger vehicles per 1,000 residents. That is all well and good until you find yourself in a situation where you cannot drive safely or legally. Fortunately, Luxembourg has a number of alternatives for getting home after a night on the town, the most obvious being public transport. For some years now, Luxembourg City has run four night bus lines in the capital from midnight until 3:30 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday mornings. CFL has also responded to the demand for night transport, and on Friday and Saturday nights operates trains to Troisvierges at 1:20 a.m. and 3:30 a.m. and to Rodange at 1:18 a.m. and 3:18 a.m. The next budget option is Night Rider. Now, let’s be clear, we’re not talking about David Hasselhoff and his talking car! Night Rider is a minibus that runs a bit like a taxi service on Friday and Saturday nights from 6 p.m. to 5 a.m. The cost of a journey is based on the distance travelled and works out cheapest if you are a group travelling to and from Winter 2018
the same place. For example, a trip for three people from Luxembourg City to Mersch costs €24. For such a reasonable price, you can imagine demand is high, so users are urged to book well in advance. Taxis offer a flexible, if more costly, option for getting home on the hoof but don’t let that put you off, especially if you have car insurance with AXA Luxembourg. Under its Joker Taxi service, motor insurance customers are entitled to three free taxi rides a year within a 70-kilometre radius of their home. The service is available 24/7 and though it started in 2009 for under 25s, since 2016, it’s offered to all motor policy holders. The emergence of new operators such as Webtaxi also means passengers equipped with a smartphone can book a cab wherever they are and know exactly how much it will cost. Another handy service is Wingman, which from Wednesday to Saturday sends two drivers to your location: one to drive you home in your vehicle and another to collect your driver when they have finished. Users pay from €18.50 for up to four kilometres.
NIGHT RIDER Affordable minibus travel all around Luxembourg, particularly handy for groups who can share the cost. Remember to book well in advance. icon_website www.nightrider.lu AXA JOKER TAXI Insure your car with AXA Luxembourg and you can benefit from a free taxi ride home through AXA Assistance up to 70 kilometres, three times a year. You can access it via the MyAXA app. The service is used around 1,680 times each year. icon_website www.axa.lu
RESTAURANT L’ATELIER DU WINDSOR & SERVICE CATERING WINDSOR 5, rue des Mérovingiens Tél: +352 26 39 93 www.atelierwindsor.lu
Text by SARAH PITT
Photography by MIKE ZENARI
s e l p p i t r e t Win t s i w t l a c o l with a red wine. Always using ter drink s than mulled ourg’s finest drink s win to re mo ch mu so xemb There is n ingredient, some of Lu classics at least one home -grow ative flair or spice up variations on seasonal cre te tra ns mo . de lates makers most conventional of pa that will tempt even the
WAARMEN APEL Once cooler temperatures hit, Bistro Beim Renert brings out its famous Waarmen Apel (warm apple). This comforting fruity beverage is made with apples, cinnamon, herbs, fresh apple juice from Eppelpress in Eppeldorf (“apple’s village”) and the all-important Luxembourg liquor Äppeldrëpp (apple schnapps), which bar owner Didier Quaring tells us is made from a traditional recipe in a distillery in Préizerdaul. The inspiration for the beverage came from a regular, who recounted a tale of a drink that she’d tried abroad that brought up memories from childhood of the distinct aroma of “apples coming out of the oven”. Didier and the Renert team, keen to offer customers a local, homemade alternative to mulled wine, set to work creating a winter drink that has the unique
icon_where The Black Stuff , 15 Val de Hamm, Luxembourg-Pulvermühle icon_website www.blackstuff.lu
scent and taste of oven-baked apples, with the added fun of a little apple liquor to keep the winter chill at bay. Waarmen Apel not only gives a taste of Christmas but also supports a local non-profit organisation. “To accompany the drink we serve apple chips made by Ligue HMC, an association for people with intellectual disabilities that supports and promotes their social, cultural and professional inclusion in Luxembourg,” Didier says. Situated on the place Guillaume, Beim Renert (meaning “at the fox’s”) is a truly local establishment that attracts a diverse crowd. The name of the café is a reference to the fox statue across the square near the city hall, which is a tribute to Luxembourg author Michel Rodange’s fable.
I R I S H C O F F E E S & H OT C H O C O L AT E S The Black Stuff is the city’s best-known and longest standing authentic Irish pub, serving an international community since 1992. Caolan O’Neil and Rosie Plahe offer a tasty selection of hot beverages all year round, but naturally they are especially popular during the colder months. The signature Irish coffee--comprising hot coffee, Irish whisky, sugar to taste, stirred, and topped with a generous layer of cream--is consistently popular, but the Baileys Irish Cream coffee is also a particular hit during winter. For those who steer clear of coffee and prefer their hot drinks a little sweeter, hot chocolates can be enjoyed with or without the addition of either Amaretto, Jack Daniel’s or Baileys at the pub. Local milk and cream are used in these hearty drinks, both of which are made by Luxlait, a Luxembourg dairy producer. Not only do they
icon_where Bistro Beim Renert, Place Guillaume, Luxembourg-Centre icon_website www.beimrenert.lu
like to buy local and support producers in the region where possible, but Caolan adds: “It’s important that the milk and cream are of a high quality, as it can really make or break these drinks. Luxlait is the real deal; they make proper dairy products that are nice and rich.” The Black Stuff has even taken a cheeky step further. “We also do a shot version of Irish coffee that uses Luxembourg’s first whisky of the Distillerie Diedenacker. Combined with Kahlúa and again finished off with a cream top, this shot provides a slightly more intense coffee flavoured kick,” adds Rosie. Tucked away in Pulvermühle, The Black Stuff is a traditional pub complete with a log fire; an ideal cosy setting for escaping the frost and sipping away on something hot, strong and creamy on a long winter’s evening.
OLD MIST L’Observatoire bar on the top floor of the Sofitel Le Grand Ducal is not just a classy joint with modern décor and gentle lighting, but also a place which boasts unrivalled panoramic views over the city. Old Mist is a drink to be relished in winter that uses Luxembourg’s Mansfeld gin as a key ingredient, as well as Alexandro sherry, a lightly fortified white wine from Spain. “The idea stemmed from the first ingredient which was the clementine, a characteristic fruit associated with Christmas,” explains cocktail maker Eric Guazzetti. “A dry, straight gin like Mansfeld’s is good for cocktails: it blends well with strong flavours and draws out the citrus fruits and sweetness of the sherry.” The Distillery Mansfeld is named after Pierre-Ernest de Mansfeld (15171604) who among other things was governor of Luxembourg and a renowned hedonist, who led an eventful life dedicated to conquest, diplomacy and art in all its forms. The ingredients are straightforward but it is a little fiddly to make at home, as it needs to be flambéed, a technique better executed by an experienced bartender. Drawing a flame to the mixture not only looks impressive but concentrates the flavours as well as caramelising the sugars. When you pour the hot syrupy liquid slowly over the ice to serve, it creates a swirly mist, which is where its name derives from. Extra attention is given to the process and the presentation, and this auburn-coloured cocktail is served in a tumbler glass nestled into a piece of jagged wood.
3 cl Mansfeld Gin 4.5 cl Alexandro Sherry 2 drops of homemade clementine bitter 1 teaspoon of brown sugar Lemon zest twist to garnish Stir the ingredients in a small pot that can be heated. Heat using a laser technique (or flambé the mixture if doing it at home) for 30 seconds. Pour over ice. Squeeze the lemon zest oils over the drink before dropping it in. Serve. icon_where L’Observatoire, Sofitel Grand Ducal, 40 boulevard d’Avranches, Luxembourg-Gare icon_website www.sofitel.com
SEX ON REMICH Paname is a cool and classy bar renowned for being ahead of the game when it comes to cocktails. Not shy of sharing their fun and passion for drinks, João Russo, who has been making cocktails around Europe for over six years, is always coming up with new inventions and bouncing ideas around with manager Gabriel Boisante. The team at Paname, who like to stand out from the crowd, 4 cl of Mansfeld vodka remain defiant in 1 cl Noilly Prat (French the face of winter vermouth liquor) and their new menu 2 cl peach liquor 2 cl lemon juice features a drink that 1 cl homemade orange is instead a pleasant syrup reminder of 1 dash of peach bitters summer. Topped with Gales Jubilée “Of course we Riesling brut crémant make the classics, Stir it up, pour it out and but we also try to garnish with orange peel. think outside of the box and come up icon_where Paname, 50 rue Saintewith new twists for Zithe, Luxembourg-Gare old recipes. New on icon_website www.paname.lu the menu is Sex on
Remich, its tell-tale name pointing to a twist of the classic Sex on the Beach,” Gabriel explains. The cocktail uses not only Gales Jubilée Riesling brut crémant from Ellange, but also Mansfeld vodka. “Mansfeld vodka is straight, strong and balances well with the sweetness of the orange and peach fruity elements,” says Gabriel. “The bubbly crémant topping is a necessary last step and serves to give it a festive feel, fitting with the season.” Gales is a winery that celebrated its 100th anniversary last year and this particular crémant is made solely using Riesling grapes, giving it a distinctive flavour. “We have a strong attachment to Luxembourg and we use products from here as much as possible, not only because of our love of the country but because they are of good quality,” Gabriel says. Paname has also added Ramborn, Luxembourg’s first craft cider, to both hot and cold drinks this year. Winter 2018
4 cl apple schnapps from Luxembourg 6 cl Hunnegdrëpp (Luxembourg honey liquor) 2 cl salted caramel coulis 3 cl pineapple juice 4 dashes coffee bitters
Stir it all up and serve in a jar glass. Garnish with shortcrust pastry and a slice of Granny Smith apple.
icon_where Ënnert de Steiler, Ënnert de Steiler (meaning “under 2 rue de la Loge, the arches”) is Luxembourg City’s Luxembourg-Centre oldest pub, dating back to 1842. icon_facebook Ennert de Steiler A unique historical location on the edge of the capital’s old town, Steiler is now a bar, restaurant and club spread over three floors. Couple Joe Koener and Lorraine Hegarty run the show, and while it’s a decidedly fun place to party, the bar is a prime destination to relax and indulge in some original concoctions, courtesy of cocktail maker Axel Joyau. Good Memories is a rather special creation that can only be described as a dessert cocktail. Axel explains: “My starting point was two characteristic winter ingre dients, apple and caramel. What immediately came to mind was Tarte Tatin. The delicious smell of the baking apple tart is both familiar and warming, and I think for many people it recalls their youth. I thought: why not try and capture that experience in a drink?” A barman who is also passionate about cooking, in particular pastries, Axel has translated this dessert into a cocktail, combining tradition and innovation. He uses artisanal produce including local apple schnapps and also Hunnegdrëpp, a popular Luxembourg honey schnapps that can be found at this time of year, often served warm. “We always think to use local artisanal products in our inventions for the quality but also to support local businesses.” Have you ever thought about drinking a dessert rather than eating one? Now is the time to experiment! Winter 2018
With 10 years of bar experience behind him, Thomas Begbie is the man in charge of cocktails at Octans, a stylish and spirited bar in the heart of the capital known for its customised cocktails, sleek ambiance and cosmopolitan vibe. This winter, Tom has chosen to invent a variant of the customary and ever popular mulled red wine. But you can be sure you won’t find Tom’s Amber Rouge at any Christmas market. It is, however, full of powerful flavours typically associated with winter such as Grand Marnier and maple syrup. But the twist is that it is served cold. Pinot noir, a variety of grapes grown in the Moselle wine region, is the basis of Tom’s creation. “I chose the Domaine Kox Pinot Noir because it is very dry and fruity and ideal for this cocktail, and it can be served cold. It is a light red wine with aromas of chocolate, caramel and tonka beans and not too overpowering, allowing the aromas of the other ingredients to stand out.” The other main ingredient is bourbon, which is a more mellow drink often preferred by those who don’t have a palate for whisky. That being said, bourbon can easily be replaced by a Scotch blend for those who are partial to whisky’s more prominent taste. Tom deliberately compiled Amber Rouge using ingre dients that are simple to find so that it can be replicated without too much fuss and you can enjoy it in the comfort of your home. This cocktail is most suitable to have as an after-dinner 4.5 cl Domaine Kox drink, full of wintery flavours and Pinot Noir designed to keep you warm. 3 cl bourbon 1.5 cl Grand Marnier 1 cl maple syrup 3 dashes of aromatic bitters (such as Angostura) Pour ingredients into a mixing glass and stir with either dry or cubed ice. The cocktail should be stirred and strained into a chilled vintage or simple wine glass, or digestif glass. Garnish with an orange zest twist: squeeze the oils over the glass before adding it to the drink. icon_where Octans, 15 rue du Curé, Luxembourg-Centre icon_facebook Octans – a spirited bar
À ROSPORT D IS COVER O U R WI N E SH O P - M O R E TH A N 1500 D IFFE R E N T W I N E S A N D S P IR IT S
SE R V I C E & C O N S U LTIN G B Y OU R S OM M E LI E R S
Tu. - Fri. 9 h - 12 h & 13 h - 18 h I Sat. 9.30 h - 17 h en continuous I 2, rue Neuve I L-6581 Rosport I Tel. (+352) 73 03 73 I firstname.lastname@example.org www.wengler.lu I www.wenglerwineclub.lu
MULLED CIDER Anne Faber, self-confessed food addict, is the chef behind the popular Anne’s Kitchen media brand. She recently returned to Luxembourg after a 12-year stint in Britain, and both nations continue to inspire her recipes--including her latest festive variant of mulled wine: mulled cider. Anne has chosen Ramborn’s CM Blend craft cider, which is made in Luxembourg from a variety of home-grown apples but is produced in a traditional English way. Reminiscent of the choice ciders Anne enjoyed when living in London, this marriage of Luxembourg-British influences fits well with her approach to livening up traditional favourites. “Mulled cider is just as warming as the classic mulled wine, but way more surprising in taste,” Anne reveals. “The cider’s sweet apple-flavours are perfectly paired with festive spices such as cinnamon, star anise and cloves. I add a few black peppercorns to the mix to spice things up.” Ramborn, Luxembourg’s first cider company, has revived orchards and some of the older varieties of apples are unique to the region and offer a special taste. If you’re feeling especially festive, Anne says, “You can add a cheeky dash of whisky or brandy to the finished mulled cider, to give it an extra kick.” Her inside tip is to stew some apples or pears in any leftover mulled cider. “Once soft, remove the fruit from the cider and boil the liquid down until you get a syrup. Serve the poached fruit with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and cider syrup.”
For 3-4 portions: 500 ml Ramborn CM Blend cider 4 tbsp brown sugar (cassonade) 1 cinnamon stick 2 cloves 1 star anise 4 black peppercorns Pour half the cider into a saucepan, add the sugar, cinnamon stick, cloves, star anise and peppercorns. Put on a medium heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved. As soon as the cider starts simmering, turn off the heat and take off the hob. Leave to infuse for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, add the remaining cider and put back on a medium heat, heating up the cider to a light simmer. Serve immediately. icon_website www.anneskitchen.co.uk
MULLED WHITE WINE
For 3-4 portions: 1 bottle Happy Duchy Elbling (only sold at Vins Fins or Naturata) 3 teaspoons local honey Half an orange, diced Cardamom and cinnamon --a big pinch of each Marinate the ingredients and heat for at least 30 minutes, but take care not to bring to the boil. Serve hot with a slice of orange in a (preferably heated) ceramic mug. icon_where Vins Fins, 18 rue Münster, Luxembourg-Grund icon_website www.vinsfins.lu
Vins Fins is a delightful wine bar and shop in the picturesque Grund, whose owners Rostislava Petkova and François Dickes, launched the neighbourhood’s own seasonal Grund Gourmet Market last year. At this year’s market, open until 23 December, the Vins Fins stand will be selling mulled white wine, made from local ingredients. Passionate about organic and biodynamic wines, Rostislava and François decided to offer an alternative to the standard red wine version by instead using a white wine as the base. “Mulled wine is a typical northern European drink, and although it is popular, our white version appeals to those who want to try something new, or to those who aren’t keen on red wine in the first place. Following the success of our invention last year, we decided to offer it again, served in heated ceramic mugs,” François explains. “Not only is it distinct in colour, but also in sweetness: we prefer not to over-sugar it and actually use a honey made in Luxembourg instead of sugar.” Bound to keep you toasty on a cold evening, this mulled white wine follows in the vein of the Vins Fins philosophy: to be as local and organic as possible, not only for the quality, but also to lessen their carbon footprint. “We chose the Happy Duchy Elbling, a simple wine that mixes excellently with spices, and is quite acidic, which is complemented well by the honey. It cheers up the souls of our customers!” Happy Duchy is a small independent producer that uses organic grapes to make wine, crémant and juice.
t u o t h g i n Your essentials
nightrider.lu Hotline 900 71 010 (3 cts/min.)
FOOD & DRINK
Text by DUNCAN ROBERTS
Razzledazzle A dazzlingly stylish venue, Charlotte has opened in the former White House premises.
Roeser-based Italian restaurant Fani has landed its first Michelin star, two years after opening.
topinambour cappuccino with a smoked bacon crumble. For more hungry guests, Schneidewind has created a crispy warm goat’s cheese quiche with melon and tuna salad or a Limousin beef tartare. And there are bigger dishes of soup to share which can be topped with supplements chosen from beef, chicken, Black Tiger prawns or scallops. Desserts include a macha tea cake with lychees and an exotic fruit ratatouille with a kiwi coulis and fromage blanc sorbet. Upstairs at Charlotte can also be hired to host private events for up to 100 people.
Chef Roberto Fani’s restaurant was named as the latest addition to Luxembourg’s panoply one-star restaurants at the presentation of the LuxembourgBelgium Michelin Guide in Ghent, Belgium, in November. The chef was said to be “very happy” and congratulated his team on hearing the news. Fani restaurant opened in Roeser two years ago. The chef had previously worked at the opening of the Divino restaurant and last year he was awarded
CHARLOTTE icon_where 17b rue des Bains, Luxembourg-Centre icon_website www.charlotteluxembourg.com
the title “Mediterranean restaurant of the year” by Gault & Millau. The award brings the tally of Michelinstarred restaurants in Luxembourg to 12, ensuring the grand duchy has the highest concentration of starred restaurants per capita in the world. Mosconi is the only restaurant to have two Michelin stars; the other one-star restaurants are La Distillerie, Favaro, Léa Linster, La Gaichel, Patin d’Or, Clairefontaine, La Cristallerie, Ma Langue Sourit, Toit pour toi and Guillou Campagne. icon_where 51 Grand-Rue, Roeser icon_website www.ristorantefani.lu
Flavio da Costa Anna Katina
anja de Jager’s latest nightlife venture sees her teaming up with Patrick Giry to create a stylish bar and eatery in the heart of the city. De Jager, a former RTL journalist, opened Dipso (The Wine Republic) in the old town a couple of years ago and has enjoyed great success with the wine bar. Charlotte seems to follow a similar principle to Dipso, as a gastro-bar where guests can enjoy a drink with friends in the evening, and also grab a bite to eat without having to move location to find a restaurant. Naturally, the drinks menu features a selection of fine wines under the stewardship of Edouard Rousseau (winner of the Best Sommelier in Luxembourg in 2015). But Charlotte also prides itself on making and creating sumptuous cocktails. Having already worked with Jan Schneidewind for some of Dipso’s monthly “Cuisine des amis” evenings, the renowned chef was invited to create a special menu for Charlotte. This includes a range of starter plates like a Thai beef salad or a homemade savoury macaroons and soups such as a
1000 GIFT 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
Text by LAURENCE SCHAACK
Photography by LALA LA PHOTO
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IN MY SUITCASE
HARBANI SINGH Harbani Singh grew up in Delhi and lived there until she studied in Cardiff in the UK, where she did a year of her master’s degree. She moved to Luxembourg with her husband when he landed a job here at Ferrero, with whom he had worked in India. He now works at Amazon. “We have been in Luxembourg for five and a half years now. And we like Luxembourg. I mean, in the beginning, I missed my friends and family a lot. I didn’t know the language, so I struggled a lot in the beginning and the first year. But now, we’re much more settled and we have a daughter.” Life is busy but it’s good, she says. And they have made friends with a lot of Luxembourgers. “We enjoy the place much more, our friends and family come to visit us, so we’re happy to be here. It took a long time for the place to grow on us, but now, it feels like home.”
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IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Text by SARITA RAO
Photography by LALA LA PHOTO
Once upon a time...
languages . en to stories in several elling , list n ca u yo ere wh ce ren’s storyt Imagine a pla sperich champions child Il Était Une Fois.. . in Ga in a variety of mother tongues . singing and socialising
stablished in 2004, Il Était Une Fois... (Once Upon a Time...) was created to support the growing number of foreign children living in Luxembourg. It provides storytelling and activities for children less than seven years old in English, Chinese, Spanish, Italian, French, Slovakian, German, Czech and Luxembourgish. It also houses a library that stocks a variety of children’s books in 21 languages. “We are passionate about literature, culture and education,” says Valérie Georges-van der Schoor, one of the four partners at the non-profit organisation. The team also provides multi-language activities to schools, crèches, foyers and maisons relais in Luxembourg designed to help children practise their mother tongue outside the family circle. “Our mission is to foster social identity and integration. We believe that all the different languages and cultures represented in Luxembourg have a place and we want to help integrate them in a positive manner,” she explains. The association’s founding principle is based on established linguistic research, namely that to learn to speak a foreign language well, a solid base in your mother tongue is essential. In 2010 Il Était Une Fois... opened a “story corner” in Gasperich on premises rented from Clae, another NGO, and paid for by the City of Luxembourg. The amenity provides a library, but also a room dedicated to fun activities, story times and activities.
RHYME AND RHYTHM Activities centred around books are an important part of the library. On Tuesdays, Gemma Williams conducts a song and story time for preschoolers. She uses aids such as puppets to bring to life nursery rhymes, and simple actions, colours, counting or even musical instruments to involve youngsters and help them socialise. The toddlers are enrapt. “I’ve been running the English sing-along since January 2017, and try to follow a pattern. We are currently focusing on autumn themes such as apples, but in winter we’ll cover stories about the dark. Children really notice the change in daylight hours,” says Williams. A qualified early years teacher, Williams believes nursery rhymes are really important: “They help
A. VALÉRIE GEORGESVAN DER SCHOOR Integrating languages in a positive manner B. GEMMA WILLIAMS Kids learn as part of play, or in stories and songs, rather than through dry grammar or phonic rules
young children to hear the pattern and rhythm of their native language. Anticipating what words will come next is a first step toward learning to read,” she says. Rhyme and rhythm also allow children to hear the sounds and syllables in a language, in addition to helping with early maths and memorisation. The English weekly sing-along is attended by a mix of native and bilingual parents, or those who want to expose their children to the English language. It attracts mothers, fathers, nannies and babysitters. “All languages, not just English, have irregularities. As a native speaker, you learn these at a young age without really noticing, as part of your play, or in stories and songs, rather than through dry grammar or phonic rules,” Williams says. Eighteen volunteers work for the association, which raises money through membership fees, donations and fees for activities. But the day-to-day running is done by the Czech Klaudia Sauerova, Italian Daniela Trucco, Spaniard Maria de Guadalupe Royan, and Dutch/French Valérie Georges-van der Schoor. “We want children to love books, especially if they speak a minority language. Young readers can be active and noisy here, enrich their imaginations and speak out,” says Sauerova. They point out that for the most part libraries in Luxembourg offer books for children only in the official languages of the country. Many other
languages are barely represented. Although they have children’s section, local libraries often lack staff dedicated to storytelling and activities, and children’s corners are often located close to adult sections. Children are obliged to respect the rules of silence, which inhibits spontaneity and interest in books.
LIVEN UP LIBRARIES “Our challenge is to change the very concept of the library from somewhere quiet and sombre to somewhere that is friendly, open and lively,” says Trucco. In addition to regular story times and themed seasonal activities, the quartet host six local crèches, although they admit demand for English sessions is limited. During the sessions, children are encouraged to develop not only language and creativity skills, but also motor and social skills. “We see children becoming self-confident, independent, and able to listen, concentrate, and most importantly, express themselves emotionally,” says Georges-van der Schoor. Plans are in place to offer books and workshops in Croatian, and to work in collaboration with Luxmama Club & ParentPrep. Il Était Une Fois... will also be running free Christmas story time sessions in a chalet at the place de la Constitution on 2 December, reading stories in English, Italian/ Spanish and German/French.
MIND YOUR LANGUAGE IN ENGLISH STORY AND SONG TIME WITH GEMMA icon_when Every Tuesday, 09:30-10:30 icon_where 6 rue Tony Bourg, Luxembourg-Gasperich
Text by ALIX RASSEL
Photography by MIKE ZENARI
Giving kids a voice
icola Dereham relocated to L uxembourg with her partner in October 2016, having already established her own successful youth theatre group back in 2012. In the UK, she had graduated in performing arts before completing her master’s in theatre for young audiences from the prestigious Rose Bruford College in Kent. “It was during my master’s that I fell in love with teaching younger children, particularly toddlers and preschoolers,” explains Nicola. “At the time, I was working with organisations such as the Half Moon Young People’s Theatre in London, which really inspired me. Children have such great imaginations and drama gives them a way of expressing those ideas.” Nicola started her youth group in April 2017 and is based at the Mamerhaff in Mamer. “I have approximately 14 children in my Thursday classes with seven different nationalities present,” she says. “At the moment we are working on a Winter 2018
Christmas production entitled Christmas in imagination land, which the children have created themselves, coming up with their own unique ideas for characters, such as the cat shaped as a lollipop and the ghost who’s afraid of the dark.” In addition, Nicola runs a Friday morning singing and storytelling group for the under-fives. “My youngest student is nine months and the oldest is three years,” says Nicola. “Parents stay with the children for the session and take part in activities such as singing nursery rhymes, playing with puppets and giant bubbles. They just love it.” Drama has many benefits for children, but for those who are particularly shy or have learning difficulties, it has been shown to improve motor neuron skills, confidence and team building. “All the children learn that there is no such thing as a bad idea,” explains Nicola. “Children have a voice and they need to explore and be heard.” She hopes to bring one of her productions from Roots and Wings UK to Luxembourg in 2018. icon_facebook NDerehamTYAMD icon_website www.rootsandwingstheatre.co.uk
YOUTH SHOWCASE The inaugural Festival of English-language Schools Theatre will showcase talent from ten drama groups from local schools. Some have devised their own scripts, others have taken on existing short plays. The event is being overseen by drama teacher and director of BGT Tony Kingston as well as ALEA, the network of English teachers in Luxembourg. More details in the February 2018 edition of Delano. icon_when 23-25 February 2018 icon_where Mierscher Kulturhaus, Mersch icon_website www.kulturhaus.lu
Steve Eastwood (archives)
Nicola Dereham recently brought her UK-based theatre group to Mamer, where she gives drama, singing and storytelling lessons.
NWTC YOUTH GROUP Julie Fraser of the New World Theatre Club’s youth section says that theatre allows young people to find their own voice and expression. “Through working together, participants learn respect for themselves, for others and the processes engaged in.” The New World Youth Theatre group was established in 2007 after Saturday school was discontinued. The group currently has 25 members ranging from 10 to 18 years old and representing some 12 nationalities. Their last production, The Hobbit, marked the group’s 10-year anniversary. In the spring of 2018, work will begin on the production of Bertie’s War.
L’Enfant Roi Dyapason
First nursery to settle in the heart of the La Cloche d’Or district
THE BACK PAGE
Cash is king
questions about vice columnist answers This month , Delano’s ad New Year’s Eve and new year’s resolutions . bus routes , going out on
Dear Auntie Eleanor, I was recently at the bank and an elderly Luxembourg lady asked, very loudly, to withdraw a significant amount of cash. Everyone heard it! I was really worried that she would be mugged afterwards. Is it normal for Luxembourgers to carry wads of cash around with them? They all have credit and debit cards, don’t they, so why not just use those? --Annie from Niederanven Gentle reader, I am touched that you were worried about the lady at the bank. Maybe it is because she doesn’t go to the bank very often, and is just not used to using her debit card. In many countries, including Luxembourg, carrying cash is rather culturally entrenched. Indeed, Luxembourg residents withdraw the most cash in one go in Europe, according to a recent European Central Bank survey. I am not sure why this is the case; you are right, cards are accepted almost everywhere. It could be from a deep-seated habit of saving; if you spend cash rather than using a card, it’s easier to keep track of how much you spend. Dear Auntie Eleanor, I hear that Luxembourg’s new tram will replace buses in the capital. So, what will happen to all of the buses it replaces? --Kerry from Hamm Gentle reader, you are partly correct. When the entire tram Winter 2018
network opens in 2021, around 1,750 regional, or RGTR, bus routes will no longer pass through the city. Instead, the buses will stop at tram hubs where commuters can continue their journeys by tram. According to my contact at the infrastructure ministry, the buses will still be needed. The network will be reorganised so that they better support the regional transport network outside of the city, we’re told. I for one cannot wait to take the tram, much smoother than the bus. I still remember taking it
across town many years ago. Why they had to get rid of it in the first place, I will never understand! Dear Auntie Eleanor, I’d like to invite my friends to Luxembourg to ring in the new year. Are there any traditional events you’d recommend? --Douglas from Helmsange Gentle reader, I am flattered you would entertain the notion I could be a party animal. I am far too old for those shenanigans.
Personally, I like the Luxembourg tradition of staying in to watch Dinner for One, an old British sketch show that has something of a cult following here and in Germany. But, if you want glamour, I’d suggest the gala party boat on the Moselle from Navitours. In the capital, you may still be able to book tickets to see Evita at the Grand Théâtre. Otherwise, my grandchildren tell me the town centre is fairly quiet on 31 December and many bars are closed. You may be best off celebrating Saint Sylvester with a house party and a few glasses of sherry. Gudde Rutsch! Dear Auntie Eleanor, I am already thinking about my new year’s resolutions. I think I should cut back on drinking alcohol. Do you have any suggestions on how to achieve this without becoming a hermit? --Steve from Steinfort Gentle reader, that is very sensible of you. I have recently heard on the wireless that Luxembourg residents are champions in having a tipple. Socialising in Luxembourg almost inevitably includes some sort of alcoholic beverage, and it is true that it can be hard to resist. You can have a dry January, and offer to be the designated driver for any occasions. You’ll certainly make a lot of friends with such an offer! One lovely side effect of this will be that you will almost certainly lose a few pounds as well; which probably gets you back into the clothes that you bought a few months before the Christmas period started.
SEND IN 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.
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