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Yesterday marked the launch of the Irbich viaduct, a flagship sustainable construction project near Clervaux.

On Thursday 27 July 2017, François Bausch and Camille Gira attended the launch of the construction of the Irbich Viaduct, which forms part of the overall project of the new Clervaux cross-road linking the N7 and the N18.

The Irbich viaduct is a mixed structure with a total length of 265m. At the local and national level, the cross-section provides a direct connection of the Lentzweiler/ Eselborn industrial zone to the primary road network and contributes to relieving the Clervaux centre of heavy goods traffic that can bypass the northern conurbation.

Firstly, due to the presence of biotopes in the valley bottom, the construction of the site tracks was defined in close consultation with the Administration of Nature and Forests using natural materials.

In order to accurately analyse the sustainability of a bridge, it has been based on the principles of the Valideo certification framework. The application of this referential allows throughout a construction project to optimise the choice of options during the studies and during the execution of the works. The aim of this approach is to reduce the consumption of natural resources and primary energy, greenhouse gases and waste, while enhancing the most ecological and economic construction processes and not neglecting major construction issues posed to the environment.

The technical choices are thus analysed and formalised in a reference document that specifies the targeted performance in terms of sustainable construction and is declared by a sustainable and certified quality label.

The cost of the works amounts to €14 million over the two and a half year development of the project.

Photo by MDDI. L-R: Marc Ries; Roland Fox; François Bausch, Minister of Sustainable Development and Infrastructure; Camille Gira, Secretary of State for Sustainable Development and Infrastructure; Émile Eicher; Marco Schank

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After a period of work over the past two and a half years, the N° 9 Hellange interchange on the A13 will be open for service from the afternoon of Friday 28 July 2017.

The project to remove the Hellange by-pass began in October 2014. In December 2016, the current section of the A13 motorway was opened at 2x2 lanes.

Until now, the interchange itself has remained closed so that the necessary work relating to the new configuration can be carried out. The provisional roundabout on the N13 has also been redesigned in a definitive way and has already been opened for traffic today.

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From the beginning of next year, certain changes will take effect regarding the taxation of non-residents and individualisation in Luxembourg.

At a press conference held at the Ministry of Finance, Pierre Gramegna and Jean-Claude Bernardini from the OGBL trade union presented two adjustments to the tax reform package due to take effect on 1 January 2018, relating to the taxation of non-residents, as well as individualisation.

Regarding the taxation of non-residents, the tax reform that came into force on 1 January 2017 provides for the taxation of resident and non-resident taxpayers from the 2018 taxation year. At present, section 157 of the amended Income Tax Act of 4 December 1967 makes the assimilation of non-resident taxpayers subject to the condition that the non-resident taxpayer must be taxable for at least 90% of its total income, both domestic and foreign, in the Grand Duchy.

However, this has contributed to long-term disparities in treatment between resident and non-resident tax payers, as non-resident taxpayers who were married were in practice placed in Class 2, provided that more than 50% of the couple's professional income was taxable in Luxembourg. The granting of class 2 implied a collective taxation of both spouses in which foreign income was ignored, unlike the case of resident taxpayers.

Under the tax reform, non-resident taxpayers who are married will, by 2018, be ranked by default in class 1. Those who fulfil the conditions of assimilation provided for in Article 157 may opt, as residents for collective taxation (class 2), for pure individual taxation (class 1), or for individual taxation with reallocation (class 1).

This principle implies that from 2018 certain non-resident married taxpayers who do not meet the 90% criterion will be in class 1, whereas before the reform they could classify in class 2 if 50% of their occupational income was taxable in Luxembourg.

The second subject discussed at this meeting concerns the irrevocable and preliminary character of the demand for the individual taxation mode (individual taxation pure or individual taxation with reallocation) from 2018.

The current legislation states that taxpayers who are married must choose the taxation method, and therefore the applicable tax class, before the beginning of the taxation year. It was noted that this obligation to make an ex ante choice made it difficult for the taxpayer to make a decision, given that his family situation and his precise income must be taken into account.

Accordingly, the Minister of Finance proposed and the Governing Council agreed to waive the preliminary and irrevocable character of the choice of individual taxation for married taxpayers, both residents and non-residents, thereby allowing them greater flexibility. In practice, this means that the taxpayer can communicate his choice to the administration either before 31 December 2017, throughout the year 2018, or during the first three months of 2019. This measure benefits both residents and non-residents.

Photo by MFIN. L-R:  Jean-Claude Bernardini, member of the Executive Committee of the OGBL; Pierre Gramegna, Minister of Finance

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A study by STATEC has revealed that of the 15 Luxembourg communes with the highest socio-economic index score, six are in the canton of Luxembourg, four in the canton of Grevenmacher, three in the canton of Capellen and two in the canton of Esch- sur-Alzette.

STATEC has compiled a composite index of socio-economic variables to measure the evolution of social inequalities at the municipal level. The index takes five variables into account: the number of persons benefiting from the guaranteed minimum wage; the unemployment rate; the median wage; the share of residents who are employed and who work in occupations classified in the International Standard Classification of Low-Level Occupations; and the number of single-parent households.

The results of the index reveal the Luxembourg canton to have the most number of communes with the highest socio-economic score. The agglomeration of the City of Luxembourg, as a national economic engine, therefore seems to play a fundamental role in the spatial structuring of socio-economic inequalities.

The index shows that the proportion of people benefiting from the guaranteed minimum wage varies between 0.5% in the commune of Heffingen and 8.5% in Wiltz, with a national average of 3.6%. People who earn minimum wage are more present in the northern part of Luxembourg than in the centre and the south. Several municipalities are nonetheless an exception to this observation, with relatively high shares, namely the City of Luxembourg and the communes of the former mining basin in the southwest of the country.

Another variable measuring territorial disparities is unemployment. Levels vary between 2.6% in the commune of Bech and 13.2% in Esch-sur-Alzette (2015). The index shows that the unemployed are concentrated mainly in the major cities of the country. The municipalities which include the biggest cities of the country (Luxembourg, Esch-sur-Alzette, Differdange, Dudelange, Pétange, Rumelange, Bettembourg, Ettelbruck, Diekirch, Wiltz, Echternach) all stand (except Bettembourg) With unemployment rates above 6.9%

In Luxembourg, there are large regional differences in terms of the median wage and overall, median wages in the north and centre of the Grand Duchy are lower than in the south. The northern tip of Luxembourg, part of the Nordstad, the lower part of the Ernz Blanc valley, as well as the communes of Wiltz, Vianden, Beaufort and Echternach, show the median wages among the lowest. The municipalities of the former mining basin to the south and southwest of the country, as well as certain communes along the German border, also have low median wages.

The share of people working in low-level occupations ranges from 6.4% in the commune of Weiler-la-Tour to 31.6% in Vianden. A significant proportion of the population residing in the north and centre of the country works in this type of occupation.

The share of single-parent households varies between 4.1% in the commune of Saeul and 10.5% in the commune of Heffingen. The national average is 8.0% (2011). Many single-parent households are concentrated in the municipalities bordering the northern and central regions, while the southern region has lower percentages, except for the former mining basin, Mondercange and Schuttrange. In the south-central part of the country, with a central point in the municipality of Luxembourg, the rate of single-parent households is low (between 6.4% and 7.5%).

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On Friday 28 July 2017, Luxembourg Finance Minister Pierre Gramegna will meet wih his Italian counterpart Pier Carlo Padoan in Rome to discuss current affairs and bilateral relations.

Tomorrow's meeting between the finance ministers of Luxembourg and Italy will deal primarily with current EU affairs, as well as Brexit and Luxembourg-Italy bilateral relations.

At this bilateral meeting, the two ministers will discuss in particular the economic and financial situation of the European Union, the consequences of the Brexit and the deepening of economic and monetary union.

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To raise public awareness of the risk of hepatitis and the importance of taking the prescribed treatments for infection, targeted activities will be organised in Luxembourg on the occasion of World Hepatitis Day on 28 July.

The Ministry of Health, in collaboration with the Luxembourg Institute of Health, the HIV Red Cross of the Luxembourg Red Cross and the CHL, invites the public to its information booth “Eliminate hepatitis!” in front of the station on Friday 28 July 2017 from 13:00 to 16:00. Those interested can learn about hepatitis, but also get screened to know their personal status.

Condoms and flyers will also be distributed to highlight the importance of prevention and early detection.

In addition, experts in the field will be available to answer any questions related to hepatitis. The DIMPS (Mobile Intervention Device for the Promotion of Sexual Health) will also be on site and will offer rapid, free and anonymous screening tests.

Some other activities will be offered, such as graffiti workshops, smoothie tasters for vitamins A, B and C, and a quiz on hepatitis.

econometric study uni lu ministry economy 600 400

The monitoring centre for competitiveness, the Observatoire de Compétitivité, of the Luxembourg Ministry of the Economy has published a comparative study on the effect of sectoral interactions on wages.

The econometric study entitled "Analysis of the impact of sectoral interactions on wage developments: comparison of four countries", carried out by the University of Luxembourg, aims to analyse the sectoral wage interactions in the three neighbouring countries (Germany, Belgium, France) and Luxembourg, and in particular the interactions between wage dynamics in the private and public sectors.

The results of this study show that for Germany, Belgium and Luxembourg, there is no predominant sector leading to wages in other sectors. There is no "wage leadership", but rather a reciprocal sectoral interaction, very strong and fast enough, both for short-term and long-term effects. Only France seems to be an exception. According to the econometric estimates, private-public sectoral interactions are weak or non-existent.

In the case of Luxembourg, the analysis was extended further by taking into account the wages of the broader financial sector, which accounted for about 30% of total employment and 48% of added value in Luxembourg in 2015. Main findings of the three-sector model corroborate the analyses obtained with the two-sector analyses, private-public. Econometric estimates show that there is no dominant sector in Luxembourg, but rather dynamic sectoral interactions of wage developments.

This result could open a new perspective for economic policy. In order to improve the cost competitiveness of the country, if it proves necessary, it is useless to rely on the wage development of a single sector, on the contrary, it is necessary to aim for a wage conciliation encompassing the main sectors.

tax receipts growth tax authorities statec 450 300

Over the first half of 2017, tax receipts collected by the Luxembourg state increased by 3.2% over one year, amounting to a rise of €230 million.

This rate was lower than that of the two previous years (almost 4%), due to tax incentives relating to the tax reform and a substantial VAT loss on e-commerce. On the other hand, a number of factors boosted tax receipts, such as the wage indexation adjustment, strengthening consumption and the favourable stock market environment.

There has been, however, a slowdown in household taxes due to the tax reform. The reform has slowed down the main growth driver in tax receipts in recent years, namely taxes levied on household income. Up 2.0% (an extra €50 million) over one year after the first half (against a rise of 5.7% in 2016), this category is now the 4th main contributor to growth.

Alongside the effects of tax incentives relating to the tax reform, receipts have suffered from the negative base effect of capital gains tax. After an impressive rise in 2016, after 6 months, this tax is 35% – €80 million – below the level recorded one year ago, but still in line with average receipts for the first halves of 2011-2015.

These shocks were offset, however, by the rise in wages, primarily driven by the wage indexation adjustment in January.

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The Ville de Luxembourg (VdL) has made a public announcement that the Parks Service is looking for around 20 fir trees to decorate the capital during the Christmas period.

People with a 10-20 metre tree, which they wish to cut down due to their height, are asked to contact the Parks Department via tel.: 4796 3423 or e-mail: - before mid-October 2017.

The fir tree must have a suitable shape (dense and more or less symmetrical) and must not be surrounded by other trees. The Park Service will take care of the cutting and transport of fir trees free of charge from early November and will then place the fir trees at various places in the capital, such as Place d'Armes, Place de la Gare or Place De France, to ensure a warm atmosphere during the Christmas holidays.

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Luxembourg swimmer Julien Henx has set a new national record in the 100-metre crawl race at the World Championships in Budapest.

In the swimming World Championships in Budapest, Julien Henx completed the 100-metre crawl in a time of 50.06 seconds, setting a new national record.

The 22-year-old athlete beat his old record by 0.05 seconds and was placed 49th out of 113 competitors.

The 16 best swimmers in the race qualified for the semi-finals. The fastest was Australian Cameron McEvoy with a time of 47.97 seconds. To qualify for the top 16, the swimmers needed a time of less than 48.80 seconds.

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