Sun05282017

Moselle commission

The Moselle Commission, established to promote the interests of moselle navigation, met in Trier this month for a plenary session under the Luxembourg Presidency led by ChairmanMax Nilles, deciding among other things that no toll changes would be made for use of the waterway. 

The Toll Committee proposed no changes on toll use in view of the critical level of traffic on the river. Only the container traffic at the Koblenz lock and the transshipment of goods in the ports of Trier and Mertert increasing compared to 2015. 

The Committee also informed the delegates about the ongoing reflections on a revision of the calculation of toll rates to bring them up to date with current traffic flows.

In addition, the Commission approved the temporary development and operation of two parking lots and a helicopter landing platform on the grounds of the Grevenmacher lock in Luxembourg.

The Police Committee is in charge of updating the Police Regulations for the Navigation of the Moselle (RPNM) defining the behaviour to be followed by the users on the waterway. 

Section 9.05 of the RPNM, relating to the obligation to advertise for drivers, was amended. A clarification of two terms used in the French version of Articles 1.07 and 1.10 was also proposed to the Commission de la Moselle. The two proposals submitted were adopted by the Commission. The first amendment will enter into force on 1 December 2019, the second on 1 January 2019. 

The Secretariat presented several information documents. These were the annual report, the traffic report and the press review for the year 2016. All these documents are now available and can be downloaded from the website: www.commission-de-la-moselle.org. 

The Secretary General of the Central Commission for the Navigation of the Rhine (CCNR), Mr Bruno Georges, also participated as an observer in the meeting and presented the state of cooperation between the two River Commissions.

The next meeting of the Moselle Commission will take place on 30 November 2017 in Senningen, Luxembourg.

 

IBBL

The Integrated BioBank of Luxembourg (IBBL) has officially opened registration for the 2017 edition of its Biospecimen Proficiency Testing programme, an internationally-recognised quality assessment tool.

Endorsed by the International Society for Biological and Environmental Repositories (ISBER), the Proficiency Testing (PT) programme offers laboratories working with biospecimens the opportunity to verify the accuracy, precision and efficiency of their routine methods and compare their performance to that of other expert laboratories. 

“The PT programme is an integral part of a biobank laboratory’s quality management system. Yearly participation is essential to ensure monitoring and prove consistency of performance over time”, said Dr Olga Kofanova, IBBL’s PT Project Manager.

As the only proficiency testing programme in the world that focuses on biospecimens, IBBL’s PT programme has become increasingly popular over the last five years. In 2016, roughly 100 laboratories from 26 countries registered for a total of 354 schemes.

Registration will remain open until 11 August 2017. 

Members of the processing schemes are: 

CSF Aliquoting

Viable PBMC Isolation

DNA Extraction from Whole Blood

DNA Extraction from FFPE Cells

DNA Extraction from Frozen Tissue

Microbial DNA Extraction from Saliva

Microbial DNA Extraction from Stool

Cell-Free DNA (cfDNA) Extraction from Whole Blood

RNA Extraction from Whole Blood

RNA Extraction from FFPE cells

Total RNA Extraction from Frozen Tissue

 

There are eight testing schemes:

DNA Quantification and Purity

RNA Quantification and Purity

RNA Integrity

Cell Viability

Haemoglobin Quantification in Plasma

CSF Haemoglobin Quantification

CD40 Ligand Quantification in Serum

Tissue Histology

 

SNCA

The national vehicle registration agency, the SNCA, has redesigned the public space for private and business service users at its Sandweiler centre.   

The agency says the space has been re-designed to be more comfortable and to speed up processes. Simple transactions, such as changes of address on the registration certificate, duplicates of documents or the exclusion of vehicles, can now be carried out directly at the reception desk.

For professional clientele, a separate space with a dedicated entrance has also been set up.

The agency points out that registration procedures for the SNCA can also be carried out online 24/7 via the website:  myguichet.lu. Registration files can also be sent by post or can be deposited directly at the reception of the SNCA.

 

jensp stoltenberg xavier nato

Prime Minister Xavier Bettel attended the NATO summit in Brussels yesterday, along with the heads of state or government of the 28 member states of the Alliance, as well as the Prime Minister of Montenegro, which is in line to join as the future 29th member state.

Representatives attended the inauguration of two monuments, one dedicated to Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty — which guarantees collective defence — and 11 September 2001, and the other for the fall of the Berlin Wall.

The Heads of State or Government also participated in an official ceremony for the new NATO building.

During the summit, the Prime Minister stressed that Luxembourg will continue to assume its share of responsibility and remains fully committed to the implementation of the Defence Investment Pledge, adopted at the Wales Summit in 2014.  

"We will continue our capabilities investment by bringing concrete contributions in the interests of te defence of the alliance”, he said. 

The prime minister added that Luxembourg will continue to increase and diversify its defence effort beyond 2025 by investing in areas that also benefit Luxembourg's economy and interests.

But, the Prime Minister said that we must not put everything on defence by neglecting the root causes of instabilities. "It is precisely for this reason that Luxembourg has decided to invest 1% of GNI in development and hence human capital, especially in West Africa. 

"Giving a perspective to young people in these countries contributes to conflict prevention and the reduction of insecurity”, the prime minister underlined. 

Image: Xavier Bettel with Jens Stoltenberg, secretary general of NATO

BNP AM logo

BNP Paribas Investment Partners has unveiled its 2020 strategic plan, setting out a series of targets, including adoption of the BNP Paribas Asset Management brand this June. 

The company says that it intends to strengthen its position as a leading asset manager, and increase its assets at a rate of 5% per year. 

It will adopt the BNP Paribas Asset Management (BNPP AM) brand on 1 June, in order to better reflect its new strategy and simplify its organisation.

In line with its strategic objectives, BNPP AM is pursuing the implementation of an original investment platform, adapted to developments in the asset management sector and in particular to the increasing polarisation of supply, between passive products with low margin and high value-added products, alpha generators. The challenge is to sustainably generate long-term performance improvements within the framework of rigorous risk management and taking into account the ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) criteria. To achieve this, BNPP AM relies on strong proprietary research methods and recognised capabilities in quantitative, passive and active management, including its well-established equity and bonds management platforms. The company also capitalises on smart beta expertise, multi-asset solutions and private debt. 

BNPP AM wishes to develop for its institutional clients innovative and high value-added investment solutions, combined with advisory and risk management services. The company also designs annuity products for individual savers to finance their retirement. It also offers digital services platforms for distributors, and intends to accelerate its digital transformation via strategic partnerships with fintechs, in the fields of robo-advisor, smart coding and artificial intelligence. 

As part of an ambitious transformation plan, BNPP AM's organisation, governance and management offerings will be simplified for which a management team specialising in private debt and real assets was set up under the direction of David Bouchoucha. 

It covers the entire spectrum of private debt management financing companies or real assets, including Infrastructure and Real Estate. BNPP AM is also planning to bring together the teams of THEAM, Multi Asset Solutions and CamGestion, which will be headed by Denis Panel, current CEO of THEAM. This new entity will combine the best of quantitative and fundamental management, to capture market share in the smart beta and multi-asset solutions, segments of the growing industry.

The company wants to capitalise on its positions in Belgium, France, Italy and Luxembourg but also in emerging markets, as well as accelerate its development in three key markets: Germany, China and the United States.

In addition to the services dedicated to companies, central banks and sovereign wealth funds, the company is expanding its range of options for insurers and pension funds.

Frédéric Janbon, CEO of BNP Paribas Asset Management, said, "Our objective is clear: to capitalise on our strengths to become a leader in offering innovative and high value-added investment solutions, for individual savers, businesses and institutional investors. We invest in our platform to improve sustainably, efficiency and agility, a guarantee of our future growth. By simplifying our operational model and our range of funds, we will always have high quality products and solutions at the right price. We are fully confident in our renewed ability to achieve our growth objectives“.

romain schneider tibor navracsics laura flessel

Minister Romain Schneider attended the meeting of the Ministers of Sport of the European Union (EU) held in Brussels this week, joining the adoption of conclusions on “sport as a tool for social inclusion”, which aims to encourage the promotion of volunteering among migrants, the elderly, disabled persons and vulnerable young people.

The sports ministers also adopted the resolution on the EU work plan for sport for the period from 1 July to 2017 to 31 December 2020. This is a particularly important document since it sets priorities for the next three years and working methods for their implementation. These include the protection of the integrity of sport, the economic dimension of sport and "sport and society", which encompasses concerns related to the environment, the role of coaches and education through sport.

In the political debate on "Sports media and their role in strengthening social inclusion", Minister Romain Schneider stressed that everyone has a role to play in strengthening social cohesion among foreign or marginalised groups, and also invoked the role that media can play, stressing the importance of their positive valorisation in the sports media in order to contribute to better integration.

Following an intervention by the Danish Minister for Sport, Mette Bock, who stressed the importance of the Council of Europe's convention against the manipulation of sports competitions entering into force, Minister Romain Schneider recalled that he did not make efforts during the recent Luxembourg Presidency of the Council to conclude its signature by the EU and ensured its availability to seek a solution to unblock the current situation.

After a presentation of the candidacy of Paris to the organisation of the Olympic Games of 2024 by the French Minister of Sports, Laura Flessel and Bernard Lapasset, co-chairman of the bid, Minister Romain Schneider expressed his support for this candidate which is both "enduring, enticing and full of social opportunities and the values ​​of Olympism", as the Minister indicated.

Image: Minister Schneider, with Tibor Navracsics, Laura Flessel 

lydia mutsch jean marc hoscheit

Health Minister Lydia Mutsch attended the 70th edition of the World Health Assembly on 22 and 23 May, which reviews the work of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and sets the targets for the next twelve months. This year, the Assembly was organised under the theme of "better health systems in the era of sustainable development".

In her speech to representatives of 186 countries, the Luxembourg minister stressed the special importance that Luxembourg, through its active cooperation with WHO, is giving to the strengthening of national health systems.  

"Luxembourg will continue to work decisively to ensure that no one is left behind, either through the implementation of its national health policy or by providing political, technical and financial support to developing countries in development”, she said.  

Minister Mutsch highlighted three global challenges of particular concern, namely antimicrobial resistance, noncommunicable diseases and migrants' access to health care.

She paid tribute to the Director of WHO, Margaret Chan, for her leadership and outstanding work accomplished during the ten years at the helm of this organisation.

This meeting marked the end of the mandate of Dr. Chan who will leave the WHO in June 2017 on a somewhat bitter note as a result of the criticisms she faced connection with the management of the Ebola crisis. The role will be occupied for the next five years by the Ethiopian Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus who was elected on 23 May after a secret ballot. The former Minister of Health and Minister for Foreign Affairs will be the first African national to chair the World Health Organisation. He won the race against Britain's Dr David Nabarro and Pakistan's Dr Sania Nishtar. 

Minister Lydia Mutsch participated in several bilateral meetings in the margins of the Assembly, which allowed her to exchange views on current issues and possible cooperation in the field of health, in particular with Spanish Minister Dolores Montserrat, vice -Japanese Minister of Health, Seisha Baba, and his Uruguayan counterpart, Dr Jorge Basso.

During the working lunch on the topic of noncommunicable diseases, organized by the Swiss Minister of Health, Alain Berset, on 23 May 2017, Lydia Mutsch had the opportunity to highlight the encouraging results achieved since the launch The National Cancer Plan in 2014 and the efforts of the Luxembourg government based on an integrated approach to the fight against cancer, involving all actors in the field and placing the patient at the centre of reflections.

asselborn madrid conference may2017

Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn attended the International Conference on the Protection of Victims of Ethnic and Religious Violence in the Middle East in Madrid yesterday, where he called for real solutions for victims of violence in the Middle East, including a process of national reconciliation in Iraq. 

In line with the Paris Conference of 8 September 2015 and its plan of action to assist persons belonging to communities targeted and threatened for ethnic or religious reasons in the Middle East, minorities who have been victims of violence, the Madrid conference aimed to draw up an initial assessment of the measures taken on the basis of the Paris Plan of Action and to identify the most urgent priorities to better guide the international community’s response. 

Concerning the multiple conflicts in the Middle East, including in Iraq and Syria, Minister Asselborn called for political and inclusive solutions, recalling that the vast majority of Daech's victims and terrorist attacks in the Middle East are Muslim. He said that "it would be illusory to think that a total military defeat of Daech will lead to an eradication of its murderous ideology." 

Jean Asselborn said that "we must ensure that the situation of ethnic and religious minorities, which have suffered so much under this scourge, is improving in a fundamental way". To this end, "important reforms will be necessary, including the establishment of a process of national reconciliation in Iraq", and "that the peace talks in Geneva are making concrete progress, under the terms of resolution 2254, the ceasefire is respected, and that humanitarian access is guaranteed throughout the Syrian territory ".

The conference also focused on priority actions relating to the humanitarian, political and judicial aspects, with the aim of promoting diversity and plurality of the region, encouraging reconciliation and stabilization, and facilitating the return of Displaced populations. Minister Asselborn reviewed Luxembourg's contributions to the stabilization process of the region, while stressing the importance of the role of the international community in this context. 

In the margins of the Madrid Conference, Minister Asselborn had an interview with the winner of the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Mind of the European Parliament, Nadia Murad Basee, Yezidi from Iraq and survivor of Daech's slavery. The meeting provided an opportunity to discuss the situation of ethnic and religious minorities in the field, the challenges and threats they face, and the responses that the international community will have to make to improve the situation of all people in the Middle East.

Girls day

Thirty-eight high school students visited the Military Centre in Diekirch as part of the "Girls 'Day - Boys' Day” initiative held yesterday. 

While, like Luxembourg society, the army is evolving, it continues to be associated with a purely masculine world.

However, the Luxembourg Army has incorporated female volunteers since 1979, including four young women who joined the latest recruitment for voluntary service. 

Since 1986, women have also had access to the officer and non-commissioned officer posts. 

At present, 101 women serve in the army, and regularly participate in peace-keeping missions.

The Girls' Day at the Military Center allowed the participants to discover the army's different trades. After a short presentation on the Luxembourg army, they were able to participate in a sports session and a visit to the Military Center to familiarise themselves with a little taste of military life. They also toured an exhibition of equipment, vehicles and equipment used by the army, and they were able to witness a tactical demonstration.

ISL stick graffiti

The International School of Luxembourg’s Grade 9 art students spent the last month learning how music can lead to more complex art creations, such as graffiti painting on one of the school’s playground walls. 

 The project began at the beginning of the school year when students went on a field trip to the Pompidou-Metz for the “MusiCircus” exhibition. 

“We went to the Pompidou and experienced a display of art that was a cross section in between art and music. Modern art was incorporated and the use of colour and line was amazing” said student Maria Diss. After this visit, each student had to choose their own song and produce an abstract painting which displayed their emotions conveyed by the music.

Elisa Martini, 9th Grade art student, explained the art creation process as follows, “Playing around with painting techniques and using the basic art principles led to the production of abstract pieces, each with a different universe painted onto it. From the paintings, we crafted sculptures using foam-core, which had to be linked back to our paintings. All of this project was a great way to introduce us 9th graders to all the art principles of movement, balance, colours, etc. and to help us explore and take advantage of the materials around us too.”

In a further step, Stick, a local graffiti artist, took the inspiration of the imagery created by the 9th Grade visual arts students and painted a large grey wall on ISL’s playground. Stick who has been a graffiti artist since 1995 describes this mural as a “fantastic landscape”. 

Mike Hitchman, Upper School Principal at ISL, summarised this project at the unveiling ceremony on Tuesday, May 23, as a “true authentic learning experience” and the mural as a “long standing memory of life at ISL, of the 9th grade students, and of Stick”.

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