ASTI, the Association du Soutien aux Travailleurs Immigrés, has said that it broadly welcomes the government’s initiative — parcours d’integration accompagné (PIA) — to assist the integration of of refugees noting, however, that it could have been introduced earlier, and taking the opportunity to announce a raft of new courses that they are offering.
According to ASTI, the approach taken in the initiate, which includes language classes, civic education courses, as well as training and information sessions on everyday life in Luxembourg, deserves their approval and interest.
ASTI cited their own courses and integration supports, including literacy, work placements, and informations sessions on the culture, institutions, rights and duties of individuals in Luxembourg.
A range of new courses has been promoted by ASTI, at which it said 250 people are already registered from among applicants and beneficiaries of international protection but also other foreign residents, for example Portuguese, Spanish, Serbo-Croatian, etc.
461 people requested asylum in Luxembourg this January and February, according to figures published by the Government today.
The number of applicants for international protection includes applicants who have arrived individually in Luxembourg and applicants for international protection relocated from Greece and Italy, in accordance with the decisions taken at European level. In January, Luxembourg relocated 28 Syrian people from Greece who are included in the figures and will follow the procedure for international protection.
Among those seeking protection, 80 came from Serbia and 79 from Syria, between them representing almost 35% of applicants.
In February 2017, 46 people of Syrian origin were resettled in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg according to the declaration between Europe and Turkey. These persons have been granted refugee status directly and are not counted either in the applications or in the decisions.
So far this year, the government has granted refugee status to 114 individuals, based on applications going back to 2012, while 82 applications were refused.
A decision to transfer 346 applicants based on applications from 2016 and this year also applied. 64 were transferred to other European countries under the Dublin III Regulation, which governs which member states are responsible for an asylum claim, a third of whom went to Germany. Nine applicants were transferred to Luxembourg under the Regulation.
So far this year, 63 people have been returned to their country of origin, with most leaving voluntarily.
Maltese language and literature will be under the spotlight this Saturday 18 March at the Abbey of Neumünster with a Maltese literary night together with the poet Antoine Cassar, writer-performer Glenn Calleja and Farah Abdi, a young Somali refugee who arrived on the island by boat in 2012, and author of the autobiography Never Arrive.
The evening will be an opportunity to meet the art and culture of this small island state of Europe, just 316 square kilometres spread across eight islands set in the Mediterranean Sea, from where writers and artists have grown and radiated out across Europe.
Presented in English and Maltese, the evening has been created in collaboration with the Printemps des Poètes-Luxembourg as part of the cultural program of the Maltese Presidency of the Council of the European Union.
Entrance is free. For more information, see the website: www.neimenster.lu.
Image: Antoine Cassar
Grand Ducal Police are looking for information on the identify of this man, suspected of stealing from a bank in Lintgen. Anyone who may know something about him is invited to call the emergency number: 113, or the police station in Mersch, telephone: 4997 9500.
This morning, at the peak of rush hour traffic, the City of Luxembourg took an opportunity to thank cyclists for playing their part in keeping the number of cars down, by distributing a small gift to all cyclists who passed by the "bike counter" on the Viaduct bridge and at the Schuman roundabout.
The City wanted to thank and reward those who use the bicycle during the winter season for choosing this fast, economical and eco-responsible means of transport, which also, of course, keeps people in shape.
The regular use of bicycles reflects the growing importance of soft mobility in city traffic and shows that cycling is now habitual for many citizens and visitors to the capital.
In 2016, 1,013,372 bicycle passages were counted at different counting points throughout the capital, which represents a positive evolution of 18% in five years.
Image: Sam Tansom. © Charles Soubry
Finance Minister Pierre Gramegna today officially introduced Carlo Fassbinder as Director of Taxation at the Ministry of Finance.
Carlo Fassbinder, born in 1969, holds a master's degree in business law from the Robert Schuman University in Strasbourg, as well as an LL.M. in tax law from the University of Munich. He started his professional career in 1997 as a tax advisor to a major bank in the city. Since 2011, he has been Head of Tax Retail & Corporate Banking.
Pierre Gramegna said "Carlo Fassbinder distinguishes himself by his profound knowledge of tax matters, his managerial experience and his excellent analytical skills. Coming from the private sector, it is well positioned to gauge the challenges faced by Luxembourg in the face of changing international economic and financial news. I look forward to our new collaboration and wish him every success in his work in the Department of Finance."
Image: Pierre Gramegna and Carlo Fassbinder. Photo supplied
Starting mid-March, the European Investment Bank (EIB) is putting up €350 million for low interest loans to small and medium-sized enterprises in Benelux. As part of the agreement, ING bank will double the loan amount available to SMEs, bringing the total credit injection for the sector up to €700 million.
With the financing supported by the EIB, up to 100% of individual firms’ investment costs can be covered, to a maximum of €12.5 million per project.
“It is very important for small businesses throughout Europe to have access to funds with which they can finance their investments and achieve growth," said Pim van Ballekom, EIB Vice-President responsible for lending operations in Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg.
“Despite the fact that the economy is picking up again, often, access to credit is still an obstacle for SMEs in the Benelux. By making loans available to SMEs, these businesses can benefit from our excellent credit position as the EU bank. In cooperation with banking partners such as ING, we pass our advantageous AAA rating on by providing more, cheaper and longer-term loans. This is one of the ways in which the EIB, in cooperation with the local banking sector, is offering SMEs a helping hand.”
“We are pleased that the European Investment Bank is once again offering us the opportunity to support our SME clients in this way”, says Koos Timmermans, who is responsible for banking activities in the Benelux at ING.
“Together with previous credit contracts that we have entered into with the EIB, this brings the total amount available for SMEs in the Benelux to €1.65 billion. Our clients are enthusiastic about this and are gratefully making use of the facility. Including this new round of financing, in total we will be helping more than 3,000 companies in the Benelux receive funding on more favourable terms.”
Anyone interested in studying in the UK can find out more about student life, available courses, and how to prepare for entrance and academic life there at an information evening hosted by John Marshall the British Ambassador to Luxembourg on Wednesday 5 April.
Guest speaker Anne Faber will addressing topics such as student life, entry requirements, choosing a course, costs, the application process and how to prepare for entrance tests and interviews, as will alumni and representatives from several universities including Oxford, Cambridge, LSE, King’s College London, Warwick, Kent and others.
Members of the ‘Society of Luxembourg Students in Britain’ will also be present.
The information evening starts at 18:00 at the Centre Culturel Tramsschapp at 49 Rue Ermensinde, Luxembourg-Limpertsberg, finishing at 20:00.
The European Commission has re-adopted its 2010 decision against eleven air cargo carriers, including Cargolux, re-imposing a fine totalling €776 million for operation of a price–fixing cartel between 1999 and 2006. The Commission's original decision was annulled by the General Court on procedural grounds in 2015.Included in the annulment and re-adoption is the €80 million fine previously imposed on Cargolux.
The companies fined in 2010 were Air Canada, Air France-KLM, British Airways, Cargolux, Cathay Pacific Airways, Japan Airlines, LAN Chile, Martinair, Qantas, SAS and Singapore Airlines. A 12th cartel member, Lufthansa, and its subsidiary, Swiss International Air Lines, received full immunity from fines.
All but one of the companies (Qantas) included in the 2010 decision challenged it before the EU's General Court. In December 2015, the General Court annulled the Commission's decision against the eleven cartel members that appealed, concluding that there had been a procedural error. However, it did not rule on the existence of the cartel.
The Commission maintains that these air cargo carriers participated in a price-fixing cartel and is adopting a new decision and re-establishing the fines. This new decision addresses the procedural error identified by the General Court while remaining identical in terms of the anticompetitive behaviours targeted by the Commission. The decision confirms that the Commission will not let cartels go unpunished.
Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said: “Millions of businesses depend on air cargo services, which carry more than 20% of all EU imports and nearly 30% of EU exports. Working together in a cartel rather than competing to offer better services to customers does not fly with the Commission. Today's decision ensures that companies that were part of the air cargo cartel are sanctioned for their behaviour.”
Cargolux today acknowledged the decision issued today by the European Commission in the airfreight cartel case, noting that the development did not come as a surprise as previous communications from the European Commission had indicated its intention to re-adopt a decision in this case. At this stage Cargolux said that it is reviewing the decision and has not yet decided whether to lodge an application for annulment with the General Court.
Cargolux, however, said that it welcomes the recognition by the Commission that no undertaking should be put in a worse position simply as a result of the errors by the Commission, which were the basis for the annulment of the Commission's 2010 decision.
Deloitte France and Deloitte Luxembourg have been confirmed as approved verifiers under the Climate Bonds Standard and Certification Scheme meaning that both organisations will now be able to assess climate bond issuers for compliance with the Climate Bonds Standard, a screening tool that allows investors and government to identify and prioritise climate and green bonds that are being used to deliver climate change solutions.
Climate Bonds Standard 2.0 is an overarching science based multi-sector standard that allows investors and intermediaries to easily assess the climate credentials and environmental integrity of bonds claiming to be green and funding the low carbon future.
Sean Kidney, CEO of the Climate Bonds Initiative welcomed the experience both organisations would bring to the process. “Both these organisations add welcome depth and breadth to our growing pool of approved verifiers. They can support emerging green bond issuers across both the Eurozone and emerging markets, build confidence in the integrity the market and make a significant contribution to the rapid scaling of green finance,” he said.
In Luxembourg, Tom Pfeiffer, partner and sustainability co-leader of Deloitte Luxembourg, said that the approval builds on the company’s record of contributions to sustainability.
“Being an approved verifier of the Climate Bonds Initiative alongside Deloitte France will supplement our existing expertise related to climate bonds and more generally sustainability. This engagement towards a greener economy follows the trend initiated by a number of stock exchanges in the world including the Luxembourg Stock Exchange, and shows Deloitte’s commitment to be an active responsible market player.”
The Climate Bonds Initiative is an investor-focused not-for-profit, promoting large-scale investment in the low-carbon economy through advocacy and outreach to inform and stimulate the market, providing policy models and government advice, market data and analysis and administration of the Standards & Certification Scheme and the Green Infrastructure Investment Coalition (GIIC).
For more information on Climate Bonds, see their website: www.climatebonds.net.
Image: Tom Pfeiffer. Photo supplied