Sat03252017

IMS newsignatories March2017

14 companies added their names to the growing list of signatories of the Diversity Charter Lëtzebuerg during a conference held at the International School Luxembourg yesterday. 

The conference theme, “Generation Y, Z, and age management in companies” with Mr. Marc Raynaud, Founder and Associate of InterGenerational and President of the Observatory of Intergenerational Management , in France, challenged companies to review their company structure’s adaptation to new generations.

On its fifth anniversary, the Charter can now count 163 signatories who have decided to actively promote diversity within their structure and to combat all forms of discrimination, including the new memebrs:

CLAE
Dentons Luxembourg 
eBay Europe
G4S Security Solutions 
House of Training 
Imajine Sàrl
Lux Decor Painting
LuxConnect
Page Group
RTL Group
StubHub Services
Swiss RE
ThyssenKrupp Lifts
Vodafone

asselborn declarationsurlapolitiqueetrangere march2017

The Minister of Foreign and European Affairs of Luxembourg, Jean Asselborn, delivered on Tuesday 21 March 2017 the declaration on foreign and European policy in the Chamber of Deputies. In his speech, the head of the Luxembourg diplomacy delivered the main orientations of the foreign policy of the country, reviewing the main issues for the European and international agenda, as well as other important questions. 

In the face of latent conflicts, old and new civil wars, terrorism, the resurgence of authoritarianism and growing instability in the European Union neighbourhood, Minister Asselborn lamented that over the past few years, the world seems more and more divided, disoriented and dangerous, even chaotic. Coupled with the resulting migratory crises, the rise of populism and attacks against the rule of law even within the EU, these phenomena put the EU to a severe test, causing it to undergo a real existential crisis.

Recalling that it was the European project that made it possible to make the values ​​of freedom, the rule of law, democracy, solidarity and human dignity the very foundation of coexistence in Europe, the need to strengthen the internal cohesion of the EU, by returning to the fundamental principles which are at the origin of the European construction, Minister Asselborn stressed that the defence of the European framework has once again become a daily struggle and urged that we must not to be indifferent to the attacks of the populists and authoritarian tendencies which run counter to European values ​​and the interests of its member states.

The Minister reviewed the latest developments concerning the European management of the migratory crisis, with particular emphasis on the concept of solidarity. Emphasising the efforts made to develop a coherent European policy to deal with the migratory crisis, in line with international obligations to support and protect those fleeing war and misery. Jean Asselborn called for more effective solidarity within the EU. He explained that it is impossible for certain countries to be left to their own devices or, on the contrary, that others are reluctant to implement the European decisions already taken, as experience shows that isolated actions endanger collective gains. For the minister, this solidarity includes both relocation, management and strengthening of external borders, sending experts to the relevant Union agencies and the issue of financing. The minister also addressed the need to reform the Dublin system, address issues related to legal migration and continue to work towards better coordination between Member States and third countries.

Deploring the outcome of the referendum on the UK exit from the EU, the minister regretted the negative consequences of the withdrawal on the Union, both for the United Kingdom, and for the EU and Luxembourg. Noting that British citizens should not be punished for their decision, the minister explained that it cannot be acceptable either after the exit process that the EU is at a disadvantage compared to the United Kingdom. 

Insisting on the defence of the Union's essential interests and values, the Minister called for the negotiations to be conducted in a transparent manner and in line with the declaration of the 27-state European Council of 15 December. He recalled that until the conclusion of the negotiations and the final withdrawal of the United Kingdom, EU law - with all the rights and obligations it confers on its member states - will continue to apply to the United Kingdom, and that the future relationship with the country can only be negotiated once the arrangements for exit from the EU are put in place.

While the year 2017 will be marked by the 60th anniversary of the Treaties of Rome and by electoral deadlines in several member states whose outcome will be crucial for the Union as a whole, the minister stressed the importance for the remaining 27 member states to refocus on their cardinal values. 

Priority should be given to strengthening cohesion and solidarity in order to strengthen security within and outside Europe and the social dimension of the EU in the interests of all its citizens and in particular of the more vulnerable. Similarly, the Minister strongly emphasised the values ​​of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights. These non-negotiable principles, represent the backbone of the EU. 

In this context, he recalled the support of the Grand Duchy for the initiative to organise a peer review in the Council of the EU. Turning to the five scenarios on the future of Europe presented in the Commission President's White Paper, the minister was in favour of an optimal combination of a multi-speed Europe and of a Europe that does less, but better. 

On the subject of EU trade policy, Minister Asselborn focused on the Economic and Trade Agreement with Canada (CETA), explaining that while none were looking to strengthen borders, the EU, along with Canada, had reached a binding agreement that had become a global reference. 

The Minister then explained the Grand Duchy's support for the modernisation of EU trade defence instruments and the new anti-dumping methodology presented by the Commission, stressing that the issue from the EU's point of view and from the point of view of Luxembourg is to protect European industries against all forms of unfair competition, while providing them with the same opportunities for investment in third countries that the EU offers its partners. 

The head of Luxembourg diplomacy then delivered his view of current international affairs. 

Turning first of all to Turkey, Minister Asselborn reiterated the condemnation of the attempted coup d'état of 15 July 15 last year. Strongly condemning the negative development of the measures taken by the Turkish authorities in response to the coup attempt, the Minister stressed the importance of the rule of law, and the need to respect democracy, human rights and fundamental freedoms, the right of everyone to a fair trial and the unequivocal rejection of the death penalty, which is an essential element of the Union’s legislative core. 

In this context, he explained that Turkey's accession negotiations with the EU were de facto interrupted, while stressing the importance of keeping open the channels of dialogue with this strategic partner. 

Turning to the Ukraine, Jean Asselborn deplored the increase in fighting intensity in the east by expressing solidarity with the local civilian population suffering the consequences and destruction of the conflict. He insisted that the ceasefire be implemented and respected immediately by all parties, a prerequisite for the full implementation of the Minsk accords, which remain the only solution to the conflict. Recalling the common interests of the EU and Russia, that share the same continent, Minister Asselborn expressed regret that efforts by Russia are still below the expectations of the EU, while highlighting the need to maintain an open dialogue, despite the current divergences. 

In light of the multitude of crises in the Southern EU neighbourhoods and the growing challenges they face, Minister Asselborn then delivered his analysis of the adaptations and priorities that are necessary in order to respond effectively to rapid changes in the regional situation. In particular, he examined the situation in Syria and Iraq, as well as in Libya and Yemen, explaining that none of these conflicts will find a lasting solution without a negotiated political solution in an inclusive manner, while respecting all political, ethnic and religious groups to eliminate the root causes of injustice, violence and terrorism. 

Jean Asselborn also reviewed the ongoing international efforts to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Stressing that it has lost nothing of its centrality, whether in political, strategic or emotional terms. He reaffirmed that the two-state solution is the only way to achieve lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians, condemning the current developments on the ground, including the continuation of the Israeli settlement policy  and acts of violence which threaten the prospects of a solution to two states living side by side in peace and security. 

The head of Luxemburg diplomacy then stressed the importance of recreating the conditions for a new political horizon, within an international framework, to restart the peace talks, detailing the ways to achieve this objective. 

Turning to Asia, the minister focused more particularly on the relations of the Grand Duchy with China or Japan, as well as the situation in Afghanistan. Jean Asselborn then addressed the main issues of the African continent, noting in particular the challenges faced by certain countries, The rule of law, before considering Luxembourg's partner countries on the continent. The minister also discussed the situation in Latin America, especially Brazil, where Luxembourg will shortly be opening an Embassy, ​​as well as Colombia to welcome the peace agreement reached last December. 

Finally, Jean Asselborn gave an update on transatlantic relations in the light of the Trump administration's latest international policy positions. In view of the security challenges in the east and south of the EU, security and defense is of particular importance. Aware of the needs of its partners, Luxembourg is an active and committed member, and assumes its responsibility notably through participation in EU civil and military missions. Aware that security goes beyond simple defence, Jean Asselborn, argued that discussions within NATO are not limited to the issue of the 2% of GDP invested in the Organisation. He also pointed out that Luxembourg remains strongly committed to world disarmament and that the Grand Duchy devotes 1% of its GNI to development cooperation annually, which is an investment that improves the living conditions of people throughout the world, and, ultimately thought that to stability and security. 

After taking stock of the Presidency of the Greater Region which Luxembourg assumed on 1 January, Minister Asselborn gave a brief overview of the policy of the European institutions and International organisations. In this context, Luxembourg continues to make every effort to offer the best working and living conditions to European and international officials, notably through the new construction projects currently under way. The head of the Luxembourg diplomatic corps concluded his speech by explaining that the strength of human rights lies in their universal, indivisible and inalienable character. Unfortunately, we have to observe that more and more often these rights are not only not respected but that their institutional basis is under threat and that attacks by populist and authoritarian forces against the values ​​and rules that govern the life of national communities, as well as international life, are becoming more frequent. 

In line with Luxembourg's commitment to multilateralism and a strong international normative system, the Minister announced the candidature of the Grand Duchy at the UN Human Rights Council for the period 2022-2024. Concluding with the quote from Franz Kafka "die Lüge wird zur Weltordnung gemacht” (“a world is built on a lie”), the minister explained that without a minimum of common sense and confidence, the prospects offered by the world to the new generations would be very dark.

LFT Francine Closener

After one year of “Luxembourg for Tourism”, tourism in Luxembourg is on the up according to the findings of the general assembly held yesterday. 

Secretary of State for the Economy Francine Closener gave a positive assessment for the initiative’s first year, saying “the creation of LFT has further professionalised tourism structures in Luxembourg. For the first time in the history of tourism, the entrepreneurial sector is heavily involved in national tourism promotion. A genuine public-private partnership has been launched to attract even more tourists through thematic campaigns based on a well thought out marketing strategy.”

Luxembourg hosted 2.97 million overnight stays in 2016, another year-on-year rise for the fifth year running, and tourism and leisure tourism grew by 3% compared to 2014.

"The growing interest of travelers in the Luxembourg destination confirms the effectiveness of LFT's strategic choices in the target markets," said LFT Chairman Romain Weber. 

In September last year, efforts to promote Luxembourg as a MICE destination were put under the management of LFT, with the MICE cluster working in eight commissions to boost the creation of new products to attract the market.

LFT also launched integrated campaigns across several communication channels, including digital media. Focusing on priority markets such as Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and France, the various actions were found to have increased the number of visits to the www.visitluxembourg.com website, visited last year almost 3.2 million times, an increase of 7.5% against 2015.

170 media platforms specialising in tourism were welcomed by LFT during press trips resulting in 394 articles in the international media presenting the Grand Duchy as a tourist destination of choice. Cooperation with Luxair has attracted customers from more distant markets.

Following the approval of the 2016 balance sheet and the discharge granted to the Board of Managers, LFT members unanimously adopted the marketing strategy for 2017 before voting on the 2017 budget. On the basis of the excellent results, the members expressed their Confidence in the new EIG by granting it a budget of just over €5 million enabling it to pursue its marketing activities at international level.

Image: Centre: Romain Weber, president LFT, Francine Closener on right,  Anne Hoffmann, director general of LFT to left.

EPC Sascha Steinmeier MichelZavagno BlitzAgency

Luxembourg asset management company, European Capital Partners (ECP), has recruited Sascha Steinmeier as head of sales for the German-Swiss region. 

Mr Steinmeier will support the development of ECP’s distribution activities, particularly in German-language markets. With 20 years of experience in the financial industry, he was responsible for investment fund distribution for Nomura Asset Management and then for a German independent asset manager. Prior to that he worked as an entrepreneur and was distinguished for his founded Education-Fund with a German Start-Up Award in 2005.

Léon Kirch, partner and CIO of EPC, said “We are very glad to welcome Sascha in our team. His work experience fully demonstrates an entrepreneurial spirit which perfectly fits with our corporate culture. We are convinced that his deep knowledge of the German fund market and his strong relationships with target investors will be valuable to successfully extend ECP`s fund business”. 

Image: Sascha Steinmeier. © Michel Zavagno/Blitz Agency

 

linklaters melinda perera EmmanuelClaude

Linklaters LLP has nominated capital markets specialist Melinda Perera as a partner in the firm, effective 1 May this year. 

Ms Perera joined the international law firm in 2003 where she has been a key member of the capital markets and banking team. Her expertise covers debt instruments and securitisation, and she also advises a large number of clients in banking and financial regulation, as well as financing, in particular in the field of syndicated loans, restructuring, insolvency and real estate financing.

Managing partner Patrick Geortay said, "We are delighted with the election of Melinda as a partner. Melinda has earned the trust of our clients over the years, and is known for her proactivity and expertise in business law. I would like to emphasise in particular her professional commitment and dedication to the various charities and the many societal projects she supports outside of her practice.”

Image: © Emmanuel Claude

 

VDL bretzel

In anticipation of this Sunday’s “Bretzelsonndeg”, the fourth Sunday of Lent when young Luxembourgish men traditionally offer a pretzel to the current object of their devotions, the Federation of Patrons Bakers-Patissiers got ahead of the line when they offered a pretzel to the College of Mayor and Aldermen in Luxembourg City yesterday. 

Pretzels are a Luxembourg specialty, made of puff pastry with fondant icing and almonds, representing two lovers arm in arm. According to the tradition, if a girl feels the pretzel proffered and the profferer himself are adequate to her requirements, she may return the favour with an Easter Egg in three weeks’ time, on Easter Sunday. 

The Federation took this opportunity to highlight an ancient Luxembourgish tradition and also their own vital profession that plays such a key role in everyday life and love. 

Wednesday, 22 March 2017 11:32

Intrasoft Expanding Middle Eastern Reach

intrasoft

Intrasoft International, a global ICT company with headquarters in Luxembourg, saw the first phase of its Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) project for the Ali Bin Ali (ABA) Group, one of the largest retail and distribution companies in Qatar, go live in February 2017.

This is the first out of two waves for this project to automate processes within ABA's operations. Intrasoft has now delivered the automation of the core Human Capital Management (HCM) processes launched at all sites for the company in Doha and the next wave will include the Financials, SCM and manufacturing functions, expected to be launched later in 2017. 

Mr. Tareq Abu Sharar, CEO of Intrasoft International Middle East, said “We are extremely proud to join forces with ABA and to expand our client base in the ERP sector. We are confident that the services we provide will meet our Customer’s high standards and look forward to the start of a long and fruitful relationship in this area”.

 

stemm vun der stross logo 300

Turning bad news into a positive outcome for those in need, the staff and management of the Brasserie Alpha at the Grand Hotel Alpha have donated all the remaining foodstuffs in their fridges and warehouse to the non-profit Stëmm vun der Strooss following the unexpected announcement that the hotel and restaurant are to be closed. 

Recovering from their initial shock at the announcement, the staff decided to build in their existing relationship with Stëmm vun der Strooss by donating what they could of what was left, which was immediately handled but the “Stëmm Caddy”.

Stëmm vun der Strooss supports marginalised members of the community to integrate and adapt through nutrition services, skills training, social supports and other services. 

tango logo

In the light of recent announcements that roaming charges would be abolished as from 15 June this year, communications company Tango has offered a clarification of the evolution of roaming charges and what "roam like at home" really means for consumers. 

Since 2007, successive regulations from the European Commission have seen the gradual phasing-down of roaming charges across Europe. Tango says that since then, the cost of calls while roaming has fallen 92% and the cost of sending a text has dropped the same amount since 2009. 

In April 2016, the Commission imposed caps on roaming rates, so that, for example, outgoing calls could not be charged at more than the national rate plus €0.05. On 1 February this year, the Commission announced the “Roam like at home” scheme, which would bring an end to roaming charges with the 28 EU member states plus Liechtenstein, Norway and Iceland.

But that does not strictly mean the end of roaming charges altogether. Certain limits need to be considered by consumers before they travel and start dialling the world. 

First off, Tango clarifies that when travelling within the EU and using a mobile phone, communications will be included in the standard price of a user’s national plan, in the same way as calls are at home. Additional charges will apply if "free- roaming" exceeds allowances or is considered “abusive”, meaning that a user takes out a subscription in one country and uses it more extensively in another without good reason. 

This ties in with the idea that “roam like at home” is not intended to be used for permanent roaming. Service providers may question the residence ties of anyone who spends more time and communicates more abroad than they do in the contract country. 

Tango stresses that this would not be an issue for cross-border workers who have strong ties with another foreign country through employment or a second home, etc. Thus, a person living in France but working in Luxembourg, for example, would be able to use his or her Luxembourg subscription in France. 

Moreover, service providers will not be able to “load” charges for higher than contracted use outside of the contract country. Excess charges incurred abroad should be charged at the same rate as they would be if they were incurred at home. 

Service providers have the right to question consumers’ use of free roaming, though need to follow a specific procedure before they can start to apply roaming charges. In particular, they should monitor the difference in use over a period of at least four months. On that basis, if they feel that abuse is taking place, they can send a warning message to the customer. If, after two weeks, the customer has not returned to the contract country or advised the operator of their travel situation, then roaming charges can be applied though at a lower level than was historically the case.

 

Wednesday, 22 March 2017 09:12

"All You Need is LOVE" Says Orange

orange love

Orange Communications has bundled together its television, mobile, fibre-optic broadband and landline offerings and called it LOVE, differentiating the package from similar multi-level offers with what it says is a simpler connection process and no additional charges for fibre connection for eligible customers. 

“With LOVE, customers can now access the Internet on all their home devices from day one of their subscription, thanks to Orange's 4G/4G+,” the company says. 

Customers can also choose which maximum download speed they require, from 30MB/s, 100MB/s or 200MB/s.

Orange is also offering activation and installation of the television connection, and customers can choose a television from their range and have it delivered for installation for a flat fee of €50.

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