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The Luxembourg Ministers of Health, Family and Social Security have decided to introduce a new measure to address the concerns of patients who depend on intensive support and exceptional extra-hospital medical care.

The people included in this new measure are adults or children suffering from extremely disabling neurodegenerative diseases, particularly severe permanent neuromuscular diseases or metabolic diseases, which in most cases require continuous and uninterrupted follow-up and the use of heavy medical equipment essential to the maintenance of vital functions. Care includes help with food, communication and respiratory assistance.

Although such cases are rare, affecting about 5 to 6 out of 100,000 people, the impact of these exceptional situations is huge, not only for patients but also for their friends and families. Indeed, the presence and involvement of the family is essential to ensure the maintenance of those affected at home.

Ministers Lydia Mutsch, Corinne Cahen and Romain Schneider recalled that the emancipation of the patient and their right to dignity and self-determination are other considerations behind this concerted approach. Additionally, home-based care is a right under the auspices of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Due to their atypical and complex needs, the people concerned are very often straddled by several models of care currently offered by the Luxembourg system: health insurance, long-term care insurance and / or benefits and specific services for people with disabilities. Consequently, a significant financial contribution must often be made by the families in order to be able to provide adequate care to the individual, while respecting their self-determination.

Consequently, the Luxembourg ministers decided to set up a new exceptional measure for intensive extra-hospital support of some people as part of an “approach of solidarity”. Indeed, according to the ministers: “The aim is to strengthen the support of the Luxembourg social protection system towards those who need it.”

An inter-ministerial consultation platform, composed of representatives of the various institutions, administrations and departments concerned, will carry out a case-by-case analysis. In order to ensure the recourse of the persons concerned to all the eligible aid and services, the platform will help people and their families to move towards the institutions, administrations and services offering assistance and benefits for which they have not yet applied.

Where the existing supply is insufficient to meet the needs identified, the persons concerned may apply for specific financial aid, adapted to their specific case and subject to a ceiling, provided that certain eligibility criteria are met.

Photo by MSAN. L-R: Romain Schneider, Minister of Social Security; Lydia Mutsch, Minister of Health; Corinne Cahen, Minister of Family and Integration

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Fairtrade Lëtzebuerg is organising a conference entitled "Changing Trade, Changing Lives: Fair Trade in Figures in 2016" on Thursday 27 July at 10.30 in the NGO’s office.

The conference, which will be held in the presence of young ambassadors for fair trade, will deal with figures from the last year regarding equitable trends, growth and market share, and the motivations and flagship products of Fairtrade youth ambassadors.

The conference takes place on the occasion of Fairtrade Lëtzebuerg’s 25th anniversary.

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The University of Luxembourg has shown positive results in the fields of teaching and research in its 2016 Annual Report.

The university’s first external research evaluation dominated 2016 with the result of nine of the 13 research units and centres being rated as international leaders. The University of Luxembourg also increased third-party funding raised for its research projects from approximately €41 million to €43 million in 2016.

Furthermore, last year, two of the university’s researchers, the physicist Dr. Massimiliano Esposito and the ICT specialist Prof. Lionel Briand, having each received multi-million research grants (ERC grants) from the European Research Council. The university has also climbed further up the Times Higher Education World University Ranking and now ranks 178 out of the close to 800 universities.

2016 was also shaped by new projects and initiatives at the university, including the incorporation of the former “Centre Virtuel de la Connaissance sur l’Europe” (CVCE) along with three other independent institutes, and additionally inaugurated the Robert Schuman Institute of European Affairs. The establishment of a third interdisciplinary research centre, the Luxembourg Centre for Contemporary and Digital History, was a further milestone.

Acting on the initiative of the Ministry of Higher Education, the university set the seal on further close collaboration for doctoral supervision with the country’s public research centres. Mid-way through 2016, Yves Elsen, CEO of HITEC, left his post as Chair of the Luxembourg National Research Fund (FNR) to replace Marc Jaeger as Chairman of the University’s Board of Governors. Marc Jaeger, who is also President of the General Court of the European Union, had decided to step down for personal reasons.

Student numbers remain stable at almost 6,200 with approximately 52% of students coming from abroad. With regards to teaching, the University started new courses including the “Master en Enseignement Secondaire” (Master in Secondary Education) as well as the “Master Theaterwissenschaft und Interkulturalität” (Master in Theatre Studies). Last autumn, the university also opened new student accommodation in the form of the Uni-Val II hall of residence in Belval, meaning that the university now has over one thousand accommodation units.

At the end of 2016, the university employed close to 1,700 people. After approval of the 2017 draft budget, the university’s management and administration teams have been working intensively to prepare the winter semester and further develop administrative processes. The recruitment of a new President is also underway and a decision is expected in autumn.

Photo by University of Luxembourg

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Nine more US cable and IPTV operators have initiated Ultra HD trials using SES’s pre-packaged solution.

With these additional TV operators joining SES’s Ultra HD trials, a total of 30 US Pay TV providers, with a combined audience of more than 10 million subscribers, are now testing SES’s 4K content delivery platform across their distribution networks.

Among the 30 operators on SES’s 4K platform, three have already initiated commercial linear Ultra HD services in subscriber homes via SES’s end-to-end solution: Marquette-Adams Communications in Wisconsin, Highlands Cable Group in North Carolina, and, most recently, EPB Fibre Optics in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

SES’s all-in-one Ultra HD platform combines satellite distribution services, reception gear, and the world’s largest 4K Ultra HD channel line-up, featuring Fashion One 4K, Travelxp 4K, 4KUNIVERSE, NASA TV UHD, INSIGHT TV, UHD1, C4K360, Funbox UHD, Nature Relaxation 4K and SES’s UHD demonstration channel.

Photo by Business Wire

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The Luxembourg government and Luxembourg-based Kleos Space SARL have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) providing the framework for their cooperation within the initiative with focus on space technology development.

Kleos Space is active in geolocation services and develops a space infrastructure for geo-intelligence and signal intelligence applications with in-space manufacturing. The newly created company is owned by UK-based Magna Parva Limited.

Within the framework of this MoU, the developments and research to take place in Luxembourg are related to the project for in-space manufacturing of composite beams equipped with antennas. Kleos Space will collaborate with EmTroniX, a Luxembourg-based company specialised in electronics development, as well as with the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST) on this subject. The government will support the development of the in-space manufacturing technology by providing funding through the Luxembourg space program (LuxIMPULSE).

Luxembourg Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Economy, Étienne Schneider, commented on the collaboration: “By widening the capabilities of the national space sector, the implementation of Kleos Space in the Grand-Duchy is confirming the constant expansion and consolidation of Luxembourg as a European hub for developing highly advanced space technologies in the context of the initiative.”

Photo by MECO. L-R: Andy Bowyer, Kleos Space; Étienne Schneider, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of the Economy

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On 11 July 2017, Arendt & Medernach showed once more its support for the associations "Fondatioun Kriibskrank Kanner" and "Pour une Sourire d'Enfant asbl” by presenting them each with a cheque worth €15,000.

The funds donated to the associations come from the registration fees at the Arendt Financial Law Forum, one of the major annual events organised by the Arendt & Medernach study. This event brings together legal experts and other decision-makers from the financial sector to inform them about legal, regulatory and tax developments impacting on their business.

Jean-Marc Ueberecken and Philippe Dupont presented the cheques to each of the two structures a fortnight ago, on behalf of Arendt & Medernach. The representative for Pour une Sourire d’Enfant, Marie-Hélène Trouillez, received the cheque for €15,000 for the non-profit organisation, whilst Anne Goeres received the donation for Fondatioun Kriibskrank Kanner.

The association Pour une Sourire d'Enfant supports children in poverty in Cambodia, through the supply of food, material, housing and schooling. This year, the funds will be used to provide Khmer language and mathematics support courses during the two months of holidays in September and October 2017 to 770 children at risk in Phnom Penh. This support will make it possible to combat early school leaving.

The other recipient of these donations, Fondatioun Kriibskrank Kanner, works for children with cancer or a rare life-threatening disease. Its missions are accompanying the families concerned, raising awareness of childhood cancer and supporting onco-paediatric research. This year, the funds will be used to fund the "LETZ GO GOLD" awareness and solidarity campaign, which will take place in September 2017. The objective is to fulfil one of the foundation's aims to spread public awareness of childhood cancer, and offer all those concerned by this cause the possibility of coming together in a series of awareness and solidarity events, such as the illumination of buildings in Luxembourg, organising a concert, or the wearing a golden ribbon.

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Monique Olivier and Laurent Carnol from the FLNS swimming federation opened the swimming competition for Luxembourg at the 17th FINA World Championships in Budapest.

With more than 400 metres of freestyle, 19-year-old Monique Olivier set a very high pace from the start and was still 1.5 seconds below her national record at the 200-metre mark. In the second half of the race, however, she had to pay tribute to her high starting triumph and beat the third of her lead in 4:18.04 min. In the final classification, she was placed 22 out of 36 swimmers.

Meanwhile, Luxembourg breaststroke swimmer Laurent Carnol started in the sixth of eight preliminary runs on track nine. In 1:01.91 min, the 27-year-old from Ettelbrück swam the best of the season and finished 35 out of 73 competitors.

Moreover, on his second day at the World Championships, Pit Brandenburger set a new personal best time in the 200 metres freestyle race with 1:51.14 minutes. From the very beginning, he set a high pace and stayed 1.2 seconds below his fastest time at the 100-metre mark. In the end, the 21-year-old came 51st  out of 73 starters.

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The Luxembourg Ministry of Finance has confirmed the favourable situation in the public finance sector for the second quarter of 2017.

On Thursday 20 July 2017, Minister of Finance Pierre Gramegna presented the budgetary situation of the state for the second quarter of 2017 at the Cofibu / Comexbu of the Chamber of Deputies. The results proved favourable.

As of 30 June 2017, tax revenue, that is receipts from the Administration of Direct Contributions, Registry and Domain Administration, and the Customs and Excise Administration, amounted to 50.3% of the amount budgeted for the year, underscoring the reliability of the Department of Finance’s prediction. With a growth of 1.6% compared to the same period in 2016, tax revenues reflect the positive development of the Luxembourg economy. As announced, VAT revenues on e-commerce continue to fall, reaching a level of 60% lower than the previous year.

Whilst current government expenditure is at 47% of the budgeted amount, direct investment grew by 173.8 million, a positive change of 21.7%, compared with the same period of 2016. The government continues to pursue its ambitious investment policy, aimed in particular at developing efficient and sustainable infrastructures to ensure qualitative growth in the years to come.

Pierre Gramegna commented that: "The evolution of revenue in the first half of 2017 is in perfect accordance with forecasts. Given that expenditure is under control, it is reasonable to anticipate for the current year a reduction in the Central Government deficit well below the € -1 billion level under the Stability and Growth Program (SGP)."

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On Thursday 20 July 2017, the Luxembourg Prime Minister and Minister of State Xavier Bettel attended a working meeting in Matignon, where he was received by the French Prime Minister Édouard Philippe.

The discussions between the Luxembourgish and French Prime Ministers made it possible to review bilateral affairs, notably that of cross-border cooperation and its relation to mobility and social issues. In this context, Xavier Bettel recalled the important contribution of the French community to Luxembourg.

The Luxembourg Prime Minister also stressed the importance of making progress on the issue of the closure of the Cattenom nuclear power plant.

Moreover, the discussions entailed an in-depth exchange of views on the main strategic orientations for guiding the work of the European Union in the coming years. On this point, Xavier Bettel stressed that "Luxembourg wants to be at the forefront of the revitalisation of the European Union".

The meeting also provided an update on the United Kingdom's withdrawal from the European Union and the future of European defence.

Prime Minister Bettel was then received together with Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel for an interview followed by a dinner at the Elysée by the President of the French Republic, Emmanuel Macron.

Photo by SIP / Charles Caratini

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On Thursday, the cabinet of the Luxembourg government met and agreed to the organisation of a national horticultural exhibition in Luxembourg City in 2023.

On 20 July 2017, the Luxembourg Ministers in Council approved the decision to organise a national horticultural exhibition known as LUGA 2023 in the capital to take place in six years’ time.

The government's 2014 program of the Ministry of Agriculture, Viticulture and Consumer Protection provides that "the government recognises the economic, social and environmental importance of the agricultural, viticultural and horticultural sectors to its true value."

As such, the Department of Tourism of the Ministry of the Economy and the Ville de Luxembourg will show, through the joint organisation of this horticultural exhibition, a different image of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.

The horticultural exhibition aims to contribute, among other things, to the development of solidarity agriculture and urban gardening in accordance with the Rifkin study, to the improved public perception of horticultural, viticultural and agricultural products in the region, and in particular the "green" trades, and to the promotion of food security and healthy nutrition.

Additional goals of the LUGA 2023 include the promotion of biodiversity and stable and urban ecosystems, and the optimisation of urban infrastructure between parks, gardens and soft mobility, as well as the creation of a positive image of the country, and the promotion of the cultural and tourist diversity of the region.

Photo by Visit Luxembourg

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