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Luxembourg – Meeting between Harlem Désir and Jean Asselborn, Luxembourg’s Minister of Foreign Affairs (Paris, October 16, 2014)

This meeting will provide an opportunity to review key European issues, including the relaunching of investment and climate and energy issues, in the run-up to the European Council meeting on October 23 and 24.

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France and Luxembourg

Political relations and latest visits

Luxembourg, which widely shares its culture, its history and its language with the Germanic world, is also very close to France. There is regular contact at ministerial, prime ministerial and Head of State levels. In October 2000, Grand Duke Henri and his wife made an official visit to France. This was their first visit abroad following their accession to the throne. Mr Bettel, who had just been sworn in as Prime Minister, visited France on 16 December 2013, as his first foreign visit, during which he met the President of the French Republic. The latter visited Luxembourg on 6 March 2015. The two Prime Ministers, Mr Valls and Mr Bettel, met on 15 May 2014. Luxembourg’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Asselborn, was received by Mr Fabius, Minister of Foreign Affairs, in January 2014, and by Mr Désir, Minister of State for European Affairs, in October that year.

Economic relations

Luxembourg is a strategic trading partner for France given its geographical proximity and the strength of its economy. The volume of our trade per capita is the highest in the world, and France has a bilateral trade surplus (€1 billion in 2014).

However, while France is Luxembourg’s second-largest customer and third-largest supplier, our market share, although growing in recent years, remains smaller than that of Germany (12% compared to 27% as of 2014). There is considerable room for progression, particularly under the process of economic diversification that Luxembourg’s government intends to implement in order to reduce the country’s economic dependency on its financial centre.

Around 833 French establishments are present in Luxembourg, employing more than 18,000 people, essentially in the banking and insurance sectors. Moreover, almost 82,000 French “commuters”, mostly living in Lorraine, France, shuttle to Luxembourg every day to work.

Our bilateral economic cooperation also involves integration between business communities, with the creation in France of Business Club France-Luxembourg (BCFL).

Cultural, scientific and technical cooperation

Our cultural ties are governed by an agreement dating back to 1954, but developments in recent years have altered cultural cooperation between France and Luxembourg. Luxembourg’s desire to position itself as a European cultural capital has led to the opening of numerous cultural infrastructures, sometimes established or led by French figures (Pierre Werner Cultural Institute, Luxembourg Museum of Modern Art (MUDAM), Philharmonie). In 2007, Luxembourg became the first European capital to be designated European Capital of Culture for the second time, in association with the Great Region covering territories in France, Germany, Belgium and Luxembourg.
Action in support of Luxembourgish (close to German) as a language promoting integration and social cohesion has been a political priority for a number of years, and it has become the main teaching language in primary schools. Whereas German starts to be taught in the first year of primary school, French is only taught from second year, meaning reduced Francophone influence. The new coalition agreement, adopted in December 2013, includes provisions fostering the teaching of French (possibility of parallel literacy teaching in French and encouragement of preparatory classes to facilitate the access of Luxembourgish students to French Grandes écoles).

Cooperation also takes place in the cross-border field, through the development of the Esch-Belval project focused on research and technology. On 16 July 2012, Luxembourg’s Ministry of National Education and Vocational Training, The Nancy-Metz local education authority, and the Georges de la Tour high school in Metz signed a convention creating a preparatory class for Grandes écoles – an economic course – in a Luxembourgish secondary school, Echternach high school. This course opened in 2013.

The Franco-German-Luxembourgish Pierre Werner Cultural Institute, which was inaugurated on 13 October 2003 by the three Foreign Ministers of the countries concerned, became the Pierre Werner European Cultural Institute in June 2006. Most of its research and study activities focus on European themes.

Other cooperation

Our cross-border cooperation, which plays a major role in relations between France and Luxembourg, draws on multiple instruments: the Saar-Lor-Lux-Trier and Western Palatinate Agreement, the Karlsruhe Agreement, the Great Region created at the instigation of Luxembourg’s Prime Minister, Jean-Claude Juncker, and the Franco-Luxembourgish Intergovernmental Commission (IGC) for the strengthening of cross-border cooperation. The IGC, which met in Luxembourg for the first time in 2011, involves all stakeholders in cross-border cooperation (ministers, prefects and local leaders, etc.). The third meeting took place on 19 March 2013 in Luxembourg, and the fourth was held in France on 26 May 2015.

Because of the proximity of the Cattenom nuclear power plant with Luxembourg, we have very dense cooperation in the area of nuclear safety and security. It includes meetings of the joint commission on nuclear security created in 1994, and the involvement of Luxembourgish and German experts in security inspections carried out at the plant. The desire to obtain the closure of the plant has a consensus in Luxembourg, and the coalition agreement states that “Luxembourg will continue demarches with the French and Belgian authorities in order to achieve the closure of the Cattenom and Tihange plants”.

In the area of security, a bilateral agreement between France and Luxembourg on police and customs cooperation was signed in Luxembourg on 15 October 2001. This text established a right of cross-border pursuit and created a “joint centre” in Luxembourg that acts as an information exchange and coordination service. This joint police and customs centre was established in January 2003 and was merged with the Belgian-German-Luxembourgish police centre to create an original quadrilateral body.

Updated: 25/02/2016

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