Luxembourg

   

Executive Accountability

#5
Key Findings
With a strongly consensus-driven system, Luxembourg falls into the top ranks internationally (rank 5) in terms of executive accountability. After a slight gain last year, its score on this measure has fallen back to its 2014 level.

Parliamentarians have adequate resources, and formal oversight powers are strong. Gaps exist regarding scrutiny of the secret service. The low-profile Court of Auditors effectively reviews public spending. The Ombuds Office is a particularly useful instrument for migrant residents.

With 46% of residents being foreign nationals, there is strong unmet demand for political participation. Full social inclusion requires command of three national languages, but particularly Luxembourgish. The media offers high-quality policy reporting, and newspapers have become less partisan over time.

Political parties demonstrate considerable internal democracy. The government is required to consult with economic associations, which have well-developed research units. Other interest groups are also influential, though have fewer resources.

Citizens’ Participatory Competence

#4

To what extent are citizens informed of government policymaking?

10
 9

Most citizens are well-informed of a broad range of government policies.
 8
 7
 6


Many citizens are well-informed of individual government policies.
 5
 4
 3


Few citizens are well-informed of government policies; most citizens have only a rudimental knowledge of policies.
 2
 1

Most citizens are not aware of government policies.
Policy Knowledge
8
Citizens are expected to have a good command of the three official languages: Luxembourgish, French and German, in order to facilitate social inclusion. About 46% of residents are foreigners, and multilingualism is the “compétence légitime” in Luxembourg. However, knowledge of Luxembourgish has a prominent role in political participation, as most political debate and information distribution takes place in this specific national language. This may make it more difficult for non-speakers to participate in the political sphere. Foreigners have expressed a distinct wish to participate more substantially in policy development. This interest in Luxembourg’s public life and political commitment depends on political empowerment and active participation in social life. Hence, not only voting rights but also the distribution of multilingual political information is extremely important in promoting active political participation and enabling influence in decision-making.

Citations:
Fetzer, J. S. (2011), Luxembourg as an Immigration Success Story. The Grand Duchy in Pan-European Perspective, Lanham, Boulder, New York, Toronto, Plymouth (UK)
Stoldt, J. (2012), Mehr Demokratie wagen?, in: Forum, November, pp. 19-20
http://www.2030.lu/en/home/
http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/archives/ebs/ebs_386_en.pdf
http://www.statistiques.public.lu/fr/actualites/conditions-sociales/politique/2013/05/20130130/presentationetudeCEFIS.pdf
Willems, H. (2012), Bestimmungsfaktoren und Probleme der politischen Partizipation von Migranten. http://www.landtag.rlp.de/landtag/vorlagen/2-57-16.pdf
Fehlen, F. (2015), Sprachenpolitik in der Großregion SaarLorLux, in: Lorig, W.H./Regolot, S./Henn, S. (ed.), Die Großregion SaarLorLux, Wiesbaden, pp.73-94

Legislative Actors’ Resources

#12

Do members of parliament have adequate personnel and structural resources to monitor government activity effectively?

10
 9

The members of parliament as a group can draw on a set of resources suited for monitoring all government activity effectively.
 8
 7
 6


The members of parliament as a group can draw on a set of resources suited for monitoring a government’s major activities.
 5
 4
 3


The members of parliament as a group can draw on a set of resources suited for selectively monitoring some government activities.
 2
 1

The resources provided to the members of parliament are not suited for any effective monitoring of the government.
Parliamentary Resources
8
Luxembourg’s members of parliament (MPs) balance a heavy workload with dual mandates and other professional activities, including municipal councils and/or professional employment. According to the regulations of the unicameral Chamber of Deputies, members can employ a personal assistant and recuperate some costs within the limits of eligible expenses. In practice, the parliamentary groups instead employ a pool of assistants who work for all the MPs of their group, rather than each MP having his or her own assistant. MPs can consult with external experts as part of the functioning of parliamentary commissions. They have access to a central state computer system to review databases, surveys, reports, agendas and other important information.

Citations:
Règlement de la Chambre des Députés du 6.12.2012
http://chd.lu/wps/wcm/connect/f57f45e4-3501-4907-b777-0ad0ca77212e/Reglement_02122014.pdf?MOD=AJPERES
Reimen, F./Krecké, J. (1999), Die Abgeordnetenkammer des Großherzogtums Luxembourg, Luxembourg

Are parliamentary committees able to ask for government documents?

10
 9

Parliamentary committees may ask for most or all government documents; they are normally delivered in full and within an appropriate time frame.
 8
 7
 6


The rights of parliamentary committees to ask for government documents are slightly limited; some important documents are not delivered or are delivered incomplete or arrive too late to enable the committee to react appropriately.
 5
 4
 3


The rights of parliamentary committees to ask for government documents are considerably limited; most important documents are not delivered or delivered incomplete or arrive too late to enable the committee to react appropriately.
 2
 1

Parliamentary committees may not ask for government documents.
Obtaining Documents
8
In general, information flows freely between the government and coalition parties. In the cases where such flows are seen as incomplete, parliamentary queries (questions parlementaires) are a popular and effective way for members of parliament to obtain information from the government or to gain insight into specific topics. Furthermore, the prerogative to conduct parliamentary inquiries (enquête parlementaire) according to Article 64 (in conjunction with Article 70) of the constitution gives the parliament oversight power over the government. Since 1980, the parliament has established four committees of inquiry (in 1980, 1989, 2003 and 2012).

There is no deliberate withholding of information within the parliament itself, as the opposition parties of today may be tomorrow’s coalition partner. However, a few restrictions exist concerning sensitive issues or classified information. Recently, this has been the case with the scandals over the state’s Secret Service (Service de renseignement de l’Etat luxembourgeois, SREL). The Parliamentary Oversight Commission for the State Secret Service (Commission de Contrôle parlementaire du Service de Renseignement de l’Etat) oversees the functioning of the SREL on behalf of the Chamber of Deputies.

Citations:
http://www.forum.lu/pdf/artikel/7582_327_Urbany.pdf
http://www.luxembourg.public.lu/fr/publications/c/tout-savoir/Tout-savoir-2015-EN.pdf
http://www.forum.lu/pdf/artikel/7796_337_Kirps.pdf
http://cbiver.eu/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/123656.pdf
http://www.legilux.public.lu/rgl/2011/A/0974/A.pdf

Are parliamentary committees able to summon ministers for hearings?

10
 9

Parliamentary committees may summon ministers. Ministers regularly follow invitations and are obliged to answer questions.
 8
 7
 6


The rights of parliamentary committees to summon ministers are slightly limited; ministers occasionally refuse to follow invitations or to answer questions.
 5
 4
 3


The rights of parliamentary committees to summon ministers are considerably limited; ministers frequently refuse to follow invitations or to answer questions.
 2
 1

Parliamentary committees may not summon ministers.
Summoning Ministers
9
Interaction between the executive and the parliament is generally straightforward. Every member of parliament (MP) can introduce parliamentary questions (both written and oral) to ministers. Questions are addressed to the parliamentary president. Within one month, the responsible ministers have to respond and deliver more or less detailed information about policy decisions or activities of their departments. Questions and answers are fully published on the Chamber of Deputies’ website. On Tuesdays, when the parliament convenes, there can be a lively question-and-answer session covering a broad range of relevant issues posted by opposition parties.

In the 2013–2014 parliamentary period, 611 questions (previous year: 549) were submitted. In addition to the unrestricted exercise of parliamentary questions, informal exchanges between ministers and MPs are frequent. In the last 30 years, only four investigative parliamentary committees were put in place. In this case, parliament enjoys extensive rights, comparable to those of an investigating judge.

Citations:
Lijphardt, A. (1999), Patterns of Democracy, Yale University
http://chd.lu/wps/wcm/connect/ba007e0e-5993-4957-adf8-6590d9c6ed2c/R apport_2012-2013_internet.pdf?MOD=AJPERES&CACHEID=ba007e0e-5993-4957-adf8-6590d9 c6ed2c
http://www.wort.lu/de/lokales/fragestunde-im-parlament-kein-schuldirektor-in-sicht-4fd805c3e4b078f0332c0727
https://www.gouvernement.lu/4526842/2014-rapport-activite-etat.pdf

Are parliamentary committees able to summon experts for committee meetings?

10
 9

Parliamentary committees may summon experts.
 8
 7
 6


The rights of parliamentary committees to summon experts are slightly limited.
 5
 4
 3


The rights of parliamentary committees to summon experts are considerably limited.
 2
 1

Parliamentary committees may not summon experts.
Summoning Experts
9
Consultation with experts and representatives of interest groups regularly takes place in the course of various standing commissions’ work. Domestic and foreign experts as well as other lobbyists and concerned groups in civil society may be invited to participate in commission meetings. Under particular circumstances of public interest, experts are invited to parliament to introduce subjects and to offer professional opinions.

In the case of important policy reform projects, the government usually asks for advice from reputable foreign institutes, being aware of the limited knowledge within the country. For example, a German and a Swiss institute were consulted over psychiatry reforms in health care. Such policy projects are implemented by a specific parliamentary commission, and a budget allowance was made to support outsourcing. Innovation is often driven by foreign expertise and reports, overcoming domestic resistance.
For instance, in April 2014, OECD experts invited by the parliament’s Commission on Higher Education, Research, Media and Communications were asked to provide a new report reviewing innovation policy. This OECD report, published in April 2015, recommends a new strategy entailing both diversification and consolidation.

Citations:
http://www.legilux.public.lu/leg/a/archives/2014/0227/a227.pdf
https://www.gouvernement.lu/4526842/2014-rapport-activite-etat.pdf
http://chd.lu/wps/wcm/connect/ba007e0e-5993-4957-adf8-6590d9c6ed2c/Rapport_2012-2013_internet.pdf?MOD=AJPERES&CACHEID=ba007e0e-5993-4957-adf8-6590d9c6ed2c
http://www.oecd.org/sti/inno/Luxembourg-Innovation-2015.pdf

Are the task areas and structures of parliamentary committees suited to monitor ministries effectively?

10
 9

The match between the task areas of parliamentary committees and ministries as well as other relevant committee structures are well-suited to the effective monitoring of ministries.
 8
 7
 6


The match/mismatch between the task areas of parliamentary committees and ministries as well as other relevant committee structures are largely suited to the monitoring ministries.
 5
 4
 3


The match/mismatch between the task areas of parliamentary committees and ministries as well as other relevant committee structures are partially suited to the monitoring of ministries.
 2
 1

The match/mismatch between the task areas of parliamentary committees and ministries as well as other relevant committee structures are not at all suited to the monitoring of ministries.
Task Area Congruence
8
Parliamentary committees and ministries are well coordinated and parliamentary monitoring is satisfactory. Ministers appear regularly before committees in charge of their field, and communication is good. Although the number of ministries has grown over the years to reach 20 ministries and 15 ministers, the number of parliamentarians has still not increased beyond 60 members. Each committee has up to 13 members. Over the years their workload has expanded considerably, which has made running standing committees more challenging. MPs are often members of more than one committee.

Citations:
http://www.gouvernement.lu/3596522/20140328-
OECD (2010), Better Regulation in Europe: Luxembourg, http://www.oecd.org/gov/regulatory-policy/betterregulationineuropeluxembourg.htm
http://chd.lu/wps/wcm/connect/8f37eb0048f395939851d8ce12dff599/2015+05+11+CommAppartPol.pdf?MOD=AJPERES

To what extent is the audit office accountable to the parliament?

10
 9

The audit office is accountable to the parliament exclusively.
 8
 7
 6


The audit office is accountable primarily to the parliament.
 5
 4
 3


The audit office is not accountable to the parliament, but has to report regularly to the parliament.
 2
 1

The audit office is governed by the executive.
Audit Office
9
The Chamber of Auditors was upgraded in 1999 to become the Court of Auditors, which manages the finances of state administration. While keeping a low profile, the Court acts to effectively control government spending, including that of ministries, public administration and other state services. It can audit the use of public funds and subsidies granted to public and private entities. The Court essentially works to control the effectiveness and efficiency of public spending, yet it is not authorized to express its opinion on the political wisdom of public spending. Its scrutiny completes the ongoing work done by internal auditors in each ministry. The Court’s main interlocutor is parliament. It takes on cases or projects on its own or through parliamentary instructions.

Citations:
Annual reports and special reports are accessible:
http://www.cour-des-comptes.lu/cour/fr/en/index.html
http://www.cour-des-comptes.lu/rapports/rapport_activites/2015/rapport_activites_2014.pdf

Does the parliament have an ombuds office?

10
 9

The parliament has an effective ombuds office.
 8
 7
 6


The parliament has an ombuds office, but its advocacy role is slightly limited.
 5
 4
 3


The parliament has an ombuds office, but its advocacy role is considerably limited.
 2
 1

The parliament does not have an ombuds office.
Ombuds Office
9
Since the launch of the Ombuds Office in May 2004, residents – typically more foreigners than nationals – have sought guidance from this government office. The ombudsman deals with some 700 requests per year and issues recommendations to the government and parliament, but cannot bring issues to the courts, similar to other ombuds institutions. The ombudsman is responsible to the parliament. The first ombudsman of Luxembourg, Marc Fischbach, was a former minister and a former judge at the Human Rights Court of the Council of Europe.

Luxembourg nationals have plenty of recourse when problems with the government administration arise, but the situation is not as smooth for foreigners. Even though the country’s labor market is the most transnational in the European Union, there are still numerous obstacles for Luxembourg migrants. Thus, the ombudsman has for years dealt with a number of migration issues.

Among the existing institutions that offer ombuds services (the Ombuds Office, the office for children’s rights, the office for equality rights (based on EU directives 2000/43 and 2000/78) and the Human Rights Commission), the Ombuds Office is best equipped in terms of budget and staff and is most frequently used. The office has a good track record of finding solutions to problems, has issued a number of recommendations and monitors the implementation of the office’s recommendations. One of the factors for the office’s success might be the preference of citizens to use mediation instead of the courts, a typical occurrence in societies with a strong tradition of consensus. Since February 2012, former Member of Parliament and Secretary of State Lydie Err has assumed the role of ombudsman.

Citations:
http://www.ombudsman.lu/doc/doc_downloads_210.pdf
http://www.ombudsman.lu/doc/doc_loi_31.pdf
http://www.tageblatt.lu/nachrichten/Luxembourg/story/96646291
http://www.tageblatt.lu/nachrichten/Luxembourg/story/23690847

Media

#4

To what extent do media provide substantive in-depth information on decision-making by the government?

10
 9

A clear majority of mass media brands focus on high-quality information content analyzing government decisions.
 8
 7
 6


About one-half of the mass media brands focus on high-quality information content analyzing government decisions. The rest produces a mix of infotainment and quality information content.
 5
 4
 3


A clear minority of mass media brands focuses on high-quality information content analyzing government decisions. Several mass media brands produce superficial infotainment content only.
 2
 1

All mass media brands are dominated by superficial infotainment content.
Media Reporting
7
Luxembourg’s media outlets offer quality reporting on public affairs. All parliamentary debates are conducted in Luxembourgish and in public. Parliamentary meetings are broadcast on the television channel Chamber TV (also available online), and the activities of the country’s two largest local councils (Luxembourg City and Esch/Alzette) can be followed online. Ministers’ weekly public press briefings are given more importance than under the previous administration.

In daily and weekly papers, articles are written in the three official languages (Luxembourgish, French and German) and sometimes in English as well. Certain newspapers are printed only in French; an English-language monthly journal is also published. Moreover, the government is reforming the press-subsidy system to include online media in recognition of the shifting media landscape.
Media coverage is often reactive, when issues have already reached the public in the form of draft legislation or through parliamentary debate. Media outlets are quite often used as instruments by interest groups or lobbyists seeking to influence government decision-making in its early stages. Such procedures often have a strong influence on government thinking, as political actors need to take into account views and opinions that are published in the media.

Reporting has lost some of its partisan bias. Most media outlets, especially newspapers, have adopted more balanced reporting to preserve or enlarge their audience. The media does play an important role in uncovering information behind government scandals or issues. One example is the extensive media coverage of the so-called Bommeleer affair (a series of bombings of public infrastructure in the 1980s) that was finally brought to court. Allegations of dubious activities of the State Secret Service (SREL) also received extensive media coverage, and were subsequently the subject of a special parliamentary inquiry. In these two events, media outlets played an active role in bringing light to issues that were not made clear by public prosecutors.

Citations:
http://www.esch.lu/laville/stream/Pages/default.aspx
http://www.land.lu/2013/04/26/unter-dem-tresen-des-csv-staats%e2%80%a9/
http://www.wort.lu/de/view/das-bommeleeer-dossier-5092c3a9e4b0fe37043e8be8
http://www.mediadb.eu/europa/Luxembourg.html

Parties and Interest Associations

#5

How inclusive and open are the major parties in their internal decision-making processes?

10
 9

The party allows all party members and supporters to participate in its decisions on the most important personnel and issues. Lists of candidates and agendas of issues are open.
 8
 7
 6


The party restricts decision-making to party members. In most cases, all party members have the opportunity to participate in decisions on the most important personnel and issues. Lists of candidates and agendas of issues are rather open.
 5
 4
 3


The party restricts decision-making to party members. In most cases, a number of elected delegates participate in decisions on the most important personnel and issues. Lists of candidates and agendas of issues are largely controlled by the party leadership.
 2
 1

A number of party leaders participate in decisions on the most important personnel and issues. Lists of candidates and agendas of issues are fully controlled and drafted by the party leadership.
Intra-party Democracy
8
Inner-party democracy has different levels of intensity within the four major political parties CSV, DP, LSAP and Déi Gréng. The CSV has used its current oppositional role to pursue an internal modernization process while remaining faithful to its core principles. The party is engaging in internal structural reforms, while seeking to integrate more individual members and opinions into the process. However, since the end of 2013, a small group of CSV politicians known as the “Dräikinneksgrupp” has demanded an even stronger reorientation. This group has focused on strengthening internal dialogue and moving toward a grassroots democracy, and has called for a new culture of participation. The CSV adopted new internal-governance statutes in December 2015.
The social-democratic LSAP has expressed a clear determination to deepen its grassroots approach in the future. Internal party democracy for the liberal DP is limited by the power of a board of directors (“Comité directeur”), which makes most of the crucial decisions. Déi Gréng recently avowed a clear commitment to its grassroots movement, a principle it has followed since the party’s foundation. At its convention in 2009, a majority of party members rejected a proposal to create a board of directors.

Citations:
http://www.forum.lu/pdf/artikel/8035_348_Stoldt.pdf
Schroen, M. (2003): Das politische System Luxembourgs, in: Ismayr, W. (Ed.), Die politischen Systeme Westeuropas, Opladen: Leske + Budrich, pp. 415-444, p. 435
Trausch, G. (Ed.) (2008), CSV - Spiegelbild eines Landes und seiner Politik? Luxembourg
http://www.land.lu/2011/05/19/der-linke-flugel-der-lsap/
http://www.lsap.lu/lsap_ShowDoc_Lsap-leitet-parteiinternen-reformprozess-ein.2087-27-2.html
http://www.wort.lu/de/politik/eine-analyse-ueber-den-ist-zustand-bei-der-dp-die-partei-und-der-premier-54380a37b9b39887080751fe
http://www.wort.lu/de/lokales/die-basis-hatte-ein-woertchen-mitzureden-4f61e50ae4b0860580ab7084
http://www.wort.lu/en/politics/winning-back-support-csv-vows-fresh-start-for-new-year-54af81ab0c88b46a8ce50ff3
http://www.wort.lu/en/luxembourg/no-radical-renewal-for-the-csv-5300d522e4b0f989a09f27d4
http://www.wort.lu/de/politik/die-csv-zwischen-kritik-und-reform-die-rebellen-die-keine-sein-wollen-54b305830c88b46a8ce5138d
http://www.rtl.lu/letzebuerg/597989.html
http://www.wort.lu/de/politik/csv-auf-internem-reformkurs-weg-vom-image-der-staatspartei-54aea1440c88b46a8ce50af8

To what extent are economic interest associations capable of formulating relevant policies?

10
 9

Most interest associations are highly capable of formulating relevant policies.
 8
 7
 6


Many interest associations are highly capable of formulating relevant policies.
 5
 4
 3


Few interest associations are highly capable of formulating relevant policies.
 2
 1

Most interest associations are not capable of formulating relevant policies.
Association Competence (Business)
8
Given Luxembourg’s specific social partnership model, the government must consult with unions and employers’ organizations over each draft bill. They are asked to produce an opinion on the bill, and all opinions as well as the modified draft bills are published on parliament’s website. The two employers’ organizations (the Chambre de Commerce and the Chambre des Métiers) as well as the Luxembourg business union (Union des Entreprises Luxembourgeoises, UEL) support a research unit, enabling them to produce opinions on draft bills, to organize conferences and to draft future government bills.

Trade unions share this approach. The impact of trade unions increased as a result of the Parliamentary Act of 15 May 2008 (“statut unique”), which created just a single employees’ union (Chambre des Salariés) in place of the previous two (one for manual workers and one for white-collar workers). All citizens working in Luxembourg, except public servants, are automatically members and contribute to this organization – a keystone of Luxembourg’s neo-corporatist policy tradition. Both social partners commission expert advice and policy briefings either abroad or in Luxembourg, and both prepare position papers on the basis of their own resources.

Citations:
http://www.cc.lu/actualites/detail/conference-chambre-de-commerce-chambre-des-metiers-et-lasti-1/
http://www.csl.lu/
http://www.legilux.public.lu/leg/a/archives/2008/0060/a060.pdf#page=2
http://www.uel.lu/images/stories/Documents_public/Annuaire_de_la_competitivite_2015_-_UEL.PDF

To what extent are non-economic interest associations capable of formulating relevant policies?

10
 9

Most interest associations are highly capable of formulating relevant policies.
 8
 7
 6


Many interest associations are highly capable of formulating relevant policies.
 5
 4
 3


Few interest associations are highly capable of formulating relevant policies.
 2
 1

Most interest associations are not capable of formulating relevant policies.
Association Competence (Others)
8
Interest groups have and can have an important impact on policymaking. However, drawing on academic knowledge within Luxembourg is limited. Some larger non-governmental organizations maintain small research departments and propagate their opinions through publications (Caritas, Mouvement Écologique, CEFIS, SOLEP, etc.) and conferences, by offering comments on draft bills, or by proposing policies. Voluntary working groups that act essentially as think tanks have become more popular during the review period, and many have chosen the future of Luxembourg as their focus; these groups include La Société Luxembourgeoise de l’Evaluation et de la Prospective (SOLEP), Luxembourg 2030, and 5 vir 12.
These groups have considerable impact, given the government’s practice of consulting all social partners and the overall small size of Luxembourg. However, they make little use of academic resources.

Citations:
http://www.2030.lu/en/home/
http://www.meco.lu
http://www.caritas.lu/Ce-que-nous-disons/Sozialalmanach
www.solep.lu
www.cefis.lu
Schroen, M. (2012), Luxembourg, in: Reutter, W. (ed.), Verbände und Interessengruppen in den Ländern der Europäischen Union, Wiesbaden, pp. 417-444
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