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. Its score on this measure has declined by 0.1 point relative to its 2014 level.

Parliamentarians have adequate resources, and formal oversight powers are strong, though government answers to parliamentary questions are often inadequate. The low-profile Court of Auditors effectively reviews public spending. The Ombuds Office is a particularly useful instrument for non-citizen residents, and the National Data Protection Commission oversees the legality of personal data processing.

With 47% of residents being foreign nationals, there is strong unmet demand for political participation. Full social inclusion requires command of three national languages, with Luxembourgish particularly important in the political sphere. The media offers high-quality policy reporting, and newspapers have become less partisan over time.

Political parties vary in their approach to 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

#10

To what extent are citizens informed of public policies?

10
 9

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


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


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

Most citizens are not aware of public policies.
Political Knowledge
7
Citizens are expected to have sufficient knowledge of the three official languages of Luxembourg to facilitate social inclusion. About 47% of residents are foreigners and multilingualism is the “compétence légitime” in Luxembourg. However, knowledge of Luxembourgish has an important role in political participation, as most political debates 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, Joel S. (2011): Luxembourg as an Immigration Success Story: The Grand Duchy in Pan-European Perspective, Lexington Books.

“Mäßiges Interesse bei den Ausländern.” Luxemburger Wort, 30 July 2017. https://www.wort.lu/de/politik/kommunalwahlen-maessiges-interesse-bei-den-auslaendern-597b4ac9a5e74263e13c4dfc?utm_campaign=magnet&utm_source=article_page&utm_medium=related_articles. Accessed 24 Oct 2018.

Fehlen, Fernand (2016): Sprachenpolitik in der Großregion SaarLorLux, in: Wolfgang H. Lorig/Sascha Regolot/Stefan Henn (eds.): Die Grossregion SaarLorLux: Anspruch, Wirklichkeiten, Perspektiven, Springer VS Verlag, pp. 73 – 94.

Does the government publish data and information in a way that strengthens citizens’ capacity to hold the government accountable?

10
 9

The government publishes data and information in a comprehensive, timely and user-friendly way.
 8
 7
 6


The government most of the time publishes data and information in a comprehensive, timely and user-friendly way.
 5
 4
 3


The government publishes data in a limited and not timely or user-friendly way.
 2
 1

The government publishes (almost) no relevant data.
Open Government
8
The Luxembourg state publishes data on all relevant topics that every citizen can access, excluding financial data such as corporate tax breaks (“rulings”). However, a lot of data is provided in French, which is hard to understand for germanophone citizens, and there is a shortage of published data in Luxemburg. Furthermore, journalists and the public are often unable to understand and evaluate the published data.

Citations:
Statistics portal: https://statistiques.public.lu/en/ Accessed 24 Oct. 2018.

Statistikportal des Großherzogtums Luxemburg: http://adem.public.lu/de/marche-emploi-luxembourg/faits-et-chiffres/statistiques/statec/index.html. Accessed 24 Oct. 2018.

Legislative Actors’ Resources

#16

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 must 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 members of parliament of their group, rather than each member of parliament having his or her own assistant. Members of parliament can consult with external experts as part of the functioning of parliamentary commissions. In addition, 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 1.6.2015.

Reimen, Frank/Jeannot Krecké (1999): Die Abgeordnetenkammer: Theorie und Praxis parlamentarischer Kontrolle, Passerelle.

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 request government documents.
Obtaining Documents
7
In general, information flows freely between the government and coalition parties. In the cases where such flows are seen as incomplete, parliamentary questions (questions parlementaires) are a popular and sometimes effective way for members of parliament to obtain information from the government or to gain insight into specific topics.

However, many parliamentary questions are answered only partially or inadequately. In Luxembourg, there is no culture that demands inquiries to be answered comprehensively. The effect of parliamentary questions on government work is rarely visible. Much more effective in creating change is the pressure of the press, particularly, if the national TV broadcaster RTL picks up something.

Citations:
Question parlementaire. Chamber (Parliament). https://chd.lu/wps/portal/public/Accueil/Actualite/!ut/p/z1/fY9Nb4JAEIZ_DVdmmEVYe1sUKST1g41V92LQbFcTYBug5e-Xfhw0oc5tJs_zTl5QcPBCQvImXhjAHlRdfF5N0V1tXZTDflDBcU7z1zz1CVexDJDYmolcEiL6sPsBiHOZJ-Ilnk63EaY482S8iQhTAnXrJ-HGR8riLNzKJeMJ-_MfPPj28Z8RCMtnW-khRY2AAqOcIoaYrGgUuEvKQJnSnn5Li_rEuAHV6Dfd6Mb9aIbzpeve2ycHHez73jXWmlK7Z1s5OKZcbNvB_p6ESpULLtfVjrfiCyDK4lk!/dz/d5/L2dBISEvZ0FBIS9nQSEh/ Accessed 24 Oct. 2018.

Gouvernement: Toutes les actualités. https://gouvernement.lu/fr/actualites/toutes_actualites.html?r=f%2Faem_event_type%2Fgouv%3Atags_type_event%5Cparliamentary_question.
Accessed 24 Oct. 2018.

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. Any member of parliament can introduce a parliamentary question (written or oral). Questions are addressed to the parliamentary president. Within one month, the responsible minister(s) must respond and deliver detailed information about relevant policy decisions and departmental activities. Questions and answers are fully published on the Chamber of Deputies’ website. On Tuesdays, when the parliament convenes, there may be a lively question and answer session, covering a broad range of relevant issues posted by opposition parties.

Citations:
Schroen, Michael (2008): Parlament, Regierung und Gesetzgebung, in: Wolfgang H. Lorig/Mario Hirsch (eds.), Springer VS Verlag, pp. 106-129.

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
Consultations with experts and representatives of interest groups take place regularly in the course of various ongoing commission work. Domestic and foreign experts, as well as lobbyists and concerned civil society groups, 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. A similar consultation approach was used for reforming environmental legislation. Such policy projects are implemented by a specific parliamentary commission and a budget allowance was made available to support outsourced inquiries. Innovation is often driven by foreign expertise and reports, which overcomes domestic resistance.

Citations:
“Mémorial A n° 227 de 2014.” Journal officiel du Grand-Duché de Luxembourg, 11 Dec. 2014, legilux.public.lu/eli/etat/leg/memorial/2014/227. Accessed 24 Oct. 2018.

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 and communication is adequate. Although the number of ministries has grown over the years, reaching 20 ministries and 15 ministers, the number of parliamentarians has still not increased beyond 60 members. Each committee has up to 13 members. As such, their workload has expanded considerably in recent years, which has made running standing committees more challenging. In general, members of parliament are often members of more than one committee.

Citations:
Better Regulation in Europe: Luxembourg. OECD, 2010. www.oecd.org/gov/regulatory-policy/46592016.pdf. Accessed 24 Oct. 2018.

Media

#4

To what extent do media in your country analyze the rationale and impact of public policies?

10
 9

A clear majority of mass media brands focus on high-quality information content analyzing the rationale and impact of public policies.
 8
 7
 6


About one-half of the mass media brands focus on high-quality information content analyzing the rationale and impact of public policies. 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 public policies. 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 broadcasted on Chamber TV (also available online) and debates of the country’s four largest local councils (Luxembourg City and Esch/ Alzette, Differdange, Dudelange) can be followed online. Furthermore, the Ministers’ irregular public press briefings are given more importance than under the previous administration.

In daily and weekly papers, articles are written mostly in German, often in French and sometimes in English. Certain newspapers are printed only in French; although 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. Furthermore, 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. In addition, since the 2013 general election and especially since the 2018 elections, social media has become more important due to the increasing number of social media users, and potential for disseminating information easily and rapidly.

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, but without a result. 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 a crucial role in bringing light to issues that were not made clear by public prosecutors.

Citations:
“Das Bommeleeër-Dossier.” Luxemburger Wort. www.wort.lu/de/lokales/das-bommeleeer-dossier-5092c3a9e4b0fe37043e8be8. Accessed 24 Oct. 2018.

Reporter. www.reporter.lu. Accessed 24 Oct. 2018.

“Länderporträt Luxemburg.” Mediandatenbank. www.mediadb.eu/de/europa/luxemburg.html. Accessed 24 Oct. 2018.

Parties and Interest Associations

#6

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 issue agendas 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 issue agendas 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 issue agendas are fully controlled and drafted by the party leadership.
Intra-party Decision-Making
8
Inner-party democracy has different levels of intensity within the four major political parties: Christian Social People’s (CSV), Democratic Party (DP), Luxembourg Socialist Workers’ Party (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 dialog 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. After defeat in the October 2018 elections, the question of reform within the party was raised again. However, the party’s structures have probably since been further encrusted and intra-party reforms have not been sufficiently implemented.

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. While CSV and DP tend to be top-down, the socialists and greens have adopted the opposite approach.

Citations:
Stoldt, Jürgen: “Welche Zukunft für die Volksparteien?” Forum.lu, February 2015. www.forum.lu/pdf/artikel/8035_348_Stoldt.pdf. Accessed 24 Oct 2018.

“Die Hoffnung stirbt zuletzt.” Letzebuerger Journal. 16 Oct. 2018. http://www.journal.lu/top-navigation/article/die-hoffnung-stirbt-zuletzt-1/ Accessed 24 Oct. 2018.

“Le CSV a mené « une campagne invisible et médiocre ».” Quotidien. 22 October 2018. http://www.lequotidien.lu/a-la-une/legislatives-le-csv-a-mene-une-campagne-invisible-et-mediocre/ Accessed 24 Oct. 2018.

“Die Luxemburger haben den großen Parteien einen Dämpfer verpasst – bis auf einer: Die Grünen konnten bei der Parlamentswahl am Sonntag zulegen.” https://www.ad-hoc-news.de/politik/die-luxemburger-haben-den-grossen-parteien-einen-daempfer-verpasst-bis/57581289. Accessed 17 Dec. 2018.

To what extent are economic interest associations (e.g., employers, industry, labor) 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 (Employers & Unions)
8
Given Luxembourg’s specific social partnership model, the government in general consults with unions, employers’ organizations and professional chambers over each draft bill. Furthermore, all opinions, as well as the modified draft bills, are published on the 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 one employees’ union (Chambre des Salariés) in place of the previous two (one for manual laborers 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:
Chambre de Commerce Luxembourg. www.cc.lu. Accessed 25 Oct. 2018.

Chambre des Salariés Luxembourg. www.csl.lu. Accessed 25 Oct. 2018.

“L’UEL lance son nouveau site «Compétitivité – Tableau de bord».” Union des Entreprises Luxembourgeoises. www.uel.lu/445-l-uel-lance-son-nouveau-site-competitivite-tableau-de-bord. Accessed 25 Oct. 2018.

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 (e.g., Caritas, Mouvement Écologique, CEFIS and SOLEP) and conferences, by offering comments on draft bills, or by proposing policies.

The communication of interest groups is done in particular via social media and other communication platforms. For younger voters, important issues include refugee aid, the lack of affordable housing (i.e., the vacancy report project, “Leerstandsmelder”), heritage protection (including the “Sauvegarde du Patrimoine” association) and environmental protection (e.g., refill initiatives). Public participation in traditional organizations is on the decline.

Citations:
Leerstandsmelder. https://leerstandsmelder.de/luxemburg. Accessed 25 Oct. 2018.

Refill Letzebuerg. https://www.facebook.com/refill.lu/ Accessed 25 Oct. 2018.

Sauvegarde du Patrimoine. http://www.sauvegardedupatrimoine.lu/fr/ Accessed 25 Oct. 2018.

Independent Supervisory Bodies

#7

Does there exist an independent and effective audit office?

10
 9

There exists an effective and independent audit office.
 8
 7
 6


There exists an effective and independent audit office, but its role is slightly limited.
 5
 4
 3


There exists an independent audit office, but its role is considerably limited.
 2
 1

There does not exist an independent and effective audit office.
Audit Office
9
The Chamber of Auditors was upgraded in 1999 to become the Court of Auditors which manages the finances of the state administration. While keeping a low profile, the court effectively controls 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 controls 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. Furthermore, the court’s main interlocutor is parliament and undertakes cases voluntarily or through parliamentary instruction.

Citations:
Annual reports and special reports are available at:
“Rapports.” Cour des comptes du Grand-Duché de Luxembourg. http://www.cour-des-comptes.lu/fr/rapports.html. Accessed 23 Oct. 2018.

Does there exist an independent and effective ombuds office?

10
 9

There exists an effective and independent ombuds office.
 8
 7
 6


There exists an effective and independent ombuds office, but its advocacy role is slightly limited.
 5
 4
 3


There exists an independent ombuds office, but its advocacy role is considerably limited.
 2
 1

There does not exist an effective and independent ombuds office.
Ombuds Office
9
Since the launch of the Ombuds Office in May 2004, residents have sought guidance from this government office. The service is typically used more by foreigners rather than nationals. In 2017, the ombudsman dealt with 1,149 requests (compared to 743 in 2015). Similar to other ombuds offices, the ombudsman can issue recommendations to government and parliament, but cannot take issues to court. In addition, the ombudsman is responsible to the parliament.

Luxembourg nationals have plenty of recourse when problems with the government administration arise, but the situation is not as simple 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. Since 2017, the Ombudsman has been Claudia Monti.

Citations:
“WELCOME TO OMBUDSMAN.LU.” http://www.ombudsman.lu/index.php?page=accueil&lang=en. Accessed 23. Oct. 2018.

Is there an independent authority in place that effectively holds government offices accountable for handling issues of data protection and privacy?

10
 9

An independent and effective data protection authority exists.
 8
 7
 6


An independent and effective data protection authority exists, but its role is slightly limited.
 5
 4
 3


A data protection authority exists, but both its independence and effectiveness are strongly limited.
 2
 1

There is no effective and independent data protection office.
Data Protection Authority
9
The task of the National Data Protection Commission (CNPD) is to control and check the legality of personal data processing. The CNPD is legally required to carry out a number of duties, including: supervising and checking the legality of data collection and use, and informing relevant parties of their legal obligations for data processing; ensuring the observance of personal freedoms and fundamental rights, particularly with regard to privacy, and informing the public of their rights; receiving and examining complaints and requests for checks on the legality of data processing; and advising the government on the subject of data protection. The commission is also responsible for the application of the provisions of the amended act of 30 May 2005 on the protection of privacy in the electronic communications sector and of the regulations stemming from that act.

Under the amended act of 2 August 2002, the CNPD has the power to investigate, which grants it access to processed data. Consequently, the CNPD can demand direct access to the premises, excluding residential premises, where the data was processed and to the processed data.

Furthermore, the CNPD publishes an annual report regarding its performance, which is submitted to the government, parliament, European commission, and European committee on data protection. The CNPD is a collegiate body with three permanent and three substitute members.

It operates as a public institution under the supervision of the government minister responsible for data protection. Nevertheless, it is independent in the exercise of its functions.

Citations:
Commission nationale pour la protection des données. https://cnpd.public.lu/fr.html. Accessed 23 Oct. 2018.
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