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.

The government has implemented a number of programs in recent years designed to enhance citizen participation. However, the public shows a low level of interest in political processes. A number of newspapers have gone out of business, but online services are filling some reporting gaps. Media coverage is often reactive.

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

#7

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
8
In 2018 and 2019, Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Education initiated various measures (e.g., the Ministry of Environment’s Zero Waste program) intended to enhance the participation of the population. In addition, a new opportunity for parental participation was created. All parents were actively invited to become involved in a parent council, and elections for the parent council were prepared. Opportunities for public participation in spatial planning, agriculture policy, and culture and heritage protection were also expanded. The CSV, as opposition party, also sought to enhance public participation by touring the country and asking the population about problems

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.

Citations:
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 Luxembourgish. Furthermore, journalists and the public are often unable to understand and evaluate the published data.

Citations:
Statistics portal: https://statistiques.public.lu/en/ Accessed 20 Oct. 2019.
Statistikportal des Großherzogtums Luxemburg: http://adem.public.lu/de/marche-emploi-luxembourg/faits-et-chiffres/statistiques/statec/index.html. Accessed 20 Oct. 2019.

Legislative Actors’ Resources

#14

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.
Bossaert, Danielle (2019): How size matters. In: forum, Kleinstaat Luxemburg, 2019,no. 394, pp. 39-43.

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 be answered comprehensively. The effect of parliamentary questions on government work is rarely visible. The press is far more effective in creating change, particularly if the national TV broadcaster RTL addresses a political problem.

In 2019, the opposition Pirate Party complained in parliament that parliamentary questions were often answered too late. This criticism has led to some reduction in delays.

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. 2019.

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. 2019.

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.), Das politische System Luxemburgs. Springer VS, Wiesbaden, 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 base of knowledge available within the country. For example, German and Swiss institutes were consulted over psychiatry reforms in healthcare. A similar consultation approach was used for reforming environmental legislation. Such policy projects are implemented by a specific parliamentary commission, with a budgetary allowance 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. 2019.

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. There are 23 permanent committees that in general reflect the ministerial portfolios.

Citations:
Better Regulation in Europe: Luxembourg. OECD, 2010. www.oecd.org/gov/regulatory-policy/46592016.pdf. Accessed 24 Oct. 2019.

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
6
Luxembourg’s media landscape is changing. Several newspapers went out of business in 2018 and 2019, including the French-language weekly Le Jeudi and the weekly satirical newspaper Feierkrop. The 10 most important media outlets in the country are: RTL Online, RTL Radio, RTL Television, Luxemburger Wort, Reporter (an online publication), Lëtzebuerger Journal, forum, Quotidien, Lëtzebuerger Land and the (state-funded) Radio 100.7.

The public’s degree of interest in political processes and legislative projects, which are in fact discussed and analyzed in advance, is rather low. However, the situation is better than in other small European states. The launch of the online Reporter publication has created a medium that fills some gaps in reporting. Radio 100.7 has seen the quality of its coverage of political issues decline.

On Saturdays the daily Luxemburger Wort newspaper publishes a section called “Analysis and Opinion.” Legislative plans are discussed on several pages in this section. Contributors include journalists, politicians and civil society representatives. The Lëtzebuerger Journal, also a daily paper, has a correspondence section called “Kloertext.”

Media coverage is often reactive, in particular when issues have already reached the public in the form of draft legislation or through parliamentary debate. All parliamentary debates are conducted in Luxembourgish and in public. Parliamentary meetings are broadcast 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.

Citations:
Forum. www.forum.lu. Accessed 20 Oct. 2019.
Reporter. www.reporter.lu. Accessed 20 Oct. 2019.

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 takes place with different levels of intensity within the four major political parties: Christian Social People’s (CSV), Democratic Party (DP), Luxembourg Socialist Workers’ Party (LSAP) and the Green Party. The CSV has tried to renew itself internally. After its second election defeat, in the 2019 European elections, it was for the first time in the modern history of Luxembourg only the second-strongest force in a national election (losing 16.5% compared to its previous total). The DP (gaining 6.7%) became the strongest force. However, the CSV’s internal renewal also led to dissatisfaction, and the election of a new chairman did not serve to end the turmoil. On various issues, such as foreign policy and constitutional policy, the party leadership expressed itself differently than did CSV politicians serving in parliament. The party leader is not a member of parliament. While the DP appears strengthened in the country, the LSAP is weakening, a development currently being seen in many countries in Europe. The Greens were able to gain significantly in 2019 in the European elections (+3.9%), but fell into crisis in the autumn of 2019, after several scandals. Nevertheless, the party was able to renew itself quickly, and allowed two young women to take seats in parliament.

Citations:
Stoldt, Jürgen: “Welche Zukunft für die Volksparteien?” Forum.lu, February 2015. www.forum.lu/pdf/artikel/8035_348_Stoldt.pdf. Accessed 20 Oct 2019.
Europawahl in Luxemburg 2019. https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Europawahl_in_Luxemburg_2019. Accessed 20 Oct 2019.
“Faktuell 15: Elections législatives 2018.” In: forum: Kleinstaat Luxemburg, 2019, no. 394, pp. 20-21.

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
Under Luxembourg’s specific social-partnership model, the government 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), all support research units, enabling them to produce opinions on draft bills, organize conferences and draft proposed 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 use their own resources to prepare position papers.

Citations:
Chambre de Commerce Luxembourg. www.cc.lu. Accessed 20 Oct. 2019.

Chambre des Salariés Luxembourg. www.csl.lu. Accessed 20 Oct. 2019.

“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 20 Oct. 2019.

Schroen, Werner (2012): Werner Reutter (ed.), Verbände und Interessengruppen in den Ländern der Europäischen Union, 2., aktualisierte und erweiterte Auflage. Springer VS, Wiesbaden, pp. 417 - 443.

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.

Interest-group communications are often made via social media, as well as through other communication channels. For younger voters, important issues include refugee aid, the lack of affordable housing (i.e., the vacancy report project, “Leerstandsmelder”), heritage protection (including the “Mouvement patrimonial” association) and environmental protection (e.g., refill initiatives). Public participation in traditional organizations is on the decline.

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 today oversees 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, but 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 it undertakes cases either voluntarily or upon 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 20 Oct. 2019.

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
The Ombuds Office launched in May 2004, and residents have sought guidance from this government office since. The service is typically used more by foreigners than by nationals. In 2017, the ombudsman dealt with 1,149 requests (compared to 743 in 2015). Like ombuds offices elsewhere, 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 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 ombudsperson has been Claudia Monti.

Citations:
“WELCOME TO OMBUDSMAN.LU.” http://www.ombudsman.lu/index.php?page=accueil&lang=en. Accessed 23. Oct. 2019.

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 applying the provisions of the amended act of 30 May 2005 on the protection of privacy in the electronic communications sector, as well as the regulations deriving 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, the European Commission and European Data Protection Board. 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. 2019.
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