I have been postponing a new series of posts on this blog for quite some time. In an effort not to sound too negative and grumpy I have avoided the subject and suppressed the urge to criticise and complain. Unfortunately I cannot resist any more and therefore here is the first of a series of posts about the ills and (hopefully) attractions of living in Luxembourg.
Luxembourg a sort of country nestled between a loud neighbour that wants the world to think it’s big, an economic giant that doesn’t need to shout to be heard and a schizophrenic nation that cannot elect its own government. The population of the not-so Grand Duchy is a little under half a million and most of the people claim to speak a language called Luxembourgish that sounds like garbled German and French and Dutch to the untrained ear. To the trained ear it still sounds like garbled German, French and Dutch only the trained ear no longer makes an effort to understand it.
After the liberation of the tiny nation by the Yanks (to whom they will ever be grateful by naming most of their roads after people like Patton, Roosevelt and cetera) the nation of farmers and steelworkers set about reconstruction with a lazy laid back savoir-faire until one day someone hit upon a bright idea. First there was the attraction of companies and banks thanks to deviously attractive tax schemes. Then, thanks to a slip somewhere in the negotiations, Luxembourg found itself host to part of the European Parliament, the European Commission AND the European Court of Justice.
The combination of these two events meant that this hitherto forgotten patch of land would attract (a) money, (b) settlers in search of employment – the combination of which meant many, many foreigners passing through the hallowed turf of Kirchberg, Limpertsberg and Oberpallen. And the Luxembourgers DO NOT LIKE FOREIGNERS.
And that is where the reason for this post begins. Because much as you try to fit in and meld with the culture. Much as you accept the fact that you have no other choice but to work in Luxembourg because the European Court of Justice happens to be there and in no other place. Much as you try to ignore the fact that given the choice between working in Luxembourg, London, Rome, Madrid and Athens you would not even look at the word with an X in it. Much as you do all that… you still notice that Luxembourg does nothing… NOTHING AT ALL… to make the foreigners living on its soil feel anything close to being welcome.
And these posts will be a documentation of all that is twisted in Luxembourg. This country that runs on the questionable motto of: “If you don’t want it, somebody else will come along and take it instead”. Where services are hopelessly inadequate because monopolies thrive and everyday business is rendered irrelevant by the gold mine that is taxation of businesses and renting of property.
Deal with a Luxembourger and you deal with someone who looks down on you almost immediately. Whether its M. Losch selling you the paper or J. Godaerts selling you your car. God forbid that you have to deal with an estate agent and try to negotiate a reasonable price for a hovel… (you don’t want it… someone else will take it)… And it’s not just if you are Maltese (implying arab looking)… no it’s the same with the French, the English and the Germans. They’re rude to everyone. They think everyone owes them a living. When it should be bloody obvious that the contrary is true.
Luxembourgers are LUCKY to host all these companies, consultancies, fonctionnaires etc. These companies and their employees are what make Luxembourg rich and Albania poor. unfortunately they take this for granted and spend most of their time trying to milk every last cent from their guests – and this without a smile.
So it comes as no surprise when you open L’essentiel and read that a survey by Transparency International has discovered that Luxembourg is perceived as the most corrupt among western European countries. About time someone started to open their eyes!