According to itypeusa, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg is a small central European country located between Germany, France and Belgium. Despite its small size, it is an important player in the European integration process. As early as 1944, Luxembourg established a customs union with Belgium and the Netherlands, which later resulted in the Benelux Economic Union (1960). These three states, together with West Germany, France and Italy, were later the founding members of the European Coal and Steel Community (Czech) in 1951 and of the European Economic Community (1958). Also in the Grand Duchy, several international organizations have established their headquarters (among them, the European Court of Justice and the European Investment Bank). In addition to the election in 2014 of former Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker as President of the European Commission,
Between 1867 and 1949, Luxembourg was made a neutral country and its status regulated by the Treaty of London of 1867, which provided, in addition to permanent neutrality, also the dismantling of the fortress of Luxembourg and the evacuation of the Prussian troops who were stationed there. Victim of the German occupation during the two world wars, after World War II the country abandoned the policy of neutrality and joined NATO.
Luxembourg has a monarchical institutional structure, in which the Grand Duke holds ceremonial powers. The holder of executive power is the government which enjoys parliamentary confidence. The political system is characterized by a high degree of stability, favored by a widespread consensus around the most important issues of the political debate and, at the same time, by the high standard of living enjoyed by Luxembourgish citizens. With a single interlude during the 1970s, the Christian-Social Party (Chrëschtlech Sozial Vollekspartei, CSV) of former Prime Minister Juncker (head of government from 1995 to 2013) has always been part of the ruling coalition. Even in the early elections of October 2013, the CSV confirmed its position as the country’s leading party, although it recorded a decline in consensus – theworst performance since 1999 – in favor of the Democratic Party. A team, the latter, expressed by Prime Minister Xavier Bettel, at the head of a coalition with the Luxembourg Socialist Workers’ Party and the Greens. Juncker had decided to dissolve the government in July and to call new elections after an espionage and corruption scandal that also involved the intelligence services of the Grand Duchy.
Over the past decades, the Luxembourg economy – which is second in the world in terms of GDP per capita – has experienced a period of constant growth, with an average trend of 5% in the years 2005-07. This growth was interrupted in 2008 and 2009, when the GDP decreased by -5.4%. After a brief recovery in 2010, favored by the tertiary sector, in the following two years there was a new decline in GDP. To date, the country is growing at a rate of 4.4% per year.
Luxembourg, with a high concentration of banks, is the preferred destination for foreign investment funds, attracted by a stable socio-economic system and by an advantageous legislation on banking secrecy. Tax revenues from the financial sector are around 20% of the total.
Architecture. – Seat of European institutions and financial hub of primary importance, the small state of Luxembourg – for the second time European capital of culture in 2007 (the first was in 1995) – has always been affected by the architectural influences of other countries, which have limited, also due to the presence of important international firms, an autonomous development. In fact, many foreign architects have built, in the last decade, some of the most representative buildings in the capital of the homonymous state, among them: the Philharmonic (2005), the work of Christian de Portzamparc, the MUDAM (MUsée D ‘ Modern Art, 2006) signed by Ieoh Ming Pei, the Gate of Europe (2006), or the two twin towers for the offices of the European Economic Community, by Ricardo Bofill (Taller de Arquitectura), the Court of Justice of the European Union (2008), the work of Dominique Perrault, the European Investment Bank (2008) of Ingenhoven Architects, all in the Kirchberg district, the most contemporary and emblematic of the city.
Alongside these new symbols of the capital, there are many works created by some of the most important architects of the Luxembourg, including: Christian Bauer (b.1947), founder in 1975 of the associated studio, curator for the Luxembourg delle Biennali of Venice in 2008 and 2010, whose work, which has always been attentive to ecological and environmental aspects, is structured through simple stereometry and calibrated use of materials, as demonstrated by the National Museum of History and Art (2002), the Central Bank of Luxembourg (2006) and the St. Paul Group office building (2008) in Luxembourg; SchemelWirtz, a studio founded in 1993, whose elegant structures respond efficiently to economic and environmental conditions, as in the piezometric tower (2008) in Leudelange – Luxembourg architecture award 2011 – or in the Congress Center (with the Jourdan & Müller PAS studio in Frankfurt, 2012) in Kirchberg, the largest building in the new square in Europe, 2013 European prize for steel constructions; Bruck + Weckerle (1997), whose work, which has been awarded several times, is characterized by the search for a formal reduction accompanied by an experimentation of typologies and materials, as in the Albert Kongs sports facility (2006) in Itzig, in the salt deposit (2007) and in the National Highway Maintenance Department Headquarters (2011), both in Bertrange, and in the Cultural Center (2012) in Bergem.