Earth has completed yet another orbit around the Sun and many of us are back to work (or still working…) in Luxembourg after the Christmas and New Year holiday period.
A new year often represents a moment to reflect as well as to look ahead to the future. So, what's new in Luxembourg (and beyond) in 2024?
2023 was a busy political year for Luxembourg, with both the municipal (local) and legislative (national) elections taking place, and the latter resulting in a new CSV-DP government under the premiership of Luc Frieden. One of the Luxembourgish words of the year was even "Superwaljoer", which translates to "super election year" in English. A personal highlight for me in 2023 was (finally) acquiring Luxembourgish citizenship and being able (and obliged) to vote in both elections.
This year, Luxembourgers and fellow European citizens will head to the polls again for the European Parliament elections in June. These elections are considered crucial for the future political direction of the European Union, not least amid concerns of the rise of far-right parties, and division on issues linked to migration, security and defence, not to mention continued economic uncertainty.
Many people working in Luxembourg will also vote for the staff delegations in their companies (those with more than fifteen employees) and select the future members of the Chamber of Employees during the "social" elections on 12 March 2024.
Taking into account the rest of the world, 2024 has been dubbed the biggest election year in history: over 60 countries representing half of the global population are set to vote in various presidential, legislative and local elections this year. A big one to watch will be the US presidential election, which will likely pit incumbent President Joe Biden (Democrat) against former President Donald Trump (Republican).
In our interconnected world, foreign elections, along with ongoing geopolitical tensions and global economic developments, will likely have an impact on life in Luxembourg, as elsewhere. Interestingly, another top Luxembourgish word in 2023 was "Fridden" (peace). Following a(nother) year of conflict(s) around the world, one question that remains in 2024 is: is it too much to ask (and to hope) for world peace? And how might this year's global elections contribute to this outcome? Moreover, how will countries around the world collectively fight climate change in 2024? With 2023 emerging as the hottest year on record (third hottest year in Luxembourg), and despite a "historic" COP 28 agreement on transitioning away from fossil fuels, ambitious climate policies are proving more important than ever.
Economy & Finance
One of the biggest changes for taxpayers in Luxembourg in 2024 is the adjustment of the income tax scale to include four index-linked brackets. As of 1 January 2024, the tax brackets have been adjusted by 10.38% compared to the rate applicable since 2017. One concrete example given by the Luxembourg government in this context looked at how this represents a net annual gain of €1,095 for a taxpayer in tax class 1 with a gross annual salary of €75,000.
Another change for people working in Luxembourg impacts German resident cross-border workers, whose teleworking allowance (linked to taxation) increased from nineteen to 34 days as of 1 January 2024. This brings the Luxembourg-German double taxation agreement more in line with those in place for Belgian and French cross-border workers.
After not one, not two, but three wage indexations in 2023, STATEC has forecast a new wage indexation in the third quarter of 2024, meaning salaries and pensions are set to go up again by 2.5% later this year.
Transport & Housing
The extension of Luxembourg’s tram network continues to progress in 2024, with the Cloche d'Or tracks looking set for completion by the middle of the year. Passengers should also having the option of taking the tram to Luxembourg Airport in Findel (where work is already underway) by early 2025.
A hot topic in Luxembourg in recent years has been housing. Whilst housing prices finally began to drop last year, so did sales, thanks in no small part to high interest rates. Towards the end of 2023, Education Minister Claude Meisch also took over the portfolio for housing, and it will be interesting to see how his ministry and the new government as a whole address the ongoing housing crisis. One pledge was to build more homes, more quickly, whilst also accelerating the creation of public affordable housing...
Sports & Culture
2024 has got off to a solid sporting start, with Esch-sur-Alzette hosting Luxembourg Open ITF men's and women's tournaments throughout January. Various international tennis stars have been gracing the national tennis centre courts, with the UK's Jacob Fearnley having won the ITF M25 ($25,000 prize money) singles event just last Sunday. The ITF W15 ($15,000) tournament is currently underway (until Sunday 14 January 2024).
Similarly, the Luxembourg Euro Meet will bring together swimming talents from near and far at d'Coque at the end of January.
A major sporting highlight at the international level will be the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris, France (26 July to 11 August). Last summer, Patrizia Van der Weken was the first Luxembourgish athlete to qualify for the upcoming Olympics; the sprinter currently holds the national record in the 100 and 200 metres events.
Also in the realm of sports, the new year saw the expansion of the list of potential beneficiaries of sports leave in Luxembourg.
In the world of culture, 2024 marks the much anticipated return of Luxembourg to the Eurovision Song Contest after a 31-year absence. The national final at Rockhal on 27 January will determine which artist represents Luxembourg in Malmö, Sweden in May.
Confirmed international acts coming to Luxembourg's concert halls this year include Australian DJ Timmy Trumpet (February), English singer-songwriter James Blunt (February), Jason Derulo (February), Mika (March), Slash (April), American rock duo Tenacious D (May), The Smashing Pumpkins (June), German singer-songwriter Nico Santos (Nov), Dutch symphonic metal band Within Temptation (December)...
The official Les Misérables production is also making a few stops along its world tour at Rockhal in late October 2024. Additional show times have been added due to demand since the performances were announced last autumn.
This year (in June) will also see Luxembourg host the European Culture Award (Europäischer Kulturpreis) Gala for the first time. The Luxembourg Philharmonic Orchestra (OPL) is among the prize winners to be honoured on this occasion.
At least one thing is for sure as we ease ourselves into a new year in this uncertain world: 2024 is shaping up to be another busy year in all areas of life in Luxembourg (and beyond).