New Bill Eases the Requirements for Luxembourgish Citizenship

The Chambre de Commerce

The Chambre de Commerce in Luxembourg has commented on Bill No. 6977 on Luxembourgish nationality; the bill aims for an improvement of the legislation and a necessary reform from previous legislation that had been introduced in 2008.

According to the Chambre de Commerce, the bill is a reflection of the specific demographic situation in the Grand Duchy, where residents holding Luxembourgish nationality account for merely a little over half of the total population. In its opinion, the Chambre de Commerce has recalled that the bill is in a unique demographic setting within the European Union, as the dynamic and attractive economy of Luxembourg generates a workforce that the local population can no longer fulfill on its own. In the course of 25 years, the population of Luxembourg has grown exponentially through the impetus of a largely positive net immigration. Between 1 January 1990 and 1 January 2016, the total population has grown by 52%, leading to the inexorable decline in the percentage of Luxembourgish citizens within the total population. On 1 January 2016, Luxembourgish citizens represented only 53.3% of the total population.

As this unprecedented demographic situation in Europe poses a series of challenges to the Grand Duchy regarding political representation and participation in the democratic life by foreign residents, the Chambre de Commerce has signaled their approval of the measures envisaged by the bill which aims at easing citizenship requirements for non-national residents wishing to obtain Luxembourgish nationality, arguing that it constitutes a convincing way to promote social cohesion and the integration of foreigners into Luxembourgish society, while enhancing the representation of the Luxembourgish electorate.

The bill allows for a child born in Luxembourg, and who has two non-Luxembourgish parents, to still obtain Luxembourgish citizenship under certain circumstances. The bill will further ease the conditions of the requirements for citizenship by reducing the mandatory length of residence in the country from seven to five years, and requiring a continuous residence in Luxembourg for one year immediately preceding the application for citizenship.

As the integration of foreigners happens mainly through the workplace, and as they must master the working language of their company, the Chambre de Commerce wants the language requirements to be suited to the reality of the world of business in Luxembourg, where different languages are used daily. It has therefore proposed that the requirements for knowledge of the Luxembourgish language are lowered to A1 level for speaking and to level A2 for listening, instead of level A2 for speaking and B1 for listening as are currently required.

Taking into account the linguistic reality of the country, the bill will ensure and strengthen the use of French and German languages in national politics and in the media, especially during election campaigns. The Chambre de Commerce believes that this will increase political participation and voter turnout.

The Chambre de Commerce also argues for a greater consideration of the cross-border workers phenomenon in the national democratic life, since cross-border employment now represents 45% of salaried total domestic employment. As nearly 200,000 cross-border workers are now part of the Luxembourgish socio-economic life, the Chambre de Commerce has invited reflection on the implementation of innovative forms of citizen participation, such as the establishment of a national council for cross-border workers or the regular implementation of consultations on issues directly affecting them.