It is a double pleasure for us that, as a euro country, we have the opportunity to showcase the creativity of our young talents in this popular series of events, especially during the six months for which Luxembourg holds the Presidency of the European Council for the twelfth time.
We wish to express our heartfelt gratitude to the initiator of these now traditional events, Federal Finance Minister Dr. Wolfgang Schäuble, who himself has a passion for the muses of music, and whose pro-European convictions we hold in high esteem. We would also like to thank very warmly the staff of the Federal Ministry of Finance who have spent long weeks working hard to make sure this evening is a success.
In the particularly difficult times the world and, above all, the southern Mediterranean region are going through, our two states are pulling in the same direction as we seek to master the enormous challenges we face. Both share the deep conviction that only a Europe inspired by a spirit of solidarity and prepared to pool its efforts will be able to cope with the great tasks it has to shoulder. What we need is not less Europe, but a more actively practiced Europe, a Europe people feel they belong to.
As we are in the Federal Ministry of Finance, I will probably not need to say much about Luxembourg’s success as a financial centre, one whose principle assets are not always appreciated by the general public: political stability, social peace, reliability and predictability in the legal and regulatory spheres, a multilingual workforce, and the highest levels of competence supported by genuinely international expertise.
On its own, however, the country’s status as a financial centre does not by any means explain why the proportion of non-Luxembourgers in the total population has risen to 45 per cent and why Luxembourg attracts more than 160,000 cross-border commuters from neighbouring countries every day – among them roughly 40,000 German workers. Luxembourg’s economy is highly diversified: it has a steel industry that, despite having grown smaller, has specialised in products of the highest class, it is home to one of the largest media hubs in the world, it manufactures chemical products and glass, it has metalworking companies, while there are even 10,000 people employed in the automotive supply sector. Not only that, we have a dynamic university and a research landscape that, in a number of fields, has brought us international recognition in remarkably short time. As a high-wage country, we have realised that Luxembourgish products will only find sales markets if they are distinguished by their outstanding quality.
The state has invested a great deal in our cultural infrastructure, particularly over the last two decades. This commitment, Luxembourg’s two stints as European Capital of Culture and the wealth of opportunities for music education have helped foster extraordinary dynamism and quality on the music scene in particular. Luxembourg has likely always been one of the countries with the highest density of music clubs and societies, which still lend beauty to the civic and religious celebrations held in our towns and villages.
A long shared history binds us together in a common destiny, which we have anchored in the European idea following the devastating wars we experienced in the 20th century. Thanks to its trilingualism, Luxembourg has the rare good fortune to belong to two of Europe’s major cultural areas, something that enriches our lives daily. We are delighted that tonight, with “The Sound of Luxembourg”, we have the chance to open a window, if only a small one, on Luxembourg’s creative scene and way of life.