According to Luxembourg’s Prime Minister, Xavier Bettel, « ICT plays a leading role in corporate competitiveness and the efficiency of public administrations and public services. » We had the chance to talk to Mr. Bettel and get his feedback regarding the state of digital and innovation in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. The second part of our interview focuses on the government’s initiatives that support the digital sector, promote innovation and foster the development of innovative companies. (Xavier Bettel during the interview in his office. Photograph: Olivier Minaire)
What kind of digital initiatives do you encourage most?
I welcome all new digital initiatives. They are all important and each one reflects the entrepreneurial spirit of the person who came up with the idea and then devoted the time and resources required to implement the idea.
You started promoting the Digital Lëtzebuerg initiative a little over a year ago. Where is the government in its implementation?
It’s in progress. The first step was to get all the actors around a table and gather all the necessary information needed to start implementing Digital Lëtzebuerg. Then we actually began to implement the initiative, and citizens have already begun to see the benefits. One example is the free Wi-Fi available throughout the city, made possible thanks to the framework of the Luxembourg Presidency of the Council of the European Union.
The digital sector evolves quickly and requires that we work on several levels to address many related topics all at once. As we do so, significant efforts have been made to make the administration more transparent by ensuring Open Access to data. There are really lots of different parts to this Digital Lëtzebuerg initiative. Some pieces of legislation have already been passed. One piece of legislation, for example, aims to facilitate the ease of access to broadband Internet in buildings. Investments have already been made in infrastructure too. There is a lot of progress being made!
Anticipation for the 1 euro company S.à r.l. is very high. Has the government made progress in terms of its implementation?
Absolutely. The bill was already introduced by the government and is in the legislative process. Currently, we are awaiting the opinion of the Council of State and I hope that the project will be on the agenda of the Chamber of Deputies in the near future.
The development of the digital sector and innovation is clearly part of your government’s agenda. What are the government’s main lines of action to develop it?
In Luxembourg, the ICT sector, with 7% of the turnover of all Luxembourg businesses, represents one of the highest contributions to the economy in Europe. The digital sector has an unavoidable effect on the economy. Its development nourishes all other economic sectors, be it logistics, biotechnology, or Fintech. ICT plays a leading role in corporate competitiveness and the efficiency of public administrations and public services. These areas must rely on advanced technological infrastructure, well-trained human resources, as well as a legislative framework for these activities. There is therefore action taken at multiple levels, touching on many different aspects: education, innovation, promotion, administrative simplification… The government aims to help digital businesses flourish by implementing policies horizontally across sectors, in close cooperation with the private sector and academia.