A warm welcome to our friends from Luxembourg!
This issue marks a turning point for BSL, as the letter “L” no longer refers to Liechtenstein, but rather to Luxembourg. As President of the Swiss Chamber of Commerce for Belgium and the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, I am of course very touched by this new turn of events.
Switzerland and the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg are countries that are similar yet different at the same time. They are alike in the sense that they are both small countries compared with their larger neighbours, such as Germany or France; they do not have access to the sea; and the banking and financial sectors play an important role in their economies. For very many years, before the automatic exchange of information entered into force, they also had banking secrecy in common.
Our two states are also different in several aspects, however. Firstly, as a member of the European Union, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg benefits from the free movement of financial services, which is not the case for Switzerland. In particular, this has resulted in a number of Swiss banks experiencing stronger growth in Luxembourg than in Geneva or Zurich. Secondly, although the banking sector plays a very important role in the Swiss economy, it does not feature as prominently in Switzerland as it does in Luxembourg. And lastly, the swiftness with which legislative processes take place in the Grand Duchy is not seen in Switzerland, where such processes are a slow occurrence. Personally, I am always amazed to see the speed at which Luxembourg responds when one of its laws is contested or no longer complies with the requirements of European law. Nevertheless, as a big advocate of Swiss direct democracy, I have to say that, even if it is not renowned for its speed, it does offer a number of other advantages. (...)
Philippe Kenel, Attorney-at-Law in Lausanne, Geneva and Brussels, PYTHON
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