As a result of these major reforms, Luxembourg’s integration policies shifted from halfway favourable (54/100) to slightly favourable (64/100) for societal integration. Traditionally, Luxembourg suffered from one of lowest naturalisation rates in Europe and the largest democratic deficit of any developed democracy, comparable only to Singapore. These reforms are likely to have long-term positive impacts on public attitudes and awareness about immigration and discrimination as well as Luxembourg’s levels of naturalisation, political participation, common sense of belonging and trust.
Integration is in many ways the reality for the many long-settled immigrants in this small, wealthy, multilingual country, with many positive attitudes, interactions and integration outcomes reported for immigrants and Luxembourg citizens. Still, a few inequalities do persist. The greatest gaps emerge in employment (under-representation in public sector and gaps in income, poverty and skills in Luxembourgish compared to French and German), education (school concentration of immigrant pupils, languages and education pathways), long-term security (permanent residence or naturalisation) and discrimination awareness and reporting. These inequalities can be partly explained by gaps and obstacles in Luxembourg’s integration policies in areas like labour market mobility, education, family reunification and permanent residence.
Luxembourg’s comprehensive approach is not yet fully favourable for integration. Favourably, all residents of Luxembourg, regardless of their nationality, now enjoy largely the same basic rights. Still, Luxembourg only goes halfway to secure equal opportunities and long-term security for both foreign and Luxembourg citizens. These policies encourage the public to see immigrants as their equals, but not necessarily as their neighbours and their fellow citizens.
Luxembourg’s current policies are slightly above-average for the EU and for Western Europe (EU15). Its areas of strength and weakness are most similar to neighbouring Belgium and to Ireland, both countries with a comprehensive approach and large number of both EU and non-EU citizens. To improve its areas of weakness, Luxembourg can look within Europe to good practices from Belgium, the Nordics and Portugal. With a few improvements, Luxembourg could enter the MIPEX International ‘Top Ten’ on integration, where immigrants and citizens enjoy equal rights, opportunities and security and the public is encouraged to treat immigrants as their equals, neighbours and fellow citizens.
A country’s integration policies matter because the way that governments treat immigrants strongly influences how well immigrants and the public interact and think of each other. Drawing on 130 independent scientific studies using MIPEX, integration policies emerge as one of the strongest factors shaping not only the public’s willingness to accept and interact with immigrants, but also immigrants’ own attitudes, belonging, participation and even health in their new home country.
- Labour market mobility: Slightly unfavourable: Non-EU newcomers enjoy less access and less support to improve their job prospects, professional and language skills in Luxembourg than in most EU or Western European countries.
- Family reunification: Halfway favourable: Luxembourg has become slightly 'family-friendly' for non-EU families, removing the 1-year waiting period, in line with EU trends. However, obstacles to integration still emerge in the procedures, security and rights for reuniting families.
- Education: Slightly favourable: Slightly above-average for Western Europe, Luxembourg offers targets immigrant pupils' specific needs and advocates an intercultural approach for all pupils. But with the largest number of 1st/2nd generation pupils of all developed democracies, Luxembourg has an especially large task ahead to promote equal opportunities at all levels, encourage mixed schools, language learning, multilingualism and diversity within the teaching sector.
- Health: Halfway favourable: While immigrant patients benefit from inclusive healthcare entitlements and intercultural interpreters, Luxembourg’s average policies could benefit from greater involvement of immigrants in service design and delivery and greater mainstreaming in all health policies.
- Political participation: Favourable: With foreign citizens constituting a near-majority of its population, Luxembourg does more than most countries to facilitate their political participation through local voting rights, ad hoc campaigns, strong consultative bodies and funding for immigrant associations. These policies are ranked #2 on MIPEX, alongside Ireland and New Zealand, and score 85/100. Luxembourg’s policies would be fully favourable with small changes in the voter registration procedure. Turnout among foreign citizens could be as high as in Nordic countries if voter registration was quasi-automatic and ongoing, from a newcomer’s first day in Luxembourg up until a few days before the election. These changes can be compatible with EU law and Luxembourg’s obligatory voting system.
- Permanent residence: Halfway favourable: The path to permanent residence in Luxembourg is average for Western Europe but more complicated than in countries like Belgium, Italy, Portugal, Spain and Nordics. The way Luxembourg transposed its EU obligations in 2008 provided fewer groups with greater rights but still limited security.
- Access to nationality: Slightly favourable: Immigrants’ access to nationality improved from halfway to slightly favourable, which may start to raise Luxembourg’s traditionally low naturalisation and political participation rates. While the 2008 reform secured the path to dual nationality, the 8 March 2017 Nationality Law followed MIPEX recommendations and international trends. The wait for the first-generation is lowered from 7-to-5 years and their efforts are rewarded for learning Luxembourgish. The right to citizenship was regained by spouses and extended from the third- to the second-generation. Luxembourg’s policies are now comparable to many Western European countries and only more restrictive on a few points than the traditional destination countries (the Americas, Australia, New Zealand), Ireland, Portugal or Sweden.
- Anti-discrimination: Favourable: The greatest improvement to Luxembourg’s integration policies was its stronger non-discrimination approach thanks to the 7 November 2017 law. Luxembourg’s anti-discrimination policies improved from slightly to fully favourable because protection now extends to all victims of nationality discrimination – whether Luxembourg, mobile EU or non-EU citizens. These improvements to Luxembourg’s laws and enforcement mechanisms may help to improve Luxembourg’s traditionally low levels to discrimination awareness and reporting on nationality, racial, ethnic and religious discrimination. Its policies are now comparable to Western European and traditional destination countries, although practitioners could still learn from their more extensive experiences, practices and positive actions.