Migration has always played an important role in Luxembourg’s history. In 2014 and 2015, due to the refugee crisis, migration became the focus of the economic, social and political debates, in particular during Luxembourg’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union.
As a country that is a founding Member of the European Union and located at the centre of the EU, Luxembourg has a strong attraction for EU citizens and this - in turn - has a direct incidence on the demographic composition of the country and the workforce.
Luxembourg’s demographic composition reflects its migratory diversity.
In 2014, the net migration balance was positive having increased by 6.8% in comparison to 2013. As such, the country’s rising population numbers were mainly attributed to the immigration of individuals coming from EU Member States and other European countries. These numbers include European Union (EU), European economic area (EEA) citizens and third-country nationals from non-EU European countries.
The country’s diversity is equally reflected in its labour market which heavily relies on its foreign workforce. In fact, Luxembourgish citizens represented 31% of the workforce in 2014, while EU citizens reached 65% and third-country nationals only 4%. Cross border workers also represented a very important part of the Luxembourgish workforce with 44.4 %.
Due to the refugee crisis, the number of international protection applicants increased between 2013 and 2014. As a consequence, the recognition rate of the status increased as well. On the other hand, the number of returns continued to decrease.
In order to respond to the crisis in an adequate manner, additional funds and staff for the Directorate of Immigration and the Luxembourg Reception and Integration Agency were allocated.
Given the magnitude of the migration crisis and the pressure on external border Member States, the EU Council took the decision to relocate 160.000 international protection applicants (European relocation scheme) who are currently in Greece and in Italy. In order to implement this decision, Luxembourg agreed to welcome 527 international protection applicants. The first group of 30 relocated individuals from Greece arrived in Luxembourg on 4 November 2015. During 2014, Luxembourg implemented several EU directives. Directive 2011/36/EU of 5 April 2011 on preventing and combating trafficking in human beings was implemented by the Law of 9 April 2014, which reinforced the rights of victims of trafficking in human beings by criminalising begging and the trafficking of children. Extensive work was undertaken to transpose Directives 2012/32/EU and 2012/33/EU of the Common European Asylum System. Two draft bills are currently within the last stages of the legislative procedure and their implementation is set to take place in 2015, after several amendments were brought to the draft bills at the end of September and October 2015.
On the national level, recent legislative changes and reforms answer to several aims, ranging from attracting certain categories of migrants to strengthening the support provided to unaccompanied minors. The creation of a new authorisation of stay for investors and the modification of certain authorisations of stay to adapt them for business managers are currently under discussion by an inter-ministerial working group, which is preparing two draft bills on these issues.