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Anne Calteux (European Commission): The European Commission Goes on the Offensive

According to Anne Calteux, Head of the European Commission Representation in Luxembourg, unity and solidarity within the EU will enable us to navigate through the challenges of our time: climate change, cyber-security, the energy crisis, the rise of populism and conflict. Interview. 


"Ultimately everyone is affected by the decisions taken in Brussels." 

Could you briefly describe the tasks of the European Commission Representation in Luxembourg?

The Representation fulfils several roles. Firstly, it explains the Commission's new initiatives to the stakeholders in our society - what they mean to them and what added value they offer - with the aim of demystifying the workings of the European Union and bringing it closer to the people. After all, everyone is affected by the decisions taken in Brussels. We talk to a wide range of people: ordinary citizens, members of parliament, members of government and ministry officials, as well as representatives of industry, finance, NGOs, civil society, and the press. We answer their questions. As you will have gathered, communication based on proven and well-founded facts is a major tool in our work, in a context where misinformation is dangerously gaining ground. As Commission Representative in Luxembourg, I have the honor of speaking on behalf of the Commission: I prepare the various events - conferences, seminars, round tables, daily publications on social networks - with my team of 12 colleagues of 9 different nationalities.

How do you carry out your political reporting?

Every day we closely monitor political developments in the Grand Duchy relating to the Commission's main priorities: green transition, digitalisation, security, competitiveness, values, democracy, defence, migration, etc. Every day I start by reading several press reviews. We sort through them and pass on the most relevant information to the President's Cabinet and the various Directorates-General concerned. This work is essential so that those who draw up the new legislative proposals in Brussels are aware of national sensitivities and can anticipate Luxembourg's reactions in good time. This saves time, particularly in the often complex and time-consuming decision-making process. In short, the Representation is the voice, eyes, and ears of the Commission.

What are the major challenges facing the European Commission in Luxembourg?

Luxembourg - a resolutely pro-European country - is facing a challenge, particularly in terms of communication. The fact that almost 50% of residents are non-nationals and the country's linguistic diversity mean that we must multiply communication channels and adapt messages to different contexts to reach the entire population. For example, we publish on social networks in five languages. An additional challenge for us is to reach the 'hard-to-get', i.e. the people who are less supportive or disinterested in Europe. We must not ignore them. The European elections are fast approaching. 

Does having European institutions based in the Grand Duchy have an impact on your mission?

Of course it does. Many residents are unaware that over 14,000 people work here for the European institutions, including 3,700 for the Commission. We are working very hard to ensure that European civil servants and agents have adequate infrastructures and working conditions. The attractiveness of Luxembourg is one of the key issues. I am also regularly asked by the European Investment Bank, the Court of Justice of the European Union, the European Parliament, and the European Court of Auditors to speak on Commission priorities. I see this as an enormous opportunity to broaden my target audience and the horizons of my knowledge. A final challenge lies in the fact that we are the smallest Representation, yet we must deliver the same results as the biggest. This requires an innovative, cohesive, and resilient team.


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How do you see the next five years developing?

The last few years have been marked by unprecedented crises: the return of war to Europe, the COVID-19 crisis, climate change, threats to cyber security, the energy crisis and the rise of populism. These events have had a profound impact on the lives of all Europeans and will continue to accompany us in the years to come.  The European Commission has already taken significant steps to address these challenges. The flagship initiative - the EU Green Deal - aims to make Europe climate neutral by 2050. The EU recovery plan - NextGenerationEU - was put in place to support post-pandemic economic recovery and strengthen the EU's resilience. Today, two years after the invasion of Ukraine, the EU continues to support the Ukrainian people. We have decided to invest massively in joint procurement and, more recently, in the production of military equipment - a necessary paradigm shift to ensure the security of our continent and of Europe as a peace project. The coming years will also be marked by enlargement: the countries joining the EU as new Member States must be ready, as must the European Union itself. This will require major reforms and investments on both sides.

Is solidarity within the EU suffering?

Many of our landmarks have been shaken in recent years, but the values of unity and solidarity within the EU have proved their worth. It is our responsibility to keep them intact so that we can navigate through these challenges and seize future opportunities. Europe must remain a trusted and open partner while being assertive to strengthen its strategic autonomy in a world marked by insecurity, geopolitical tensions and economic rivalries. The time for naivety is over. By working together, the EU can strengthen its position on the world stage, promote economic prosperity, protect fundamental rights and ensure a sustainable future for all. We are determined to work with Member States and stakeholders to build a greener, more innovative, more cohesive, and more resilient Europe. 

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