Luxembourg is generally considered one of the safest countries in the world
Photo: Nader Ghavami
How much of a chance of misfortune striking and a risk of what, exactly? Delano tests the risks by interviewing an intelligence analyst.
Ben Plane is an intelligence analyst at WorldAware, a risk management and crisis response outfit that works for multinational organisations with staff based and travelling globally. Plane covers western Europe out of the US firm’s London office.
Aaron Grunwald: From your perspective, what are the principal risks for people travelling to and living in, and businesses operating in, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg?
Ben Plane: As with other low-threat destinations in western Europe, petty crime, such as theft, is the primary security threat faced by both travellers to and residents of Luxembourg. These types of criminals tend to target individuals who appear inattentive or unfamiliar with the area, and as such operate in crowded areas frequented by tourists; as a result, the Quartier Gare area around the central rail station is often referenced as a petty crime hotspot. However, as these crimes are opportunistic in nature and can be easily mitigated by taking basic security precautions, the threat for most people is low.
Financial and cyber criminals are likely to see Luxembourg as an attractive target due to the number of high value companies operating in the country, therefore business in Luxembourg should always remain cognisant of threats from sophisticated fraud operations and similar crimes.
How does Luxembourg compare to its neighbouring countries and the rest of western Europe in terms of stability and security?
Security threats in Luxembourg are typical of those faced in other countries in the region, though reduced in all regards due to the nation’s relative size and prosperity. Higher than average per capita income, for example, provides some insulation from shocks to the international financial system, and the greater wealth also allows better funding for public services. This coupled with a lower population than its neighbours allows for more effective allocation of public resources, such as law enforcement and health, and acts to reduce crime and limit potentially destabilising sociopolitical issues.
Similarly, terrorism is a regionwide issue and transnational Islamist extremist groups have carried out attacks in Luxembourg’s three direct neighbours in recent years. As a Nato and EU member, these armed extremist groups are unlikely to distinguish between Luxembourg and France, for example, though Luxembourg may be lower on the list of targeting priorities. However, similar attacks have not taken place within Luxembourg itself and international agencies generally rate the threat of terrorism as lower than other countries in the region because of conditions associated with Luxembourg’s relatively high income and low population; lower numbers of potentially disenfranchised migrants and effective security services, for example.
Nonetheless, the EU’s border-free travel area means that, in theory, Luxembourg is susceptible to the same terrorist threats as Belgium, France and Germany. This is reflected in the national government’s terrorism rating of 2 (the second-lowest tier on a four-point scale), indicating a real, but non-specific terrorist threat in the country.
What advice do you give your clients about Luxembourg?
The general advice we give is to take basic travel security precautions to minimise the risk of becoming a victim of crime, for example, by avoiding walking in unlit areas at night and being aware of your belongings always. We also advise clients to avoid any political protests or demonstrations, and to remain alert to the terrorist threat and report any suspicious objects or behaviour to the authorities.
What are the most frequent situations that your firm encounters supporting clients in Luxembourg?
In general, national security agencies are more than capable of handling any security concerns that are likely to impact travellers and business in Luxembourg. Specific events that we tend to issue alerts for are severe weather warnings, transport disruptions and political protests. These incidents can be caused by domestic events, such as software issues for Luxembourg Airport’s air traffic control systems leading to delays this August, or they can stem from international developments such as the spate of global climate change protests over the last year. Our alerts allow our clients to take action to mitigate the associated disruption to their businesses and employees.
Do you have any other observations about the dangers or risks in Luxembourg?
Situated in a highly developed region and insulated from the worst effects of that region’s typical security issues, Luxembourg is generally considered one of the safest countries in the world. Most visits to Luxembourg are likely to be trouble free, and the remaining threats can be mitigated by basic security measures and prior warning of events such as the occasional non-violent political demonstration.
This article was first published in the November 2019 edition of Delano Magazine.