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Luxembourg, a rising star in the space industry

By Thierry Bovier, International Tax Partner, Deloitte Luxembourg.In the past few years, Luxembourg has positioned itself as a hub for the growing space industry. While this plan is not new, as several major satellite operators have already been present in the country since the 1980s, there have been recent developments due to the government’s strategic decision to actively develop and extend the space economy further.

In this context, Luxembourg has set up an attractive legal framework for space activities, preliminary bases for international cooperation, and a space-oriented curriculum for the entire school system. The country also offers several financial tools to space entrepreneurs that are already based in Luxembourg or contemplating a move to the country.

This paper aims to present the recent projects, cooperation, and incentives initiated by the Luxembourg government to boost the breakthrough of space companies in the local market.

 

Legal framework: an international impulse

Luxembourg’s 2018 draft bill on space activities (“Space Activities Act”), which to date is still awaiting discussion in parliament, reflects this appetite for advancement. The need for a comprehensive national space law is due to the presence of a well-developed satellite industry in Luxembourg and Luxembourg’s adhesion to the Outer Space Treaty.

 

International cooperation:

Luxembourg has positioned itself as a new player on the international space scene by setting up bases for international cooperation in the space sector with various countries, through either a joint declaration, a Memorandum of Cooperation, or a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). These countries are, in chronological order, the United Arab Emirates, Japan, China, Czech Republic, Poland, the United States of America, and Belgium. 

Year after year, Luxembourg continues to foster international relationships in the space industry, as demonstrated by the recent signing of an MoU with the State of New South Wales (Australia) on future space activities on 3 February 2020. This MoU foresees a framework for cooperation on space-related activities.

 

Educational perspectives:

Luxembourg’s comprehensive space strategy is not restricted to business, but also targets education to cultivate a new generation of space specialists. Different space-oriented educational projects will be led through the entire school system, from primary up to university. Notably, in addition to its existing Master’s degree in Space, Communication and Media Law, the University of Luxembourg has opened a new interdisciplinary Master’s in Space Studies.

 

Financial support tools:

Alongside its legislative framework and educational focus, Luxembourg supports the space industry’s development with diverse financial tools, both national and European. Tax incentives or direct aids are available for companies at every stage of their business, from start-ups to well-established multinational companies. It is also worth emphasizing that Luxembourg is providing more substance to its project of establishing a space industry venture fund.

 

Deloitte Luxembourg is ready to tune-in:

To complement this beneficial landscape, echoing the space initiative and thriving presence of players in Luxembourg, Deloitte Luxembourg has been developing its own space center of excellence. The center regroups experts from various fields to offer comprehensive assistance to clients from the space industry and help them navigate the different incentives (financial or tax) that may be available to them.

 

If you would like to discover more insights regarding this new attractive Luxembourgish framework, please take a look at our full paper here.