Last June 17th, we had our AGM and an EGM, which was attended by 16 members in person, and 3 represented by proxy.

Our chairmen, Peter Munro and Jan Könighaus reported on another successful year full of activities, and on the society’s finances. Please find the 2023 Chairman’s Report below.

Despite the many events, the society’s finances are in very good shape, with funds at the same level as last year. Our honorary auditor gave an unqualified favorable opinion on the accounts. The accounts were then unanimously approved, and the honorary auditor and Committee were unanimously discharged.

The 2023 committee

After a brief discussion on the budget (no membership fee increase this year nor in the foreseeable future), we elected the Committee for 2024, which includes three new members (Katia Volodine, Linda Chirila, and Sam Vinandy-Lau) and one returning member, David Clark. The committee said goodbye to recently married Lidiya Cherneva, whom contributed tremendously to the committee and the OUSL, whom we will undoubtedly see at future events.

The EGM was held to amend the articles of association of our society, so as to better adapt ourselves to modern times. As the necessary quorum to amend the articles of association (two thirds of all members) was not met, a second EGM will be convened where quorum will be reduced to the number of attending members. Members will shortly receive, by mail, an invitation for this EGM. If all goes well, this will be the final ‘snail-mail’ invitation, so that future communication with our members can take place via e-mail.  

After the AGM and EGM, we enjoyed drinks, canapés, and a “cheese tasting quiz”, which challenged our members to identify four national cheeses in a blind tasting test.

Dinner with Oxford Professor of Education

On May 23rd a dinner was hosted by OUSL with Simon Marginson, Linacre Fellow and Professor of Higher Education at Oxford, during his visit to Luxembourg. He presented on higher education strategy and rankings before an evening meal at Cercle Munster. The event underlined the importance of dialogue on education in the Society’s activities, and was the excellent initiative of Committee Member Agnieszka Walczak, with support from Committee Advisor David Clark.

Vineyard visit

On Sunday 28 April, we visited the  Dominikaner Weingut C. von Nell-Breuning in the Ruwer valley near Trier, where Romans introduced the grape and wine making two centuries ago.
We were hosted by Dr. Carmen von Nell-Breuning, the owner and wine-maker of her family’s vineyard, which was founded in the 17th century. 

Carmen gave us an overview of the different grapes (Riesling and Pinot Noir) and the different vineyards, all of the ‘steep slope’ kind, some held in exclusive ownership. She also explained us how the wine-growing season has changed in the last decades with harvesting periods now starting in September, while only a generation ago, harvests could be as late as December.

In the cellar, we saw the different fermentation vessels and their controls, and also the wooden frames where the sparkling ‘Sekt’ wines were fermenting in their bottles. Carmen explained us, among others, how fermentation can be controlled, the meaning of “bio” in the wine industry, and the manual turning of the Sekt bottles, according to the ‘Méthode Champenoise’. In the ‘Schatzkammer’ (the Treasury) we saw wines made deep in the last century, some worth up to €500 a bottle, that are sparingly sold directly to Michelin Star restaurants.

After visiting the cellar, we proceeded to the ‘Weinzimmer’, where we were treated on a Sekt, and admired the paintings collected by the family’s eleven generations, some of which were acquired by the founders of the dynasty, who it was believed fled Ireland in fear of Cromwell in the ‘Flight of the Earls’.

In the Pauliner Hof restaurant we tasted six more wines, while Carmen provided excellent descriptions and explanations. We also enjoyed a wonderful meal and lively conversations: We were 40 participants, including friends from the Cambridge and Rhineland societies.

The event ended with a delightful walk on the Dominikaner Berg, location of the ‘Monopol’ fields owned by the winery. We had a fantastic view over Kasel in the Ruwer Valley, but also saw the frost damage to the grapes due to the sub-zero temperatures the week before our visit. The vineyard that we saw showed a loss of 40%, but we were told that other fields suffered a 100% loss. All in all we increased our understanding and admiration of the winemaking business, which we will surely recall when we drink Carmen’s wines at home.

Sustainable Finance seminar

On February 27th, our chairman Peter Munro was invited to give a talk at the Law Faculty of the University of Oxford. He discussed the EU Example and Case for Global Integration’ in the Faculty of Law, University of Oxford. Peter delved into the nuanced impacts of #ESG regulation and the imperative for an evidence-based approach in shaping sustainable policies. He also touched on the potential future implications of AI and automated decision-making. We thank our member Dr. Felix Pflücke for organising the event.

Oxford Tenor at the Philharmonie

On February 25th Oxonian singer Ian Bostridge performed together with Luxembourg Chamber Orchestra. Opening with Berlioz’ Nuits d’été , Ian Bostridge offered us very personal interpretations of spring by the composers Lili Boulanger, Andrea Tarrodi, and Siegfried Wagner. His idyll with this title – part tone poem, part haïku – oscillated between lullaby and awed awakening.
A wonderful performance to start the new year.

Annual black-tie dinner

With Professor Dr. Jens Kreisel, rector of the University of Luxembourg

On November 7th we had our annual black tie dinner, this year at Cercle Münster. We invited Dr. Jens Kreisel, rector of the University of Luxembourg, who informed us about “The University of Luxembourg – its vision, and the superpower of interdisciplinarity and partnerships”. Dr. Kreisel gave an animated overview of the young university’s impressive achievements so far and its goals for the future.

We learned that the university aims to focus of interdisciplinary research by connecting academics from different backgrounds, to widen the frontiers of knowledge. The university also aims to strengthen its partnerships with other universities, among others our alma mater.

The evening was filled with engaging conversation, wonderful food in a most enjoyable ambiance . Heartfelt thanks to Mette and Jan who had excellently organised this event.

Foire de l’Étudiant and Practice Interviews

As every year, the OUSL was present at the annual student faire in Belval, on October 26th and 27th. Our volunteers informed potential students, who came from Luxembourg and the Grand Region, about studying in Oxford. We answered many interesting questions, and met several potential Oxonians.

Then early November, we conducted practice interviews to help candidates preparing for their admission interviews at Oxford and Cambridge. This year our volunteers gave valuable feedback to approximately 15 candidates after mimicking the online admission interviews. With a little luck, we will see some of the interviewees again next year at the Fresher’s dinner.

We thank Steve Brabbs of the Cambridge Society for coordinating the interviews, and our members Lidiya, David, Harriet, Lisa, Hervé, Naomi, Andrew, Jos, Florian, Jesper, Paschalis, Matthew, Marilyn and Adrian. for continuing to support our university’s educational outreach initiative.

Family event flower creativity workshop

On October 21st, our Member Lidiya Cherneva organised, welcomed several familied to her cosy home, for a flower arranging workshop. The parents and the children had the opportunity to create flower bouquets the way they imagine it. Deepened into a creative spirit, the conversations were joyfully flowing. There was also a snack boost to support the creative flow.

Third OUSL-FDEF Law Talk

Harmonisation of the Rules on Third State Defendants in EU Courts

On 5 October 2023, we organised an event together with the University of Luxembourg’s Faculty of Law, Economics, and Finance (FDEF) , hosting Dr Johannes Ungerer, Erich Brost Lecturer in German Law and European Union Law at the University of Oxford. The event delved into the complex issue of litigating third state defendants in EU Member State courts. Dr. Ungerer examined arguments for and against extending the EU Regulation’s provisions to third state defendants. He took a cautious approach, suggesting that such an extension might favour third states over the EU and its Member States.

The event, organised by our member Dr. Felix Pflücke, facilitated engaging discussions and provided valuable insights into the legal complexities surrounding third state defendants in EU Courts. We thank Dr. Johannes Ungerer and the University of Luxembourg for their contributions to this academic discourse.