Thursday, 30 March 2017

Liechtenstein State Opening of Parliament Speech - English Translation (2017)

Give by Hereditary Prince Alois - March 30th

Dear Members of Parliament,

After two legislative periods characterized by unpopular reforms to the rehabilitation of the state budget and social security and the transformation of the financial center, our country is in a good position. The state budget has been balanced, important steps have been taken to secure long-term social security and Liechtenstein as an internationally recognized partner. After years of reaction, the new legislative period offers the opportunity to initiate a new phase of future-oriented design.

At the same time, however, we are faced with major challenges. There is considerable uncertainty worldwide due to the trend towards political polarization, rising geopolitical tensions, uncontrolled migration flows and unsolved environmental problems. There is also a growing need for protectionism, and the EU - our largest trading partner - remains in a difficult situation.

We are also required to change by the ever-faster technological advances - above all due to digitalization. Jobs for the less skilled are declining, while skilled workers are difficult to find. The importance of the security and stability of the digital infrastructure and its protection against cycrime is increasing as the digital infrastructure becomes a basic requirement of daily life and a modern business. In addition, technological change raises new ethical questions. In the field of digitization, the right balance between data protection and the use of electronic data for the benefit of the population must be found.

Dear Members of Parliament,

Let us take advantage of the upcoming legislative period to better understand these challenges and to prioritize our investments in the future with regard to our time and financial resources. In the following, I would like to deliberately address only potential topics and raise some questions. The responses we should develop together with the population in the coming legislature period.

The previously mentioned digitization brings up many questions about the future:

  • What are the dangers of digitization? and how can people be made aware of these dangers?
  • What regulation is needed to make the most of the opportunities of digitalisation?
  • How can our education system at it's different levels be optimized to provide the right skills for the digital age?
  • To what extent is a certain digital infrastructure already be seen as part of the Public Service and thus the state is required to ensure a good level of digital quality and stability for the sites,
  • Could the use of digital technologies make government administration even more efficient and cost-effective?

We should also continue to deal with the state budget, albeit from other perspectives:
  • Are there state guarantees or state guarantees for municipalities, state-owned institutions or even for private persons, whose risks are still not fully understood?
  • Could we, through another guarantee of the Service Public, both reduce the risk to the state budget and release further funding?
  • Could we reduce the financial allocations to the municipalities in favor of future investments by means of a further division of tasks between land and municipalities and a further development of financial compensation?
In the field of social welfare, we have only recently implemented major reforms. In view of demographic and technological developments, however, this area remains a long-term issue and we should focus on the following issues in the next four years:

  • What short-term adjustments do the health insurance legislation require?
  • What challenges of health care should we address in a next step?
  • What is the best way to finance old-age care in the future?

One focus of the legislative period will be the search for innovative solutions for a better reconciliation of family and career. Here we should find answers to the following questions:
  • How can we ensure that all parents have the financial opportunity and thus a real choice to look after their children in their first year of life or to have them supervised by a third party?
  • How can we enable those who depend on both parents to provide a good extra-family care for their children after their first year of life?
  • How can we help our companies in the search for measures to make the family and work more compatible?
A good balance between family and work is, in my view, a strategic key to our country in several respects:
  • It is the basis for the long-term health of our families and our children,
  • It plays an increasingly important role in solving the deficit of skilled labor in our companies and is increasingly becoming a location factor and
  • I also consider it to be the most important prerequisite for the rise of more women in leadership positions, both in business and in politics.
In today's information society, reputation as a location factor also gains importance. In order to strengthen the reputation of the country, it would be worthwhile to think about improvements in the international representation of our country:
  • How can we successfully differentiate ourselves in an age of information overload and short attention span through interesting information about our unique state of affairs, our particular economic structure and our high quality of life?
  • How can we deal with further topics such as: An explicit focus on sustainability in social, economic and environmental issues?
  • How can we strategize our communications with each other strategically, and better coordinate visits, events and other encounters with foreign countries that we perceive at various levels?
Dear Members of Parliament,

Let us begin a new phase of future-oriented design. If we want to prepare our country for the most diverse challenges, we are facing a busy but exciting legislative period. For your new responsibilities I wish you strength, wisdom and God bless!

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