Page 3 Profile: Jean-Claude Juncker, Luxembourg’s Prime Minister

 

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The Independent Online

Europe’s longest-serving head of government – hasn’t he done well!

Steady on. Luxembourg’s Prime Minister has had a bit of a bad day.

He’s fiddled his expenses?

No – sexier than that. He has quit over a spying scandal, asking Grand Duke Henri to call elections. Mr Juncker was credited with helping to drag the eurozone back from the brink as chairman of the eurozone finance ministers, but politicians in Luxembourg say he was distracted from what was going on back home.

And what is the scandal?

The state security agency, SREL, has been engaged in questionable pursuits. It tapped MPs’ phones and bought posh cars for private use. A parliamentary commission found Mr Juncker failed to inform lawmakers of any irregularities. But even the Prime Minister didn’t escape agency busybodies: the head of the SREL recorded a conversation with him using a microphone hidden in his watch.

Very cloak and dagger. What did Juncker say about it?

He’s is known for straight-talking and admitted the agency was nowhere near the top of his agenda. “Luxembourg will never have a Prime Minister who sees the SREL as their priority,” he said. “Can you really expect from the Minister of State that he knows around the clock what 60 SREL employees are doing. I don’t think so.” Despite this, his junior coalition partners wanted him gone.

Are the public glad to see the back of him?

Not particularly. There are just 540,000 people in Luxembourg, and its thriving banking sector means most live in luxury. What’s a little bugging here and there when you enjoy the highest GDP in Europe? Philippe Poirier, a political science professor at the University of Luxembourg, said any politicians jostling to take Mr Juncker’s place at the head of the Christian democrat CSV party would be risking “electoral suicide”.

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