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21st Jul 2018

Juncker may resign in Luxembourg spy affair

  • Jean-Claude Juncker is the longest serving Prime Minister in the EU (Photo: consilium.europa.eu)

Former Eurogroup chief and the EU's longest-serving Prime Minister, Jean-Claude Juncker, may resign on Wednesday (10 July) over a spying scandal in his home country Luxembourg.

He is due to appear in the parliament's special committee at 2pm local time to respond to accusations of "leadership failure" in the control of the Service de renseignement de l'Etat luxembourgeois (Srel), which is currently being investigated by the state prosecutor for illegal wiretapping, corruption and dealing in stolen cars.

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"This is one of my last appearances in my current function," the 58-year-old politician said over the weekend at an event in Esch-sur-Alzette after having lost the support of his Social Democrat coalition partners.

His withdrawal came after a parliamentary inquiry concluded that Juncker had to take "political responsibility" for the intelligence agency.

He claims he had no knowledge of its shady dealings, but as Prime Minister he is ultimately responsible for all the government's organs.

Instead of keeping an eye on the spies, the long-serving Eurogroup chief was too often in Brussels, his critics say.

Juncker has served for over 30 years in the government of Luxembourg, first as finance minister and for the past 18 years as Prime Minister.

He held the chairmanship of the Eurogroup of finance ministers ever since it was created, in 2005 until last year, when he handed over to Dutch finance minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem.

With the bailouts of Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Spain on the agenda, Juncker had a lot on his plate in the past three years, having to chair countless all-night Eurogroups and teleconferences among ministers.

He left the Eurogroup post last year in order to "focus on national duties" and prepare for the general elections, which should have taken place next year.

If his governing coalition dissolves, early elections may take place as early as October.

Eurogroup chief: 'I'm for secret, dark debates'

Eurozone economic policies should only be conducted via "dark, secret debates", to prevent dangerous movements in financial markets, the Eurogroup chief said on Wednesday, adding that he had often lied in his career to prevent the spread of rumours that could feed speculation.

Focus

Who is Jean-Claude Juncker?

From prodigy politician in Luxembourg to master of deception as Eurogroup chair, Jean-Claude Juncker brings both experience and baggage with his nomination as EU commission president.

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As Sebastian Kurz's government takes over the helm of EU-policy making for the next six months, Austrian MEPs from opposing sides weigh in on the EU's youngest prime minister's possible influence on the continent's future.

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