Europe's Challenges, in a World in Transition

Discussion with Prime Minister Xavier Bettel

The increasing influx of refugees, the crisis in Greece and the Ukraine, and the debate about TTIP are merely a few keywords summarizing the challenges the European Union is currently facing.
During his official visit to Germany on June 16th, the Prime Minister of Luxembourg Xavier Bettel was at the Westerwelle Foundation, to speak on “European Challenges, in a World in Transition”. More than 70 guests from politics and the civil society attended the event. After his speech Bettel joined in an open discussion that was moderated by Alexander Vogel, Head of Office at the Westerwelle Foundation.

Luxembourg has always played a central role in the development of the European Union. Beginning July 1st, the Grand Duchy will hold the presidency of the Council of the European Union for the twelfth time in the Council’s history. In this context, the discussion at the Westerwelle Foundation offered Bettel the opportunity to take a stand on current European politics, and also share his plans for the European Union.

The Prime Minister emphasized the necessity to stand united as a European community, and remain united while seeking solutions to problems affecting the entire region. He pointed out the urgency of taking immediate action with regards to a myriad of problems the European Union faces. Above all however, he stressed the importance of turning words into actions, particularly with issues such as the migrant crisis in the Mediterranean, or the ongoing economic crisis in Greece.

Finding an answer to the migrant crisis will be most effective, he concluded, if we looked for solutions in the migrants’ countries of origin. The people there must be offered perspectives, and the freedom and peace that comes with security and prosperity.

Regarding the European Union, Bettel said, he will focus on the fight against unemployment. To him the creation of sustainable economic development, particularly by prioritizing environmental aspects and climate change, is important. With regards to the negotiations on TTIP, Bettel remarked that the idea behind the venture was essentially good and necessary to boost the transatlantic economy, however this could not occur at all costs. Standards of quality, important to both prospective partners, should not be downgraded. The Prime Minister however called for more constructive debates on the subject, especially in the media coverage.

Bettel also spoke on the issue of Ukraine. He announced he has plans travelling to both Kiev and Moscow, to speak with both parties to the conflict.

“We need to communicate with all sides,”

he concluded, after all that is the only way to find a peaceful solution.