Jean Asselborn, Luxembourg’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, shares his views on the evolution of the European integration process and on the need for the Grand-Duchy to find like-minded partners. Interview
With your experience, how do you evaluate the evolution of relations between European countries?
If you are referring to the relations between Member States of the European Union, our Treaties contain the notion of an “ever closer union”. This means that European integration is an ongoing process. However, developments in recent years, and most notably the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the EU, have shown that this process is not irreversible. Today in the EU we are debating the very fundamentals of the rule of law, which would have been unthinkable even ten years ago. On the other hand, the many challenges that we are confronted with – the covid-19 crisis, migration, uncertainty on the international stage – show that a single Member State, not even a large one, can handle these alone. L’union fait la force remains our guiding principle – as difficult as it may be sometimes.
L’union fait la force remains our guiding principle
How has Luxembourg’s role evolved over the year in Europe. How do you see it evolve in the future?
Luxembourg’s role in the EU has of course changed over the years. In a Union of 27, moreover as one of the smaller Member States, it requires a lot of skill and experience to make your voice heard. I believe it can be said that Luxembourg, as a founding Member State, has traditionally pursued a euro-integrationist path, arguing for more Europe rather than less. Yet today’s political and economic dynamics within the EU, and also beyond, make it sometimes more difficult to argue for an open, business-oriented environment while at the same time not forgetting the principle of solidarity both at home and abroad. To some extent, power politics is back, and it is the role of a country like Luxembourg to find its place in this changing landscape, and to advocate its interests together with other like-minded partners.
What are the highlights of your Foreign-Minister mandates?
Although there have been many important and challenging moments, the highlight of my time as Foreign Minister was without any doubt our election to the United Nations Security Council for the mandate 2013-2014. This was the first time in its history that Luxembourg served as a non-permanent member on the Security Council, after having been elected by the UN General Assembly with 131 votes.