Committee of Ministers Chairmanship – Luxembourg: May – November 2002 

(Abstract from the Assembly Verbatim report)

Questions – Answers following the statement by H.R.H. the Grand Duke Henry of Luxembourg

THE PRESIDENT. – Thank you, Your Royal Highness. The next question is from Mr Van der Linden, on behalf of the Group of the European People’s Party.

Mr VAN DER LINDEN (Netherlands). – Your Royal Highness, thank you for your encouraging address. You stressed the role of the Council of Europe as a valued community. The Council of Europe played a pioneering role in the field of biomedicine when it drew up the Oviedo Convention as well as several additional protocols. Do you believe that that normative action represents a good balance between the immutable principle of human dignity and the possibilities that are open to science?

THE PRESIDENT. – Your Royal Highness, would you like to answer that question?

HIS ROYAL HIGHNESS THE GRAND DUKE HENRI OF LUXEMBOURG said that medicine and science had made extraordinary steps recently but human dignity should prevail. He could not imagine the possibility of developing a human race that was all evil.

THE PRESIDENT. – Thank you, Your Royal Highness. The next question is from Mr Ersi on behalf of the Liberal, Democratic and Reformers’ Group.

Mr ERSI (Hungary). – I join my colleagues in thanking His Royal Highness for sharing his views about the values of the Assembly, which we represent and which are so important for us. My question refers to one of our important values. The Assembly made its first recommendation in favour of the abolition of the death penalty in 1994. That action led to the adoption of Protocol 6 to the European Convention on Human Rights, abolishing the death penalty in time of peace. In Vilnius in a few days, Protocol 13 will be open for signature, which abolishes the death penalty in all circumstances. Does that fill you with satisfaction and pride? Do you believe that Europe, especially greater Europe, has advanced European civilisation in the world, and in what way?

THE PRESIDENT. – Thank you. Your Royal Highness, would you like to answer this question?

HIS ROYAL HIGHNESS THE GRAND DUKE HENRI OF LUXEMBOURG said that the very essence of the Council of Europe was the protection of human dignity. The abolition of the death penalty was an acknowledgement that man should not kill man. Some members of the Assembly were on the verge of abolishing the death penalty. The Council of Europe had set an example to the rest of the world. The death penalty was not a solution which would prevent criminal acts.

THE PRESIDENT. – Thank you, Your Royal Highness. The next question is from Mr Atkinson, on behalf of the European Democratic Group.

Mr ATKINSON (United Kingdom). – Your Royal Highness, we appreciated your address to us. Luxembourg has the highest GDP of all Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries. Yours is quite simply the most prosperous country in the world. What is your secret?

THE PRESIDENT. – Thank you. Your Royal Highness, would you like to answer this question?

HIS ROYAL HIGHNESS THE GRAND DUKE HENRI OF LUXEMBOURG. – Do you want a response or a recipe?

(The speaker continued in French.)
Luxembourg was not as prosperous as some regions such as London. Luxembourg had a strong economic environment that attracted people from outside its borders. There was no secret, just good governance. Before he had undertaken his present duties he had travelled, asking people to invest in Luxembourg. He had always stressed that Luxembourg was at the heart of the EU and had a stable political environment and a favourable economic climate. Luxembourg had not always been rich: in the past the poor had emigrated around the world.

After the economic problems of the 1970s, iron mines had been found in the south of Luxembourg. That had made the country rich. Since then the country had diversified and had tried to be as competitive as possible with other countries. Some people were jealous of that success, but the focus should not be on the fact that Luxembourg was the richest country of the EU; rather, it was a rich region of Europe.       THE PRESIDENT. – Thank you, Your Royal Highness. The final question is from Mr Laakso, on behalf of the Group of the Unified European Left.

Mr LAAKSO (Finland). – Perhaps there is a secret. However, I will not ask about the secret of foreign bank accounts in Luxembourg. This is my question: do you believe that the total liberty of the free market economy can be regulated only by the market itself and that at the same time it can guarantee justice and social cohesion?

THE PRESIDENT. – Thank you. Your Royal Highness, would you like to answer this question?

HIS ROYAL HIGHNESS THE GRAND DUKE HENRI OF LUXEMBOURG said that European values affected Luxembourg. Governmental presence in an economy could be beneficial, but economies could not have free rein.

A steel crisis had occurred in Luxembourg in the 1960s and 1970s. The government had created a tripartite institution which had brought together the government, trade unions and employers. Restructuring of the industry had taken place without strikes, with little growth in unemployment and in an atmosphere of consensus. The right mix of economic freedom and governmental presence had to be found.

THE PRESIDENT. – Thank you, Your Royal Highness. That brings an end to the questions to Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg. (Applause.) With your applause, colleagues, you are thanking him most warmly for his statement and the answers to your questions. Thank you very much, Your Royal Highness, for coming here and answering those questions.