Europe ‘needed Brexit and Trump’, – Viviane Reding

Member of European Parliament looks back over past year, attacks Luxembourg’s ruling coalition

Europeans “needed” Brexit and controversial US president Donald Trump to better understand exactly what sort of European Union (EU) they want, according to Viviane Reding, a Luxembourg Member of the European Parliament (MEP).

Looking back over the year, the Christian Social People’s Party (CSV) candidate for the October elections argued that a strong Europe was the way forward and that “Luxembourg politics is European politics” and vice versa.

“Europe at the moment is doing better – economically and also in terms of people’s mentality,” Reding said.

“We needed Brexit and Trump so our citizens could become aware that we need a [strong] Europe, in which we live together, stick together and stand for something together.”

The MEP said the EU’s method of working had changed in recent years and that it was now more pro-active, with the view to preventing problems from occurring rather than merely finding solutions to existing problems.

“And there, too, Brexit made us think and showed us that we couldn’t just continue reacting but that we had to be pro-active,” she said.

“I welcome that, as it is a policy I’ve been advocating for decades.”

As an example, Reding cited, among other things, stronger data protection in the bloc.

She and several other MEPs recently reached out to the US Supreme Court to support Microsoft in a case against the US government regarding data sharing.

Luxembourg’s government

Reding then doubled down on her criticism of the current government’s lack of action or defence of Luxembourg at the European level. She extended her criticism to all ministers.

She cited various “attacks” on the fund industry and lamented the “failure” of the current coalition to avoid decisions being made by the European Commission at the “very last moment”.

“We cannot work like that,” Reding said, adding that, with her many years in Brussels, she understood the inner workings of the EU.

She said the current government’s strategy – or lack thereof – made her “very nervous” and would not be in the interest of the Grand Duchy.

She said the lack of media coverage or “photo opportunities” were probably at least partly to blame for the ministers’ inaction in Brussels, adding that it was not enough to give the media “juicy quotes”.

Reding also took issue with Luxembourg prime minister and Democratic Party member Xavier Bettel, who was always ready for photo opportunities with French president Emmanuel Macron but not being invited to talks on the future of Europe with France, Germany, Spain and Italy.

She said all of Luxembourg’s MPs had failed in their role as controllers of the government through due diligence.

The CSV politician said she did not know whether she would run in the southern or central districts come October, and that the decision would be taken by the senior CSV committee at the end of March.