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Prime Minister weighs in on Secretary of State car scandal
Luxembourg

Prime Minister weighs in on Secretary of State car scandal

06.01.2014 From our online archive
Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel has defended Secretary of State for the Economy, National Security and Defence Francine Closener, saying that her use of an official car to go on holiday was within legal bounds.

(CS) Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel has defended Secretary of State for the Economy, National Security and Defence Francine Closener, saying that her use of an official car to go on holiday was within legal bounds.

Bettel confirmed in reply to a parliamentary question by ADR MP Gast Gibéryen that Closener had used her official car, provided by the government, for private purposes.

However, Bettel added that a code of conduct for members of government does not prohibit her to do so. “The cars made available to members of government can be used for private purposes in Luxembourg and abroad,” according to the code, which was adopted in 2013.

The Prime Minister also emphasised that Closener (LSAP) had paid all expenses connected to the trip out of her own pocket.

Gibéryen had also criticised that although Closener used the car for private purposes, it was still equipped with the “Corps Diplomatique” licence plate. It has now been clarified that these licence plates can only be used on official trips abroad, Bettel said, with a memo sent to the government garage.

Still, Bettel said the new government was in favour of expanding the ethics code to create a clear set of rights and responsibilities, as well as outlining the duties of members of government, as well as the parliament.

Vice-Premier Etienne Schneider had also previously said that Closener had done nothing wrong, after her use of a government car to go on holiday had sparked public outrage.

The Secretary of State meanwhile apologised in an official statement, saying that she understands the public reaction to her interview with RTL radio, in which she had said she is not "stupid" and had checked whether she can use the car for her holiday.

"I don't see a problem with this," she had added, saying that she did not enter the government in order to be able to use a car, but that the government car was better equipped for the snowy conditions than her private vehicle, which would have needed snow chains.

Closener said on Monday that it was not her intention to cause offence.