Interview with Luc Frieden, President of the Fondation Pierre Werner

Luc Frieden, President of the Fondation Pierre Werner and former Luxembourg Minister of Finance, shares the foundation’s mission and the role it hopes to play in regard to the evolving European project.


(Transcription below)




What is the history of the Fondation Pierre Werner?


Pierre Werner was a great European and a great Luxembourger. He served as Prime Minister of Luxembourg for 20 years, during the 60s and 70s, and until 1984. He was also at the origin the euro, the common currency of many European countries. During his time as Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, he believed in the European ideals. When he finished his term in office, a number of companies and individuals wanted to perpetuate the ideas he believed in, in particular, his European beliefs. A foundation was set up to support economic, social and cultural projects that would serve the European objectives, and that is the origin of this foundation. Four years ago, we brought the foundation under the umbrella of the Fondation de Luxembourg to make sure that it would be managed in a very professional manner, and we aimed to focus the foundation’s objective on giving scholarships to young Europeans. 


Can you tell us more about the Fondation Pierre Werner’s partnership with the University of Luxembourg?


Indeed, we thought that it would be very difficult for the foundation alone to choose the brilliant young people that would get this scholarship. The University of Luxembourg knows these students best, so we partnered with them for the selection process, or at least the pre-selection. They identify the projects that are submitted, they know the quality of the research and the quality of the people that stand behind it. We want to give this scholarship to Europeans, meaning people coming from member states or from candidate countries of the European Union. Over the past four years, we have indeed been able to identify people from both member states and from candidate countries, a mix that I find extremely important as it allows those who live outside the European Union today to share with us their thoughts and their research on topics that are of importance to the future of the European integration project.


In an increasingly Eurosceptic environment, how can we ensure that the European project stays relevant to today’s youth?


The research projects that we are talking about can help in this context. I’m not sure whether the majority of the people are Eurosceptic. If you look at the most recent European elections, the parties that were in favor of a deeper integration won those elections. But, indeed, people are asking questions. It is very important that we have a debate, especially with students from universities and with the population in general of course, on where is the real added value of Europe. There are quite a number of topics, such as climate change, security, migration or economic issues, which we see in the context of the UK leaving the European union. You need large integrated market and tools to bring people together to solve issues that do not stop at the border. And I think the health crisis that we are currently going through shows that, for a lot of issues, for example vaccines, or how to deal with free movement of people, you need to cooperate across borders, and the European union is the answer to these issues. We should support young people who challenge the idea of the European union but also bring new ideas on how to strengthen it for the future. We hope that the Fondation Pierre Werner scholarships will help towards that aim.



Fondation Pierre Werner Scholarship applications are open until March 26th.


For more information and how to apply:


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