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Luxembourg Prime Minister Bettel accused of massive plagiarism


Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel plagiarized the vast majority of a dissertation he wrote as a student for an advanced university degree, according to an investigation by a news website published Wednesday.

The investigation, by Luxembourg online magazine Reporter, found that only two pages in the 56-page dissertation — on the possible reform of elections to the European Parliament — did not contain plagiarized passages.

Bettel wrote the paper in 1999, when he was in his mid-20s, for his Diplôme d’études approfondies, a masters-level research degree, at the University of Nancy-II in eastern France (now known as the University of Lorraine).

The pages without plagiarism consisted of an introduction of a few paragraphs and a similarly brief conclusion, the investigation found. Reporter said its findings of plagiarism had been confirmed by multiple independent experts.

In response to the report, Bettel — a member of the European Council of EU leaders — said he wrote the dissertation “to the best of my knowledge and belief at the time.” He admitted that it “could have – yes, maybe should have — been done differently.”

Xavier Bettel's master thesis from 1999 is probably one of the clearest cases of plagiarism. However the prime minister still insists that he wrote the thesis "to the best of my knowledge and belief at the time". pic.twitter.com/zHy4yOEL6W

— Pol Reuter (@PolReuter) October 27, 2021

Reporter said that Bettel copied a total of 20 pages of his dissertation from the copyright-protected website of the European Parliament, without citing it as the source.

It also said Bettel copied nine pages of his dissertation from a report by then-MEP Georgios Anastassopoulos, again without citing the document as the source.

Bettel’s research director at the time, Etienne Criqui, told the magazine that “it may well be that some passages were taken from internet pages.” But he said the “context” was different back then as students were not taught so much about scientific methods. He also said the technical tools to detect plagiarism were not as developed at that time.

In the past, multiple European politicians have faced consequences for plagiarizing university work, such as Germany’s former defense minister, Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, who quit in 2011.