Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel admitted his university thesis “should have been done differently” after a media investigation concluded that only two of the book’s 56 pages had not been plagiarized.
A local media outlet, reporter.lu, said on Wednesday that Bettel had lifted three-quarters of the text, describing it as “an impressive mishmash of copied passages that does not meet the usual demands of academia.”
Bettel, 48, who has served as prime minister since 2013, said the thesis was over 20 years old and was written with good conscience. But “from today’s perspective, it could have – yes, maybe should have – been done differently,” he said.
Bettel said he had full confidence in the University of Lorraine in eastern France to assess whether the work met its standards at the time, and that he would “naturally accept” his decision, even if that meant his qualification was withdrawn.
The thesis was written as part of a graduate degree – roughly the equivalent of a master’s degree – in public law and political science which Bettel obtained at what was then known as the l University of Nancy the same year he entered Parliament.
Reporter.lu said the thesis, titled Towards a Possible Reform of Voting Systems in the European Parliament, contained long passages of text that had been extracted without attribution from two books, four websites and a press article.
He said only “a few paragraphs in the introduction” and “an equally short conclusion” had not been copied in full, amounting to an exercise of plagiarism “unprecedented in its scope” – a verdict which she said , had been confirmed by independent experts.
A total of 20 pages of the thesis were taken straight from the European Parliament’s website in defiance of a clear copyright warning, he said, with nine more taken from a 1998 report d ‘a Greek MEP and other passages copied from a standard introductory manual on the EU institutions.
“The plagiarism that I found is very problematic because long passages were transferred almost verbatim,” said Anna-Lena Högenauer, professor of political science at the University of Luxembourg. “You can’t accidentally copy multiple pages. “
Nicolas Sauger, a political scientist at Sciences Po in Paris, said Bettel’s thesis was not original and poorly documented, and that the plagiarism “too extensive to be reasonable”. But the prime minister’s former supervisor, Etienne Criqui, said the standards were different before the invention of plagiarism detection software.
The scandal is the latest line of plagiarism to hit a prominent European politician in recent years, with Germany most affected. German Family Minister Franziska Giffey was forced to resign in May for claiming to have plagiarized her doctoral thesis.
In 2013, Annette Schavan, then Minister of Education, had to resign after the University of Düsseldorf withdrew her doctorate, while two years earlier Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg had resigned for the same reason.