• Jean-Claude Juncker was  Europe’s longest-serving leader, with 18 years as prime minister
  • He was secretly  record by his own spy chief, Marco Mille

By  Associated Press Reporter

PUBLISHED: 11:20 EST, 11  July 2013 |  UPDATED: 11:27 EST, 11 July 2013

The Luxembourg government today resigned,  brought down by a spying and corruption scandal that shook the tiny country  better known for wealthy bankers than political intrigue.

Jean-Claude Juncker, prime minister since  1995 and the European Union’s longest serving government chief, tendered his  resignation to Grand Duke Henri, the royal head of state who himself has been  implicated in media reports of espionage.

The government was forced to resign after  junior coalition partners withdrew their support in protest at Juncker’s  apparent failure to rein in a secret service spiralling out of control. Juncker  has proposed holding a general election in October, seven months ahead of  schedule.

Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg Jean-Claude Juncker

Accused: Grand Duke Henri (left) was implicated in  espionage reports that led to the downfall of Juncker (right)

The catalyst for the resignation was a  parliamentary inquiry published last week that said Luxembourg’s security agency  illegally bugged politicians and members of the public, purchased cars for  private use and took payments and favours in exchange for access to influential  officials.

In a scene reminiscent of a spy novel, former  security chief Marco Mille recorded a conversation with Juncker in 2008 using a  microphone in his watch.

 

Mille told Juncker he had reliable reports  that Grand Duke Henri was in constant contact with Britain’s secret services,  according to one newspaper. The Grand Duke’s office has denied the  allegation.

The government was already under pressure due  to renewed interest in a mysterious series of sabotage bomb attacks in the  1980s, known as the Bommeleeer affair, whose targets included electricity pylons  and an airport radar system as well as a newspaper office.

Two former members of a special police force  went on trial for the attacks at the start of this year.

Last month, the government and Finance  Minister Luc Frieden survived twin votes of no-confidence in parliament over  accusations that the minister had put pressure on investigators to close their  inquiry into the bombings.

Juncker, for almost two decades the  personification of Luxembourg on the international stage, chairing “Eurogroup”  meetings of euro zone finance ministers from 2005 to 2013, may well return to  lead the Grand Duchy after the snap election.

He remains a popular figure and has no  obvious successor in his centre-right CSV party, particularly as the former  finance minister has been tarnished, according to Philippe Poirier, politics  lecturer at the University of Luxembourg.

Frieden, once touted as a possible future  prime minister, has also come under fire over the re-purchase of a stake in  Cargolux from Qatar Airways in January and European Union pressure to end  Luxembourg’s system of bank secrecy.

“The CSV crown price for many years, Luc  Frieden, is himself involved in the telephone tapping and Bommeleeer affairs,”  Poirier said.

“Jean Claude Juncker is the electoral  locomotive of his party. It’s not the CSV, it’s the Juncker party.”

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