Luxembourg’s Prime Minister, Xavier Bettel, sees that “Luxembourg is a very connected country and that the digital habits of Luxembourg’s residents are changing and new possibilities are opening up thanks to the growing rise of digital.” We had the chance to talk to Mr. Bettel and discuss the influence of social networks on his communication with citizens and the role of technology in his day-to-day life. (Xavier Bettel during the interview in his office. Photograph: Olivier Minaire)
Are you a Prime Minister who is a little, a lot, passionately, madly or not at all digitally connected?
I am a very connected person! But beware: I am a person connected to other people, rather than devices or platforms. I like human contact. I like to listen to others. I like to communicate in the real world as well as in the virtual world. Technology is only a tool that can promote interactions: it must never become an end in itself.
What current startups do you wish you had created?
Instead of creating a startup, I would like to create an incubator for startups. I’d like to put contractors in connection with each other, ensure that they have good working conditions, monitor how they develop. This must be a very rewarding challenge. But ultimately, this is already part of my work because that is what the government is trying to do at the national level!
What is the influence of social networks on your communication?
Social networks allow a more rapid and direct relationship with citizens. The time of one-way communication is over. I like to have direct contact with people and to combine the use of social networks with work. I think our citizens have a right to be more closely involved. I appreciate seeing citizens interested in the activities of the government, reacting to my social media posts and commenting on pictures I publish of a meeting or visit. Technology allows us to share what’s going on in the government in a new way, but it takes a lot of time to use it well. Unfortunately, I cannot always respond to all the comments.
How do you imagine Luxembourg’s digital future?
In line with what it is today. We can already see that Luxembourg is a very connected country and that the digital habits of Luxembourg’s residents are changing and new possibilities are opening up thanks to the growing rise of digital. Today, I listen to music in my office with my Sonos (wireless speaker system). Tomorrow, I will set my heating or launch my washing machine from my smartphone. I already do my banking from a mobile app… However, we cannot rest on our laurels when it comes to innovating in the digital sector; we need to exceed what others do. It is a constant challenge, and private and public actors have to work hand in hand to make sure that Luxembourg keeps its top position in the digital environment.