“A World Without Walls“:
An International Congress on "Soft Power", Cultural Diplomacy and Interdependence
Erna Hennicot Schoepges
European MP; Former Luxembourgian Minister of Culture and Religious Affairs
Luxembourger Politician Erna Hennicot Schoepges was born in Dudelange (Luxembourg) in 1941. She has had an exciting career, from studying and teaching music, to presenting radio, to being active in a variety of fields within politics. Since entering politics many years ago she has held numerous prestigious posts, also receiving a doctor honoris causa from the Sacred Heart University and the University of Miami.
She studied at the Royal Conservatory of Music, Brussels, the Mozarteum, Salzburg, and the Paris College of Music Teachers. Between 1963 and 1979 she presented a programme on Radio Luxembourg, during which time she taught piano at the City of Luxembourg Conservatory. Her official entrance into the political sphere could be pin-pointed as 1976, when she joined Walferdange Municipal Council, where she was later mayor from 1988 until 1995.
In 1979 she was elected the National President of Christian Socialist Women, a post which she kept until 1988. 1979 also saw her join the Chamber of Deputies of Luxembourg, the unicameral national legislature, and in 1989 she was appointed a five-year position as President of the Chamber of Deputies.
In 1995 she was appointed Minister for National Education and Vocational Training and Minister for Culture and Minister for Religious Affairs, positions she served in until 1999. She then became Minister for Higher Education, Research and Culture and Minister for Public Works until 2004. During this time she was involved in the creation of the National Research Fund, joining the European Space Agency, and also creating the University of Luxembourg, which opened in 2003.
Between 1999 and 2003 she also served as president of the largest political party in Luxembourg, the Christian Social People’s Party (CSV). In 2004 she was elected into the European Parliament, where she now sits as a member of the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP). In recent years she has been made Chairwoman of the Pierre Werner Institute (2004) and Chairwoman of the Committee of Honour of the Echternach International Festival (2004).
Throughout her career she has demonstrated a pro-European attitude to politics, working within the strongly Pro-European Christian Social People’s Party (CSV) of Luxembourg, and now as a member of the European Parliament. Although she supports European unity, she is also active in promoting the preservation of Luxembourg’s unique culture and identity. Her endeavours include promoting the Letzebuergesch language outside of Luxembourg, and she was instrumental in creating a degree-course in Luxembourgish Studies (involving language, history and culture) at the Luxembourg University.