Thursday

27th Jun 2019

EU re-elects Tusk, Poland isolated

  • "I will do my best to make the EU better," Tusk said after being re-elected by 27 leaders against one. (Photo: Consilium)

Donald Tusk was re-elected European Council president on Thursday (9 March) by EU leaders meeting in Brussels despite opposition from his native Poland.

"Thank you for keeping your fingers crossed and the cordial support. It helped," the former Polish premier tweeted shortly after he was confirmed for another two-and-a-half year mandate.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

In another tweet he said he was "grateful for [the] trust and positive assessment" by the European Council. "I will do my best to make the EU better," he added.

Twenty seven member states voted in favour of Tusk, leaving Polish prime minister Beata Szydlo alone in opposition to her fellow countryman, a political opponent of her conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party.

Arriving at the summit, Szydlo had insisted that "a person who has no support in his home country cannot become president of the European Council".

In the end, it took EU states just half an hour to overrule her.

Szydlo even lost the support of Poland's usual EU allies, Visegrad group partners Hungary, Slovakia, and Czech Republic.

The Czech Republic and Slovakia believed Warsaw's anti-Tusk stunt had harmed Visegrad collaboration and the group's weight in the European Council.

"He [Tusk] comes from our region and understands it," Czech premier Bohuslav Sobotka said, adding that Tusk was a Visegrad candidate and that Poland had no right to veto him.

Council chiefs are normally chosen by consensus, but Poland forced Tusk to be reappointed by a vote, which only served to highlight Warsaw's diplomatic fiasco.

Muscat, who chaired the meeting, led Tusk back to the room after the formal vote, where he was received by a round of applause.

Szydlo in a letter on Wednesday accused Tusk of having tried to overthrow her government.

She also pushed for the Council to meet with Warsaw's alternative candidate, MEP Jacek Saryusz-Wolski, in hard-ball tactics which, EU officials said, closed to door to any compromise.

"We don’t want to become hostages of national politics inside Poland, it looks more like the war of thrones" Lithuania's president Dalia Grybauskaite said on her way in to the summit.

"I don't see how a country could oppose that solution as long as all others are in favour of it," France's president Francois Hollande said.

He added that keeping Tusk was important for EU "continuity, coherence, stability".

Tusk's was mainly opposed by PiS party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski, who holds Tusk responsible for his twin brother's death in the Smolensk air disaster in 2010.

According to sources, Poland had threatened to leave the summit early if Tusk was re-elected.

But Szydlo stayed in the room after the vote despite her threat.

'Democratic'

European Parliament president Antonio Tajani said Tusk's re-election was a “democratic” decision.

“It's not a scandal, it's democracy,” Tajani said at a press conference on Thursday, after giving his speech to EU leaders at the summit.

Tajani was not present at the vote, and noted the election of the European Council president was “not my job”.

He said Poland's objection to Tusk's re-election was “an internal matter for Poland”, and he would not share his feelings about the candidacy of MEP Jacek Saryusz-Wolski, who until recently was a member of Tajani's and Tusk's centre-right EPP party.

“It's a personal decision of my colleague Saryusz-Wolski,” said Tajani.

Allies irritated

The feud comes at an awkward time, with the founding EU member states pushing for a multi-speed Europe that would allow them to push forward with deeper integration.

The Visegrad states fear that that could leave them behind in a second-class Union.

They warned in a statement last week that it could lead to the disintegration of the EU.

The future of the EU will be discussed on Friday morning, with Tusk chairing the meeting.

Poland isolated in bid to remove Tusk

Poland appears increasingly isolated in Brussels as it seeks public support to unseat Donald Tusk as president of the European Council.

Poland at war against Tusk's EU job

Poland's Law and Justice Party has put a little-known MEP, Jacek Saryusz-Wolski, against Donald Tusk in the race for the European Council presidency.

Poland snubbed twice in EU summit fiasco

[Updated] Poland tried and failed to block EU summit conclusions shortly after failing to block Tusk’s re-election as Council chief, prompting bitter accusations.

Magazine

The changing of the guards in the EU in 2019

The four most powerful EU institutions - Commission, Parliament, Council and Central Bank will all have new leaders in the coming ten months. Here is an overview.

Magazine

Explained: What is the European Parliament?

While domestic political parties often use the European Parliament as a dumping ground for unwanted politicians - and a majority of citizens don't bother to vote - the parliament, over the years, has become a dominant force in the EU.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  4. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  6. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  7. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  8. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  9. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate

Latest News

  1. EU anti-trust chief 'hates' US, Trump says
  2. Finnish presidency hopes for 2050 climate target by 2020
  3. EU moves to end car-testing 'confidentiality clause'
  4. EU parliament gives extra time for leaders on top jobs
  5. Europe's rights watchdog lifts Russia sanctions
  6. EU-Vietnam trade deal a bad day for workers' rights
  7. EU 'special envoy' going to US plan for Palestine
  8. Polish judicial reforms broke EU law, court says

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  2. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  3. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  5. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  6. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  11. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  12. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us