Tusk re-elected European Council President despite Polish resistance
March 10, 2017
EU leaders appointed Donald Tusk as president of the European Council for another term of office on Thursday despite strong opposition from the Eurosceptic government of his own country, Poland and its diplomatic efforts to install MEP Jacek Saryusz-Wolski to the post.
Tusk enjoyed the support of all EU member states but Poland. The leaders voted 27 to one.
There had been some suggestion that the UK might abstain from the vote to win Polish support in Brexit negotiations, but ultimately British PM voted for Tusk. Even Hungary’s PM Viktor OrbŠn, one of the closest allies of Poland's ruling party Law and Justice (PiS) declined to desert an ally. His party FIDESZ belongs to EPP, the same EU grouping Tusk belongs to.
After Tusk’s re-appointment Polish PM Beata Szydlo said she would refuse to sign off on the summit's final statement in protest.
"Poland has a right to veto the conclusions - and Poland is exercising that right. By vetoing the EU summit conclusions, Poland would make them invalid”, she said.
Earlier on Tuesday Szydlo wrote a letter to European heads of states and governments, urging the EU not to re-elect Tusk as European Council President in view of Poland's opposition. She said that Tusk had violated his mandate by interfering in domestic politics and that he was not impartial.
"He does not have the support of his home country - that's sufficient reason for him not to be appointed," she said.
The letter was negatively assessed in Brussels as an attempt to transfer domestic politics to the European arene, the daily Rzeczpospolita wrote.
Commenting Tusk’s re-election PiS leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski said Tusk’s appointment showed the EU was dominated by Germany. In recent days Tusk was called “the German candidate” by PiS politicians in an attempt to question his loyalties.
On Thursday Polish foreign minister, Witold Waszczykowski said“We know now that the EU is under Berlin’s diktat.”
Tusk later told reporters: “Be careful of the bridges you burn, because once they are done, you can never cross them again," He said his words were especially dedicated to the Polish government and added that he hoped to protect his country's interests.
Tusk's first term ends on 31 May, and he will now stay in office until 30 November 2019.