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Update 2 | Donald Tusk confirmed for second term

In spite of Polish opposition, Donald Tusk has been reconfirmed as president of the European Council for a second term

miriam
Miriam Dalli
9 March 2017, 10:32am
Last updated on 9 March 2017, 4:57pm
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat greets Donald Tusk following re-election
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat greets Donald Tusk following re-election
European Council President Donald Tusk is set to receive the backing the absolute majority of EU leaders
European Council President Donald Tusk is set to receive the backing the absolute majority of EU leaders
European Council President Donald Tusk has been reconfirmed for his second term by EU leaders during "a tense meeting".

Tusk was facing opposition by Poland, his birth country, but all the rest of the 27 leaders said they would stand behind the Polish politician. Tusk was re-elected with 27 in favour and one against.

Ahead of the meeting, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat - who chaired the election - said there wasn’t a majority that would force postponing the re-election of Donald Tusk as president of the European Council for a second term.

On his way to meet the 27 EU leaders for the spring summit, Muscat told reporters that there were clear rules of procedures to be followed. For Tusk’s re-election to be pushed off the agenda, it requires a majority – one which the Maltese prime minister says does not exist.

Hungary, who many thought would be siding with Poland in opposing Tusk, supported Tusk as well.

Muscat said that he would make sure that all points of the 28 leaders are put forward, and report on the consultations carried out.

As chair of the Maltese Presidency of the Council of the EU, Muscat had an active role in the re-election process and was tasked with engaging with the rest of the 27 leaders of the bloc to get their reaction on Tusk’s reappointment.

When asked earlier whether Tusk would be elected today, Muscat replied: “That’s the plan”.

Tusk’s arch-rival and fellow national Jaroslaw Kaczyński is doing everything in his power to block Tusk’s reappointment at the helm of the European Council, with things set to heat up during the summit of EU leaders.

Heads of state and government are meeting today and tomorrow in Brussels to discuss migration, the possible establishment of a European Public Prosecutor’s Office, the situation in the Western Balkans and preparations for the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome.

But before kick starting talks, the leaders will proceed with the election of the European Council President for the coming three years.

The election will take place amid opposition from Tusk’s own birth country, who do not want the 59-year-old Pole to head the European Council for a second term.

Whilst EU leaders are set to stand behind Tusk, Poland is expected not to budge. It has sent a letter to all EU leaders, demanding that Tusk is not re-appointed.

“Poland is not going down without a fight,” one EU official told MaltaToday.

Garnering the support of the majority will secure Tusk’s second term, but the lack of unanimous consensus will be considered as a crisis, the official remarked.

Kaczyński, the leader of Poland's governing Law and Justice (PiS) party, said that Tusk was “totally unacceptable” for Poland, accusing him of “breaking the basic EU rules, the rules of neutrality toward internal matters of member nations.”

One Polish journalist present for the summit told MaltaToday that it was such “a shame” that Poland was adopting such a hardline position, arguing that it all boiled down to personal rivalry.

As Politico has outlined, “Kaczyński holds Tusk personally responsible for the 2010 plane crash in Smolensk, Russia, that killed an entire delegation of high-level Polish politicians, including his twin brother, then-President Lech Kaczyński”.

The man pushing to take advantage over this rift is Polish MEP Jacek Saryusz-Wolski – having accepted the nomination of Poland’s ruling party to run against EPP candidate Tusk.

The drama there unfolded at a different level, with the EPP threatening Saryusz-Wolski with expulsion if he failed to drop the bid.

Depending from where one stands, Saryusz-Wolski has quit the party – or has been fired. The EPP said it had revoked Saryusz-Wolski’s title as EPP Vice-President whilst he said that he had handed in his resignation.

miriam
Miriam Dalli joined MaltaToday.com.mt in 2010 and was assistant editor fr...