Donald Tusk, President of the European Council

In the spotlight

Visit to Germany, 24 January 2017

President Donald Tusk was invited to speak at the state funeral of former German President Roman Herzog, who died on 10 January. 

"Roman Herzog belonged to a generation that had a living memory of the bad past - which for them was a source of motivation to reinforce European integration. This generation knew how high the stakes were," said President Tusk.

Tusk reminded that Roman Herzog was a prominent lawyer and a constitutionalist, as well as a president of 'open words', looking for peace and freedom. He chaired the First European Convention, which in the years 1999-2000 drafted the Charter of the Fundamental Rights of the European Union. 

"With the Charter, President Herzog equipped us with an important instrument in the fight against national egoisms and populism," said Tusk. "Until his last days he spoke about fundamental issues of integration," he added. 

Donald Tusk also highlighted that Roman Herzog used to complain that the German word 'Angst' (fear) had appeared in other languages, as a symbol of a general mindset.  

"We should promise the President that we will take his message to heart and we will take advantage of the instruments he co-created for Europe. And that 'Angst' will not be an expression of our European mindset today," concluded President Tusk. 

Report to the European Parliament, 18 January 2017 

President Donald Tusk reported to the European Parliament on the main results of the December European Council. He began by congratulating Antonio Tajani on his election as President of the European Parliament and expressed confidence that all in the Council and the Parliament would work together to meet the challenges of 2017.

"Last year, we managed to make progress on migration, security and the economy in spite of the unprecedented difficulties we faced," he said.

On  migration, the European Council looked at the implementation of the EU-Turkey Statement and assessed progress on the compacts signed with the selected African countries.  

"Last year, one hundred and eighty thousand  migrants arrived irregularly to Italy. This is a situation that cannot continue," said Tusk. "That is why Libya and our approach to the Central Mediterranean route will be the key point of the next informal summit in Malta," he added.

On Ukraine, the European Council adopted a legally binding decision of the leaders to facilitate the ratification of the Association Agreement in the Netherlands. Since Russia has still not implemented the Minsk agreements, Chancellor Merkel and President Hollande recommended that sanctions should be prolonged. They are now in place for a further six months. 

The European Council also addressed security issues, including the strengthening of EU-NATO cooperation. "European countries should do more in the face of immediate security threats facing our citizens, and so should the European Union," said Tusk. 

Leaders also discussed several initiatives to make the European economy work for everyone. "The statistics are better, but the important thing is for ordinary people and businesses to feel confident about the future", he said. "This is why the European Fund for Strategic Investments will be extended, our trade defence instruments modernised, and the Youth Guarantee will be continued". 

Finally, President Tusk briefed the European Parliament on the informal meeting of the 27 leaders which was held in the margins of the European Council. "We agreed procedural arrangements and reconfirmed our principles, namely the indivisibility of the four freedoms, the balance of rights and obligations and our rule of 'no negotiations without notification'," said Tusk. 

He ended by welcoming the Brexit speech given by Prime Minister May on 17 January. "It proves that the unified position of 27 Member States on the indivisibility of the single market was finally understood and accepted by London," he commented. "We took note of the warm and balanced words of Prime Minister May on European integration, which were much closer to the narrative of Winston Churchill than that of the American President-elect Trump," he added.

As of  1 December 2014, Donald Tusk heads the European Council - the institution that sets the EU's political direction and priorities. He is responsible for preparing and chairing meetings of the institution. He also ensures the external representation of the EU's common foreign and security policy at his level.