Donald Tusk vows to work closely with Britain’s David Cameron

Polish president of European Council ready to ‘take on the concerns of the UK’

Incoming European Council president Donald Tusk: said it was possible to combine fiscal discipline and economic growth in Europe. Photograph: Yves Herman

Incoming European Council president Donald Tusk: said it was possible to combine fiscal discipline and economic growth in Europe. Photograph: Yves Herman

 

Newly elected president of the European Council Donald Tusk pledged to work with British prime minister David Cameron over the coming years and “take on the concerns of the UK” as the Polish prime minister was elected head of the European Council in Brussels on Saturday.

Italian foreign minister Federica Mogherini was chosen by EU leaders as the EU’s high representative for foreign affairs – effectively the bloc’s foreign policy chief – succeeding Catherine Ashton. Together with European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker, the triumvirate will lead the EU for the next five years.

Speaking after the summit in Brussels on Saturday, Taoiseach Enda Kenny, who had been mentioned as a possible candidate, congratulated Mr Tusk on his appointment, highlighting the links between Ireland and the Polish community in Ireland. “Obviously we will work very closely with the new general elect of the council. There was a general agreement on the issues and challenges that Europe faces that are going to dominate his time as president of the council.”

Kenny’s plea

Mr Tusk assumes the role as economic data shows European economic growth stalled in the second quarter and euro zone inflation keeps falling.

Speaking following the announcement of his appointment, Mr Tusk said he would bring the energy and experience required for the post to Brussels, adding Poland was a country that “believes in a united Europe”. He pledged to work closely with Mr Cameron, who is seeking to renegotiate Britain’s relationship with the EU, saying he “could not imagine” an EU without it.

Mr Tusk is a centre-right politician who has led Poland for seven years. Fluent in German, he speaks neither French nor English. Breaking into English briefly on Saturday evening, he joked he would polish his language skills before taking up the job.

Kremlin stance

Italy

She also rejected suggestions her age was a barrier to her candidacy, highlighting her 20-year experience in European and foreign policy work, and her experience as a minister for a G7 country.

Ms Mogherini’s accession to the post, despite reservations from some eastern European countries, will be seen as a coup for Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi, elected in February. Mr Renzi has been leading calls for a rethink of European economic policy to encompass a stronger emphasis on growth.

While Mr Tusk will take up his position on December 1st, Ms Mogherini will begin work on November 1st. Mr Juncker is due to allocate portfolios to the European Union’s 28 incoming commissioners by early next week.