Donald Tusk: Greens should be involved in any governing coalition
Outgoing European Council President Donald Tusk has urged Parliament’s political groups to involve the Greens in any governing coalition.
Donald Tusk | Photo credit: European Parliament Audiovisual
Speaking in Parliament in Strasbourg on Thursday, Tusk said, “I am fully confident that cooperating with the Greens will benefit both the Parliament’s governing coalition and the EU generally.”
The Greens emerged with some gains in the European elections in May although the EPP, Socialists and the newly-named Renew Europe, formerly Alde, remain bigger than the Greens.
Talks are currently being held between various political groups in Parliament in a bid to form a working majority for the next legislative term.
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The mainstream groups are particularly keen to ensure agreement is reached given the mini surge in support for Eurosceptics and the far right in the recent EU elections.
In his speech, Tusk told MEPs, “During the process of nominations [for the EU’s top jobs] I was in close contact with the leadership of the Greens, especially with Ska Keller and Philippe Lamberts.”
He added, “I am fully confident that cooperation with the Greens and their presence in the EU decision-making bodies will benefit not only the governing coalition, but Europe as a whole.”
“Therefore, I will appeal to all my partners to involve the Greens in the nominations, even though there is still no European Council leader from this party.”
“I am fully confident that cooperation with the Greens and their presence in the EU decision-making bodies will benefit not only the governing coalition, but Europe as a whole” Donald Tusk
“I hope that the newly-nominated Ursula von der Leyen will also listen to my appeal. In fact, I will pass her this message directly later today. As you know, in many countries green symbolises hope and freedom.”
Tusk, a former Polish Prime Minister, said, I have much faith in this symbol.”
He also said that at this week’s EU summit EU leaders had been “able to build consensus.”
In an emotional address, he added, “It took us three days, because I wanted to be sure that every Member State, big or small, from every corner of Europe, was on board when it came to the future leadership of the Union. But of course, there is still room for improvement as regards representatives from the East, in the overall architecture of European positions.”
Tusk continued, “For the first time in our history, the European Council proposed two women and two men to lead the key EU institutions. I feel happy and proud that we have achieved perfect gender balance in the top positions. This is a very positive change. Europe is not only talking about women, it is choosing women.”
“I hope that this choice will inspire many girls and women to fight for their beliefs and passions. And I also hope that it will inspire the European Parliament in its decisions.”
Speaking in the same debate about the summit, EU Commissioner Maroš Šefčovič congratulated Italian Socialist MEP David Sassoli on his election on Wednesday as Parliament’s President “on what may be the most difficult job of all.”
He also said new Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has “all the credentials to lead the EU.”
But he pointed out, “Parliament will have the final say [on the nomination] and we have time to debate this in the coming weeks.”
To those who have warned of a pending conflict between the Parliament and Council on the jobs package agreed at the summit, he said, “There is a lot of common ground between the Commission and Parliament.”
Turning to upcoming policy discussions, he also warned, “The EU budget must be concluded on time but this will require compromise on all sides.”
Meanwhile, Charles Michel, current interim Prime Minister of Belgium, has called his appointment as the new President of the European Council both “a privilege and a responsibility”.
After three days of negotiations, the 28 leaders agreed on the distribution of the EU’s main posts, taking into account geographical, political and gender balances.
Michel stressed the importance of building “useful and positive compromises” for Europe in order to face the major challenges ahead, citing, among other obstacles, “Brexit, climate change and various other economic developments”.
“I think we must do our utmost to serve the citizenry, even if it means compromising. In the end, compromises are steps in the right direction,” Charles Michel said at press conference shortly after his election.
“It is a great honour, privilege and responsibility for me to have been chosen to preside over the European Council,” he said, before adding: “I fully appreciate the weight of this responsibility and its potential impact in guaranteeing diversity, unity and solidarity within the European project.”
Asked about the situation in Belgium, Charles Michel reminded everyone that he would only succeed Tusk in December and expressed his wish that a federal government “could be formed within a reasonable amount of time”.
The term of office of the President of the European Council is two and a half years and is renewable only once.
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