European Council President Donald Tusk’s mandate finishes at the end of November and he is expected to return home to Poland. He will be in position to run for the country’s presidency in the May election, but he has declined to say whether he will seek elected office.
Tusk was elected Council president for a second two-and-a-half-year, non-renewable term on Mar 9, 2017.
Inside or outside of elected office, Tusk is virtually certain to fight to keep Poland in the bloc. A centrist who served as Polish prime minister from 2007 to 2014, he is a strong critic of Poland’s ruling eurosceptic Law and Justice party (PiS), which has often clashed with Brussels over immigration, the rule of law and other issues.
The presidency of the European Council – the heads of EU member countries – ranks near the bottom for influence. Tusk’s replacement will have little control over Council members’ decisions.
The year is seeing debate about combining the Council presidency with the European Commission presidency. It is also seeing debate about how the Council and Commission elect their chiefs.
Global Policy Watch outlined the various aspects of the EU institutional debate in a paper in Feb 2018. The analysis explains that the mainstream parties will likely lose ground in 2019 to emerging forces, some of which are very critical of Continental integration. It cites the need to prevent the selection negotiations from deepening disputes within the bloc, and dealing with the issue in a more fragmented political landscape.
Date written/update: 2019-01-22