Heard in Europe

The rumor around town is that Council President Donald Tusk has quit doing the important work expected of him, and abandoned it to Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.

The example most frequently cited is his handling of the Greek crisis. Tusk’s predecessor, Herman Van Rompuy, was in the driving seat, dealing with the eurozone crisis between 2009 and 2013. At that time, Juncker’s predecessor, José Manuel Barroso played a supporting role.

Now the roles are reversed. Tusk has almost completely abandoned dealing with the Greek crisis. He indeed convened a eurozone summit on 22 June, but Tusk messed up, praising Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras for having convinced the other eurozone leaders for “Greece’s seriousness and willingness to work constructively.” The summit was a failure.

Three days later, a regular EU summit was held. Greece didn’t feature in the official agenda, but it was of course the elephant in the room. At the presser, Tusk and Juncker were asked about Greece. Tusk replied this had not been an issue at the summit. But Juncker retorted – “This may not be an issue for you, but I spent 15 hours negotiating Greece.”

Juncker was also visibly annoyed about Tusk’s handling of the migration issue, as the former Polish premier appeared to act more as a spokesperson of the Eastern European countries that are against the migrant quotas, than a Council President.

And on the latest summit presser, Tusk spoke of “game over” regarding Greece, which was precisely the wrong message. In the meantime, Greece left the talks and called a referendum, but Juncker is still making last-ditch offers. There cannot be a “game over” unless one accepts that the EU falls apart. Juncker at least understands that.


Photograph courtesy of Platforma Obywatelska RP. Published under a Creative Commons licence.

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