Poland fails to stop Donald Tusk EU re-election

Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo has accused French President Francois Hollande of trying to blackmail her country, in a row over Thursday's re-election of EU Council leader Donald Tusk.

Speaking at an ill-tempered European Union summit in Brussels, Beata Szydło took aim at Hollande after the French president appeared to suggest that Poland - as one of the biggest recipients of European Union structural funds - should toe the line on Tusk's re-election.

According to another source from Brussels, cited by Reuters, Tusk has received the support of 27 of 28 member states.

Poland's nationalist government had proposed little-known Polish EU lawmaker Jacek Saryusz-Wolski to replace Tusk, whose current term ends May 31.

"Why don't we respect each other, listen to each other?" As they said, the stance of Szydlo would not affect the result. Her bid to oust Tusk is so far backed only by Hungary.

She said she had reminded leaders they too could be steamrolled.

"It may sound like a paradox because of the context, but anyway your decision is an expression of our unity today", he said.

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If Poland does not endorse the summit conclusions, that does not make them invalid.

"References to the European Council in the attached document should not be read as implying a formal endorsement by the European Council acting as an institution", was the disclaimer line of the conclusions.

However, to reject the entire text - which ranges from migration to deeper defence cooperation - is a different matter.

Maltese prime minister Joseph Muscat chaired the session to decide Mr Tusk's mandate.

"We will find a way out", he told journalists.

Correspondents say such hostility among compatriots is highly unusual in European Union politics.

"I want to cooperate with every member of the European Council and I will do everything I can to protect the Polish government against political isolation in Europe", Tusk said after the nomination.

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"Europe remains the champion of open, rules-based trade".

According to the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) leader Jarosław Kaczyński, Tusk appointment was spearheaded by Germany. "I will do my best to make the European Union better".

Besides, the president of the European Central Bank is also invited to share with national leaders his observations on the EU and euro area economies.

While Mr Tusk's election as European Council president in 2015 perhaps represented the high point for Polish influence at European level, the poisonous spat over his re-election - and Warsaw's quixotic decision to nominate a relatively unknown MEP as an alternative candidate - is something like its nadir.

He said he wanted to cooperate with every member of the European Council.

"The Polish government is clearly isolating itself", said Steven Blockmans, head of the politics and institutions unit of the CEPS think tank in Brussels.

Diplomats from several member nations say Warsaw has little or no support, while Tusk has strong backing.

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A senior German official said that Chancellor Angela Merkel "appreciates the work" of Tusk and that he assumes he will be re-elected Thursday with "overwhelming support".


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