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Council overrules Poland, re-elects Tusk

The European Union recently voted Donald Tusk to a second term as the president of the European Council. Tusk, who is a former prime minister of Poland, was appointed on March 9 by his EU co-members of 27 countries that includes France, Germany and Holland.

The controversy came when those same 27 countries needed to overrule Poland, which did not agree with the re-election of Tusk. Poland went so far as to block joint statements during the EU meetings in order to make the committees non-binding.

Tusk is well-known for his actions regarding the migration crisis, which is a pressing issue around the world, but no more so than in Europe where EU member countries are bearing the brunt of the responsibility. According to Mark Rutte of the Netherlands, “He’s decent, he’s effective, he’s a very good president.”

The issue of the new appointee for and by the European Union is not an issue with Tusk but a growing new sentiment among some EU members. Poland’s rising right-wing government and its belief that Tusk had “betrayed his country” fostered discontent with the EU president.

Another issue also goes back to the 2010 plane crash in Russia that killed former Polish Prime Minister Lech Kaczynski and 95 other people on board. A BBC article wrote “Mr. Tusk’s government was accused of not doing enough to explain the causes of the crash while critics said he should not have allowed the Russians to conduct the first crash investigation.”

For many member nations, there had been a growing faction within their countries where right-wing groups were gaining power and one country in particular had already experienced a right-wing victory: the United Kingdom.

A strict immigration policy had been one of the main reasons for the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union as the huge influx of refugees fleeing the war-torn areas of the Middle East had caused many in the United Kingdom to support leaving the bloc. This process has not yet been completed as Prime Minister Theresa May has stated that the country is about two years away from officially leaving. Many members of the European Union still believe that the United Kingdom will return to the bloc due to the trade negotiations and the needs and wants of all those involved. Tusk recently commented on whether or not the United Kingdom might actually leave the European Union stating, “even if today hardly anyone believes in such a possibility.” He also went as far as to compare the situation to “have the EU cake and eat it too.”

Another headline in EU news is whether or not membership is in the near future for a few Balkan states, such as Albania, Montenegro, Serbia and a handful of others, who seek to benefit and secede away from Russian influences. What is keeping them away from joining the European Union are the slow progressions in reform “with Serbia seen as the linchpin whose development could pull up others.” This, according to Voice of America news, is a rocky decision to make regardless of Serbia’s progression. It has allowed “organized crime to flourish and encouraging more migrants to head north to the EU.”

Macedonia is in a political crisis, Montenegro is split between pro-West and opposition parties and Serbia, although making progress, has not recognized the independence of Kosovo. With the escalating migrant crisis in the region, the European Union must deal with the Balkan situation immediately and has stated that it is very high on its agenda in the next summit meeting.

March 20, 2017

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