New EU chief vows action on ‘threats’ and economy

New EU chief vows action on ‘threats’ and economy

BRUSSELS - Agence France-Presse
New EU chief vows action on ‘threats’ and economy

Incoming European Council President Tusk (L) waves together with outgoing president Van Rompuy. AP Photo

Former Polish premier Donald Tusk took over as European Council president Dec. 1 promising “ruthless determination” to revive the economy and to defend the EU against both external and internal threats.

Tusk – the first person from the former Soviet-dominated east to take a top EU role, at a time of tension with Russia – told a handover ceremony with his predecessor Herman Van Rompuy that the bloc faced a challenge from “enemies.”

“Politics has returned to Europe. History is back,” said Tusk, who was chosen at a summit in August to lead the council that groups the European Union’s 28 leaders.

With anti-EU parties on the rise and Britain threatening to pull out of the union, Tusk said he would focus on protecting “fundamental values, solidarity, freedom, unity, against the threats to the European Union coming both from outside and inside.”

“Today not only are eurosceptics questioning the EU’s value, we have also enemies, not only sceptic,” he added, without elaborating.

Tusk, a former member of Poland’s pro-democracy Solidarity trade union movement, said the EU must be strong internationally, saying it must secure its borders and “support those in the neighbourhood who share our values.”       

Tusk also vowed to help rescue the European economy, causing global concerns as it teeters on the brink of a triple-dip recession, high unemployment and deflation. “We need ruthless determination to end the economic crisis,” he said, while calling for completing European monetary union, even though his country does not yet use the euro.