Thursday, 23rd October 2014

Polish PM elected European Council president, Italy's Mogherini to head diplomacy


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The European Union (EU) leaders during a summit on Saturday elected Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk as president of the European Council, and appointed Italian Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini as the EU's foreign policy chief.

"The European Council decided today to elect Donald Tusk as President of the European Council, and to appoint Federica Mogherini as High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy," a European Council statement said.

Donald Tusk, the center-right Polish Prime Minister will be the second president of the European council. His election reflected a strong desire by EU's eastern countries to finally hold a senior position in the Union.

The European Council President is the person who chairs EU leaders summits and mediates between the 28 governments. According to the Treaty on European Union (TEU), the European Council shall elect its President by a qualified majority for a period of two and a half years, renewable once.

"The President of the European Council is elected for the period from 1 December 2014 until 31 May 2017," the statement said.

Meanwhile, Tusk was also appointed President of the Euro Summit, for the same period.
Described by the media as "a leading EU hawk on the Kremlin and the crisis in Ukraine", Tusk has clear favorites by the EU leaders amid the upheaval in Ukraine.

Herman Van Rompuy, the current holder of the position, praised Tusk as "a statesman for Europe" at a press conference after the election.

"He has impressed his colleagues and the outside world with the determined and confident way he has led his country and steered Poland through the economic crisis, managing to maintain steady economic growth and never fall into recession," Van Rompuy said.

Van Rompuy said there are three challenges that the EU will be facing in the years ahead: the stagnating economy, Ukraine and Russia, and Britain's place in the Union.

"I come to Brussels from a country that deeply believes in the significance of Europe," Tusk told the news conference.

"No reasonable person can imagine the EU without the UK, I cannot imagine it myself," he said, adding that he will "take on the concerns voiced by the UK."

As a balance of gender and political powers on the distribution of top posts, Italian Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini, the center-left foreign minister was appointed as the EU's High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, replacing Britain's Catherine Ashton.

The 41-year-old foreign minister has been said to be too "soft" on Russian stance and too "inexperienced" for the job, as she was only appointed foreign minister in February.

But, given that the new EU commission chief is center-right Jean-Claude Juncker, one of the other two top EU posts should go to a Social Democrat and a woman, according to analysts.

Van Rompuy gave his support to the new face, saying, "The European Council is convinced that she will prove a skilful and steadfast mediator, negotiator and defender of Europe's place in the world."

"All around Europe we have crisis," Mogherini said at the press conference after her appointment. She pledged to devote herself to defending interests of all member states through "dialogues, compromises as well as actions and decisions."

Ashton congratulated on Mogherini's appointment, saying "I wish her every success in taking forward the EU's external action over the next five years at the head of the European External Action Service."
The EU's foreign policy chief, with a term of five years, is responsible for coordinating the bloc's common foreign and security policy and contributes to the development of that policy.
Mogherini is appointed for the period from the end of the current term of office of the European Commission on Oct. 31, 2014 until Oct. 31, 2019.

The appointment was made in agreement with the President-elect of the Commission Jean-Claude Juncker, the European Council statement said, adding that it will be subject to a vote of consent by the European Parliament.

Last month, EU leaders failed to agree on candidates for these two top EU jobs.

The two posts have to be decided on the special summit as the time approached to the mid-September, when Juncker should have completed forming his team of 28 commissioners.

Herman Van Rompuy's current mandate as European Council president will expire on Dec. 1, 2014, and Catherine Ashton will step down when the current Commission's term ends on Oct. 31, 2014. BRUSSELS, Aug. 30 (Xinhua)


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