Donald Tusk – 2019 Speech on the June European Council Meeting

Below is the text of the speech made by Donald Tusk, the President of the European Council, in the European Parliament on 4 July 2019.

Mr President, Members of the European Parliament, first of all I want to congratulate the Members of this House on their election and to congratulate the new President. I offer you my best wishes and I hope for good cooperation between our institutions.

To some, it is Parliament that represents genuine European democracy because of its directly elected Members, while to others it is rather the European Council because of the strong democratic legitimacy of the leaders. In fact, such disputes make little sense, as both institutions are democratic. In the end, we must respect each other and cooperate with each other, because only then can we build trust and change Europe for the better.

That is why, honourable Members, before the European Council proposed the new leadership of the Union, I met with your representatives many times. I did so not only out of respect for you but also, above all, to make sure that the decisions are truly common. We managed to make these decisions on time, and actually much more quickly than five years ago. I believe they are good choices. For the first time in our history, the European Council proposed two women and two men to lead the key EU institutions. I feel happy and proud that we have achieved perfect gender balance in the top positions. This is a very positive change. Europe is not only talking about women, it is choosing women. I hope that this choice will inspire many girls and women to fight for their beliefs and passions. I also hope that it will inspire the European Parliament in its decisions.

During the process of nominations, I was in close contact with the leadership of the Greens, especially with Ska Keller and Philippe Lamberts. I am fully confident that cooperation with the Greens and their presence in the EU decision-making bodies will benefit not only the governing coalition, but also Europe as a whole. Therefore, I will appeal to all my partners to involve the Greens in the nominations, even though there is still no European Council leader from this party. I hope that the newly nominated Ursula von der Leyen will also listen to my appeal and, in fact, I will pass this message to her directly later today. As you know, in many countries green symbolises hope and freedom. I have much faith in this symbol.

Speaking about different sensitivities in Europe, I would also like to mention unity and geographical balance on the continent. As you know, I have personally struggled to maintain European unity in recent years, whether on solidarity with Ukraine, assistance to Greece, the migration crisis or the Brexit talks. Sometimes we were more and sometimes less successful, but eventually we always managed to stay together. This is because the leaders truly understand the power of unity. It is clear that only when we are united can we counterbalance the most powerful global players.

At our last summit, we were also able to build consensus. It took us three days because I wanted to be sure that every Member State, big or small, from every corner of Europe, was on board when it came to the future leadership of the Union. Of course, there is still room for improvement, as regards representatives from the East, in the overall architecture of European positions. In particular, some Prime Ministers from the Socialist family were making commitments as regards geographical balance in this House.

The European Council also covered a number of other topics but, since you know our conclusions, I will not take up any more of your time. Thank you and good luck again.