Outgoing-European Council President Donald Tusk won’t be leaving the European political stage after his tenure as President of the European Council finishes at the end of the month. He has been nominated as leader of the European People’s Party, the centre-right political grouping in the European Parliament, home to Ireland’s Fine Gael and Germany’s CDU. The news of Tusk’s nomination for EPP President comes after speculation that he could run in next year’s Polish presidential election.
Tusk has been widely praised for his role in the Brexit negotiations between the EU and UK. He has chaired many a late-night summit between the European leaders who had to find unity on granting extensions to the Brexit procedures. Tusk hasn’t hesitated to be outspoken or poke fun at the British government’s Brexit strategy, or lack thereof, but is widely regarded as being a friend of the UK. Tusk has also has publicly noted his desire to see the Brexit decision reversed.
On the other side of Rue de la Loi, a new EU-UK Task Force is to be set up with the aim of rebuilding ties between the two blocs post-Brexit. Michel Barnier, who has led the negotiations between the EU and the UK to-date, will lead the Task Force. The new department will oversee future trade negotiations as well as cooperation in judicial affairs, defence, and foreign policy. The EU will be keen to continue cooperation with the UK, especially on security and defence policy, given the UK’s considerable clout in this field.
Like Tusk, Barnier has won universal praise from the EU27 for his handling of the negotiations. He has secured not one, but two agreements with the UK, and the EU is seen as having conceded relatively little in the talks. Speaking to members of the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Tuesday, Barnier referred to the “unpicking of 45 years of co-operation” which Brexit has brought with it. He will have Herculean task ahead of him, but will be bolstered by his ample experience.