Тhe current Prime Minister of Poland, Donald Tusk, will be the next President of the European Council while Federica Mogherini, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Italy, will become the next High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. The two were appointed on Saturday at a special EU summit. Donald Tusk will also chair the Eurozone summits and Mogherini will be Vice-president of the European Commission.
Announcing that the new EU leadership team is now complete, President Van Rompuy underlined the consensual character of the decision. He praised the experience and strong leadership of PM Tusk, particularly needed to address what were described as critical future challenges: the stagnant economy, the crisis with Ukraine and Russia and the place of Great Britain in the EU. Van Rompuy underlined the dynamism and European convictions of the new High Representative.
Mr. Tusk will take office on December 1, and his mandate is for two and a half years, renewable once. Mrs. Mogherini will take office with the whole EU Commission, in November, after the vote of consent by the European Parliament, foreseen for October. Her term is for five years, in line with that of the other Commissioners.
Saturday’s decisions on the top EU jobs will be followed by the announcement, shortly, of the composition of the European Commission by the President designate, Jean-Claude Juncker. After the vote in the EP, the whole executive should take office in November.
The summit addressed the grave developments in the East of Ukraine, in particular the increasing inflow of fighters and weapons from Russia. Stepping up the condemnation of the participation of Russian armed forces on Ukrainian soil, the leaders tasked the urgent preparation (within a week) of new additional sanctions against Moscow, to be agreed in the light of the situation on the ground and to be added to the package of economic measures already in place. President Van Rompuy spoke of the determination of all the EU leaders to put all the necessary pressure on Russia to engage in a political negotiation, since the crisis has no other possible solution.
President Petro Poroshenko joined the leaders pleading for an increased EU support for his country. He got full backing for his peace plan, which includes substantial political reforms in his country, a mutually agreed cease-fire and Ukrainian control of its border.
Iraq, Syria, Gaza and Libya were also addressed, in particular the challenges posed by the “Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)”. More effective use of sanctions is needed in particular to deny access to funds and other resources.
Last but not least, the EU leaders signaled the concern of the economic and social situation in Europe, despite the improvements in the financial markets. The recovery is too weak, inflation is too low and the unemployment is too high. The Italian Government has called for a conference, at Heads of State or Government level, in October, to discuss youth employment.
The next European Council will take place in Brussels on Oct 23-24 and a Eurozone summit will be organized on that occasion.