Different styles, different approaches?: Tusk vs Van Rompuy

Donald Tusk will take over the post of the President of the European Council on December 1. Comparing Herman Van Rompuy and Tusk, how much do you expect continuity and how much a very different approach? Read few comments.

Roderick Parkes, Scholar, Swedish Institute of International Affairs (UI), Non-resident Fellow, Polish Institute of International Affairs (PISM)

– in terms of public style, HVR was the quiet man (he managed to get through his tenure without ever making an interesting speech, and at the end was still largely defined in the public imagination by Farage’s opening statement that he was a “damp rag”). I think DT will be the plain-speaking man. His English is actually rather good, but I think he will portray himself as someone whose grasp of EU-ish is not good enough for him to be anything other than honest and truthful.

– in terms of negotiating style, HVR came from the Belgian context of tricky consensualism. DT cut his teeth in a much tougher environment, a Communist and then post-Communist country where consensus-building has little history. This may shake things up in the Council. So too will his common sense style. If he is anything like former Polish PM Jan-Krzysztof Bielecki – who has acted as close adviser – then he will be street smart and wiley, rather than sophisticated and urbane in his handling of EU leaders. He belongs to the Solidarnosc gang.

– in terms of his goals, I think he will want to take the European Council away from what it has become under HVR – the forum for deciding on issues that national ministers are too nervous to put their name to, a place for arguing over the placing of full-stops in a eurozone treaty. There are big strategic issues facing the EU, and they are those where easterners are finally being asked to play an agenda-setting role – TTIP, eastern partnership, defence, energy.

Doreen AllerkampAssistant Lecturer/Researcher, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Mannheim

I think Van Rompuy performed to expectations, but I think Tusk will have a higher profile. I am not certain I see the point of the permanent European Council President, though, to be honest.

 

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