For the first time since joining the European Union in 2004, Poland have assumed the six-month rotating presidency
which is likely to be a difficult one at a difficult time for the 27-member bloc.
The Poles take over from the Hungarians, who rounded off their successful six month
stint in typically dramatic fashion sealing a late political deal on Croatia’s eventual succession to full EU member in a last mini-summit yesterday evening
. The task of translating that agreement into an accession treaty now begins before it then can be signed and ratified by the existing 27 EU members – as well as the Croats in a referendum – a process that should be completed in time for the target entry date of 1st July 2013
After the official handover of the EU flag conducted in Warsaw this afternoon, Poland’s PM Donald Tusk delivered an encouragingly optimistic speech
in which he passionately defended the EU, without mentioning names criticised the “egoistic national interests” and accused current European leaders of hypocrisy and myopia.
Then, rounding on the leaders of the big-four (Germany, France, Italy and Britain) over their handling of the crisis in Greece, immigration, EU spending and the budget, he charged them with posing as European champions while pandering to a new form of euroscepticism for personal political gain. These were strong words and an encouraging statement of intent.
Mr Tusk said he would use his country’s six-month presidency
to try to restore some sense of common purpose and confidence to a 27-member bloc in what is very troubling times, but his presidency will fall victim to the summer vacation that falls at the start of their term. He will therefore be under pressure to get results in the final four months of the year, not least successfully negotiate his own challenges at home with national elections penned for October