Donald Tusk EU President's job row threatens to overshadow summit

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel threw her weight behind Donald Tusk to retain one of the European Union's top jobs Thursday, despite staunch opposition from his home country of Poland.

Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, who will oversee Thursday's election for president for the next two and a half years, says that consultations over the past week have shown "very solid support" for Tusk.

Tusk's successor as prime minister Beata Szydlo, acting on orders from her party boss and long-time Tusk adversary Jaroslaw Kaczynski, had vowed to stop him securing a second 30-month term.

Poland attempted to block the adoption of European Union council conclusions at Thursday's (9 March) summit, after 27 European Union leaders re-elected Donald Tusk as president despite fierce oppostion from Warsaw.

French President Francois Hollande also said he would continue backing Tusk, "even if, with a view to political balance, it would be the turn of a socialist — I try to have a vision that is more European than partisan or national, ” adding, "I will not participate in this eviction".

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Most of the 28 European Union leaders had hoped to push through Polish ex-premier Tusk's re-election with a minimum of fuss so they could concentrate on other challenges.

Warsaw's eurosceptic and rightwing government has a history of bad blood with the centrist Tusk and last week proposed MEP Jacek Saryusz-Wolski as a counter-candidate.

Tusk, who was once Polish prime minister and who comes from the party Civic Platform, which is the opposition to the ruling Law and Justice Party, was staunchly opposed by Warsaw.

Theresa May did not reveal her voting intentions beforehand, but her spokesman said she believed Mr Tusk was "doing a good job".

The presidency of the European Council is a prestigious role involving chairing summits, coordinating the work of the member countries and representing the 28 member countries with one voice on the global stage. "We will defend principles that are foundational to the EU" she said. "The conclusion from Brexit should not be "we need more multi-speed Europe", a European diplomat said on condition of anonymity. Other leaders won out, insisting there was no reason for a delay.

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