European Disharmony

Merkel Cools on Tusk

Increasingly distant: Donald Tusk and Angela Merkel.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Donald Tusk is president of the European Council, overseeing the meetings of the leaders of member countries.

  • Facts


    • Mr. Tusk was once a close ally of Ms. Merkel.
    • His role gives him the power to call and chair key E.U. summits.
    • Critics say he is using his position to further his own and Poland’s interests at the expense of the E.U.
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The White House provided some unintended amusement in Brussels when it announced earlier this month that the most powerful man in the world, President Barack Obama, would participate in a video conference “with the president of the European Commission, Donald Tusk.”

“We had a good laugh,” said a source at the Commission, the executive arm of the European Union.

The Americans had got lost in the labyrinth of E.U. leadership structures. That’s not surprising –SHor it’s easy to get confused when dealing with the three main presidents in Brussels.

Jean-Claude Juncker, the former premier of Luxemburg, is the actual leader of the Commission, while German Martin Schulz leads the European Parliament. Since December 2014, Mr. Tusk, the former prime minister of Poland, has led the European Council, where his primary responsibility is to organize and lead E.U. summit meetings.

Last Thursday, Mr. Tusk once again welcomed the 28 E.U. government leaders to a summit in Brussels.

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