Britain Backs Polish Leader for Top European Council Job

British prime minister David Cameron supports his Polish counterpart to take over from Herman Van Rompuy.

Prime Ministers Donald Tusk of Poland and David Cameron of the United Kingdom talk with Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany during a European Council meeting in Brussels, October 26, 2011
Prime Ministers Donald Tusk of Poland and David Cameron of the United Kingdom talk with Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany during a European Council meeting in Brussels, October 26, 2011 (KPRM/Grzegorz Rogiński)

British prime minister David Cameron is prepared to back his Polish counterpart, Donald Task, to take over as European Council president, The Guardian reported on Tuesday.

While Cameron’s office would not confirm the report outright, a spokeswoman said Tusk “thinks there are a number of reforms that need to be made in the EU and that is an agenda where he wants to work with the United Kingdom and other countries.”

Tusk would be the first leader from the former Warsaw Pact countries that joined the European Union in 2004 to take one of the bloc’s top jobs.

Although the Polish prime minister is a conservative like Cameron, he is critical of British proposals to limit labor migration within Europe. But he is seen as supporting the United Kingdom’s trade and liberalization agenda and, like Cameron, has called on Europe to take a stronger stand against Russia which invaded Ukraine, a prospective European Union member state, in March to annex its Crimean Peninsula.

Tusk could also balance against the more federalist instincts of Luxembourg’s former prime minister, Jean-Claude Juncker, who was nominated by European leaders in June to become president of the European Commission — the body’s executive arm.

At the time, Danish prime minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt, a Social Democrat, seemed the most likely candidate to replace Herman Van Rompuy as European Council president, given that Juncker belongs to the conservative European People’s Party, the largest group in the European Parliament. According to The Guardian, Britain hopes the social democrats will settle for the post of foreign policy chief which could go to Federica Mogherini, the Italian foreign minister. The job currently belongs to Britain’s Catherine Ashton.

German Social Democrat Martin Schulz will also remain president of the European Parliament.