A toss for Mr Tusk

On Thursday, 18 December 2014 the President of the European Council Mr Donald Tusk in his new capacity will chair his first meeting of Heads of State of Government. Likewise this will be a meeting that will mark the end of a post-electoral transition after the European Parliament elections in May 2014.  It will be also an opportunity for a new establishment to make policy projections for the next year to come using as a basis the Commission announcement made two days earlier about its working and legislative programme.

By no doubt this will be a new start for Mr Tusk and there is no secret that the EU, as complex machinery, has a long list of policy actions laid down in larger time scales carefully crafted and scrutinised by its policy units. Thus it would be difficult and hardly possible to find new recipes or formulas that have not been discussed earlier. This makes a change in EU policy incremental and departmentalised, nevertheless requiring a careful planning, day-to-day handling and a longer-term strategy defined by the guidelines of the same European Council.

The priority list that was presented by the Commission’s President Mr Juncker and vice-President Mr Timmermans to the European Parliament reminds us of this process. The jewel in the crown, which is the proposal for European Structural and Investment Fund, can have some similarities with the crisis fighting recovery plan, but its real function now seems to be the attraction of private capital into real economy by coordinated and supplementary EU action vis-à-vis national policies.

Same can go with the Energy Union, which could succeed the idea of Energy Community that was first proposed by Jacques Delors in 2010. However, today the Union has made a leap forward with implementation of the third energy package and now finds itself on the solid ground for next steps toward common purchases of gas from the third countries.

Europe equally stands firmly with the creation of Banking Union and reinforced economic governance as irreversible steps toward the genuine EMU. Then these steps were necessary to respond to global crisis of sovereign debt and public finances. Today it will be necessary to weight the ambitions for Europe’s fiscal capacity at the time when European countries remain in a continuous struggle for the structural reforms.

Nevertheless, foreign policy matters today remain at the epicentre of events. The developments and military aggression in the EU neighbourhood, its east and south, fight against emerging threat of international terrorism, humanitarian efforts to stop pandemic deceases – all this requires EU capacity to mobilise swiftly. The newly functioning European diplomatic service is a big step forward and now it will be important to externalise EU instruments in one pool taking together common policies of climate change, migration partnerships, justice cooperation, energy dialogue, macro-financial assistance, digital agenda, trade or transport among others.

Apparently all policy proposals are now on the table of European Council and it is time now to make a first bet. The events will tell us if there will be a fresh start taken by a change of heart or if there will be a stocking of an old wine into new bottles still with a glimmer of hope for a better deal.

Photo: AFP

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