Remarks by President Donald Tusk before the G7 summit in Italy | EU Council Press

e are meeting here in Taormina as the G7 to discuss the most pressing global issues. There is no doubt that this will be the most challenging G7 summit in years. It is no secret that leaders who are meeting today, sometimes have very different positions on topics such as climate change and trade. But our role as the EU is to do everything to maintain the unity of the G7 on all fronts.

Most importantly, unity needs to be maintained when it comes to defending the rules-based international order. Each day we are confronted with these strategic global problems that pose a threat to peace and security in Europe, in Asia and in the Middle East. From the war in Syria and Russian aggression in Ukraine, to nuclear and ballistic missile tests in North Korea, and land reclamation and militarization in the South China Sea. If our group is not determined and united enough, the situation in the world can really get out of hand.

I expect that the G7 will demonstrate unity regarding the conflict in Ukraine. We fully support Ukraine’s independence, territorial integrity and sovereignty. A solution to this conflict can only be reached with the full implementation of the Minsk agreements. Since our last G7 summit in Japan we haven’t seen anything that would justify a change in our sanctions policy toward Russia. Therefore, I will appeal to the other G7 leaders to reconfirm this policy.

The G7 should also remain united when it comes to ending the brutality in Syria. We should be ready to increase our efforts to defeat terrorism in Syria, and to find a political settlement. A special responsibility rests on the shoulders of those who, like Iran and Russia, have become involved in the crisis and cooperate with the Assad regime. Instead of wasting time, they should use their influence to enact a real ceasefire, stop the use of chemical weapons and ensure safe and immediate humanitarian access to all the people in need.

Finally, let me say that we also need G7 unity in managing the migration crisis. This is a global challenge, but here in Sicily it is also a real, local problem. The EU’s goal has been to at least keep the current level of international cooperation in addressing this crisis. Whether we will succeed, remains an open question. Thank you.

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President Tusk calls a European Council on Brexit for 29 April | European Council – Press Release

“In view of what was announced in London yesterday, I would like to inform you that I will call a European Council, in an EU27 format (without the UK), on Saturday 29th April 2017 to adopt the guidelines for the Brexit talks,” said President Tusk at the press briefing with Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe on 21 March 2017.

“As you all know, I personally wish the UK hadn’t chosen to leave the EU, but the majority of British voters decided otherwise. Therefore, we must do everything we can to make the process of divorce the least painful for the EU, ” said Tusk.

He highlighted that the main priority for the negotiations must be to create as much certainty and clarity as possible for all citizens, companies and member states that will be negatively affected by Brexit as well as for the Eu’s important partners and friends around the world.

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Report by President Donald Tusk to the European Parliament | European Council – Press Release

Leaders met last Thursday for the March European Council, and – a day later – at 27 to discuss the future of the European Union before the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome. Our discussions were constructive and focused, despite a little drama at the beginning.

I will start with the European Council meeting itself. Following an implementation report from Prime Minister Muscat, we discussed the progress on our migration priorities as set down by leaders in the Malta Declaration of the 3rd of February. Work has begun but now needs to accelerate in order to start delivering results ahead of what we know will be a challenging summer.

Secondly, leaders discussed the prospects for the EU and euro area economies, together with the President of the European Central Bank. Things are getting better, and they are getting better in every Member State of the Union. This proves that our economic strategies are on the right track. Although unemployment is at its lowest level since 2009, leaders were clear on the need to get it down further, particularly in the most affected regions. Job creation will remain our priority. It is the best means to tackle inequality and social injustice.

Leaders confirmed the EU’s position as the champion of open, rules-based free and fair trade. Trade is central to European economic success and as I mentioned several weeks ago, Europe needs to intensify trade talks with our partners around the world. Not least due to signs of protectionism emerging elsewhere. We agreed to swiftly advance ongoing negotiations, such as with Japan, which are most advanced, with Mercosur and Mexico. Already next week we will discuss with President Juncker how to progress in our trade deal with Japan when we host Prime Minister Abe in Brussels. Our sincere hope is to finalise these talks this year. Leaders expressed their will to strengthen trade relations with China. At the same time we will not hesitate to defend ourselves against unfair trading practices, wherever necessary. We welcome the European Parliament’s strong commitment to making quick progress on the relevant legislation. It will help Europe set the global standard for free and fair trade.

In the evening, we discussed the tense situation in the Western Balkans. It was clear to all that forces inside and outside are working vigorously to destabilise the region. That is why leaders reaffirmed their unequivocal support for the Western Balkans, and its European perspective. We also expressed our full commitment to support EU-oriented reforms and ongoing projects. The European Union remains faithful to the promise of Thessaloniki and fully committed to the region’s stability and prosperity. I hope this positive signal from Europe will be heard.

Leaders also reviewed progress made in the area of security and defence cooperation, where the European Council gave a new impetus last December as a strategic priority. Leaders agreed to come back to this again in June.

On Friday, we met informally at 27 ahead of the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome. There was an honest and constructive discussion about our common future. It focused on what should be the main elements of the Rome Declaration and our agenda going forward.

It was clear from the debate that the unity of the 27 will be our most precious asset. Our last meeting in Malta, subsequent opinions voiced by some Member States as well as the European Commission’s White Paper leave us in no doubt that the idea of a multi-speed Europe will be one of the discussions ahead of the Rome anniversary. I understand the reasons for this.

You can read the full statement here

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President Tusk and US vice president Pence pledge transatlantic unity | European Council – Press Release

Meeting on 20 February in Brussels, Donald Tusk and US vice president Mike Pence spoke with one voice in support of the idea of a united Europe and in defence of a rules-based international order.

Three times ‘yes’

“I asked the vice president directly if he shared my opinions on three key matters: international order, security and the attitude of the new American administration towards the European Union. (…) I heard three times ‘yes’!”

President Donald Tusk

President Tusk also added that the EU counted on the “United States’ wholehearted and unequivocal support for the idea of a united Europe”.

In response, vice president Pence said that the US administration’s commitment to the idea of European integration was “steadfast and enduring”. He added that the US was ready to deepen political and economic partnership with the EU, with which it shares the same values and purpose.

President Tusk said that the order based on the rules of international law, which lies in the interest of the West can only be maintained “through a common, mutually supportive and decisive policy of the whole of the Western community.”

“The reports of the death of the West have been greatly exaggerated. Whoever wants to demolish that order, anticipating a post-West order, must know that in its defence we will remain determined”, he added.

Both leaders agreed that European security was based on NATO and the closest possible transatlantic cooperation. President Tusk said that all aspects of the NATO and security cooperation were open for discussion, including “financial commitments”. These discussions, however, should be guided by the primary goal, which is to strengthen solidarity, he said.

The meeting in Brussels was part of vice president Pence’s first foreign trip since taking office in January.

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“United we stand, divided we fall”: letter by President Donald Tusk to the 27 EU heads of state or government on the future of the EU before the Malta summit | European Council – Press Release

Dear colleagues,

In order to best prepare our discussion in Malta about the future of the European Union of 27 member states, and in light of the conversations I have had with some of you, let me put forward a few reflections that I believe most of us share.

The challenges currently facing the European Union are more dangerous than ever before in the time since the signature of the Treaty of Rome. Today we are dealing with three threats, which have previously not occurred, at least not on such a scale.

The first threat, an external one, is related to the new geopolitical situation in the world and around Europe. An increasingly, let us call it, assertive China, especially on the seas, Russia’s aggressive policy towards Ukraine and its neighbours, wars, terror and anarchy in the Middle East and in Africa, with radical Islam playing a major role, as well as worrying declarations by the new American administration all make our future highly unpredictable. For the first time in our history, in an increasingly multipolar external world, so many are becoming openly anti-European, or Eurosceptic at best. Particularly the change in Washington puts the European Union in a difficult situation; with the new administration seeming to put into question the last 70 years of American foreign policy.

The second threat, an internal one, is connected with the rise in anti-EU, nationalist, increasingly xenophobic sentiment in the EU itself. National egoism is also becoming an attractive alternative to integration. In addition, centrifugal tendencies feed on mistakes made by those, for whom ideology and institutions have become more important than the interests and emotions of the people.

The third threat is the state of mind of the pro-European elites. A decline of faith in political integration, submission to populist arguments as well as doubt in the fundamental values of liberal democracy are all increasingly visible.

In a world full of tension and confrontation, what is needed is courage, determination and political solidarity of Europeans. Without them we will not survive. If we do not believe in ourselves, in the deeper purpose of integration, why should anyone else? In Rome we should renew this declaration of faith. In today’s world of states-continents with hundreds of millions of inhabitants, European countries taken separately have little weight. But the EU has demographic and economic potential, which makes it a partner equal to the largest powers. For this reason, the most important signal that should come out of Rome is that of readiness of the 27 to be united. A signal that we not only must, but we want to be united.

Let us show our European pride. If we pretend we cannot hear the words and we do not notice the decisions aimed against the EU and our future, people will stop treating Europe as their wider homeland. Equally dangerously, global partners will cease to respect us. Objectively speaking, there is no reason why Europe and its leaders should pander to external powers and their rulers. I know that in politics, the argument of dignity must not be overused, as it often leads to conflict and negative emotions. But today we must stand up very clearly for our dignity, the dignity of a united Europe – regardless of whether we are talking to Russia, China, the US or Turkey. Therefore, let us have the courage to be proud of our own achievements, which have made our continent the best place on Earth. Let us have the courage to oppose the rhetoric of demagogues, who claim that European integration is beneficial only to the elites, that ordinary people have only suffered as its result, and that countries will cope better on their own, rather than together.

We must look to the future – this was your most frequent request in our consultations over the past months. And there is no doubt about it. But we should never, under any circumstances, forget about the most important reasons why 60 years ago we decided to unite Europe. We often hear the argument that the memory of the past tragedies of a divided Europe is no longer an argument, that new generations do not remember the sources of our inspiration. But amnesia does not invalidate these inspirations, nor does it relieve us of our duty to continuously recall the tragic lessons of a divided Europe. In Rome, we should strongly reiterate these two basic, yet forgotten, truths: firstly, we have united in order to avoid another historic catastrophe, and secondly, that the times of European unity have been the best times in all of Europe’s centuries-long history. It must be made crystal clear that the disintegration of the European Union will not lead to the restoration of some mythical, full sovereignty of its member states, but to their real and factual dependence on the great superpowers: the United States, Russia and China. Only together can we be fully independent.

We must therefore take assertive and spectacular steps that would change the collective emotions and revive the aspiration to raise European integration to the next level. In order to do this, we must restore the sense of external and internal security as well as socio-economic welfare for European citizens. This requires a definitive reinforcement of the EU external borders; improved cooperation of services responsible for combating terrorism and protecting order and peace within the border-free area; an increase in defence spending; strengthening the foreign policy of the EU as a whole as well as better coordinating individual member states’ foreign policies; and last but not least fostering investment, social inclusion, growth, employment, reaping the benefits of technological change and convergence in both the euro area and the whole of Europe.

We should use the change in the trade strategy of the US to the EU’s advantage by intensifying our talks with interested partners, while defending our interests at the same time. The European Union should not abandon its role as a trade superpower which is open to others, while protecting its own citizens and businesses, and remembering that free trade means fair trade. We should also firmly defend the international order based on the rule of law. We cannot surrender to those who want to weaken or invalidate the Transatlantic bond, without which global order and peace cannot survive. We should remind our American friends of their own motto: United we stand, divided we fall.

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Invitation letter from President Donald Tusk to the EU heads of state or government before the Malta summit | European Council – Press Release

We will meet on Friday in Malta for an important informal meeting, hosted by Joseph.

We will first look at the external aspects of migration. This is very much part of the comprehensive strategy we have been developing over the past two years. After having stabilised the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean, our focus will this time be on operational measures to address the challenge of the massive flows of irregular migrants in the Central Mediterranean region. Flows are at a record level, too many people die while trying to reach Europe, and spring is approaching fast. We will continue our long term action with African partners through the Partnership framework and the Valletta Action Plan. But the situation on the ground requires immediate and urgent action, with and around Libya, where the vast majority of irregular migrants depart from. Efforts to stabilise Libya are now more important than ever. But we must at the same time protect our external border while helping the Libyan authorities provide decent reception facilities on their territory. The situation there is different and even more complex that in the east, and we have to be innovative while drawing on the principles that have guided our action over the past months. We will at the end of our discussion adopt an ambitious declaration setting out the way ahead in a clear and concrete way.

We will break at the end of the morning for a family photo outside, and will then move to our lunch venue, across the bay. Over lunch, we will have the opportunity to freely exchange views on other international challenges and the international situation. We will also talk briefly about the follow up and implementation of the conclusions we adopt after European Council meetings and about ways to better communicate about our action.

After lunch, we will meet the press and hold our respective press conferences.

After the press conference we will reconvene in the Grandmaster’s Palace at 27 to discuss preparations for Rome, where Paolo will host us on 25 March for the 60th anniversary of the Treaties of Rome. You have received a short concept paper prepared together with Italy that will serve as a basis for an open discussion about the future of the EU. I have also sent you a letter setting out my reflections on the future of the EU. Our discussion in Malta will help us subsequently to prepare a declaration in view of Rome. Rome must be a moment of celebration and unity and an opportunity to collectively set out a vision for the coming years.

I very much look forward to seeing you all in Malta on Friday.

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Remarks by President Donald Tusk following the EU-Ukraine summit | European Council – Press Release

I am very impressed by the patience and the determination of the Ukrainian people in their struggle to retain territorial integrity and sovereignty. You are a unique example of courage, dignity and common sense. I know that you deserve more.

Also from us, from Europe. You have many friends here, and I can promise you that you will not be left behind. We also have our limitations, but we will continue in our efforts to fulfil your justified expectations.

We highly rate the efforts of the Ukrainian authorities, including those of President Poroshenko, to implement large-scale reforms in extremely difficult conditions. Ukraine’s success will be the success of all of Europe.
(delivered in Ukrainian)

Three days ago we commemorated the third anniversary of the Euromaidan. Since then Ukraine has gone through very difficult times, with Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol, and its aggression in eastern Ukraine. Europe must do everything in its power to make sure that Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty and stability are preserved. We continue to support the Minsk process and our sanctions are linked with the complete implementation of the Minsk Agreements. Recently we renewed support to the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission.

The last three years have seen the birth of a new Ukraine that advances its democracy and economy through, sometimes very tough, reforms. Additional assistance from Europe should support Ukraine in strengthening its democratic path.

In this context we discussed visas. I am happy that all EU Member States decided Ukraine is ready for a visa-free regime. This decision is a recognition of Ukraine’s achievements in meeting European standards. It will enter into force once the European Parliament and the Council find an agreement on the reform of the EU’s visa policy, which is on track. We discussed this with President Schulz today and we will intensify work with the Parliament to make it happen. But I want to underline that this discussion does not concern Ukraine any more, as Ukraine has already done its work perfectly. Now the discussion concerns relations between the EU Member States and the European Parliament with regard to the EU’s visa policy.

Before concluding, let me add a comment on the future of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement, following the Dutch referendum. My goal is clear: to finish the ratification process of the Association Agreement. This agreement is not only of mutual economic benefit, but – more importantly – it carries great geopolitical significance. After having spoken to Prime Minister Rutte and President Poroshenko, I can report that we are working hard to find a solution that will allow the Dutch to ratify, by addressing all their concerns, while fully respecting the interests of Ukraine and making sure that the remaining 27 do not need to ratify again. It is my hope and intention to find such a solution at the December European Council.

Finally, let me say that the summit today is another proof of our concrete commitment to Ukraine.

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Statement by President Donald Tusk on the outcome of the Presidential elections in the United States | European Council – Press Release

This morning we congratulated President-elect Trump on his victory. While respecting the democratic choice of the American people, we are at the same time aware of the new challenges that these results bring.  One of them is this moment of uncertainty over the future of our transatlantic relations.

It is good to remember the strength of the Western community. Italians, Irish, Poles, Germans, Spanish – every EU nation has helped build America. And by coming to our aid in the most dramatic moments of our XXth century history, the United States did more than anyone else to help build the European Union. Our links are strong, instinctive, spiritual and biological. No-one can take them away, or make us give up our shared memories and values such as freedom, solidarity and respect for the individual.

The events of the last months and days should be treated as a warning sign for all who believe in liberal democracy. This means that we should finally get our act together and bring back a sense of direction, bring back confidence, bring back a sense of order.  Also in the global context whether we talk about trade, migration or security.

To get there, Europe and the United States simply have no option but to cooperate as closely as possible. I listened with attention to President-elect Trump’s call for American unity. And I, in turn, would like to call for European and transatlantic unity.  I do not believe that any country today can be great in isolation. But I do believe that America and Europe can, should and will work together. It is in our common interest. We have to recognise that this will take major efforts from both sides. The EU is a strong and reliable partner and will remain so. We expect the same from America

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Letter from Presidents Juncker and Tusk to President-Elect Mr Donald J. Trump | European Commission – Daily News

Following the result of the US presidential election, the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, and the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, have sent a congratulatory letter to President-Elect Donald J. Trump. “We extend our sincere congratulations on your election as the 45th President of the United States of America. The strategic partnership between the European Union and the United States is rooted in our shared values of freedom, human rights, democracy and a belief in the market economy. Over the years, the European Union and the United States have worked together to ensure peace and prosperity for our citizens and for people around the world,” wrote Presidents Juncker and Tusk. “We should consolidate the bridges we have been building across the Atlantic. Europeans trust that America, whose democratic ideals have always been a beacon of hope around the globe, will continue to invest in its partnerships with friends and allies, to help make our citizens and the people of the world more secure and more prosperous.”

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Remarks by President Donald Tusk following the first day of the European Council meeting | European Council – Statements

As you know we had a long agenda tonight. Let me start with migration.

Irregular flows on the Central Mediterranean route, that is from Africa to Italy, remain far too high and actually haven’t changed for the last two years. That is why we discussed how to enhance our cooperation with Africa. The High Representative presented her diplomatic efforts with five priority countries, namely Senegal, Mali, Niger, Nigeria and Ethiopia. The goal is to prevent illegal migration to Italy and to the rest of Europe, and to ensure effective returns of irregular migrants. The High Representative was given our support and will assess progress in December.

When it comes to the Eastern Mediterranean route, the situation has improved, with a 98% drop in arrivals since last year. That is why leaders could discuss getting back to Schengen. We all agreed that the goal is to lift temporary border controls over time, which will be accompanied by the reinforcement of the external borders. Leaders also discussed the question of solidarity among Member States during this crisis. We will consider concrete proposals in December, but the important thing today was to agree that there would be no solidarity a la carte. We will be working on effective solidarity instead.

This evening we had a broad discussion about Russia. Leaders emphasised all sorts of Russian activities, from airspace violations, disinformation campaigns, cyber attacks, interference into the political processes in the EU and beyond, hybrid tools in the Balkans, to developments in the MH17 investigation. Given these examples, it is clear that Russia’s strategy is to weaken the EU. We have a sober assessment of this reality, and no illusions. Increasing tensions with Russia is not our aim. We are simply reacting to steps taken by Russia. Of course the EU is always ready to engage in dialogue. But we will never compromise our values or principles. That is why leaders agreed to stay the course. And above all to keep the unity of the EU.

I want to make one specific point on the MH17 investigation. Leaders expressed their full support for the Dutch government in the ongoing investigation. All States that are in a position to assist the investigation and prosecution of those responsible, must do so.

Leaders also discussed Syria. They strongly condemned the attacks by the Syrian regime and its allies, notably Russia, on civilians in Aleppo. The EU is calling for an end to the atrocities and an immediate cessation of hostilities. It will consider all available options, if these atrocities continue. We have asked the High Representative to pursue further diplomatic and humanitarian efforts.

Finally, let me say that we were glad to welcome Prime Minister May to her first European Council. Prime Minister May confirmed that the UK will invoke Article 50 before the end of March next year. There will be no negotiations until Article 50 is triggered by the UK so we didn’t discuss Brexit tonight. However, the basic principles and rules, namely the Single Market and indivisibility of the four freedoms, will remain our firm stance. Thank you.

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