Donald Tusk: Quick look on the new EU leader

Adrianna Brzozowska


Donald Tusk, elected to be a President of the EU at the end of August, today has to face his new responsibilities. Presidency of the European Council demands other kind of skills than being the Prime Minister of Poland. On the European level the most needed are language skills and the art of diplomacy, to maintain coherent cooperation among Member States.


Donald Tusk (Fot. Adam Stępień/Agencja Gazeta)

Donald Tusk (Fot. Adam Stępień/Agencja Gazeta)

The election

On the special meeting on the 30th of August, former President Herman van Rompuy in his speech announced that new representatives of the EU have been chosen. He stated:

” It is my great pleasure to introduce to you, in their new roles: the future President of the European Council, Prime Minister of Poland and my good friend, Donald Tusk”.

From that time on, newly elected President had to leave Polish government in favor of presiding the European Council. He has been the Prime Minister since 16th of November 2007. Former President stated that Donald Tusk impressed his colleagues with the confident way he has led his country even through the economic crisis, being the only Prime Minister of Poland being re-elected in 25 years, after the collapse of communism regime.

During the conference, Herman van Rompuy introduced also Federica Mogherini as the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.

New responsibilities

President of the European Council is nominated in a Qualified Majority Voting (according to art. 15 (5) of the TEU) for the term of 2,5 years. He can be re-elected once.

Responsibilities have been once presented on our blog, but still I will remind. The President of the European Council chairs and drives the work of European Council, ensures the continuity of the work of Council in the cooperation with the President of the Commission, presents rapports for the European Parliament from each meeting. Besides these strictly paper work, he represents the whole Union on the World’s level. He will have to face issues concerning Ukraine – Russia dispute, which is today’s threat to our security, stagnating economy of the EU and Britain’s presence in the Union.

As we can see, when some people think it is good to be a leader, actual leadership over the European Union is quite hard job. We will be looking at the results of Donald Tusk’s presidency and how is he managing today’s key issues. We hope he will maintain cooperation among Member States at its best.

5 facts about Donald Tusk you may not know:


Józef Piłsudski (source:

1. Historian

Have you ever known that he actually graduated history at the University of Gdańsk? His M.A. work was about Józef Piłsudski.

2. Re-elected Prime Minister

As I mentioned before, Donald Tusk was the only Prime Minister in Poland since the end of communism, who has been re-elected! Do you think that as the President he will be re-elected too?

3. Editor over censorship

Gdańsk Solidarity logo (source:

Gdańsk Solidarity logo (source:

During the communism in Poland, he belonged to the Student Committee of Solidarność, then he co-established Independent Student’s Association and couple months later became a leader of „Solidarność” (eng. Solidarity movement) in a publishing house, where he wrote to a newspaper without a censorship, which led him to lose his job.

4. Grandfather in Wehrmacht

Actually for Poles that is nothing new. One of Polish politicians has stated that Tusk’s grandfather voluntarily joined the Wehrmacht, but the truth is that Józef Tusk was a railway official, who was imprisoned,  and as a former citizen of the Free City of Danzig(Gdańsk), compulsorily drafted into the Wehrmacht.

5. A Kashub

Kashubs (source:

Kashubs (source:

His family belong to the Kashubian minority, which are situated in Poland, Germany and even United States and Canada! Having their own language, they are situated in Pomerelia, north-central Poland.


Innovations: a lesson from South Africa

Adrianna Brzozowska and Emil Wojtaluk talk with South African Minister of Science and Technology, Mr Derek Hanekom at the European Innovation Convention 2014.

Emil Wojtaluk: What are the ways of encouraging young people to be more active and what do you think of EU policies for entrepreneurs? 

Derek Hanekom: Let me start from the second part of the question. I can’t really comment on European policy but I do know that one of their priorities is to encourage young entrepreneurs to come forward. I wouldn’t be able to speak with authority on what their instruments are and how they are trying to encourage it. I speak for my own country.

Derek Hanekom, South African Minister of Science and Technology ©EC/CE

Derek Hanekom, South African Minister of Science and Technology ©EC/CE

The short answer is that we are not doing enough in our own country, we need to do more but I’ll tell you some of the things that we’re starting to do. Firstly, doing it often with private sector is to create opportunity for good ideas to be brought to the table. So we have our big electricity supplier for example, we work with them and organize an annual event, and it’s an expanding annual event where schools across the country came with the school projects. They are giving awards in the variety of categories and they are able to show case of their project in Johannesburg but it’s all done regionally first. I must say it’s quite a lengthy process but at the end of the day interested people see their projects. So you may have a group of kids that designed energy efficient home or designed a solution to having affordable clean water in your house, better filtration unit or better waste management. They come up with the most amazing ideas!

What we can do institutionally and should be doing more of, is to create opportunities not to set schools but beyond schools, where you want to start a very developing entrepreneurship that people have the central point to take the ideas too. Those ideas, no matter crazy they might seem are being observed. If they are really nothing special, people will get back to them and say “this is why we think your idea is not gonna make it”- because not all ideas are good ideas. The principle of people generating ideas – that’s a good thing, doesn’t matter what. Amongst them, when you see some potential in an idea, we have state institution which we have recently put in place that will give the support that it needs to develop its next stage. It’s a fairly high risk. You get to the next stage where you might approach a venture capital provider, which could be a state-run institution or private sector venture capital provider. That’s very first stage when you are not likely to get anyone because the risk is very high – so we have an institution in South Africa called Technology Innovation Agency. It gets some annual budget, we’ve accepted that it goes in the early stage of innovation and is prepared to face risk. We are not going to take actions against entrepreneurs because there is a high failure of it. Because we know that out of 20 presented ideas 19 can go nowhere, but one can be the really winning idea.

Adrianna Brzozowska: So how this agency(Technology Innovation Agency) distinguish good project from other bad projects?

DH: At the end of the day a judgment should be made. People knowledgeable in the particular area have to make the judgment. The product may have to be tested so we do have a kind of a bureau of standards if it reaches that stage. The idea must contain some kind of scientific merit, if it’s something that is being tried and tested and there is kind of a doubt – all I’m trying to do is to put my name on it and then I say “you can do it but you have to do it on your own”. Because there is nothing novel and so on. You can’t put state money into anything and everything, you cannot. If there is genuinely different, more energy efficient housing design, for as an example. Or there is genuinely interesting idea on the development of a new application. There have to be some judgment and some research done. In fact there’s a surplus of such applications anyway. But the people looking at it will have to say “it’s very interesting”, we are very satisfied that there is a kind of market niche. It can give commuters an information in Cape Town when the next bus is going to arrive, after research we can find that there is no such application in that city. Then we say “excellent, we think that you have a good opportunity, we can fund you to take it to the next stage”.

EW: The last question is about innovation because this convention is about innovations and innovators. So what is your own definition of innovation, how could you describe it?

DH: I would agree with somebody because I keep reading definitions of innovation but I would say – the starting point is true but it goes beyond. Critical feature for innovation is underlying information and knowledge. But it’s taking existing knowledge and attaching to it creative thinking and creative ideas which will result in new, novel, useful product or service. I would like to go bit beyond that to say – innovation could be simply smarter ways of addressing problems, better ways of doing things, that’s innovation as well.

EW: Thank you very much.

DH: Thank you and good bye.

Roots of primacy of the EU law over the laws of Member States

Adrianna Brzozowska

Many people may wonder on what ground and when exactly the EU legislation outcomes have become more important than domestic law of particular countries. Here I am going to remind you of the case that changed so much the functioning of European Community.

Flaminio Costa v ENEL (Ente Nazionale Energia Elettrica C – 6/64)- summary

This case from 1964 led to the establishment the primacy of the EU law over the laws of Member States.

Mr. Flaminio Costa was an Italian citizen who owned some shares of the electricity company. In 1962 Italy had nationalized the production and distribution of electric energy and created the Ente Nazionale per l’Energia Elettrica ( ENEL, National Electricity Board). Mr. Costa was opposed to the nationalization and as the protest, he decided not pay the bill of a symbolic amount: 1,925 lire (€0.99). The electricity organization sued Mr. Costa for nonpayment. He prepared a written statement of case, where he ‘asked’ the Court for an interpretation of the EEC Treaty provisions, as he believed that nationalization was contrary to the Community’s law (the EU Law).

The Italian Government stated that the national law, under which they had nationalized mentioned electricity company, was enacted after the incorporation of the EEC Treaty, so that it is the Italian law that should have the priority over it. According to the opinion, given by the Italian Government, application for a preliminary ruling was ‚absolutely inadmissible’ and there were no grounds for raising questions concerning the Treaty.

Judgement of the European Court of Justice

Admissibility: ‘As a subsequent unilateral measure cannot take precedence over Community law, the questions put by the Giudice Conciliatore, Milan, are admissible in so far as they relate in this case to the interpretation of provisions of the EEC Treaty’.


The Court decided that it cannot solve the dispute between Mr. Flaminio Costa and ENEL at the national level, but it can only deal with the questions concerning interpretation of the provisions stated in the EEC Treaty (the Treaty of Rome).

Moreover, it ruled that the EEC Treaty is not an usual agreement between the Member States, and that the Community (the EU) has its own legal system that they have to follow, which is the consequence of the fact that they gave to ‘it’ a part of their own sovereignty. So that, the Community Law (the EU Law) should also be exercised by the national courts of Member States. Provisions stated in the Treaty cannot be changed by any national law, because every State has to follow exactly the same provisions. If the Member States have the opportunity to change implemented law by releasing new and quite different legislative acts, the European Union’s Law would be different in the various Member States. That could be contrary to some general principles of the Community Law (the EU Law).

It follows from all these observations that the law stemming from the Treaty, an independent source of law, could not, because of its special and original nature, be overridden by domestic legal provisions, however framed, without being deprived of it’s character as Community law and without the legal basis of the Community itself being called into question. The transfer by the States from their domestic legal system to the Community legal system of the rights and obligations arising under the Treaty carries with it a permanent limitation of their sovereign rights, against which a subsequent unilateral act incompatible with the concept of the Community cannot prevail’.

That is why the Court ruled that the Treaty has the primacy over national laws which is also confirmed by the provision that it (regulation) should be binding as a whole and be directly applied in all the Member States. The national law of the Member States, that came into force later – should not be contrary to the Community Law (the European Union’s Law).

EUROpens Blog is back!

After long break our blog opens a new editorial season. Now we continue what was created by the former team.

Let us introduce to you- our editorial board consists of:

Adrianna Brzozowska, Anita Weprzędz, Ewa Krakowska, Ivonna Orlova, Emil Wojtaluk, Kamil Augustyniak, Karol Panas.

The aim of our blog is to broaden your knowledge about the European Union, inform you about important issues and events within the EU and Europe as such. We hope EUROpens Blog will become a vital source of information for you!

With regards,

Editorial Board