Tusk Jokes of Sending in the Tanks as Tensions Mount in Europe

  • Gibe meant to illustrate refugee-policy failures in Europe
  • EU president warns bloc requires goodwill among member states

European Union President Donald Tusk joked that a division of tanks would make it easier to bring EU national leaders into line as he criticized them for failing to follow through on their commitments.

Tusk said the scale of the policy challenges posed by Europe’s biggest refugee wave since World War II may explain why EU governments haven’t always enacted agreements reached at the Brussels summits that he chairs. He cited limited enforcement powers for him and the European Commission, the 28-nation EU’s regulatory arm.

“Today it’s really difficult to discipline member states,” Tusk told the European Parliament on Tuesday in Strasbourg, France. I don’t “have tanks nor does the commission. Sorry for this brutal joke,” he said

Tusk said the challenges that the EU faced in 2015 as a result of the refugee influx, the risk of Greece’s exit from the euro area and the push to improve governance of the European single currency will persist this year.

“In all of these discussions we made some progress but for sure not enough,” he said. “Let us have no doubt that 2016 will also be overshadowed by these challenges. Our community is experiencing a stress test and what is most challenging is that we are being tested on all possible fronts at the same time.”

On the issue of translating EU-summit decisions into actions at a national level, Tusk said a persistent failure to do so would put the bloc’s governing method at risk.

“This is a critical moment when it comes to the political system in Europe,” he said. “The EU is based on an assumption that of all of us -- I mean member states -- are ready to act with goodwill and especially that they are ready to respect our common decisions. Without this method, without this determination, our work doesn’t make sense.”

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