Tusk Sees No EU Future If Bloc Succumbs to ‘Us or Them’ Ideology

(Bloomberg) -- European Union citizens must reject nationalist forces that seek to divide the world’s biggest trading bloc, undermining its ability to respond to increasingly global threats, according to European Council President Donald Tusk.

The EU’s strengths are its size, respect for the rule of law and diversity, the former two-time Polish prime minister said Friday, three weeks before European Parliament elections take place. Populist and nationalist parties vying in this ballot have taken a different tack, seeing politics as an “us or them” dilemma which destroys unity, he said.

“We live in dangerous times where politicians don’t seek to find common values, but offer an us or them’ choice instead of ‘us and them’,” Tusk said in a lecture at Warsaw University. Global challenges “can crush Poland and Europe unless we find a common denominator -- because these issues can’t be solved if we’re not together.”

These challenges include climate change, Internet addiction and government control of societies via big data, he said.

Tusk, who as the president of the European Council sets agendas for EU summits and has a leading role in Brexit negotiations, is criticized by Poland’s ruling Law & Justice party, which has clashed with Brussels over democratic standards. While trying to mobilize pro-European forces in Poland, he cautioned that political infighting must not aim at destructive divisions.

“My preference for saying ‘individual and community’ rather than ‘individual or community’ is not just a play on words,” he said. “We live in times in which politicians don’t see common values, today, especially in my country, this turns into war, luckily it’s a cold war.”

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.