Donald Tusk: How the Son of a Polish Carpenter Became an EU Statesman


A Modest Upbringing

Donald Francizek Tusk was born in April 22, 1957 in Gdansk, Poland. He had quite the modest upbringing as his father was a carpenter while his mother worked as a nurse.

A History Student Aims to Make History

In 1976, Donald Tusk graduated from Nicolaus Copernicus high school in Gdansk. He would then enroll as a history student at the University of Gdansk, which he graduated from in 1980. While at university he joined a student activist group which aimed to end communist rule in Poland.

Opposition to Soviet Rule

At the end of the 1970s, Tusk was an active member of the Solidarity Movement, a trade union led by Lech Walesa which opposed Soviet rule over Poland. The movement proved to be effective as Poland became one of the major states that gained independence from the Soviet Union. In 1991, Tusk would go on to become one of the founders of the Liberal Democratic Congress, which he led into the 2007 general election in Poland. 

Donald Tusk’s Premiership

Tusk was elected as Prime Minister of Poland in 2007 and would stay in office until 2014. As Prime Minister, he pursued free market policies of privatization as well as cutting taxes to attract foreign investment and businesses. His policies made him a rising star within the free-market oriented European Union. After his premiership, he was elected as the new President of the European Council on December 1, 2014. 

Donald Tusk’s Presidency 

As president of the European Council, Tusk worked to promote an economically competitive EU in the world stage. He also oversaw many challenges such as the European refugee crisis and Russia’s annexation of Crimea. Furthermore, since the UK voted to withdraw from the EU, he along European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and German Chancellor Angela Merkel joined Theresa May on the negotiating table to get a withdrawal deal on the through. Unlike Juncker and Merkel, Tusk is quite stern on the United Kingdom and its long delays to getting a deal through its parliament; he also expressed belief that the UK only had a choice between a hard Brexit and no Brexit. He also controversially expressed disdain for the Trump administration, citing it as a “threat” to the EU.  

Work and Dedication

    Tusk’s hard work and dedication helped him go from being the humble son of a nurse and carpenter to one of the most important leaders in the EU.