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Poland's Donald Tusk takes over EU presidency, pushing center of gravity eastward

  • FILE-- In this May 25, 2014 photo, then Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk speaks to supporters as first exit poll results are announced after the European Parliament elections, in Warsaw, Poland. Tusk, democratic Poland's longest-serving prime minister becomes the second president of the European Council on Monday, Dec 1, 2014. (AP Photo/Alik Keplicz)

    FILE-- In this May 25, 2014 photo, then Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk speaks to supporters as first exit poll results are announced after the European Parliament elections, in Warsaw, Poland. Tusk, democratic Poland's longest-serving prime minister becomes the second president of the European Council on Monday, Dec 1, 2014. (AP Photo/Alik Keplicz)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE - This is a Monday, June 16, 2014   file photo of Poland's Prime Minister Donald Tusk as he speaks at a news conference in Warsaw.  Democratic Poland’s longest-serving former prime minister, Donald Tusk, becomes the second president of the European Council on Monday Dec. 1, 2014 in charge of chairing European Union’s summits and brokering behind-the-scenes compromises. He is the first EU president coming from a former communist bloc state and he faces major internal and external challenges to the 28-member union. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski, File)

    FILE - This is a Monday, June 16, 2014 file photo of Poland's Prime Minister Donald Tusk as he speaks at a news conference in Warsaw. Democratic Poland’s longest-serving former prime minister, Donald Tusk, becomes the second president of the European Council on Monday Dec. 1, 2014 in charge of chairing European Union’s summits and brokering behind-the-scenes compromises. He is the first EU president coming from a former communist bloc state and he faces major internal and external challenges to the 28-member union. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • Outgoing European Council President Herman Van Rompuy, right, prepares to give incoming European Council President Donald Tusk a bell during a handover ceremony for the European Council Presidency at the EU Council building in Brussels on Monday, Dec. 1, 2014. Poland’s former prime minister Donald Tusk is pushing the EU’s center of political gravity eastward by taking over the EU Presidency from Belgium’s Herman Van Rompuy. Monday’s transition ceremony highlighted the increasing power of Poland within the 28-nation EU and further shift from a west European economic association to a strong political body uniting some 500 million people from Britain to the borders of Russia in the east. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)

    Outgoing European Council President Herman Van Rompuy, right, prepares to give incoming European Council President Donald Tusk a bell during a handover ceremony for the European Council Presidency at the EU Council building in Brussels on Monday, Dec. 1, 2014. Poland’s former prime minister Donald Tusk is pushing the EU’s center of political gravity eastward by taking over the EU Presidency from Belgium’s Herman Van Rompuy. Monday’s transition ceremony highlighted the increasing power of Poland within the 28-nation EU and further shift from a west European economic association to a strong political body uniting some 500 million people from Britain to the borders of Russia in the east. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)  (The Associated Press)

Former Polish prime minister Donald Tusk is pushing the European Union's center of political gravity eastward by taking over the EU presidency from Belgium's Herman Van Rompuy.

Monday's transition ceremony highlighted the increasing power of Poland within the 28-nation EU, and the EU's ongoing shift from a western European economic association half a century ago to a strong political body uniting some 500 million people from Britain to the borders of Russia in the east.

Like Van Rompuy before him, Tusk will be in charge of EU summits of government leaders who meet about four times a year to set out long-term goals or deal with short-term crises like the financial problems over the past years and the fighting in Ukraine this year.