Tusk says EU is set up to serve small countries – and UK will be even smaller after Brexit

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In a farewell speech, the outgoing European Council president said economic heavyweights Germany and France should have no more power than the likes of Malta and Lithuania.

Speaking at the College of Europe in Brugge, the Brussels bureaucrat insisted the EU was invented to limit the power of bigger, stronger countries on the Continent.

Mr Tusk told his audience: “Another everyday exercise in unity was, and should remain, the protection of the smallest member states, the ones in greatest need, the most vulnerable.

“Germany and France are bigger than Malta or Lithuania, but that doesn’t mean that they are more right. At least not always.

“Serving the unity of the EU has also sometimes meant opposing the will and intentions of the most powerful.

“This wasn’t of course about any kind of affirmative action in favour of smaller countries, but about the principle of equality of rights and objectivity, regardless of who benefits from it. Without dogmatism. After all, even the Germans are sometimes right.”

After pleading with Remainers in Britain to use the general election to overturn Brexit, Mr Tusk said the country would become weaker as a result of leaving the EU.

Donald Tusk

Donald Tusk said France and Germany are as powerful as Malta as EU members (Image: REUTERS)

Donald Tusk

The outgoing EU Council president said UK will become a ‘second-rate’ country after Brexit (Image: REUTERS)

He chided Brexiteers, accusing them of “longing for the Empire” from a bygone era and turning Britain into a “second-rate player” on the global stage.

“I have heard repeatedly from Brexiters that they wanted to leave the European Union to make the United Kingdom great again, believing that only alone, it can truly be great,” he said.

“You could hear in these voices a longing for the Empire. But the reality is exactly the opposite.

“Only as part of a united Europe can the UK play a global role, only together can we confront, without any complexes, the greatest powers of this world. In fact, I can say the same about Germany or France.

Emmanuel Macron

Mr Tusk said France and Malta share the same rights as EU members (Image: GETTY)

“And the world knows it. I have heard the same in India, New Zealand, Australia, Canada and South Africa; that after its departure, the UK will become an outsider, a second-rate player, while the main battlefield will be occupied by China, the US and the EU.”

Mr Tusk has repeatedly used to his senior role to urge Britain to change its mind and remain in the EU.

The former Polish prime minister will hand over power to Belgian Charles Michel on December 1.

Mr Tusk previously sparked fury when he said in February there was a “special place in hell” for Brexiteers.

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Donald Tusk Boris Johnson

The senior eurocrat said the UK will be a diminished global presence after Brexit (Image: GETTY)

His comments are widely considered to have been targeting Boris Johnson, who pulled out of the Conservative leadership race immediately after championing Britain’s EU divorce.

In his speech to the College of Europe, Mr Tusk also revealed that he had even used his influence to assist Remainers.

He told the audience that he had pushed for long delays to Brexit in the hope of a second referendum becoming a reality.

“I did everything in my power to avoid the confrontational no-deal scenario and extend the time for reflection and a possible British change of heart,” he said.

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“I have been called a romantic and an anglophile, both terms, in my opinion, quite suitable and merited.”

He added: “The UK election takes place in one month. Can things still be turned around? Hannah Arendt taught that things become irreversible only when people start to think so.

“So-the-only-words that come to my mind today are simply: Don’t give up. In this match, we are already in extra time, perhaps it will even go to penalties?”

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