Tuesday

19th Mar 2019

Schulz back as centre-left leader, but only for one month

  • Schulz has his old job back leading the Socialist group, but not for long (Photo: european Commission)

Socialist Spitzenkandidat Martin Schulz will take back his old job as leader of the Parliament’s centre-left S&D group on Wednesday (18 June), but only for a matter of weeks.

He will be re-elected unopposed to lead the parliament’s second largest group, which he already headed between 2004 and 2012. But his second stint as group leader comes with a July deadline, by which time the EU’s top jobs are due to have been decided upon.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

The S&D will then hold fresh elections for their long-term leader.

The Socialists hope Schulz will be appointed by Angela Merkel as Germany’s next commissioner and will bag a major economic or foreign affairs portfolio in the EU executive. But this is far from guaranteed, with Merkel’s christian democrat party unwilling to give their social democrat coalition partners another major post.

“There's at least one plan B for Martin Schulz,” the group’s outgoing leader, Hannes Swoboda, told reporters on Tuesday.

“We fought with Schulz as our candidate … and it’s no secret that we would like Schulz in the commission,” said Swoboda, adding that Schulz, who was widely recognised as having performed strongly during the campaign, “would have got more support if [the commission presidency] had been elected directly” and “must have recognition”.

The S&D is the last major Parliament group to resolve its leadership questions.

Last week, the centre-right EPP group, which with 221 seats remains the Parliament’s largest political group, elected Bavarian christian democrat Manfred Weber as its leader.

Meanwhile, Guy Verhofstadt remains leader of the Liberal MEPs, while Syed Kamall is the new leader of the eurosceptic Conservative and Reformist group. Philippe Lamberts has joined Rebecca Harms as co-president of the Green MEPs.

His election to the group leadership means that Schulz will stand down with immediate effect as the parliament’s president.

In a quirk of the system, this means that Italian deputy Gianni Pitella is promoted from his post as vice-president of parliament to become the acting president.

Pitella, whose delegation of 31 MEPs is now the largest national bloc in the S&D bloc, has been touted as the likely long-term replacement of Swoboda, as well as a candidate for the leadership of the parliament. By recent convention, the centre-right EPP group, the largest in the assembly, and the Socialists have kept the parliament presidency between themselves.

The carve-up of the parliament’s internal posts, including the chairmanship of its legislative committees, will be decided within the next two weeks before MEPs convene in Strasbourg in early July for the assembly’s constitutive session.

Schulz in danger of being shut out from EU top jobs

Socialist Spitzenkandidat Martin Schulz is in danger of being shut out of the top jobs in the EU institutions, just weeks after polls suggested he could be in the running for European Commission chief.

Magazine

The changing of the guards in the EU in 2019

The four most powerful EU institutions - Commission, Parliament, Council and Central Bank will all have new leaders in the coming ten months. Here is an overview.

News in Brief

  1. Blow for May as third vote on Brexit deal ruled out
  2. Three killed in possible 'terror' gun attack in Utrecht
  3. Third Brexit vote this week only if DUP will support it
  4. Germany's two largest banks confirm merger talks
  5. Serbian pro-democracy protests reach 15th week
  6. 'Yellow Vest' riots leave Paris shops vandalised
  7. European woman older when having first baby
  8. Majority of Germans want Merkel to stay on

Magazine

The changing of the guards in the EU in 2019

The four most powerful EU institutions - Commission, Parliament, Council and Central Bank will all have new leaders in the coming ten months. Here is an overview.

Magazine

All about the European Parliament elections 2019

EUobserver's new magazine is meant to help readers prepare for the European Parliament elections, no matter their level of knowledge. You can download and read the entire magazine now.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  2. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  3. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  5. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  6. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  11. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  12. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us