Friday

13th Dec 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 20 years of archives. 30-day 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.

Schinas spars with MEPs over migration job title

A number of MEPs pressed Margaritis Schinas to drop the "Protecting the European Way of Life" title of his portfolio, which deals with migration. But Schinas refused, claiming it needs protecting from terrorists and populists. He failed to convince.

Poland's 'vague' nominee flops in EU hearing

Poland's nominee for agriculture commissioner, Janusz Wojciechowski, is likely to face a second hearing after MEPs from top political groups lambasted his "vague" performance on Tuesday.

News in Brief

  1. Slovenia, Croatia ex-leaders highlight jailed Catalans
  2. Italian court tells Facebook to reopen fascist party's account
  3. EU extends sanctions on Russia until mid-2020
  4. UK exit poll gives Johnson majority of 86
  5. Orban: 'financial guarantees' to reach climate neutrality
  6. Merkel hopes EU leaders agree 2050 climate-neutrality
  7. Czech PM: nuclear energy needed for climate neutrality
  8. Hungary: Climate target is burden, EU should help

Parliament outmanoeuvred in EU top-post game

The European Parliament on Tuesday lost a years-long power struggle, and gave up winning more influence on European politics via the so-called Spitzenkandidat process it had championed.

Who is the new EU parliament president, David Sassoli?

The 63-year-old centre-left Italian MEP was elected president of the European Parliament, with 345 votes. A former journalist, Sassoli has experience as a vice-president of the parliament, but is little known.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December
  5. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture

Latest News

  1. Huge win for Conservatives in UK election
  2. Behind bars: a visit to an imprisoned Catalan politician
  3. Leaders agree 2050 climate neutrality - without Poland
  4. EU leaders cagey on 'Future of Europe' conference
  5. Pressure mounts to grill Malta's Muscat at EU summit
  6. Revealed: little evidence to justify internal border checks
  7. Europe needs to make mind up on relations with Africa
  8. Leaders face crucial EU summit for climate action

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us