Friday

5th Mar 2021

Weber calls for stability after Schulz exit

  • European Parliament president Martin Schulz is leaving Brussels for Berlin. (Photo: © European Union 2016 - European Parliament)

Manfred Weber has urged socialist, liberal and green MEPs to rally behind a common candidate for the next president of the European Parliament or risk that a eurosceptic lands the job.

The leader of the parliament's centre-right EPP group made his call on Thursday (24 November), shortly after the current president, Martin Schulz, announced he would not seek another term and would try his luck in German politics instead.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

"The great achievement of Martin Schulz was to help building a strong and stable coalition between the [centre-left] S&D and the EPP, which also included good cooperation with the liberals. Thanks to this, we managed to make sure the European Parliament is able to deliver," Weber said.

"It is crucial this stability is safeguarded. We want to make sure that the role of radical and extremist MEPs is limited and that they cannot influence major EU decisions," he added.

The parliament's largest groups, the EPP and the socialists, have a long-standing practice of dividing the presidency between them, each filling half of the five-year term.

But Schulz had been hinting that he did not consider the agreement to be binding. He only threw in the towel after months of machinations to stay in his post.

The German social democrat even managed to enroll the support of the EPP-affiliated president of the European Commission behind his bid. Jean-Claude Juncker had said that the German left-wing politician should stay on because the two were working well together, bringing stability in times of crisis.

Weber refused to give in to such arguments, saying that stability is also dependent on living up to promises one makes.

Looking for a candidate

The EPP will choose its candidate for the post on 13 December, and candidates can sign up until the day before.

Only two MEPs have so far formally thrown their hat into the race: Irishwoman Mairead McGuinness, currently one of the parliament's 14 vice-presidents; and veteran Frenchman Alain Lamassoure.

Italian ex-commissioner and Berlusconi ally, Antonio Tajani and Slovenian ex-prime minister Alojz Peterle also figure as possible candidates. When pressured by journalists on Thursday, Weber did not rule out he would run himself.

Neither did he state clearly that the next president of the parliament had to come from the EPP group, which opened up for speculations that a liberal - for instance, group leader Guy Verhofstadt - also stood a chance.

Musical chairs

The S&D group remained tight-lipped on whether it would seek to replace Schulz with another candidate, but loudly protested against the perspective of being left without any EU leadership post.

"Martin’s decision will dramatically change the political dynamic within the EU institutions. A right-wing monopoly on the EU institutions would be unacceptable," S&D leader Gianni Pittella said in a statement.

Such concerns left the presidents of the EU Council and Commission saying they were not ready to leave their seats quite yet.

"I am in quite good shape. I finished the last half-marathon of Brussels in significantly less than two hours," council president Donald Tusk joked at a press conference after an EU-Ukraine summit in Brussels.

Jean-Claude Juncker quipped he did not run marathons but was running between meetings.

Juncker's five-year mandate expires in October 2019.

Tusk's term ends in May. The government of his native Poland has said they would not support him for another term, but would not block his re-election by other member states either.

End of the 'grand coalition'?

Meanwhile, the parliament's conservative group, ECR, said the EU would be best served by an end to the grand coalition between the EPP and S&D.

“With Martin Schulz now leaving the parliament we have an opportunity to change how the institution is run so that every voice matters and all MEPs can finally have a say in the future of our European Union," said ECR presidential-hopeful Helga Stevens in a statement.

"Decisions should be made by all 751 MEPs in open debate, not by three men from the parliament meeting with two men from the commission in a hotel backroom," she added.

EP top job battle risks getting ugly

Old agreements are being thrown out of the window, as the centre-right and centre-left groups prepare to battle for the EU parliament top job.

EUobserved

Schulz: the end of a one-man parliament

Martin Schulz has been widely credited for raising the profile of the European Parliament during his terms at its helm. But he didn't do much to raise transparency and political accountability of the EU institutions.

Socialists dismiss EU parliament unity plea

Socialist leader Gianni Pittella rejects a call for continued cooperation from his centre-right counterpart, in a dispute that threatens the balance of power in the house.

12-month Future EU Conference is 'impossible', expert warns

The debate about the much-delayed Conference on the Future of Europe so far has been locked in endless institutional infighting over who should lead the event - lowering the expectations about what can be achieved in the coming months.

MEPs chide Portugal and Council in EU prosecutor dispute

The Belgian and Bulgarian prosecutors who were appointed had also not been the experts' first choice. Belgian prosecutor Jean-Michel Verelst has challenged the council's decision at the European Court of Justice.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council to host EU webinars on energy, digitalisation and antibiotic resistance
  2. UNESDAEU Code of Conduct can showcase PPPs delivering healthier more sustainable society
  3. CESIKlaus Heeger and Romain Wolff re-elected Secretary General and President of independent trade unions in Europe (CESI)
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen benefit in the digitalised labour market
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersReport: The prevalence of men who use internet forums characterised by misogyny
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic climate debate on 17 November!

Latest News

  1. China and Russia abusing corona for geopolitics, Lithuania says
  2. Worries on Europe's infection surge, after six-week drop
  3. EU wants large firms to report on gender pay-gap or face fines
  4. EU Commission cannot hold Frontex to account
  5. Orbán leaves EPP group - the beginning of a long endgame
  6. 'Corporate due diligence'? - a reality check before EP votes
  7. Austrian ex-minister joins list of EU's pro-Kremlin lobbyists
  8. Internal Frontex probe to deliver final report this week

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us