Friday

18th Jan 2019

Schulz in danger of being shut out from EU top jobs

  • In danger of being left empty handed from the EU top-jobs rollercoaster? (Photo: Parti Socialiste)

Socialist Spitzenkandidat Martin Schulz is in danger of being shut out of the top jobs in the EU institutions, just weeks after opinion polls suggested the European elections could propel him towards the European Commission presidency.

The centre-left Socialists secured a fewer than expected 191 seats in May's vote, comfortably defeated by the European People's party with 221, and who now have the first shot at building support for their candidate in the European Parliament.

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

Schulz had hoped that if Jean Claude Juncker tries and fails to build a majority in Parliament, he would be given the second bite at the cherry.

But Juncker’s centre-right EPP group are unlikely to let that happen.

“If Juncker is rejected, a new EPP candidate will be proposed as it is the biggest group," Danuta Huebner, a Polish MEP and former EU commissioner, who sits on the EPP’s bureau, told EUobserver.

Schulz’s team see a key economic or foreign affairs portfolio, together with the title of vice-president of the EU executive, as the best consolation prize.

But German Chancellor Angela Merkel is also resisting the request of her Social Democrat coalition partners to have Schulz as her country’s next EU commissioner, according to German media.

"Schulz as German commissioner is out of the question, the SPD has enough ministerial posts for a 25-percent-party," Hans-Peter Freidrich, a Bavarian member of Merkel's coalition, told Der Spiegel.

In the Parliament, to which Schulz was elected at the top of the German Social Democrat party list at last month’s elections, his prospects look little better.

Schulz has been the EU assembly’s President since 2012, following an eight year stint as leader of the Socialist group, and was formally appointed as the acting leader of the Socialist MEPs at a meeting of delegation leaders last week. The move means Schulz will lead negotiations with the centre-right EPP and the Parliament’s other political groups.

But at a fractious meeting, Schulz was told by his group, led by the French, Spanish and British delegations, that he must vacate the post in early July. He is not regarded as a likely candidate to retain the Parliament presidency.

Schulz has “lost some of his power base in the group,” a Parliament source told this website.

Gianni Pitella is emerging as likely to become the next leader of the Socialists. The strong performance of Italian PM Matteo Renzi’s centre-left Democratic party, which claimed 31 seats, makes it the largest delegation in the 190-MEP strong group, ahead of the German delegation and the British Labour party.

Group sources suggest the centre-left group will not elect its new leader until the Parliament’s second Strasbourg session in mid-July.

Intensive horse-trading for the Parliament’s top jobs will dominate the coming weeks. The next Parliament president is due to be elected on 2 July when deputies gather in Strasbourg to formally take up their seats at the assembly’s post-election constitutive session.

Focus

Muslim candidate wants to shake up EU parliament

Sajjad Karim - the man who wants to be the EU parliament's first Muslim president - has told EUobserver his appointment could be an olive branch to the UK in the Juncker dispute.

News in Brief

  1. EU trade commissioner asks for green light for US talks
  2. Slovakia's commissioner takes unpaid leave to run for presidency
  3. Minority elects Lofven as prime minister of Sweden
  4. Putin opposes EU prospects of Serbia and Kosovo
  5. Tsipras launches campaign to ratify Macedonia deal
  6. US-EU meeting in doubt after Trump cancels plane
  7. Germany and China to sign pact on finance cooperation
  8. Labour divided on second Brexit vote plan

Agenda

Aachen treaty and Brexit endgame This WEEK

Germany and France are set to reinforce their alliance as the engine-house of European integration, while Britain continues to struggle to leave the EU.

Opinion

How to troll the European Parliament elections

The May 2019 European parliament elections will take place in a context which make a very promising ground for protest votes and extreme views, aided by bots and algorithms.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General

Latest News

  1. Aachen treaty and Brexit endgame This WEEK
  2. Germany led way on EU human rights protection
  3. How to troll the European Parliament elections
  4. MEPs in Strasbourg: everywhere but the plenary
  5. Brexit delay 'reasonable', as May tries cross-party talks
  6. MEPs allow Draghi's membership of secretive bank group
  7. EU parliament backs Morocco deal despite row
  8. Barnier open to 'future relations' talks if UK red lines shift

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us