26th Oct 2016


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.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

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.

EU countries agree data roaming charges

Mobile operators will be able to charge each other for the use of data by their customers in Europe and to apply a surcharge when too many people use their network.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EU-China ForumDebating the Future of the EU-China Relations on 28 November in Prague
  2. COMECEMigrants: From Fear to Compassion
  3. Birdlife EuropeBusiness as Usual - Juncker Snubs Environment and Protects Broken CAP
  4. EFADraft Bill for a 2nd Scottish Independence Referendum
  5. UNICEFCalls on European Council to Address Plight of Refugee and Migrant Children
  6. ECTAJoin us on 9-10 November in Brussels and Discover the new EU Digital Landscape
  7. Access NowCan you Hear me now? Verizon’s Opportunity to Stand for Global Users
  8. Belgrade Security ForumMeaningful Dialogue Missing Not Only in the Balkans, but Throughout Europe
  9. EuropecheEU Fishing Sector Celebrates Sustainably Sourced Seafood in EU Parliament
  10. World VisionWomen and Girls Urge EU Leadership to Help end Gender-based Violence
  11. Belgrade Security ForumGet the Latest News and Updates on the Belgrade Security Forum @BelSecForum
  12. Crowdsourcing Week EuropeMaster Crowdsourcing, Crowdfunding and Innovation! Conference 21 November - 10% Discount Code CSWEU16