Monday

23rd Apr 2018

Schulz elected EP president again, promises to fight for more powers

  • Schulz (l) - the first to hold the EP presidency for two consecutive terms (Photo: europarl.europa.eu)

Martin Schulz was elected European Parliament president on Tuesday (1 July) becoming the first ever to hold the post for two consecutive terms, but his election was not without controversy.

The German Socialist was elected in the first round, getting 409 of the 621 valid votes cast.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

"I would like to thank you for the trust that you have invested in me. It's an extraordinary honour. I do have a particular duty and I take it very seriously," he said directly after the vote.

"There are major challenges that lie ahead," he said, citing unemployment, migration and energy issues.

Ahead of the vote, Schulz, who came under criticism for politicising the presidency in the last legislature, said he would like to "represent this house with dignity for the next two and half years".

He beat three other contenders for the job. British Conservative Sajjad Karim received 101 votes, while the leftist Pablo Iglesias from Spain and Green Austrian MEP Ulrike Lunacek both managed 51 votes each.

However Schulz's election was marred by the wheeler-dealing that went before it.

The largest groups in the EU house - the centre-right and the centre-left - have traditionally carved up the five year term between them.

This time was no different. The centre-right did not field a candidate, having promised to give their votes to Schulz in return for the centre-left repaying the favour in 2017.

The stitch-up has always attracted criticism but opposing voices this time round took particular issue with the fact that the EP post became tangled up in German domestic politics - with Berlin effectively promising the post to Schulz, who failed in his bid to become EU commission president.

Ahead of the vote, his fellow contenders urged their colleagues to consider democracy and cast their vote freely.

Karim criticised the "foregone conclusion" and said there is "nothing more sacred than the right to vote" while Lunacek addressed Schulz directly in German and reminded him that he had only recently spoken about democracy in the Austrian parliament.

Iglesias, whose anti-austerity party shook up Spain by emerging out of nowhere to scoop 8 percent of the national vote in May, focussed more on the effects of EU policy on citizens in Spain and other southern EU states. "Today's Europe is not the kind of Europe our people have fought for," he said.

Schulz's election marks the formal constitution of the eight European Parliament, where half of the MEPs are new, 63 percent are men and the gap between the oldest and youngest deputy is 65 years.

While the number of political groups has stayed the same as the previous assembly (seven ranging from the far-left to the eurosceptic right), the parliament is home to many more eurosceptic MEPs.

The new balance of power in the EP will force centrist groups to work more closely together to find majorities - something they have already indicated they will do.

One of the first major tasks of the EU Parliament will be the vote later this month on Jean-Claude Juncker, the European Commission president designate.

Fighting for more EP powers

Juncker's likely election will mark the culmination of a major power shift towards the European Parliament which had insisted that the lead candidate of the party winning the most votes in the EU election be automatically nominated for the post.

"There is no longer a hierarchy of institutions," said Schulz, who was one of the main architects of the shift.

He indicated he will continue to try and get more powers for his institution. "A parliament must fight for more rights. Always. Because more parliamentarianism is never bad. And this is my guideline."

Meanwhile the eurosceptic deputies, including the UK's Nigel Farage and France's far-right Marine Le Pen, made their presence felt from the get-go on Tuesday by turning their backs or remaining seated during a live rendition of the EU anthem, Beethoven's Ode to Joy.

Agenda

Whistleblowers, Syria and digital revolution This WEEK

The European Commission will present proposals to protect whistleblowers, combat fake news and organise the digital single market. The international community will gather in Brussels to discuss how to help Syrians in the current war and after.

Investigation

MEP friendship groups offer 'backdoor' for pariah regimes

MEPs are using so-called 'friendship groups' to cater to foreign governments without oversight and little public scrutiny. Initially set up to promote cultural exchanges, some have become lobbying platforms to push state views from governments with poor human rights records.

Macron and Merkel pledge euro reform

France and Germany have pledged to forge a joint position on euro reform by June, despite German reluctance on deeper monetary union.

Agenda

Whistleblowers, Syria and digital revolution This WEEK

The European Commission will present proposals to protect whistleblowers, combat fake news and organise the digital single market. The international community will gather in Brussels to discuss how to help Syrians in the current war and after.

Macron and Merkel pledge euro reform

France and Germany have pledged to forge a joint position on euro reform by June, despite German reluctance on deeper monetary union.

News in Brief

  1. Audit office: Brexit 'divorce' bill could be billions higher
  2. MEPs urge better protection for journalists
  3. Dieselgate: MEPs back greater role for EU in car approvals
  4. European parliament adopts new organic farming rules
  5. EU granted protection to half million people in 2017
  6. Report: Facebook to carve 1.5bn users out of EU privacy law
  7. Greek court ruling permits migrants to travel to mainland
  8. Commonwealth summit hopes for trade boost after Brexit

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersWorld's Energy Ministers to Meet in Oresund in May to Discuss Green Energy
  2. ILGA EuropeParabéns! Portugal Votes to Respect the Rights of Trans and Intersex People
  3. Mission of China to the EUJobs, Energy, Steel: Government Work Report Sets China's Targets
  4. Martens CentreJoin Us at NET@WORK2018 Featuring Debates on Migration, Foreign Policy, Populism & Disinformation
  5. European Jewish CongressKantor Center Annual Report on Antisemitism Worldwide - The Year the Mask Came Off
  6. UNICEFCalls for the Protection of Children in the Gaza Strip
  7. Mission of China to the EUForeign Minister Wang Yi Highlights Importance of China-EU Relations
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersImmigration and Integration in the Nordic Region - Getting the Facts Straight
  9. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMacedonians in Bulgaria Demand to End the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  10. Counter BalanceThe EIB Needs to Lead by Example on Tax Justice
  11. ILGA EuropeTrans People in Sweden to be Paid Compensation for Forced Sterilisation
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsThe Danger of Standing Up for Justice and Rights in Central Asia

Latest News

  1. ECJ ruling set to end 10-year 'mouth tobacco' lobbying saga
  2. Whistleblowers, Syria and digital revolution This WEEK
  3. MEP friendship groups offer 'backdoor' for pariah regimes
  4. Macron and Merkel pledge euro reform
  5. Obscurity surrounds EU military fund's expert groups
  6. New EU party finance rules short circuit accountability
  7. Draghi to stay in secretive 'lobby' group
  8. Bulgaria offers lesson in tackling radical-right populists

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Must Work Together to Promote Global Steel Sector
  2. Swedish EnterprisesEU Tax Proposal on Digital Services Causes Concern for Small Exporting Economies
  3. Europea Jewish CongressCondemns the Horrific Murder of Holocaust Survivor Mireille Knoll in Paris
  4. Mission of China to the EUAn Open China Will Foster a World-Class Business Environment
  5. ECR GroupAn Opportunity to Help Shape a Better Future for Europe
  6. Counter BalanceControversial Turkish Azerbaijani Gas Pipeline Gets Major EU Loan
  7. World VisionSyria’s Children ‘At Risk of Never Fully Recovering', New Study Finds
  8. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMeets with US Congress Member to Denounce Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  9. Martens CentreEuropean Defence Union: Time to Aim High?
  10. UNESDAWatch UNESDA’s President Toast Its 60th Anniversary Year
  11. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Condemns MEP Ana Gomes’s Anti-Semitic Remark, Calls for Disciplinary Action
  12. EPSUEU Commissioners Deny 9.8 Million Workers Legal Minimum Standards on Information Rights