Schulz to inherit Buzek’s Parliament presidency

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As expected, German MEP Martin Schulz has been nominated as a candidate for the presidency of the European Parliament for the second half of the current term (January 2012-June 2014).

MEPs from the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D) in the European Parliament unanimously nominated Schulz, who is therefore also the candidate of the Party of European Socialists (PES).

Schulz has been a member of the EU assembly since 1994 and president of the Socialist group since 2004.

He hit the headlines following a now infamous exchange with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi in 2003, when before taking over the rotating presidency of the EU, Berlusconi told him he looked like a "capo", the head of a Nazi concentration camp.

After the 2009 European elections, the two major political groups decided to share between themselves the five-year term of the president of the European Parliament. Since then, it has been common knowledge that Schulz was in line to be nominated to succeed the current president of the European Parliament, Polish centre-right MEP Jerzy Buzek, who will step down in early 2012.

On a number of occasions, Schulz has asked his group to be less aggressive vis-à-vis its main opponent, the European People's Party, to make sure not to compromise his election, MEPs told EURACTIV. Indeed, recently this has greatly helped Guy Verhofstadt's liberal ALDE group to secure more media attention than the Socialists.

The president of the PES, Poul Nyrup Rasmussen, strongly endorsed Schulz's nomination. Stressing that the European Union faces a crisis not just of economics, but also of legitimacy, he said that people demanded leaders who understand their concerns and act accordingly.

"Martin Schulz would more than meet these demands. He would bring a new energy to the role of president of the European Parliament. His deeply held social democratic convictions would be reflected in a European Parliament that would set its compass to the needs of ordinary people and would stay in the course until those needs are met," Rasmussen said.

Following his nomination, Schulz promised that if elected he would collaborate closely with the leaders of the different political groups and heads of delegation to strengthen the role of the Parliament and its powers of scrutiny over the European Council. 

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