Martin Schulz elected new European Parliament President25 Jan 2012
Martin Schulz, the 56 year-old German leader of the Socialists and Democrats Group (S&D), was elected President of the European Parliament on 17 January 2012. He replaces outgoing President, Jerzy Buzek, of the European People’s Party (EPP, Poland).
Schulz had long been the favourite to win the election, as a result of an informal deal between the EPP and the S&D, which sees the role of President alternate between the two groups every two and a half years. Schulz secured 387 votes out of 670 cast in the election, which ensured that he would avoid a second round of voting.
An outspoken defender of the Community method and a long-time advocate for enhanced role for the European Parliament in the EU system, Schulz did not waste time in establishing his priorities for his Presidency. Speaking after his election, Schulz robustly defended the Community method, which he described as “not a technocratic concept, but the principle at the heart of everything the European Union stands for.”
He criticised the increasing tendency towards intergovernmentalism, which has seen the European Council take the lead in the response to the Euro crisis. Over the past two years, summits of Heads of State and Government meant that "the representatives of the peoples of Europe have essentially been reduced to the role of rubberstamping agreements reached between governments in backrooms in Brussels: the European Parliament will not stand idly by and watch this process continue.”
The intergovernmental agreement implementing the fiscal compact will be the “first test,” he added, pushing strongly for a seat for the European Parliament at Eurozone summits. The latest draft of the treaty, released on 19 January 2012, grants concessions to the European Parliament in this respect. It provides for the President of the European Parliament to be invited to the summits and for the President of the Euro Summit to present a report to the European Parliament after each summit, mirroring the provisions of the Lisbon Treaty.
Schulz’s first week in his new role was dominated by the dispute over Hungary’s controversial new constitution, which has seen the Commission launch legal proceedings against Hungary. Following Hungarian Prime Minister’s speech to the European Parliament on 18 January, Schulz yesterday warned Orban not to dismiss Europe’s leaders as “stupid” and stated that the EU institutions would “remain firm in their stance defending our shared values”
A long-time member of the German Social Democratic Party (SPD), Schulz was first elected to the European Parliament in 1994. He is replaced as leader of the S&D group in the European Parliament by Austrian MEP, Hannes Swoboda.
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