Martin Schulz

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Martin Schulz
Schulz, Martin-2047.jpg
President of the European Parliament
Assumed office
1 July 2014
Vice President
Preceded by Gianni Pittella (Acting)
In office
17 January 2012 – 18 June 2014
Vice President
Preceded by Jerzy Buzek
Succeeded by Gianni Pittella (Acting)
Leader of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats
In office
18 June 2014 – 1 July 2014
Preceded by Hannes Swoboda
Succeeded by Gianni Pittella
In office
5 July 2004 – 17 January 2012
Preceded by Enrique Barón Crespo
Succeeded by Hannes Swoboda
Member of the European Parliament for Germany
Assumed office
19 July 1994
Personal details
Born (1955-12-20) 20 December 1955 (age 59)
Hehlrath, West Germany
(now Germany)
Political party  German:
Social Democratic Party
Party of European Socialists
Children 2
Website Official website

Martin Schulz (born 20 December 1955) is a German politician and President of the European Parliament since 2014. Previously he was leader of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament. On 1 July 2014 Martin Schulz was re-elected as European Parliament President.[1]

Schulz went to school in Broich (now Würselen). Originally dreaming of a career as football player, a severe injury to his knee put a hold on his youthful ambitions. He became an apprentice book seller and later opened a bookstore in Würselen. During this time he was already politically active and at the age of 31, he was elected Mayor of Würselen in 1987, a position he held until 1998.

Besides German, he is fluent in English, French, Spanish, Italian, and Dutch.[2]


Education and professional career[edit]

Schulz was born in Hehlrath, a district of Eschweiler in western Rhineland as one of five children. His father was a local policeman. After four years at primary school, from 1962 to 1966, Schulz attended the Heilig-Geist (Holy Spirit) grammar school, a private Roman Catholic school run by the Holy Ghost Fathers (or Spiritans),[3] in Broich (now Würselen), a district of the town of Broichweiden, for nine years, leaving without his GCSE (General Certificate of Secondary Education). As a teenager, he went on an exchange to France through his school.

From 1975 to 1977 Schulz then trained to be a bookseller.[4] The next two years he worked for a number of publishing houses and bookshops, and in 1982 he opened his own bookshop in Würselen, which he ran until 1994.

Political career[edit]

Early beginnings[edit]

In 1974, at the age of 19, Schulz joined the SPD, became involved with the Young Socialists and in 1984 was elected to the Würselen Municipal Council, remaining a member for just over two electoral terms, to 1998, from 1987 onwards as mayor. At 31, he was then the youngest mayor in North Rhine-Westphalia. He held that office until 1998. As a municipal counselior he initiated the twinning of Würselen with the city of Morlaix in French Brittany, where he became friends with Marylise Lebranchu, who was the mayor and is now the French Minister for Public Services.

Member the European Parliament, 1994-present[edit]

Martin Schulz with the former Italian President Giorgio Napolitano in 2014.

In the 1994 European elections Schulz was elected to the European Parliament and between 2000 and 2004 was chair of the SPD delegation. Schulz has served on a number of committees, including the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs and the Subcommittee on Human Rights. He led the German delegation of the Socialist group (SPD members) from 2000 and was also a vice-chair of the Socialist Group in the EP. He was elected group leader in 2004, of the PSE Group, succeeding the Spaniard Enrique Barón Crespo, a position held until he was elected EP president. Since 2009, Schulz has also acted as the representative for European Affairs for Germany’s SPD party and his views have deeply influenced his party’s pro-European politics.

In 2004 as Leader of the S&D group, Schulz introduced a motion in the European Parliament to refuse to give approval/consent to the Barroso Commission on the basis of the proposed appointment of Italian nominee Rocco Buttiglione and his publicly expressed homophobic views. A large majority of MEPs from the other political groups followed and consequently Buttiglione was withdrawn and replaced by Franco Frattini.

President of the European Parliament, 2012-present[edit]

Following the 2009 European elections Schulz came to public attention when he insisted that his group should not immediately approve a second term of office for European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and instead, together with the Chair of the Green Group in the European Parliament, Daniel Cohn-Bendit, proposed the Belgian Liberal Guy Verhofstadt as a candidate for that office.[5] Following reassurances by Barroso, Schulz dropped his categorical opposition to him, insisting only that he should make certain political concessions to the Social Democrats.[6] As a result, the majority of the group abstained on the confidence vote to Barroso.

On 15 September 2011, members of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament unanimously nominated Schulz as their candidate for the President of the European Parliament. On 17 January 2012, Schulz was elected as President of the European Parliament, with 387 votes in favour out of 670 cast.[7] Other candidates were Nirj Deva (142 votes) and Diana Wallis (141 votes).[7]

Together with EU Commission President Barroso and EU Council President Herman van Rompuy, Schulz collected the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of the European Union. The Prize, honoring "over six decades [having] contributed to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe", was awarded by a unanimous decision of the Norwegian Nobel Committee.

Candidate for the Presidency of the European Commission, 2013-2014[edit]

On 6 November 2013, Schulz was nominated as “candidate designate” by the Party of European Socialists – at the time the second-largest group in the 750-seat parliament –, with the aim to become the first candidate to be elected President of the European Commission by democratic elections.[8] He was unopposed, as no other candidate stepped forward to challenge him in the race to be the socialist campaign figurehead.[9] This kicked off a tour to all member states and particularly all member parties.

On 1 March 2014, Schulz accepted the nomination of the Party of European Socialists in Rome. He was elected by 368 PES members out of 404, with only 2 votes against him. Prior to the vote, in what was widely seen as a clear signal to its European partners on the left that there are limits to their support for the EU, Britain's Labour Party had publicly spoken out against Schulz as the left's candidate, instead favouring Helle Thorning-Schmidt of Denmark's Social Democrats. Schulz launched his European campaign on 17 April in front of 1,600 socialist activists in Paris, promising to tackle taxes and social dumping.[10] He ran against Conservative Jean-Claude Juncker, then Prime Minister of Luxembourg, and Liberal Guy Verhofstadt.

However, when the Socialists came second in the European election behind the centre-right European People's Party (EPP), Germany's Social Democrats announced that they would accept one of Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives taking the German post on the European Commission if Schulz remained president of the European Parliament.[11] The decision to back Juncker for the Commission’s presidency instead was later endorsed at an informal meeting in Paris of eight Social Democratic leaders, including Thorning-Schmidt, Sigmar Gabriel of Germany and Werner Faymann of Austria.[12] Accordingly, Schulz did not join the European Commission but remained in his current position.

Role in German politics[edit]

Since 2009, Schulz has been part of the SPD leadership under party chairman Sigmar Gabriel. Within the party, he serves as co-chairman of the Commission for International Politics, alongside Niels Annen.[13] In the negotiations to form a coalition government following the 2013 federal elections, he was part of the wider leadership circle chaired by Angela Merkel, Horst Seehofer and Sigmar Gabriel. He also led SPD delegation in the working group on European affairs; his co-chair of the CDU/CSU was fellow MEP Herbert Reul.

In 2015, German newspapers speculated that Schulz is interested in running for the chancellorship of Germany in the 2017 federal elections.[14]

Political positions[edit]

European integration[edit]

Schulz is widely considered an ardent EU supporter.[15] In 2014, however, he argued it was also essential that responsibility was delegated away from Brussels and down to national, regional and local authorities, allowing the EU to focus on the big issues.[16]

Security policy[edit]

In front of the European Council on 19 December 2013, Schulz took responsibility for the initiation of the Cox-Krasniewski mission to the Ukraine.[17] In the same speech, he noted that Europe was still militarily dependent on the USA, and that in many cases Europe would be quite incapable of carrying out a military operation without the support of the USA.

Schulz was quoted in a newspaper report of his speech as having said: "If we wish to defend our values and interests, if we wish to maintain the security of our citizens, then a majority of MEPs consider that we need a headquarters for civil and military missions in Brussels and deployable troops,"[18] The External Action Service of HRUFASC Catherine Ashton had prepared a proposal, which was supported by France, Spain, Italy, Poland and Germany who together have QMV majority, to create a European Air Force composed of surveillance drones, heavy transport airplanes, and air-to-air refuelling planes.[18] The debate was joined with a view presented by NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who maintained that "Nato will remain the bedrock of Euro-Atlantic security."[18] Rasmussen's view prevailed on the Council at this time because QMV does not take effect in decisions of the European Council until 1 November 2014.

Relations with Russia[edit]

In 2015, amid the Ukrainian crisis, Schulz suspended a committee made up of Russian and EU lawmakers that meets several times a year to improve ties.[19] When Russia barred entry to two European Union politicians who had planned to attend the funeral in 2015 of murdered opposition figure Boris Nemtsov, Schulz criticized the barring as "a high affront to EU-Russia relations and the work of democratic institutions."[20]

Relations with Israel[edit]

On a visit in February 2014, Schulz spoke to the Knesset in his native language and sparked a walk-out by several far-right lawmakers from the Jewish Home party when he cited what he described as unverified data alleging Israel was denying Palestinians a fair share of water in the occupied West Bank. In addition, he drew a public rebuke from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over his address.[21]

Other activities[edit]

  • Bonner Akademie für Forschung und Lehre praktischer Politik (BAPP), Member of the Board of Trustees
  • Institute for European Politics, Member of the Board of Trustees
  • Stiftung "Achtung!Kinderseele", Member of the Board of Trustees


Berlusconi incident[edit]

On 2 July 2003, one day after Italy taking over the rotating presidency of the EU Council of Ministers, Schulz criticized Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi of Italy of his domestic policy. Berlusconi replied:

Signor Schulz, so che in Italia c'è un produttore che sta montando un film sui campi di concentramento nazisti: la suggerirò per il ruolo di kapò. Lei è perfetto!

In English: Mister Schulz, I know of a movie-producer in Italy who is making a film about Nazi concentration-camps. I will recommend you for the part of a Kapo [concentration-camp inmate appointed as supervisor]. You are perfect!

Berlusconi later claimed he was referring to the comedy-series Hogan's Heroes, where a slow-witted character named Sgt. Hans Georg Schultz, played by John Banner, starred. Even though Berlusconi insisted that he was just being ironic,[22] his comparisons with the Nazis caused a brief diplomatic rift between the two.

Incident with Godfrey Bloom[edit]

On 24 November 2010 the British MEP Godfrey Bloom caused a row in the European Parliament when he interrupted a speech by Martin Schulz, heckling him with the Nazi propaganda slogan ‘Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Führer’ (‘one people, one empire, one leader’) and accusing him of being an ‘undemocratic fascist’. Bloom later stated that he was referring to the fact that the indoctrination of the German people under the Nazi regime has long-lasting effects; "some Germans still find it difficult to accept diversity in Europe and differences of opinion". In the debate on the future of the Euro Stability Pact Schulz had criticised the role played by the United Kingdom, which was involved in the discussions despite not being a member of the eurozone, and said that some eurosceptics would take pleasure in the collapse of the European Union. Following the incident, the President of Parliament, Jerzy Buzek, excluded Bloom from the Chamber.[23] The Dutch MEP Barry Madlener, from the right-wing populist Partij voor de Vrijheid (PVV - Freedom Party), then protested against that decision, on the grounds that Schulz himself had recently described the PVV MEP Daniël van der Stoep as a fascist, but had not been excluded from the Chamber.[24]

Campaign-related issues[edit]

Schulz received criticism after having transformed the Twitter account, that his staff had built up for his European Parliament presidency, into his own personal account in order to use it as part of his candidature to the EU Commission.[25]

During his time as President of the European Parliament, Schulz removed a paragraph critical of his stewardship in a key committee report set for debate on 2 April 2014, thereby attracting a lot of negative attention.[25] As a consequence, a large majority of the European Parliament voted on 4 April 2015 to invite Schulz to resign so that he is able to campaign for the European elections.[26]

Lastly, Schulz was criticized that the president of the parliament received until 18 April 2014 a daily allowance of €304, also while he was campaigning to become president of the commission. This was paid for 365 days a year, additionally to his salary of €200,000 a year. A member of parliament receives this daily allowance only for attending.[27][28]

Personal life[edit]

Schulz is married and has two children. Among his favourite books are The Leopard by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa and all the books of Eric Hobsbawm. In addition to reading, he enjoys football, being a passionate supporter of the football club 1. FC Köln.[citation needed] He also enjoys music and movies, having also written movie reviews on historical films.[citation needed]

Schulz suffered a period of alcoholism as a young man after a knee injury put an end to his hopes of playing football.[29][30]

Honours and decorations[edit]




  1. ^ "German Socialist Martin Schulz Re-Elected as European Parliament President". Retrieved 2014-07-01. 
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ "Martin Schulz MEP". Retrieved 2012-01-30. 
  5. ^ "Support for Verhofstadt as Barroso's successor grows". Retrieved 2012-01-30. 
  6. ^ "Socialists split over name change, Barroso". Retrieved 2012-01-30. 
  7. ^ a b European Parliament: Martin Schulz elected President of the European Parliament
  8. ^
  9. ^ Laurens Cerulus (November 7, 2013), Schulz unopposed as socialist frontrunner for Commission presidency EurActiv.
  10. ^ Cécile Barbière (April 18, 2014), Martin Schulz launches European campaign in Paris EurActiv.
  11. ^ Stephen Brown, Holger Hansen and Michelle Martin (June 20, 2014), German SPD ready to cede EU top job if they keep parliament post Reuters.
  12. ^ Mark John and Elizabeth Pineau (June 21, 2014), European left-wingers back Juncker for EU Commission Reuters.
  13. ^ "Kommission Internationale Politik: Vorstand". SPD-Fraktion. Retrieved 12 June 2015. 
  14. ^ Tara Palmeri (May 5, 2015), Martin Schulz: President-for-life? Politico Europe.
  15. ^ Matthew Dalton (July 1, 2014), German Socialist Martin Schulz Re-Elected as European Parliament President Wall Street Journal.
  16. ^ Luke Baker, Robin Emmott and John O'Donnell (February 20, 2014), Germany's Schulz details plans for EU Commission presidency bid Reuters.
  17. ^ "Address to the European Council by the President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz" 19 Dec 2013
  18. ^ a b c "David Cameron fights off EU army plan" (Waterfield) 19 Dec 2013
  19. ^ European Parliament retaliates over Russia entry ban EurActiv, June 3, 2015.
  20. ^ Christian Lowe and Alastair Macdonald (March 3, 2015), Russia bars two EU politicians from Nemtsov funeral Reuters.
  21. ^ Alistair Lyon (February 14, 2014), Euro Parliament Chief Creates Waves in Israel New York Times.
  22. ^ La Repubblica/esteri: Il duello verbale Schulz-Berlusconi
  23. ^ "Uproar in the European Parliament Briton attacked SPD members with Nazi slogan". Retrieved 2012-01-30. 
  24. ^ "MEP put off debate after Nazi rule". Retrieved 2012-01-30. 
  25. ^ a b
  26. ^ MEPs cry foul at Schulz’ stunt to avoid resignation EurActiv, April 2014.
  27. ^ Üppiges Tagegeld stellt Schulz' Versprechen infrage, Die Welt, 2014-05-12.
  28. ^ Parlamentspräsident Martin Schulz erhielt an 365 Tagen pro Jahr Tagegelder des EU-Parlaments, SWR, 2014-04-29.
  29. ^ "Sein Bruder rettete ihn vor dem Alkohol". Retrieved 2012-12-14. 
  30. ^ "So überwand EU-Parlamentspräsident Schulz seine Alkoholsucht". Retrieved 2012-12-14. 
  31. ^ "Preşedintele Parlamentului European susţine o alocuţiune la Parlamentul României" (in Romanian). Gândul. Retrieved 31 October 2012. 
  32. ^ "Ceremonia acordării titlului de doctor honoris causa" (in Romanian). SNPA. Retrieved 31 October 2012. 
  33. ^ "Communication from the Quirinal Palace". The official website of the Presidency of the Italian Republic. 
  34. ^ "Open Day at EU Agencies". EMSA. Retrieved 12 March 2014. 
  35. ^ "President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz will receive the International Charlemagne Prize of Aachen 2015". Foundation of the International Charlemagne Prize of Aachen. 2014-12-13. Archived from the original on 2014-12-16. Retrieved 2014-12-16. 
  36. ^ "President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz received HU Honorary Doctorate". BFHU. Retrieved 11 August 2015. 

External links[edit]

Party political offices
Preceded by
Enrique Barón Crespo
Leader of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats
Succeeded by
Hannes Swoboda
Preceded by
Hannes Swoboda
Leader of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats

Succeeded by
Gianni Pittella
Political offices
Preceded by
Jerzy Buzek
President of the European Parliament
Succeeded by
Gianni Pittella
Preceded by
Gianni Pittella
President of the European Parliament