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 Social Democratic Party
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 and French and understands Italian and Dutch.


  • 1975-1977: Apprentice bookseller
  • 1977-1982: Worked in various bookshops and publishing houses
  • 1982-1994: Bookshop proprietor
  • 1991-1999: Member of the SPD Party Council
  • since 1995: Member of the Mittelrhein SPD Executive
  • since 1996: Chairman of the Aachen District SPD
  • since 1999: Member of the SPD Federal Executive
  • 1984-1999: Municipal Councillor, Würselen
  • 1987-1998: Mayor of Würselen
  • since 1994: Member of the European Parliament
  • 1994-1996: PES Group coordinator, Subcommittee on Human Rights
  • 1996-2000: PES Group coordinator, Committee on Civil Liberties and Home Affairs
  • 2000-2004: Chairman of the German Socialist (SPD) delegation, European Parliament
  • 2002-2004: First Vice-Chairman of the PES Group
  • since 2009: Chairman of the PES and then S&D Group
  • since 2012: President of the European Parliament

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) [1], 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 Martin went on an exchange to France through his school, which made a big impression on him. From 1975 to 1977 he then trained to be a bookseller.[2] 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.

Activities in German politics[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.

Activities in the European Parliament[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 Civil Liberties Committee and the sub-Committee 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, Martin 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 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.

Berlusconi incident[edit]

On 2 July 2003, one day after taking over the rotating presidency of the EU Council of Ministers, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi of Italy was heavily criticised by MEP Martin Schulz because of Berlusconi's 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,[3] 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.[4] 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.[5]

President of the European Parliament[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.[6] Following reassurances by Barroso, Schulz dropped his categorical opposition to him, insisting only that he should make certain political concessions to the Social Democrats.[7] 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.[8] Other candidates were Nirj Deva (142 votes) and Diana Wallis (141 votes).[8]

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.

Security Policy of Candidate[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.[9]

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. Europe would not be equipped to tackle the increased challenges in conflict situations. Schulz listed several dangers facing the EU, among which were:[9]

Dangers which make themselves felt across borders.

Dangers which penetrate into the everyday lives of people.

Dangers which no State can cope with on its own any longer.

He argued for rationalisation and normalisation of effort in defence, was against duplication of effort, and said "pooling and sharing" would produce better results. "Violent conflicts do not break out overnight: mostly, they are preceded by a gradual deterioration of the situation."[9]

I appreciate that it is not easy to explain to people back home why we need to cooperate more closely at European level in such a sensitive field as defence and security policy. Protecting its citizens has traditionally been a key task of the nation State and therefore also one of the foundations of its legitimacy. But we cannot close our eyes to reality: the world has changed and we are existentially connected to that world. Nowadays we can only defend our citizens jointly.

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,"[10] 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.[10] 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."[10] 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.

The paragraph issue[edit]

As European Parliament President Martin 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.[11]

Candidate for the Presidency of the European Commission[edit]

On 6 November 2013, Martin Schulz was nominated as “candidate designate” by the Party of European Socialists. 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. Schulz thanked the political family for their trust and promised to work hard to be the first candidate who will become Commission President by democratic elections.[12]

Martin 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.[13]

Personal life[edit]

He 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]

Martin Schulz suffered a period of alcoholism as a young man after a knee injury put an end to his hopes of playing football.[14][15]

Honours and decorations[edit]




€110 000, tax-free, not related to work[edit]

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.[22][23]


  1. ^ "German Socialist Martin Schulz Re-Elected as European Parliament President". Retrieved 2014-07-01. 
  2. ^ "Martin Schulz MEP". Retrieved 2012-01-30. 
  3. ^ La Repubblica/esteri: Il duello verbale Schulz-Berlusconi
  4. ^ "Uproar in the European Parliament Briton attacked SPD members with Nazi slogan". Retrieved 2012-01-30. 
  5. ^ "MEP put off debate after Nazi rule". Retrieved 2012-01-30. 
  6. ^ "Support for Verhofstadt as Barroso's successor grows". Retrieved 2012-01-30. 
  7. ^ "Socialists split over name change, Barroso". Retrieved 2012-01-30. 
  8. ^ a b European Parliament: Martin Schulz elected President of the European Parliament
  9. ^ a b c "Address to the European Council by the President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz" 19 Dec 2013
  10. ^ a b c "David Cameron fights off EU army plan" (Waterfield) 19 Dec 2013
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^ "Sein Bruder rettete ihn vor dem Alkohol". Retrieved 2012-12-14. 
  15. ^ "So überwand EU-Parlamentspräsident Schulz seine Alkoholsucht". Retrieved 2012-12-14. 
  16. ^ "Preşedintele Parlamentului European susţine o alocuţiune la Parlamentul României" (in Romanian). Gândul. Retrieved 31 October 2012. 
  17. ^ "Ceremonia acordării titlului de doctor honoris causa" (in Romanian). SNPA. Retrieved 31 October 2012. 
  18. ^ "Communication from the Quirinal Palace". The official website of the Presidency of the Italian Republic. 
  19. ^ "Open Day at EU Agencies". EMSA. Retrieved 12 March 2014. 
  20. ^ "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. 
  21. ^ "President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz received HU Honorary Doctorate". BFHU. Retrieved 11 August 2015. 
  22. ^ Üppiges Tagegeld stellt Schulz' Versprechen infrage, Die Welt, 2014-05-12.
  23. ^ Parlamentspräsident Martin Schulz erhielt an 365 Tagen pro Jahr Tagegelder des EU-Parlaments, SWR, 2014-04-29.

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