Martin Schulz: President of the European Parliament?

The president of the European Parliament is an important post, especially at the moment with the Euro in grave crisis and rioting on the streets of Europe. On Tuesday, Jan. 17, the 56-year-old Martin Schulz replaced Buzek as the president of the European Parliament. In the parliament, the usual procedure is that the two biggest parliamentary groups each get to choose the president for half of the five-year legislative period, with the office-holder being replaced after two-and-a-half years. Thus, Buzek, a member of the European People’s Party (EPP), the alliance of Christian Democratic and conservative parties making up the largest faction in the parliament, will be succeeded by Schulz, the head of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D), the second-largest faction.

Unlike those who have previously held the office, Martin Schulz says he has absolutely no intention of being “a mere figurehead.” Instead, he plans to build the European Parliament up into a kind of counter-government to the European Council, which is comprised of the heads of state and government of the EU’s 27 member states. Both the parliament and the Brussels-based Council are watching the attempt closely, although they are hoping for opposite outcomes. The latter are counting on Schulz to fail, while the former are hoping he succeeds.

Among the EU’s three main institutions – the European Council, the European Commission and the European Parliament – the last is viewed as the weakest. Even the boost it was given by the Lisbon Treaty has done nothing to change its relative position. Its weakness already starts with the fact that it isn’t marked by the classic division into governing and opposition factions. The parliament has 736 members, known as MEPs, from 27 countries, who are haphazardly divided according to interests, and their political alliances change depending on the issue at hand.

Now more than ever, in the midst of the greatest crisis the EU has ever faced, one would think there would be a need for a strong parliament to make sure the people of Europe are on board. But the fact is that most people are barely aware of the parliament. The most important decisions are made among the heads of state and government comprising the European Council – provided, of course, they haven’t already been decided upon behind the scenes by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Martin Schulz plans to change this. Here are a few samples of his past rhetoric and likes and dislikes.

Contempt for the Nation State

“My position is that I am a completely convinced European, in favour of European integration. We cannot continue to cling to the idea of the Nation State. We must develop a transnational level to be able to face the challenges of the 21st. century. We need to add to what the Nation States do. There are challenges which the Nation States cannot meet … we have to stand together as a United Continent. The Nation State has reached its limit … the Nation State economy reached its limit thirty years ago. We must have strong institutions to protect our future …”

“If you look at the economic relationship and the political relationship between the EU and China , you can see clearly that only as a common Europe and only by surrendering a certain amount of Sovereignty to the European level can we stand and face countries such as China .”

Schulz admits he is difficult to live with 

“I am difficult to live with. You must assume I will not be an easy partner. I will fight for my convictions wherever I am working. ”

– Schulz will not change, even as European Parliament President

“I am as I am – you may rely on it – I will not change.

I have contempt for people who change identity and behaviour according to the position they occupy.”

Schulz will run European Parliament with same rigidity as he ran Socialist Group

“You must assume that I will, would run the European Parliament with the same rigidity that I run my political group.”

No opposed to unfair over runs in European Parliament speaking time

Challenged about speaking time and the suggestion that the Left gets an easier run than the Right if a speaker overuns:

“I do not agree the Left gets more – I would be happy! – we are the majority though so you would understand that I won’t be against the President being more generous with a larger group. The same would apply to the EPP.”

Schulz calls Dutch MEP querying Barroso expenses “fascist”

During a plenary session in Strasbourg on 9 March, Mr Schulz clashed bitterly with Freedom party MEP Daniël van der Stoep over European Commission President José Manuel Barroso’s expenses claims. “700,000 euros a year in expenses, that’s nearly 2000 euros a day,” Mr Van der Stoep calculated for his audience of MEPs.
“Fascist,” came the furious response from Mr Schulz, directed at the Freedom Party MEPs. “Schulz has his eyes on better jobs in the future, so he’s standing up for Barroso,” says Mr Van der Stoep, “but it’s completely ridiculous to call me a fascist. And in a discussion about expenses claims too.”

Mr Schulz was quick to defend himself. “I didn’t call Van der Stoep a fascist, but the British politician who supported him. He called me ‘Führer’, and it was only then I called him a fascist.”

Schulz was called an “undemocractic fascist” by Godfrey Bloom MEP

Martin Schulz shot to fame in Britain last year when UKIP MEP Godfrey Bloom repeated a Nazi slogan at him, and then accused him of acting like a ‘undemocratic fascist.’ Bloom was then escorted from the chamber and evicted by a parliamentary vote.

Schulz: Those who call for referendums on Lisbon Treaty – “ Hitler”

“During the the time of the Weimar Republic there was a strategy which is to shout against your political opponents. And it was Adolf Hitler who did that as well, and that is the way I felt today actually.” (European Parliament 12th December 2007)
Youtube at 2.35

Schulz was called a Kapo, (SS Corp Prison Camp officer) by Italian Prime Minister Berlesconi 
In July 2004 after he made insulting personal remarks to the Italian Prime minister (on political immunity) who refused to withdraw his remarks unless he received an apology from Martin Schulz. 
Berlesconi said: “Mr Schulz, I know that in Italy, there is a producer who is making a film about Nazi concentration camps, I will suggest you for role of Kapo.”
Berlesconi called the European Parliament for its treatment of him as President of the European Council as “tourists of Democracy”.
Schulz: Contempt for NO vote in Irish Lisbon referendum 
Following Ireland’s referendum rejection of the Lisbon Treaty, Martin Schulz,
German leader of the Socialists in the European Parliament, expressed his dismay. 

‘We must recognise that there was once a time when the pro-European movement had a heart and soul … this was after the war, when Europe’s peacemaking mystique melded people together. Now, it is the anti-Europe movement which has the heart and soul’, he said in Strasbourg on 18 June 2008.

‘You can see that they are extremely active. They raced round Ireland, climbed staircases, rang doorbells, canvassed and distributed their campaign materials. They were in evidence everywhere’, he said. This situation, the German warned darkly, could lead to the rise of fascism. ‘Where is the passion that we once had? The passion has migrated to the other side, the side which speaks ill of Europe, on the right wing of the political spectrum. It lies with those who speak ill of Europe, and who do so simply because they are afraid. In Europe, however, this mixture of social decline and fear has always opened the door to fascism” European Parliament 18th June 2008

Schulz: Referendums not a good idea

Martin Schulz, PSE: “… But allow me if you will to say something about democracy. Farage belongs to a group that’s always going on about legitimacy via referendum, but he ignores the fact some countries have no tradition of such a vote where international treaties are concerned, and he maintains parliamentary ratification is less valid than a referendum. I don’t think that’s acceptable. There’s a nation that’s outside the EU, has no tradition of referendums, but is nonetheless very democratic. It’s called America .

Germany has no tradition of holding referendums, and I’ll tell you why. In Germany I have always been against them. Imagine if enlargement had been subject to… maybe you should listen first and laugh afterwards. Imagine if Germany had heldreferendums on Polish, Czech or other new memberships. I don’t think it would have been a good idea if Germany had held European enlargement hostage to referendums. The ratification in both houses of the German parliament was absolutely democratic. My last comment Mr. Farage is there were four referendums on the Constitution. one in the Netherlands , lost, one in France, lost, and two others. In Spain 72 percent voted ‘yes’, and in Luxembourg the ‘yes’ vote was 60 percent. In all the countries that held referendums the majority voted for the Constitution. Do you respect that democracy?”

Nigel Farage, IND/DEM: “What you’re saying Mr Shultz, the implications of what you are saying for the whole concept of democracy is truly terrifying. You’re saying we mustn’t ask the German people what they think, we must lead them, this is terrifying. I’ll never forget the day after the Irish voted ‘no’ you said in parliament that, ‘We must not bow to populism’, and I hope you will now apologise for that comment. It is absolutely… You are anti-democratic. You believe a ruling class knows what’s best for ordinary people. It’s monstrous.”

Martin Schulz, PSE: “It’s an honour to be called anti-democratic by you. Thank you!”

Video of debate 

Schulz: Populism is not acceptable
“We must not bow to populism” – Schulz statement day after Irish No vote to Lisbon .

Schulz: What austerity? Higher EU budget required
“(If) Cameron is prepared to give up the rebate on Agricultural Policy then we can for sure discuss a reduction in the (EU) budget.”
Socialist and Democrats Group Interview September, 28 2011 

Nigel Farage (UKIP) on Martin Schulz

“Martin Schulz started forming his cabinet six months ago. This shows the whole European Parliament election as the farce it is. It’s a done deal, an agreed stitch-up already. Only the European Parliament or a third world country would have someone of Martin Schulz’s temperament or calibre as President.”

With input from the Europe of Freedom and Democracy Group, and introductory background from SPIEGEL INTERNATIONAL, 12 Jan 2012

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