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Schulz, the challenger

Martin Schulz, current EP Chairman, and PES candidate for the European Commission presidency

Martin Schulz, current EP Chairman, and PES candidate for the European Commission presidency

Martin Schulz has been confirmed by the Party of European socialists (PES) as candidate for the European Commission presidency which will be renewed in autumn 2014. This is not a surprise really insofar so as the current European Parliament chairman and the former PES than Socialist and Democrat group leader from 2004 to 2012 was the only applicant within the socialist family to the succession of José Manuel Barroso, the current European Commission president.

Martin Schulz is going to the conquest of the Berlaymont (the EC headquarter in Brussels) and hopes to put an end to the current former Portuguese PM’s policy he considers as not really efficient. According to the German leader, it is more than needed Europe takes a new direction and a new strategy giving up the “all-austerity” policy which reached its limits and favoured the rise of populisms throughout Europe. To sum up, going to a leftist policy must be the priority to re-launch the European integration, which supposes a strong and full-fledged European Commission.

Considering such a speech, the EP President wants to politicize European elections focusing on the role of the European Commission president, real “government” of the European Union. Indeed, the Lisbon Treaty states the European Council (which gathers the EU national leaders) takes into account the outcome of the European elections at the moment the appointment of the next European Commission leader, which supposes political groups in the EP and EU parties nominate a heading list. On this point, all the EU parties start a reflexion having to lead to the choice of a candidate for the European Commission presidency, with the purpose to defend a project and a vision for the European Union in the next years.

Martin Schulz with José Manuel Barroso, current European Commission president at the EP, on Juanary 2013

Martin Schulz with José Manuel Barroso, current European Commission president at the EP, on Juanary 2013

That explains what Schulz has such a strategy, a federalist strategy to compensate some weaknesses. Indeed, the current EP leader has never been minister in Germany and he has a local experience as mayor so far only. This is a point it should be regarded when it is known that usually, the European Commission leader is chosen amongst people who were minister or head of government before as Jacques Delors (French minister of Economy and Finances before becoming EC President in 1985) or José Manuel Barroso (Portugal PM from 2002 to 2004 before being appointed). Nonetheless, his real and perfect mastering of the European Parliament (he has been member since 1989) and the “European machine” may be a precious asset in case of a hypothetic socialist victory on the next May. Martin Schulz is clearly aware of it and wants to put his knowledge of the institutions to be credible and considered as a serious challenger vis-à-vis potential rivals as the Finnish liberal Olli Rehn, the Luxembourgian Christian-democrat Viviane Reading and the French conservative Michel Barnier all the three current European Commissioner and possible applicants for the succession of Barroso.

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So, it is clear Martin Schulz is the challenger, not to say the outsider for the next European Commission presidency. What is more, he will have to be authoritarian and find his place within the socialist family during the upcoming campaign, if he wants to politicize it and appears as a serious and solid candidate especially. At last, he will have to work with socialist national parties in some Member-States harshly hit by the crisis as in Spain, Portugal and Greece especially, which clearly won’t be easy!

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