Martin Schulz

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Martin Schulz
Schulz, Martin-2047.jpg
President of the European Parliament
Assumed office
17 January 2012
Vice President
Preceded by Jerzy Buzek
Leader of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats
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 58)
Hehlrath, West Germany
(now Germany)
Political party Social Democratic Party
Children 2
Website Official website

Martin Schulz is a German politician and President of the European Parliament. He is also the leader of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament and their candidate for President of the European Commission in the 2014 elections.1 Currently Schulz is the candidate for the position of European Commission President on behalf of the Party of European Socialists (PES).

Schulz went to school in Broich (now Würselen). Originally dreaming of a career as football player, a heavy 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 till 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

Schulz was born in Hehlrath 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 Abitur (A-levels). As a teenager Martin went on an exchange to France through his school, which made a big impression on him. From 1975 to 1976 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

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

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 Frattini.

Berlusconi incident

On July 2, 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

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

Following the 2009 European elections, Schulz, as leader of the S&D group, refused to immediately approve a second term of office for European Commission President Barroso.[7] Following political concessions by Barroso, including dropping more controversial candidates for the Commission, Schulz agreed to lift his categorical opposition.[9]

On September 15th 2011 Members of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament had unanimously nominated Schulz as their candidate for the President of the European Parliament. On the 17th of January 2012, Schulz was elected President of the European Parliament, with 387 votes in favour out of 670 cast.6 Other candidates were Nirj Deva (142 votes) and Diana Wallis (141 votes).6

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

Security Policy of Candidate

In front of the European Council on 19 December 2013, Schulz took responsibility for the initiation of the Cox-Krasniewski mission to the Ukraine.7

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:7

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."7

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,"8 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.8 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."8 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.

Candidate for the Presidency of the European Commission

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.9

Personal life

He is married and has two children. In addition to reading, among his favourite books is The Leopard by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa and all the books of Eric Hobsbawm, 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.1011

Honours and decorations




External links

Party political offices
Preceded by
Enrique Barón Crespo
Leader of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats
Succeeded by
Hannes Swoboda
Political offices
Preceded by
Jerzy Buzek
President of the European Parliament

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