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What does Schulz's departure mean for EU leadership?


brussels bureau

What does Schulz's departure mean for EU leadership?

With the departure of Social Democrat Martin Schulz, what next for the EU leadership?

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker had been pushing for him to stay on, to help steady the ship after the Brexit vote.

“I have worked well and closely together with him in the last two years,” said Juncker, paying tribute to Schulz.

“This has contributed to the fact that the relationship between the European Parliament and European Commission has been more harmonious than it had been in the past.”

Schulz had been pushing for a third 30-month term as EU parliament president in defiance of a deal that he make way for a speaker from the centre-right, the chamber’s biggest group.

Should the conservatives – who have formed an effective grand coalition with Schulz’s centre-left – claim the presidency, all three main EU political bodies would be headed by the centre-right.

“In the European Parliament, it’s considered that it is the turn of the right to hold this position,” explained analyst Charles de Marcilly, from the Robert Schuman Foundation.

“This could be obviously a Liberal candidate, like (Guy) Verhofstadt, but it is the EPP who will decide on December 12th in an internal election,” he continued.

“Several candidates are already known, there is Ireland’s (Mairead) McGuinness and Alain Lamassoure from France. There may be others.

“There will be a real internal debate. Will it be a woman or a man? Will the political line be the centre-right or someone with a wider vision?”

What is for certain is that whoever takes up the parliament presidency next year will have lots on their plate, with the EU facing some of its biggest ever challenges.

Juncker, from Luxembourg, has a five-year mandate running until October 2019.

Council President Donald Tusk, the former Polish prime minister who will chair Brexit negotiations, has a 30-month mandate that expires in May.

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