Martin Schulz has been in the European Parliament since 1994. He was born in Hehlrath, near Aachen, in Germany, in 1955. His professional football dreams as a young man were dashed when he hurt his knee. Then he opened his own bookstore, became a town councillor and then mayor, climbing the rungs of his country’s Social Democrat Party.
He became President of the European Parliament in January 2012, carrying on his stated ambition to give the institution increasing influence as the only body in the EU whose members are directly elected by the people of the EU.
His direct style has brought him into some heated altercations with some in the assembly, notably when other members or guests have made remarks which were officially ruled to have caused “great offence”.
Schulz has promoted combining growth and job-creation policies with any austerity programmes, condemning double standards.
He said: “In the world’s richest continent an equal balance is missing. Wealth is not redistributed fairly, either among countries or individuals. Profit-earners reap billions and pay no tax, but when they incur losses the taxpayer has to step in.”
The former apprentice with no university degree or even a high school diploma was chosen as candidate for European Commission President by more than nine out of ten European Socialist Party members.