How will Schulz's move affect the EU?
Martin Schulz has announced that he will not run for a third term as President of the European Parliament and will focus on German politics instead. Exactly what post he will occupy there remains an open question. Some commentators voice relief at seeing the old boy ties between Schulz and Commission President Jucker being severed. Others fear that Germany's influence in Europe will increase.
Old boy network finally broken up
The old boy ties binding Martin Schulz and EU Commission President Juncker will finally be severed with the Schulz's move to Berlin, the NZZ writes optimistically:
“When Luxemburg's tax practices became politically dangerous at the end of 2014 with the Luxleaks scandal, the streetwise Social Democrat [Schulz] made sure that instead of a commission of inquiry, the EU Parliament simply appointed a special committee with limited prerogatives. In exchange Juncker recently put his weight behind a third term for Schulz. ... The problem is that such demonstratively open complicity on the part of the major players harms the EU. That's why the Christian Democratic parliamentary group rightly made a point of not rolling out the red carpet for Schulz for a third term and instead insisted that one of its members should take over in 2017. That may disturb the political balance in Brussels in the short term. But more than continuity what the EU really needs is new blood. And a healthy distance between the president and its institutions.”
Germany's EU hegemony strengthened
Schulz's move from Brussels to Berlin meets with an unenthusiastic response from Lidové noviny:
“ As head of the EU Parliament, Schulz embodied Germany's role in the Union. Helmut Kohl said in 1990 that the goal was not a German Europe but a European Germany, the other side of a uniting Europe. But Schulz - although a convinced European - has created the impression of a German Europe with a strict, impatient and also arrogant demeanour. … Schulz wouldn't be a risk factor in the upper tiers of German politics if the EU worked in the way Kohl had envisioned. His influence would be moderated by France and the UK. But in a situation which has left Germany as the sole driving force of the EU, Schulz embodies precisely the German Europe Kohl had warned against.”
Strasbourg losing a true European
Martin Schulz certainly made his mark, Deutschlandfunk writes in praise:
“Even his loudest critics admit that Schulz has been second to none in giving a voice - and clout - to the EU Parliament. ... Whenever he saw the slightest chance of having a say on European affairs he seized it - mostly on behalf of the elected representatives, but sometimes also on his own account. Brussels - and in this case also Strasbourg - are losing a president of Parliament who is literally a passionate European. ... And if need be he's every bit as good as the Eurosceptics at adopting the lingo of the 'man on the street'.”