MEPs elected Martin Schulz to be the new European Parliament president with 387 votes in favour out of 670 cast. The 56-year old German MEP will lead the European parliament for two and half years, until the beginning of the next legislature in July 2014. Martin Schulz (S&D, Germany) replaces the outgoing President Jerzy Buzek (EPP, Poland).
“This Chamber is the place where the interests of the people are defended”. In a brief address to the European Parliament in Strasbourg immediately after the vote, Mr Schulz said: “We must grasp the fact that people in Europe have little time for institutional debates because they are too busy worrying about their future, their jobs, their pensions (…). This Chamber is the place where the interests of the people are defended”.
President Schulz warned that “for the first time since it was founded, the failure of the European Union is a realistic possibility” adding that, our interests can no longer be separated from those of our neighbours; on a shared understanding that the EU is not a zero-sum game, in which one person must lose so that another can win. The reverse is true: either we all lose – or we all win. The fundamental basis for this is the Community method. It is not a technocratic concept, but the principle at the heart of everything the European Union stands for!”.
Over the past two years, summits of the Heads of State and Government meant “the representatives of the peoples of Europe have essentially been reduced to the role of rubberstamping agreements reached between governments in backrooms in Brussels: the European Parliament will not stand idly by and watch this process continue”, Mr Schulz said, adding that “the intergovernmental agreement on a new fiscal union will be the first test”.
A full version of the President’s address is available here.