This is what it takes to be a “fervent European”, a true political cosmopolite, a brave fighter against narrow-minded nationalism, a defender of “our common values”. The political creed of Martin Schulz, the President of the European Parliament is very simple and straightforward. It can be summarized as follows:
1. In order for all political problems in Europe to be solved, it is necessary that the EU is given more powers.
2. Within the EU, it is necessary that the European Parliament be given more power.
3. Within the European Parliament, more power must be given to the President.
4. The only suitable person to be the President of the European Parliament is Martin Schulz.
While his original plan had been to be elected as Commission President through a new “Spitzenkandidaten”-system that he had specifically invented for this purpose, it unfortunately was not possible to interpret the result of the 2014 EU elections as an endorsement for his claim to the top job. Indeed, it needed quite a lot of chutzpah to assert, once he and his Social Democrats had lost the elections, that coming first in the elections did not give the EPP an entitlement to nominate the Commission President, and that the Social Democrats’ endorsement of Jean-Claude Juncker’s inthronisation would come at the price of electing Martin Schulz for a second term as President of the EP. It was only thanks to this bargain that Schulz managed to stay President for another two-and-a-half years, ending in December 2016, when, if all goes as planned, a representative of the EPP will replace him.
But respecting the arrangements he has himself negotiated was never the habit of Martin Schulz. He did not accept that having been the “Spitzenkandidat” of the EPP, which came first in the 2014 elections, gave an automatic entitlement to Mr. Juncker to be the next Commission President. And now, that he sees the end of his term approaching, he does not think that there is an automatic entitlement for the EPP to have one of their group elected as the next President of the EP. Instead, Schulz is now desperately trying to convince the rest of the political world of the necessity that his mandate be prolonged.
A golden opportunity is provided by the on-going negotiations on a “better deal” for the UK that might help in averting a NO-vote in the upcoming referendum and a subsequent “Brexit”. Far more concerned about his personal career plans than about the possible consequences of Britain leaving the EU, Schulz is now trying to be perceived as a major protagonist. In fact, in his self-perception it will be he who will be making the decisive deal and save both Britain and the continent.
Speaking at the London School of Economics (LSE) last week, Schulz said “the British often test our patience and good will with their continuous demands… many of my colleagues say behind closed doors: ‘Don’t stop a rolling stone. If the Brits want to leave, let them leave.’”
As far as he himself is concerned, however, he maintained he was a keen supporter of Britain remaining in the EU.
Later on, after having met Prime Minister David Cameron in Downing Street, he claimed on Sky TV that the deal is “reversible”, that the EP has extra demands and can’t be taken for granted, and that “the UK should leave the EU if it wants”.
All of which is doubtlessly true. But all of which is very, very, stupid to say if one really wants Britain to remain in the EU.
Clearly, here is someone trying to play “hard to get”, and maybe a third mandate for Schulz as EP President is, according to Schulz, part of the European Parliament’s non-negotiable extra demands. Cameron reportedly is furious – but why was he stupid enough to invite Schulz to London??? Being seen together with Schulz seems an unlikely strategy to win sympathies for the EU: certainly there is no one in Britain who thinks that it is only thanks to the graces of the EP President that the UK might perhaps be allowed to remain a Member State.
So if anyone really wants to help the cause of Britain staying in the EU, please make Mr. Schulz as invisible as possible. Find 10.000 Euro in some forgotten budget line and use them to send Schulz to a special holiday somewhere in Micronesia, where he can hide his face until after the 23rd June…