Home » , , , , , , » Germany's Schulz Voted EU Parliament Head Over Two U.K. Rivals - Bloomberg

Germany's Schulz Voted EU Parliament Head Over Two U.K. Rivals - Bloomberg

Written By Ivan Kolev on Tuesday, January 17, 2012 | 5:07 PM

The European Parliament chose Martin Schulz of Germany as its president over two U.K. candidates, highlighting Britain’s struggle for political clout on the continent.

Schulz, the Socialists’ floor leader in the European Union assembly, succeeds Polish Christian Democrat Jerzy Buzek for the second half of a five-year term. This reflects a power-sharing accord between the Christian Democrats, the 27-nation Parliament’s largest faction from which U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron removed his Conservative Party, and the Socialists, the second-biggest group.

The 56-year-old Schulz defeated Nirj Deva, a member of the European Conservatives and Reformists faction that is now home to Cameron’s Tories in the Strasbourg, France-based legislature, and Diana Wallis, who belongs to the Liberals, the assembly’s third-biggest group. Schulz won 387 of the 670 valid votes cast today.

Cameron’s decision to split from Europe’s Christian Democrats because he objects to their push for deeper EU political integration has left him outside an alliance that includes German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.

In early December, euro-area leaders decided to draft a new European treaty on budget discipline without the U.K. because Cameron refused to support an EU-wide initiative in the absence of guarantees of a British veto right over future financial regulations. Merkel and Sarkozy opposed that demand.

The 754-seat Parliament decides on EU laws along with national governments and acts as a check on the European Commission, the bloc’s executive arm, which proposes legislation.

Among the busiest areas of new EU laws are financial services, leaving the U.K. struggling to protect the City of London from proposals ranging from curbs on short selling to a financial-transaction tax.

Schulz’s Socialists have championed more regulation of banks to prevent another financial crisis. His election as EU Parliament president moves him into a largely ceremonial role from previous positions in which he has had a reputation for being confrontational.

Schulz made headlines in 2003 as the target of a Nazi slur by Silvio Berlusconi, then Italy’s prime minister. In a Strasbourg debate on Italy’s six-month EU presidency, Schulz accused Berlusconi of undemocratic leanings and of meddling with Italy’s justice system. Berlusconi responded by mocking Schulz as possessing the attributes of a concentration camp guard, sparking an uproar in the Parliament chamber and across Europe. Berlusconi said the insult was meant as a joke and never apologized.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jonathan Stearns in Strasbourg, France at jstearns2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Hertling at jhertling@bloomberg.net

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