He will not seek a third term at the helm. Instead he will run for the Bundestag. A top job in a future Merkel coalition beckons. The decision has weakened Jean-Claude Juncker’s grip on the European Commission presidency. Juncker made no secret of his desire for his old pal to stand again. He even threatened to quit if Schulz skipped town, according to reports later strenuously denied by his officials.
Schulz had backed Juncker for Commission president. Juncker backed Schulz. They both backed Donald Tusk, and Tusk backed both of them.
In many ways it was the classic EU stitch-up. The European People’s Party and Socialists and Democrats working hand in glove andbehind closed doors to defang any dissent.
Supporters of such grand coalitions claim they are necessary to stop so-called populists derailing the European project.
Well, the populists are doing pretty well at the moment. Possibly because the two biggest European political parties are in bed with each other.
I don’t want my socialists and my conservatives agreeing on everything. I want them at each other’s throats, fighting for what they are meant to be standing for.
But that didn’t happen under Schulz. Instead you had a gaggle of neutered MEPs swallowing down whatever was precooked by Martin and Jean-Claude.
Today, Juncker said his good relationship with Schulz had led to a harmonious relationship between the Commission and Parliament.
It led to a whipped, tamed parliament that could, at best, make a show of scrutiny before falling into line.
Despite what some in Brussels believe, people aren’t stupid. They know sham democracy when they see it.
By James Crisp