Martin Schulz changes game in wrangling for top Brussels job

Peter Spiegel, Financial Times, 22.05.2014

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When French prime minister Manuel Valls takes the stage in Lyon on Friday, at his final campaign rally before Sunday’s European Parliament election, the man standing beside him will be a German: Martin Schulz. [...]

As recently as 18 months ago, the spitzenkandidat idea was mocked as a federalist pipe dream and Mr Schulz’s candidacy was the butt of jokes.

“There were some who were making fun it of but in the end it’s produced something more than fun,” said Janis Emmanouilidis, an expert on EU politics at the Brussels-based European Policy Centre think-tank.

Indeed, with MEPs embracing the system, some worry that the spitzenkandidaten could cause a showdown immediately after the election results are released on Sunday. [...]

Still, even critics admit the spitzenkandidat system has changed the way the EU’s top job is awarded, perhaps irrevocably. Mr Emmanouilidis said: “It was Martin Schulz who saw the opportunity and grabbed it and systematically took it from where it was then to where it is now.”

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