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EP's new president demands more power at time of crisis

(Xinhua)

10:01, January 18, 2012

STRASBOURG, France, Jan. 17 (Xinhua) -- European Parliament's new president Martin Schulz on Tuesday demanded more power for the institution especially at a time of crisis, while addressing its plenary session here in Strasbourg right after his election.

"The inflation of number of summits is excluding directly-elected institutions like the Parliament," Schulz said, referring to the EU's current practice of handling its sovereign debt crisis via joint decisions by all heads of states and governments made at dozens of summits over the past two years.

"The Parliament wants a raised profile, wants its voice heard and wants to carry more weight," he said.

Schulz, 57, has been an MEP since 1994 and the chair of the major Socialists and Democrats (S&D) group since 2004.

He won the election with 387 votes out of 670 valid ones on Tuesday during a weeklong plenary session, defeating the other two candidates of conservative Nirj Deva and liberal Dianna Wallis.

"For the first time since the founding of the European Union, the failure of the EU has become a possibility," Schulz said, adding that the intergovernmental treaty on reinforced economic union would be the first test for the Parliament to negotiate for more involvement.

The Parliament, the world's largest trans-national democratic electorate that represents 500 million Europeans, is often considered as the weakest among the EU's three main institutions. But its power has been gradually beefed up especially after the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty in 2009.

The new president, known to have a fiery temperament, faced some accusation of "prejudging" the election's outcome and forming his cabinet ahead of the election, as his victory was somehow "a done deal" thanks to a political arrangement between the Parliament's two largest groups, namely the center-left S&D (Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats) and the centre-right EPP (European People's Party).

Nevertheless, Schulz vowed to be the president of all MEPS and defend all their rights. "Those who did not vote me will be pleasantly surprised...I will be the president who demands the respect for the executive of the Parliament and do everything to win back public trust," he said.

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