Following weeks of speculation, European Parliament President Martin Schulz has announced he will not be seeking an unprecedented third term. Instead, he will run as the head of the SPD in North Rhine Westphalia in the hope of winning a seat in the German Bundestag.
Addressing a hastily assembled crowd of journalists in German, English and French, Schulz said this had not been "an easy decision", adding that he had been "very thankful for the opportunity" to be Parliament President.
The German MEP said, "Throughout my time as an MEP, I have strived to strengthen the credibility and visibility of EU politics and the influence of the directly elected European Parliament.
"The world needs a strong, self confident and united EU which stands up for its values and beliefs. My commitment to the EU project is unwavering, and I will be fighting for this project from a national level."
Several MEPs had voiced concern at Schulz' seeking of a third term, and backed a move by UK ECR group member Ashley Fox to limit the Parliament presidency to two terms.
Now that the German MEP has announced he will quit, the race will begin to replace him.
Schulz's mandate will end on 1 January 2017, with the EPP group expected to take over the presidency as part of the so-called 'grand coalition' deal. The centre-right group has yet to put forward a candidate, although its Chair, Manfred Weber, will give a statement later today.