The president of the European Parliament has announced that he will leave his post and go into German politics, where he could become the main opponent to Chancellor Angela Merkel in next year's elections.

SPD Socialist Martin Schulz made the impromptu statement at the EU legislature and his decision leaves open who will succeed him. Most likely, it would be someone from the Christian-Democrat EPP group, the largest in parliament. The EPP however already has the EU Council presidency with Donald Tusk and the EU Commission presidency with Jean-Claude Juncker.

In Germany, Schulz's SPD is currently a junior partner in the coalition led by Merkel, who announced last week she would seek a fourth term as chancellor.

He has been European Parliament President since 2012.