Brussels: Germany`s Martin Schulz said on Thursday he would step down as head of the European Parliament and return to national politics in elections next year.
Schulz did not say if he would run for chancellor against Angela Merkel, although he is widely expected to slot into a prime position for the Social Democratic Party (SPD).
"I will not run as president of the European parliament for a third term next year, I will run for the German Bundestag as the head of the list of my party, the SPD, in North Rhine-Westphalia," an emotional Schulz told reporters in Brussels.
"It was not an easy decision, as it is an honour to be the president of the European Parliament."
Schulz, who has led the assembly since 2012, added: "Throughout my time in European Parliament .. I have strived to strengthen the credibility and visibility of European politics."
Schulz is a possibility to be the SPD`s champion to take on Merkel in next year`s nationwide elections.
Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel now leads the party, but he is grappling with poor popularity ratings.
Schulz is also tipped as a possible replacement for Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, another top socialist who is to become Germany`s next president.
The former bookseller from Aachen in Germany who once dreamt of being a footballer is probably best known for facing down a Nazi jibe from Italy`s then prime minister Silvio Berlusconi in a European Parliament debate.
A dyed-in-the-wool pro-European, Schulz, 60, grew up just across the border from Belgium and the Netherlands in the aftermath of World War II.