1984-87, Municipal Councillor, Würselen; 1987-98, Mayor of Würselen. 1991-99, Member, SPD Party Council; since 1995, Member, Mittelrhein SPD Executive; since 1996, Chair, Aachen District SPD; since 1999, Member, SPD Federal Executive Committee; since 2005, Member, SPD Bureau. Since 2004, Vice-President, Socialist International. Since 1994, MEP: 1994-96, PSE Group Coordinator, Subcommittee on Human Rights; 1996-2000, PSE Group Coordinator, Committee on Civil Liberties and Home Affairs; 2000-04, Chair, SPD group, European Parliament; 2004-09, Chair, PSE Group. January 2012, elected President of the European Parliament. Honorary Doctorate, Kaliningrad State Technical University (2009).