(Left) Gianni Pittella shakes hands with Martin Schulz 

Martin Schulz has today been elected as group leader of the Socialists and Democrats and steps down as European Parliament President.

Under the Parliament's Rules of Procedure (rule 18), first vice-president Gianni Pittella takes over as acting president of the European Parliament until a new president has been elected. The election of the new president will take place on 1 July 2014 in Strasbourg during the inaugural plenary session.

Communications from acting president Gianni Pittella will be published on the Europarl website here.