The Malta Independent 28 June 2022, Tuesday

‘I want to see a European Parliament that empowers’ - Roberta Metsola

Wednesday, 15 December 2021, 17:00 Last update: about 7 months ago

First Vice-President of the European Parliament Roberta Metsola wants a European Parliament that empowers, that is diverse. 

Speaking to the Malta Independent after David Sassoli dropped out of the race for European Parliament President, Roberta Metsola said: “David Sassoli is a giant of this Parliament. He will leave a lasting legacy as President of the European Parliament and a stronger House of representatives. Should I be entrusted to become President after him, I will build on what he has achieved, in my own way.” 

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As for her chances, Vice-President Metsola said: “There is an election on 18 January, it will be a difficult election, and one that I am approaching with humility and hard work. I will keep speaking to all constructive forces in this House to build alliances going forward, to present my ideas for how the Parliament can become closer to people and how we can work together to hold the centre and help re-capture that sense of belief and hope in Europe.” 

What Parliament does she want to see going forward? “In the next years, people will look to our Parliament for leadership as some continue to test the limits of our democracy. When citizens look to us to defend European judges, to preserve media freedom, to close the gender pay gap, to fix holes in our social fabric, to protect minorities, to lead on climate change, to fight for equality, to end racism, push forward trade and deliver digital transformation, to create new jobs, to ensure that taxpayer funds are not used to pay for anti-democratic ideals - to stand up for Europe: we cannot be found wanting.” 

“But, if we are to raise Europe to the levels promised, we now need to forge something stronger, that motivates a younger, more sceptical audience. The European Parliament must be the Institution that holds others to account. That has the authority it needs to investigate. To scrutinise. To legislate with a right of initiative. We have to keep pushing for this. Ours must be a Parliament that stands up, that speaks in a loud and powerful voice. Parliament is central to the idea of a Europe that is closer, more autonomous, and more resilient. We must now ensure that the Conference on the Future of Europe has the support it needs to deliver concrete outcomes.” 

VP Metsola would be the first female President in a generation. Malta’s legal obligations on abortion vis-a-vis its accession treaty have come under spotlight. 

She said that “I understand that some discussion has focused on the Protocol that Malta has attached to its EU accession treaty that states that abortion remains the prerogative of Malta's national parliament. Maltese MEPs from across the political spectrum have voted to respect this protocol and allow the debate to take place in Malta.” 

“On Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights, the position of the European Parliament is clear. As President of the Parliament my duty is to represent the view of the Parliament and I if I am elected, I will do my duty as I have always done. I want ours to be a Parliament that empowers. That is diverse. That is feminist. I am one of the first women to have ever been elected to the Parliament from Malta. I know that having the first female President of this House since 1999 matters inside and outside the Parliament.” 

“And it must go beyond image - internally, the Institution’s commitment to having better diversity, gender balance at different levels, better working conditions must be met in a safe and welcoming work environment. Externally, I would like to launch a project aimed at young European female leaders: a form of network that encourages and empowers young women looking at politics with a participant addressing the Parliament once per year.” 

The first woman elected as President of the Parliament was Simone Veil, a holocaust survivor and giant of European politics. “This Parliament must honour her and her legacy. Last year, the Renew Group launched a Pact named in her honour to urge Member States to move closer together on women’s rights. It is a blueprint we can use to push these issues forward and one that I endorse fully. It is something this Parliament can do to ensure that the best legislation, standards and practices are in place throughout the European Union."

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