The Malta Independent 19 May 2022, Thursday

‘Let us help people believe’, Metsola tells MEPs as European Parliament goes to vote

Albert Galea Tuesday, 18 January 2022, 10:10 Last update: about 5 months ago

Roberta Metsola has called on MEPs to trust her with their vote for the post of European Parliament President so that together they can “help people believe” again.

Giving her final presentation to MEPs just before the vote, PN MEP Metsola – who aims to become the first Maltese to hold the post of European Parliament, and only the third woman to do so – stressed on her views on what the Parliament should look like and how it should modernise itself for the future.

In the first part of her speech, Metsola paid tribute to David Sassoli, who held the post of European Parliament President until he passed away last week.

A week ago we lost a great man; a champion of our Europe; a man who put dignity of people above all. The gentle journalist turned politician who calmly but resolutely tried to show a sick world the way of solidarity and of service,” Metsola said.

She said that it is Sassoli’s commitment to holding the “constructive forces in Europe together” that she would strive to build on if she is elected as President of the European Parliament.

Metsola said that she is determined to strengthen the Parliament’s debating culture, noting that justice involves hearing the other side, and that was must leave behind the entrenchments of the past as we look to the future.

“Politics cannot boil down to winners or losers; it is about improving societies and lives; about service.  It is here that our European Parliament must truly be a leader,” Metsola said.

She said that the next part of the European Parliament mandate is a window of opportunity to make the Parliament more modern, more effective, and more efficient, and that they cannot be afraid of the reform needed to achieve this.

She said that the opportunity must be seized for parliamentarians to fulfil the role of representing European citizens and in scrutinising, investigating, and legislating with the right of initiative they have promised.

“With your trust, I want to be a President of members who makes full use of the young energies and old wisdoms present in the house to help find solutions to the challenges of our time,” she said.

She said that it is in the European Parliament that MEPs must “double down” on their commitment to fight climate change and become the first carbon neutral continent.

“It is here that we must be able to find the way forward on migration, energy, digitalisation, health, equality, a new economic model, defence, solidarity, and social justice.  Women’s rights cannot be an afterthought; the fight for real equality must go beyond image – it must permeate through everything we do, and I would be proud to be the President who leads that fight – to honour the legacy of all those who came before,” she said. 

She said that the European Parliament must be able to fulfil its role on the global stage, in a scenario where Ukraine’s democracy is under threat and where Belarus is at a boiling point.

Metsola said that the European Parliament President must be someone accessible who understands the reality MEPs face and to lead a Parliament which is open, safe, diverse, and which has the respect it deserves and allows members to be free to exercise their mandate.

“Our president needs to be a consensus builder who listens and who can bridge the differences and hold the centre,” she said.

Metsola said that she has been able to do that on issues where majorities are not easy to find: issues such as migration, fighting corruption, beating racism, championing LGBTIQ causes, ending SLAPP cases, empowering women, and Frontex.

She said that her commitment would be to work with MEPs to give the institutional backing that you request to find the way forwards. 

“It is that I will not shy away from the difficult decisions, and that I will always represent the views of this house everywhere,” she said.

“I am a woman from a small island in the middle of Europe’s southern sea.  I know what it is like to be the underdog, to be pigeonholed. But I also know how important this is for people beyond this chamber. I know what this means for every girl watching today; for everyone who dares and who ever dared to dream,” she continued.

She asked for people’s trust and their vote to push forward and “help people believe.”

Her speech was greeted with a rapturous round of applause from those present in the plenary sitting.

She is the overwhelming favourite amongst a ballot sheet which now includes only three names, after Kosma Zlotowski withdrew his candidature today.  Spanish MEP Sira Rigo and Swedish MEP Alice Bah Kuhnke are the other two candidates.

Voting in the first round is currently ongoing, and the results are expected at 11am.  Any candidate requires an absolute majority of 50% in order to be elected – if no candidate reaches that, then the candidate with the least amount of votes will be dropped, and another round of voting will commence.

 

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