The youngest representative of a small country for the first time has been elected President of the EP



Robert Metsol:

Robert Metsol: “I want people to regain their faith in Europe and their enthusiasm for the European project.”

Photo: Fred Marvaux / EP

Ivars Bušmanis, “Latvijas Avīze”, JSC “Latvijas Mediji”

On Tuesday, 18 January, on his 43rd birthday, Roberta Metsola, a Maltese, was firmly elected President of the European Parliament. Her fourth son, five-year-old Christian, only realized that her mother was in the race and that she had won.

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It was not her youth and enthusiasm that enchanted the electorate. The agreement between the winners of the 2019 elections – the European People’s Party (EPP), the Social Democrats and the liberal Renew Europe – reserved the Italian Social Democrat David Sasoli for the first two and a half years of his term and the other half for the EPP.

As the election locomotive – the German Manfred Weber – withdrew its candidacy, a new one had to be sought. And found. Indeed, a new one who had already risen to the post of Vice-President. David Sasoli died a few weeks before his term expired and was replaced by Robert Metsol. It should be noted that she was already living in the ‘Brussels bubble’ – she worked in Brussels from 2004 until she was elected to the European Parliament in 2013.

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The election of the chairman required 309 votes, but in the first round, Robert Metsola received 458 votes, leaving no hope to the Greens and the Left. She is the third female President of the EP. Metsola will lead the parliament until 2024, when a new European Parliament will be elected.

“In the coming years, people across Europe will turn to us for guidance and direction, while others will continue to examine the limits of our democratic values ​​and European principles. We have to fight against the anti-European narrative, which is gaining momentum and widespread, “she said in her first post-election speech.

Rejected handshake

Metsola gained political authority in his country for sharply criticizing the socialist government after the death of journalist Daphne Karuana in Galicia in 2017. She was killed by an explosive under the car as she investigated a corruption case that reached the Maltese government.

Ms Metsola’s strong stance against the sluggish investigation and the government’s position was further highlighted in 2019, when she refused to shake hands with Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat. “Go away before you do irreparable damage to the country,” she told Twitter. At the end of the year he resigned.

The photo that captured this moment was also recalled on the day of the election of the President of the EP. It was distributed by Andrew Carouan Galicia, the son of a murdered journalist. “Roberta was one of the few Maltese politicians I instinctively felt I could trust after my mother’s murder,” he said. “Despite attempts by the party’s own leader at the time to stop him from talking about my mother’s case.”

Looking forward to change

Prior to her election to the European Parliament, Robert Metsol presented herself as a young but experienced leader of women, able to inspire and build consensus among Europe’s politically divided groups.

Latvian MEP Inese Vaidere (“Unity”, ETP) expects positive changes in the work of the EP with the election of Metsola. “She has the qualities I expect from an EP president: energy, determination and charisma. In addition, almost nine years after working side by side in the EP and EPP group, I have met Robert as a very confident, organized and purposeful person who is able to combine long working hours with raising four children. We have met several times in person and discussed issues important to Latvia, moreover – which is not insignificant – she has shown me that her promises are there, ”describes Inese Vaidere, the President of the EP just elected to Latvijas Avīze.

But what changes, then, are possible in the heavy and slow organization of the EP’s work? “Robert has clear goals. She is committed to working to unite the pro-European political forces in the EP. [..] It will be extremely important for us to be able to agree on the many important but also controversial laws that the EP needs to pass in the next two and a half years, including the introduction of a European Green Course, the strengthening of healthcare and the regulation of the digital sphere, ”she said.

The first test with the abortion law

Metsol’s parliamentary colleagues describe him as a “bridge-builder” on a wide range of issues, including migration, same-sex marriage and abortion. Just a few minutes after his election at the press conference in Strasbourg, he was questioned by journalists about his position on abortion.

Malta is a Catholic country where abortion is still illegal. It remains the only EU country where the ban is still in place. Doctors estimate that at least 300 women in Malta have an abortion each year, either by taking abortion-inducing drugs or by traveling to countries where abortions are legal, according to the Times of Malta.

In July last year, following a vote against a report defining abortion as a human right on the Lovin Malta website, Roberta Metsola reassured: “Without the approval of our national parliament, the EU institutions cannot apply any legislation to Malta in this area.” Her position has angered many MEPs who have fought for the right to abortion across the EU.

Ms Metsola now replied that she would respect the EP’s position on all issues. She recalled that she had done so in the past as Vice-President when she submitted an EP resolution to the Polish Senate on the law on abortion in Poland. “The European Parliament’s leadership is clear: denying access to healthcare, including abortion, is a violation of human rights,” she said.

Metso’s position on migration issues is much more important for Latvia. As ETP Coordinator on this issue in 2016, she insisted on an equal distribution of migrants between Member States, which was important for the Mediterranean island nation of Malta. However, no major agreement on the relocation of migrants has been reached in five years. The new president has now been able to respond diplomatically to the press conference. “I am the Speaker of Parliament and I will expect results from the committees that discuss these issues,” she said. “2024. In the year we reach the electorate, we will have to be able to answer these questions, which are a matter of concern in all Member States. “

CV

Roberta Metsola

Roberta Tedesco Trikas was born on 18 January 1979 in Malta.

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She studied at the University of Malta and specialized in law and political science at the College of Europe in Bruges under the Erasmus program.

As a student, she became involved in the Nationalist Party’s youth organization MŻPN.

In 2003, he campaigned for Malta’s accession to the EU.

In 2004 and 2009, she ran in the EP elections with her Finnish husband Uko Metsola.

From 2004 to 2013, she worked as a legal adviser in the Maltese Representation to the EU and the EU External Action Service.

Elected as an MEP in the 2013 by-elections and the 2014 by-elections.

Coordinator of the Group of the European People’s Party in the EP Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs.

First Vice-President of the EP since November 2020.

Mother of four boys – Luke, Alek, Mark and Christian.

Enthusiastic about cooking.

Source: Times of Malta

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