Roberta Metsola is new European Parliament President

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Nationalist MEP Roberta Metsola has been elected as the new President of the European Parliament with an outright majority of votes in the first round of voting.

Metsola, who hails from the centre-right EPP Group, thus becomes the third woman to hold the post, after Simone Veil and Nicole Fontaine. She will succeed the late David Sassoli, who passed away earlier this month.

She received 408 votes.

The other candidates were Alice Bah Kuhnke for the Greens/EFA, Kosma Zlotowski for the ECR and Sira Rego for The Left. Kuhnke received 101 votes, Sira Rego 57 votes. There were 74 blank votes.

Addressing Parliament in Maltese, Italian, French and English, she said she felt humble for this result, and promised that she would give all her energy to push forward the interest of European citizens. A visibly emotioned Metsola said she would fight for democracy, equality, the rule of law and human rights. “While others will test the limits of our principles, we must fight back against the anti-EU narrative. Disinformation and misinformation fuels cynicism of the EU and fuel nationalism, protectionism and false illusions offering no solutions. Europe is about all of us, standing us for one another, bring our people closer together.”

She defended the role of the EP insisting that “this house matters”. She added that her generation sees no old and new Europe. “We celebrate differences because that is what makes us stronger, unique, European. We must burst the Strasbourg and Brussels bubble and let the towns and villages here the strong voice of Europe.”

She tackled a number of geo-political issues, such as the divsion of Cyprus, the territorial integrity of Ukraine and the Balkan regions. She also strongly hinted at autocratic leaders within and outside the EU, referring “to those who attempt to undermine free speech and the rule of law, know that this House stands against you.”

She also addressed the families of assassinated journalists Daphne Caruana Galizia and Jan Kuziak, adding that the fight for truth and justice is “our fight”.

REACTIONS BY POLITICAL GROUPS

EPP Chairman Manfred Weber noted that the election shows that small Member states carry great clout in the EU, also adding that two women now lead two EU institutions, the EP and the European Commission. “The result shows that our candidate was convincing. Roberta Metsola presented the right initiatives to make Europe more democratic and to strengthen the European Parliament. She is the youngest President ever of an EU Institution and comes from the smallest EU country. And after 20 years, a woman is finally again elected President. We are proud she was our candidate to lead this House”, continued Weber.
“In the remaining two and a half years before the next elections, we have crucial decisions ahead of us. We need Europe’s economy to create more jobs, to become more competitive, to become carbon-neutral and to set new rules for the digital world. Today’s election in the first round shows that the constructive majority of this Institution wants to work together. It represents pro-European common sense in extremely challenging times.”

Iratxe García Pérez (S&D) appealed to Metsola to “please protect the legacy of David Sassoli”, a Europe which is “close to those who need us the most”. She asked the newly-elected President to defend the position of the EP and the collective decisions of MEPs.

Stéphane Séjourné (Renew) thanked Metsola for the priorities she outlined, and called on Metsola to defend the strength of the EP. “We hope that you will be able to construct the European model in areas such as the environment, the digital transition, security and other areas”, promising Renew’s support on the matter.

Phillipe Lamberts from the Greens/EFA said that “Metsola has the strength to lead the Parliament”, saying that in the majority areas there was broad agreement with the Greens, despite some areas of disagreement, such as abortion and sexual reproductive rights. He highlighted the reference in her speech to unity and diversity, calling her to respect the differences in the EP. Lamberts however lamented the political agreement between the EPP and S&D, saying that such agreements exclude smaller parties and lead to a pre-agreed distribution of posts. “It is not acceptable that the majority marginalises the minority”, and called on Metsola to consider launching a reform on the internal electoral process within the EP.

Marco Zanni, President of Identity and Democracy group called on Parliament to look at past mistakes to build a better future. He said that recovering from the pandemic will be the most important priority during this term. He also joined calls to the President to guarantee the rights of all MEPs irrespective of her political grouping.

Raffaello Fitto, the Co-Chair of the European Conservatives and Reformists said he was happy for Metsola’s election, adding that she had the right CV to carry out this role. “We will have divergent points of views, we will focus on our priorities. Your role is not an easy one, but we should aim for dialogue to strengthen Parliament. We look forward to work with you to build a better future”.

Martin Schirdewan for the Left congratulated Metsola and called for a more social Europe that champions ecology and feminisms, while fighting against fascism. “We look forward to work with you on these matters”.

Once you're here...