Roberta Metsola, a Malta politician celebrates two important occassion on January 18th. First her birthday, born in 1979, and second, she has been elected with absolute majority, as the president of the European Parliament, taking over for a two and a half-year term. She is the youngest president (43) the European Parliament has ever had.
Ms Metsola, a Christian Democrat from the EPP, received 458 of the 616 votes cast on Tuesday. She had already been acting president since Mr Sassoli’s death on January 11.
She will lead an EU institution which has become more powerful over the years and been instrumental in charting the course of the 27-nation union on issues such as the digital economy, climate change and Brexit.
The European Parliament represents the 450 million citizens from the European Union and refers to itself as “the heart of European democracy”.
Known as a committed bridge-builder between parties, Ms Metsola said she would stick to Mr Sassoli’s style of work.
“David fought hard to bring people around the same table. It is that commitment to holding the constructive forces in Europe together that I will build on,” she said.
The parliament has long been the “less important” EU institution if compared with the executive European Commission and the European Council, which represents the governments of the 27 member states. In fact, while meant to be a legislative power, this task is more executed and own by the Commission and the Council, than by the Parliament.
As it gained decision-making powers the legislature has become a more forceful player on the European scene, and Ms Metsola wants to continue that trend.
“We need to strengthen it. We cannot be afraid of reform,” she said.
“The next part of the mandate will see a window of opportunity to make our parliament more modern, more effective and more efficient. We must seize the opportunity.”
Ms Metsola is the first politician from Malta to hold such a high position in the EU.
“I am a woman from a small island in the middle of Europe’s southern sea. I know what it means to be the underdog. I know what it means to be pigeonholed,” she said.
“I know what this means for every girl watching today. I know what it means for everyone who dares and whoever dared to dream.”
Immediately after the vote, Metsola said: “I am honoured to have been given a strong mandate by the EPP Group to be its candidate for President of the European Parliament. The second half of this legislature will be critical for Europe – I will work hard to keep building bridges in this House as we work together in pushing forward important legislative files and bringing decision-making closer to people in every Member State.”