Home Europe Roberta Metsola appeals to voters ahead of European Elections: ‘You have a choice’

Roberta Metsola appeals to voters ahead of European Elections: ‘You have a choice’

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The President of the European Parliament, Roberta Metsola, reflects on two and half years in the hot seat, the recent migration pact and explains why voters should go to the ballot box.

Millions of people are expected to vote in the European elections in six weeks time and collectively decide on the future of the European Union. 

Roberta Metsola, the President of the European Parliament, sat down with Euronews Correspondent Méabh Mc Mahon in Strasbourg to discuss her electoral campaign, her achievements and the impact of recent corruption scandals involving MEPs.

To watch this latest episode of the Global Conversation click on the video in the media player above or read the full interview below.

Méabh Mc Mahon, Euronews: President Metsola, thank you so much for being our guest on the Global Conversation. They say when you have small children, the days are very, very long, but the years are short. Do you have the same feeling, perhaps, after two and a half years as president of the European Parliament?

Roberta Metsola, President of the European Parliament: Well, I have four children. Some of them are smaller than others, and I would absolutely agree. If somebody had told me at the beginning of the two and a half years what these two years were going to look like, I would never have been able to predict how much we managed to achieve, but also how many crises and challenges we’ve had to overcome and handle.

Méabh Mc Mahon, Euronews: And on those achievements, what stood out for you? What was your highlight? What are you most proud of?

Roberta Metsola, President of the European Parliament: Well, in terms of an institutional perspective, we have managed to push through a huge amount of reforms, perhaps also to address challenges that we were met with head-on, in terms of how this Parliament will come back in July. I am extremely proud of those reforms, of the effectiveness of the way that legislation will be able to run tomorrow through this Parliament more smoothly. 

From a legislative perspective, I would say the migration pact, which we thought would not see the light of day after almost a decade of being blocked, we managed to push it through, with a sometimes narrow but much-needed majority in this House.

The EU’s migration and asylum pact

Méabh Mc Mahon, Euronews: It was hailed indeed as an achievement by you, wasn’t it – the migration pact – after so many years. But nobody really likes it…

Roberta Metsola, President of the European Parliament: Well, I would say that the extremists don’t like it on both sides of the spectrum. Why? Because it is a balanced package which has solidarity as its focus. Reinforcement of external borders, working on returns. 

Still, a lot to do with how we deal with third countries, that we talk to our neighbouring countries not only about migration, but also about investment, development and possibility, and we never forget that at the very centre of this package are human beings and migrants.

Méabh Mc Mahon, Euronews: Well, indeed, do migrants like the package do you think?

Roberta Metsola, President of the European Parliament: Well, we have to make sure it works for everybody, and that if there is somebody who is looking for a future because there’s none at home, then Europe will be able to look at that person rather than squabble between the countries, and almost face a certain death in the Mediterranean.

Political scandals

Méabh Mc Mahon, Euronews: And just on that note as well, you mentioned, putting out a lot of crises here as well. That was, of course, your job. You did, of course, have last winter that corruption scandal, where allegedly some of your members were under the influence of certain governments. How did it feel, when you got that phone call from the authorities to have to go to investigate, to go to the home of one of your vice presidents of the European Parliament, Eva Kaili?

Roberta Metsola, President of the European Parliament: Well, actually, I went to the home of a Belgian member of the European Parliament. This was a specific, I would say, ‘gut punch’ on that night in December 2022. Now, we had a choice that day, either we say that this is something that would happen in any Parliament or that we look at the party political colour or that we look at the country involved. But I refused to do that. I said this House needs to move on. 

This House needs to make sure that if something like this happens again, then firewalls would be put in place and alarm bells would be sounded. It took a very long time, to go through the motions of what needed to be done. 

This was, I would say unprecedented, and also unexpected. But once we did that, we realised as a house that we need to indeed reform in the way we do things. The status quo was always better. Pushing through that was very hard, but there was no doubt and here I am proud of the response of the members when they said, you know, we do not want this mandate, which is huge in terms of its impact, to be tarnished by the alleged actions of a small number. And I think that’s where we can say we are today.

Méabh Mc Mahon, Euronews: I remember very well, that you called it an attack on the European Parliament. And just moving from that scandal to another, you have just a couple of weeks before the EU elections, the so-called Russiagate, where some of your members here have allegedly been under the influence of people close to the Kremlin in return for money to therefore spread positive messaging about Russia. What more can you tell us about this?

Roberta Metsola, President of the European Parliament: Well, first of all, what I know for now, until now, we have something that we have been discussing, and I have been discussing this with prime ministers for many months now. 

We have been alerted when we looked at national elections, that there would also be a certain amount of unprecedented disinformation, Russian disinformation in some countries more than others. 

We continue to wait for information to be received from national authorities because this would require any waiver of immunity being adopted by this House. Investigations that would need to take place like we had, like had happened in the past and would require national authorities to ask. We’re waiting for that. And if that happens, we will do our job as we’ve always done.

Méabh Mc Mahon, Euronews: So you don’t know how many MEPs could be involved and some could be potentially running for office. They want to sit again in this chamber.

Roberta Metsola, President of the European Parliament: So far no names have been communicated to us. And we are waiting. We are waiting.

Why are the European elections important?

Méabh Mc Mahon, Euronews: And meanwhile, of course, as I said, these elections are coming up. Why should people vote? I mean, I know in this Parliament everyone will be voting. Everyone’s excited about the elections, but why should our viewers care?

Roberta Metsola, President of the European Parliament: Well, look at the chairs. They’re empty, but in a few minutes, they will be filled with, 705 today. 720, in just over a month, where those 720 are going to be making decisions for you. Now you have a choice. You either decide who you want to sit in these chairs, or you let others decide for you. 

Those people sitting there from your country are going to be your country’s ambassadors
They’re going to be taking decisions that affect your everyday life, whether it is on decisions to do with climate, or on social issues. We adopt, for example, the Violence Against Women directive, a very, very big, let’s say pillar of legislation that we’ve been working on for many, many years. This is something you can affect with your vote every five years. Don’t miss out on that opportunity.

Méabh Mc Mahon, Euronews: And you’re on TikTok, right? I’ve seen you just joined TikTok.

Roberta Metsola, President of the European Parliament: Yes, my kids are not so happy going back to the first question.

Méabh Mc Mahon, Euronews: How’s it going for you? Are you managing to get the message out to the people and bring this Parliament that feels so abstract, closer to the people?

Roberta Metsola, President of the European Parliament: Well, there was a choice to have made. Do we go on to social media platforms that I say my children have been saying for a very long time, please don’t go on it, Mom. Four countries vote at the age of 16 and one country will vote at the age of 17. 

We have seen and this is what I’ve done, going from one country to another, asking young people, where do you get your news? What I don’t want is for those young people to get their news potentially from propaganda or misinformation sources. So we said, let’s get on there, let’s get our message through. And hopefully, once those kids are scrolling through, they get something that says, oh, I like this, I’ll go vote.

Méabh Mc Mahon, Euronews: Okay. You pique their curiosity. And what about you? What’s your future looking like? Would you like one day to be the president of the European Commission or to run your country?

Roberta Metsola, President of the European Parliament: Well, this has been a privilege of a lifetime, to be able to have this responsibility that my colleagues have entrusted to me in the past two and a half years. I’m now working pretty hard back home because I need to run for my seat. And that’s my aim in order to be elected once again to represent the citizens of Malta and Gozo.

Méabh Mc Mahon, Euronews: And which elections are more important? The ones taking place in June in Europe or the ones taking place on the other side of the pond in November.

Roberta Metsola, President of the European Parliament: Well, all democracies deserve a good election and a good campaign. There are more people in the world who can’t choose their leaders, and there are who can. So we will be very much looking, to the November elections. But first, we have pretty big ones here, and I’m hoping that those big ones will return a group of members who will come here and say, we want to work for more Europe. We want to work for the better lives of our citizens.

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