Strasbourg 18.01.2022 Maltese centre-right politician Roberta Metsola succeed the Italian David Sassoli in Strasbourg and Brussels, at the head of the European Parliament. Several candidates have been promoted to replace the Italian Socialist David Sassoli, who died on January 11 from the complications of myeloma cancer at the age of 65 and whose mandate was due to end this month.
The election of the President of the European Parliament has taken place by secret ballot on Tuesday 18 January, in plenary session in Strasbourg. Roberta Metsola MEP from the party assembling European center-right, became, at 42, the youngest president of this European institution. Although it is a huge leap forward for equity agenda, there are also a number of MUST KNOW facts to understand Roberta Metsola vertical ascendance:
As a politician she has spent her entire career in the European institutions.
Roberta Metsola, born in 1979, graduated from the University of Malta and the College of Europe in Bruges (Belgium). A professional lawyer, she is “a pure product of the Brussels bubble”, sums up the Politico site. Speaking fluent Italian and Finnish, the Maltese worked from 2004 to 2012 in the Permanent Representation of Malta to the European Union in Brussels. Roberta Metsola headed the Justice and Home Affairs unit there, after having held the position of legal and judicial cooperation attaché.
The Maltese specialist in European law and policy subsequently collaborated with Baroness Catherine Ashton, First ever High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, as legal adviser, specifies the European People’s Party in her biography.
Appointed MEP in 2013, replacing Simon Busuttil, Roberta Metsola thus became one of the first Maltese representatives sitting in Strasbourg. A member of the Maltese Nationalist Party, she was re-elected in the 2014 European elections with a “record number of votes for a woman”, underlines the Europoean think tank Bruegel.
As an MEP, Roberta Metsola is a member of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, where she has been also a coordinator for the EPP, continues Bruegel. The MEP also participated in the special committee of the Parliament devoted to the fight against terrorism, as well as in the delegation for relations with the USA. The MEP also took part in the European Parliament’s commission of inquiry into the Panama Papers.
According to Politico, Roberta Metsola is considered, within the Parliament, as one of the main MEPs focused on migration issues. She was notably the co-author of the Parliament’s report on Europe’s response to the refugee crisis, which effected her native Malta.
The candidacy of Roberta Metsola, mother of four, arouses controversy, because the MEP promotes conservative pro-life policy, fiercely opposing abortion. As French newspaper Liberation underlines, the elected official continues to disapprove of resolutions defending the right to abortion and contraception. Last September, Metsola also abstained during a vote calling on the European Commission to criminalise violence against women, points out French newspaper Le Monde.
In Malta, one of a few societies in Europe where abortion remains illegal in all circumstances. The candidate for the presidency of the European Parliament has however promised not to defend her openly anti-abortion positions at the head of the institution, notes Liberation. And as Euractiv media has underlined that, the EU has no competence in matters of abortion.
Malta is the only EU member state to strictly prohibit abortion entirely while Poland recently tightened the rules further shifting to conservative view by making it illegal to terminate a pregnancy even in cases of severe and irreversible fetal defects. Abortion is also illegal in Andorra and San Marino — although residents in the latter overwhelmingly backed a proposal to make abortion legal in a referendum over the weekend. Residents in Gibraltar similarly voted to ease abortion rules earlier this year. The European list is concluded by Lichtenstein and Monaco also have restrictive abortion rules.
Roberta Metsola “is consensual, except with the subject that makes us talk about her”, indicated a spokesperson for the Renew Europe (Liberals) parliamentary group with Elle magazine. As French newpaper Le Monde notes, the MP has regularly defended the rights of LGBTQ+ people. “As a woman, I know how important it is to have allies in your struggles. (…) Europe is a zone of freedom,” she said in December, Elle reports.
According to the Green MEP Manon Aubry, interviewed by the magazine, the Maltese candidate “has always defended a fairly strict sanitary cordon with the far right”. The elected also had more moderate positions than others, on the right, on the reception of refugees, recalls Le Monde. Metsola also called for the resignation of Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat in the wake of the death of Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, murdered in October 2017.