Roberta Metsola has become the youngest ever president of the European Parliament. After the election on 18 January, she stressed the need to strengthen the European project.
Speaking in plenary, she said: “I want people to recapture a sense of belief and enthusiasm for our project; a belief to make our shared space safer, fairer, more just and more equal.
“Europe [...] is about all of us standing up for one another, bringing our people closer together, it is about all of us defending those principles of our mothers and fathers that led us from the ashes of war and the Holocaust to peace, to hope and prosperity.”
Metsola said many challenges were facing Europe, including disinformation, external pressure, the need for economic recovery, green and digital transition. “Our European way of open economies and open societies is a model that I am proud of. It is a model that must be given support to withstand the pressure it comes under,” she said.
Metsola, who turned 43 on the day of the election, is the youngest president of the Parliament ever. She spoke of the need to get younger people involved in the European project: “If we are to raise Europe to the levels promised to the next generation, we now need to forge something even stronger, something in tune with the times that motivates a younger, more sceptical audience to believe in Europe."
Metsola won the majority of MEPs’ votes on 18 January in a contest that featured two other women candidates, Alice Kuhnke (Greens/EFA, Sweden) and Sira Rego (The Left, Spain). She became the third woman to lead the European Parliament, after Simone Veil who was President from 1979 to 1982, and Nicole Fontaine (from 1999 to 2002).
In her statement in plenary, Metsola emphasised Parliament’s commitment to diversity, gender equality and guaranteeing women’s rights. She also expressed belief that it will not take 20 more years before another woman takes the post of Parliament president.
The Maltese politician from the EPP group joined the European Parliament in 2013. In November 2020 she was elected as the First Vice-President, after Mairead McGuinness became the EU's commissioner for financial services, financial stability and Capital Markets Union.
Find out more about what the Parliament president does and check out our video above from the election day.