When is Metsola going to start delivering on all those ‘women’s rights’ promises?

Maybe it’s just that Roberta Metsola really DID intend to fulfil those promises, all along … but – in between posing for one photo-opportunity, and another – she just somehow never got round to actually doing it, in the end

Reason I ask is that: it’s been quite a while, you know, since the President of the European Parliament actually made some of them.

Take the one about ‘signing the Simone Veil Pact’, for instance. That was a commitment that Roberta Metsola originally undertook – in the most public way imaginable, too (i.e., while jointly addressing a press conference, alongside French PM Emanuel Macron) – all the way back on January 19 of this year.

As it happens, it was the very first day of her new role as EP President; which also makes it the first public statement she ever actually made, in that capacity. But that was more than six months ago, now: which might perhaps explain why Roberta Metsola herself seems to have conveniently forgotten all about it, in the meantime…

Well, something tells me that she’s now hoping the rest of us will likewise develop a sudden bout of ‘temporary amnesia’… enough for it to just ‘slip our minds’, that – as all local news outlets had reported at the time (with varying degrees of surprise/shock/horror) – “Metsola pledges to sign pact guaranteeing ABORTION [my emphasis] to women”.

Hmm. Funny how Roberta Metsola would expect us all to just ‘forget’ a little detail like that… when she herself had spent pretty much all her previous career, as a Nationalist MEP, assiduously voting against every single EP resolution, that ever so much as dared mentioning those dreaded words: ‘female reproductive rights’…

But no matter. Because while her extraordinary U-turn may have discombobulated a fair chunk of her own (mostly pro-life) voter-base – and not without good reason: after all, the very first commitment of the Simone Veil Pact is: ‘1. Sexual and reproductive rights: Guarantee women’s access to contraception and abortion…”– to this day, it still remains something that she only ever ‘promised’ to do.

Not, mind you, that I’ve been keeping my eyes peeled, for any subsequent headline confirming that Roberta Metsola HAS, in fact, signed that document at any point since January 19. But if there were any such headlines, I certainly didn’t see them; and when I ran an online search this week… I couldn’t find any, either.

Meanwhile, there doesn’t seem to be any publicly-accessible list of all the signatories to the Simone Veil Pact (or even just the politically-relevant ones)… which, I suppose, leaves us with only two options, really.

Either Roberta Metsola DID deliver on that promise, at some point in the last six months… in which case, she must have done so in secret (and, for a change, without uploading any Facebook ‘selfies’, to commemorate the event);

Or else… well, I imagine you can work out Option 2 for yourselves.

Either way, however: it doesn’t really matter all that much, because ‘signing the Simone Veil Pact’ was only one of several promises that Roberta Metsola had made, both before and after her election as EP President last January.

Euronews, for instance, reported that: “Roberta Metsola, the newly elected President of the European Parliament, has vowed to respect the hemicycle’s majority opinion in favour of abortion, despite her long-standing political and personal stance against the procedure. ‘The position of the parliament is unambiguous and unequivocal, and that is also my position,’ she told Euronews in an attempt to shut down the controversy surrounding her investiture.”

Now: here I have to concede that Roberta Metsola is at least partly correct. For it is abundantly true that the European Parliament’s position is ‘unambiguous and unequivocal’; and it has only become much clearer, and more specific, ever since.

Three weeks ago, for instance – just after the US Supreme court’s decision to overturn ‘Roe versus Wade’ – the European Parliament approved, by a wide majority, a proposal calling for “the right to abortion to be included in the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights”.

So unless Robert Metsola has performed yet another U-turn, while we were all looking the other way… as President of the European Parliament, THAT is now the official position she is committed to uphold. (And she said it herself, too, in no uncertain terms: “That is exactly what I will do throughout my mandate as president on this issue.”)

So… um… what has Roberta Metsola actually said, or done, to achieve that objective in practice? Because if you close an eye at a single, throw-away ‘tweet’ last month – in which she described the Roe vs Wade decision as a “worrying regression of women’s rights” – Roberta Metsola doesn’t seem to have even so much as mentioned the issue, anywhere at all, in the entire first six months of her mandate.

Still less has she done (or said) anything that can even remotely be described as ‘aligned’ with her own, new-found commitments to ‘guarantee women’s access to contraception and abortion’.

And yet, Metsola surely knows that the EP’s proposal is not exactly very easy to implement, on a political level. It would necessitate amendments to the European Treaties (in particular, Chapter 7 of the Charter)… which would, in turn, require consensus among all 27 member states.

From that perspective: Roberta Metsola now occupies a rather important strategic role, in brokering the multi-lateral agreements that would be needed to ensure that the European Parliament’s position on abortion – which is now Metsola’s own position, remember? – is translated, once and for all, into REALITY.

To put that another way: this is no longer the Roberta Metsola we were all used to, until six months ago (who could – let’s face it – always say pretty much anything she ever liked, on the subject of abortion: because we all knew it would never make a jot of difference anyway…)

No, indeed. This is a very different Roberta Metsola we are dealing with here: one whose words and (especially) actions – as the official embodiment of the EU’s only democratically-elected institution – do actually carry the necessary political weight, to at least have some kind of ‘impact’ on the final outcome.

Yet while this new version of Roberta Metsola was very quick to promise her full support for ‘the right of all European citizens to have access to safe, legal abortion’ [note: that includes Maltese women, too, you know…] she hasn’t exactly been in very much of a hurry to proceed to Phase Two of the operation: i.e., using all this new-found power and influence of hers, to actually PRESSURE individual European governments into complying.

And it certainly wasn’t for lack of opportunity, either. For if Roberta Metsola’s first-ever action, as EP President, was to pledge allegiance to the Simone Veil Pact… her first-ever official visit, in that capacity, was precisely to her own home country, Malta: which – at the risk of repeating what has now become a rather tiresome mantra – is the only EU member state to actively deny its citizens those very same reproductive rights: in all circumstances, and with no exceptions whatsoever (‘until death do us part, AMEN’).

Honestly, though. What better opportunity could possibly arise, for Roberta Metsola to showcase her new determination to uphold woman’s rights… than a private meeting with George Vella (President, no less, of the last remaining bastion of ‘pro-life conservatism’ on this side of the Atlantic)?

And so soon, too, after she had made all those ‘women’s rights’ promises in the first place! The press conference with Macron, if you’ll remember, took place on January 19. Her meeting with George Vella, on February 10. And right until the last minute, she kept insisting that: “During my visit, I will reiterate the European Parliament’s commitment to uphold the fundamental values of the European Union…” (That’s right: the same ‘fundamental values’ that Metsola herself now argues also include ‘abortion rights’…)

Ah, but what did those two Presidents actually discuss, in their private meeting last February? Let’s see now: according to our own news report, later that same evening: “President Vella and Metsola discussed several challenges currently on the European Union’s agenda, such as post-COVID recovery, the Conference on the Future of Europe, immigration, climate change, as well as political developments in the EU’s Southern and Eastern Neighbourhoods…”

On the subject of ‘female reproductive rights’, however; and on her own, new-born commitment to ensure that all Maltese women are ‘guaranteed access to safe, legal abortion’… not a single word, it seems, was exchanged between the two Presidents, on any of that.

Oh, and I need hardly add that Roberta Metsola also kept up this wall of silence, even against the backdrop of the Andrea Prudente case last June (which only highlighted just how detrimental a blanket abortion ban may be, to the health of women caught up in those situations).

At which point, we are once again confronted with only a couple of options, to account for the apparent contradiction.

Either Roberta Metsola really IS hoping that we’d all somehow ‘forget’ about those promises she made six months ago (in which case: I reckon she’s got another guess coming, pretty damn soon…)

Or else, it was something she did to simply – as Euronews put it – “shut down the controversy surrounding her investiture” (in which case: it doesn’t exactly say very much for her own principles, does it?)

Or who knows? Maybe it’s just that Roberta Metsola really DID intend to fulfil those promises, all along … but – in between posing for one photo-opportunity, and another – she just somehow never got round to actually doing it, in the end.

In which case… erm… it just takes us all the way back to the question in the headline, doesn’t it?