Metsola secures EPP nomination to run for European Parliament president

Watch | Maltese MEP and vice-president of EP Roberta Metsola is the EPP’s nominee for European Parliament president

Roberta Metsola
Roberta Metsola

Roberta Metsola will be the EPP's candidate for European Parliament president after clinching the nomination on Wednesday evening.

Metsola won with 64% of the vote, receiving 112 of the 174 votes cast.

The nomination was contested by Dutch MEP Esther de Lange and Austrian MEP Othmar Karas, who received 44 and 18 votes respectively.

Metsola could be the woman to break another glass ceiling in Brussels

In a press conference after the vote, Metsola said she is honoured to have been given a strong mandate by the EPP group to be President of the European Parliament.

"My first priority now will be to do what I have always done since I got elected to this house, that is to create alliances and build bridges with constructive pro-European forces in this house in order to go into the second half of this mandate stronger on all aspects," she said.

EPP leader Manfred Weber praised Metsola for winning the nomination. He described her as a "strong candidate", and noted that the EPP will be putting forward the first female candidate for the European Parliament since 1999.

"She has a clear idea of the presidential role and wht is to be done in the next two and a half years," he said.

Weber added that he is receiving a lot of positive signals on Metsola's chances in attaining the presidency. As EPP group leader, he will be approaching other political families in the parliament to build a majority.

Socialists will not give up European Parliament presidency without a fight

He also added that the EPP is ready to pick up the idea put forward by Renew to have a coalition agreement that will define the next two and a half years of the parliament's legislature.

With an election for the European Parliament president slated to happen in January 2022 – for half of the five-year legislature that started in 2019 – the EPP is expecting to take over the role for the post currently held by the Italian social-democrat David Sassoli.

To have a Maltese become the first woman president of the European Parliament since 1999, in a female one-two on the Union’s podium of power with Von der Leyen, would be momentous in itself.

For Malta, the opportunity of so much soft power captured by having a Maltese woman as head of the EP, brings yet again a chance of showcasing it reputation as an honest broker – a reputation held in various international fora, as recently as its 2017 presidency of the European Council.

Rotational deal

Europe’s socialist MEPs will not give up the presidency to the European Parliament without any concessions from the European People’s Party, as a mid-term rotational deal approaches.

S&D president Iratxe Gaarcia Perez said the socialists would be demanding political balance inside the European institutions.

“No group is entitled to the presidency of the parliament as such. We don’t have to yield the presidency, because it does not belong to any political party – rather, it’s a decision taken by the parliament as a whole, and that’s the basis on which we will operate. Clearly, we’ll be demanding political balance.”

Sassoli was elected to the House presidency in 2019 as part of a ‘rotational’ deal to have socialists take the presidency for the first half of the legislature.

“According to the agreement with which we stated, we had then balance across the European institutitons,” Garcia Perez said, referring to a German from the EPP family – Ursula von Der Leyen as Commission president – and Charles Michel, a Belgian from the Renew group appointed as Council president.

“The situation has not changed over the last two years, and the S&D has significant clout and force across Europe in national governments as well as in this parliament,” the Spanish MEP said.

“We are amenable to negotiations... because we wish to guarantee political balance across the European institutions.”

Weber warned against any “party-political competition” on the presidency, saying this could harm the EP’s legislative work ahead. “It will harm the Fit For 55 package, the digital agenda... I  want to start in January together with the French presidency with an initiative to deliver... my appeal to the other political families is: let’s keep our agreement from the beginning, let’s be reasonable and let’s work on content and not on party-political competition.

The Left’s co-president Manon Aubry also announced her group will be putting forward a candidate, while the Greens’ co-president Ska Keller said her group will be seeking commitment from candidates on transparency, and the greater involvement of all groups.

“We’ll be fully involved in the debate. We have very good people in our group who could be candidates... and we want some stuff to change in the EP.”

Casa’s quaester role

Nationalist MEP David Casa has also said he would give up his role as quaestor of the European Parliament, in a move intended at ‘reducing’ the Maltese delegation inside top EPP posts so that colleague Roberta Metsola is nominated to be the next European Parliament president.

Casa was elected to the role in July 2019, securing the highest-ranking European Parliament post for any Maltese MEP.

Yet he now relinquishes this role in a bid to assuage fears of a Maltese concentration in top EPP posts so that Roberta Metsola secures the party’s nomination for candidate to the European Parliament.

Simon Busuttil, the former MEP and former Opposition leader, is also secretary-general of the EPP group in the European Parliament.

Politically, Casa’s relinquishing of the role is expected because Metsola’s election would see two members of the Bureau, which as quaestor Casa forms part of, from the same political group and from the same member state.

Casa described Metsola as a “phenomenal politician” whose bid was “one in a million chance” for the smallest member state’s representative to lead an EU institution.

'Roberta makes us proud to be Maltese' - Bernard Grech

Opposition leader Bernard Grech congratuled Metsola for winning the nomination, describing it a "prestigious result".

"Beyond partisan attacks, in the past years that she served as an MEP she has made a name for herself and for our country by defending the European values of liberty, truth, and justice," he said. 

Nifraħ lil Roberta Metsola tar-riżultat prestiġjuż li kisbet ftit tal-ħin ilu. Roberta llum reġgħet għamlitna kburin li...

Posted by Bernard Grech on Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Ewropej Funded by the European Union

This article is part of a content series called Ewropej. This is a multi-newsroom initiative part-funded by the European Parliament to bring the work of the EP closer to the citizens of Malta and keep them informed about matters that affect their daily lives. This article reflects only the author’s view. The European Parliament is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.

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