Sant: Socialists will not roll over and accept Metsola nomination

Labour MEP says socialists think it is unacceptable that they should accept EPP pretension to have parliament presidency passed over to Roberta Metsola

Roberta Metsola presides the European Parliament as vice-president, while S&D leader Iraxte Garcia Perez addresses the House
Roberta Metsola presides the European Parliament as vice-president, while S&D leader Iraxte Garcia Perez addresses the House

Socialist MEPs will not be rolling over to accept the nomination of the European People’s Party Roberta Metsola for president of the European Parliament, Labour MEP Alfred Sant has said.

Sant, head of the Labour delegation of MEPs, said it was “unacceptable” for the socialists that the European right and centrists now had its representatives installed as presidents of the European Commission, European Council, the presidency of the Ecofin group of eurozone finane ministers, and the head of European Central Bank.

Although not committing himself personally on support for Nationalist MEP and vice-president Roberta Metsola, Sant made it clear that the S&D would not give up David Sassoli’s presidency easily.

The EPP expects the S&D to respect a rotational pact to split the EP’s presidency between the two major political blocs. But the S&D says the EPP is also represented with the European Commission’s presidency held by Ursula von der Leyen, while liberals Renew have former Belgian prime minister Charles Michel as president of the EU.

“The S&D’s MEPs are certainly not pleased about the EPP’s pretension that the next half of the legislature’s presidency should be turned over to Roberta Metsola.

“The socialists insist – and I feel they are right – that the highest leadership roles in the EU will have the least of socialist representation, compared with that of centre-right,” Sant said.

“This is not acceptable for the socialists, more so when taking into consideration the change of power in various European governments to the left.”

Sant also said that the informal rotational pact between the S&D and the EPP was not entirely respected. “The socialist Frans Timmermans was supposed to be senior vice-president of the European Commission uniquely in this rank, but the centre-right’s Valdis Dombrovskis was given the same rank.”

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

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 Garcia 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 institutions,” 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.”

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.”

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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