Metsola toasts Europe of differences, resolute in face of Russian aggression

‘Putin assumed European differences were weakness. He was wrong. These are our strengths’

Roberta Metsola addresses the EIU in Florence
Roberta Metsola addresses the EIU in Florence

European Parliament president Roberta Metsola said Europe will be moving faster in building a security and defence Europe in the wake of Russian aggression and its invasion of the Ukraine.

She was addressing the European University Institue of Florence in a visit to Italy on Friday, where she said Russian president Vladimir Putin had underestimated Europe’s union of ‘differences’.

“Putin’s grave mistake was assuming our differences were a weakness; our defence of fundamental rights, a sign of feebleness. He was wrong. In democracies like ours, these are our strengths. They are the foundations of the next steps. They are our legitimacy and they are our compass,” she said.

Metsola said Europe would pledge a continuation of sanctions against Russia and aid for Ukraine, and disentangle its dependencies from the Kremlin with an end to imports of oil or gas from Russia.

“It has become increasingly clear that European leaders cannot fail to address rising prices and the increasing cost of living that are hitting hard. And for European businesses in a globalised economy shaken up by the consequence of war, the European Union must continue to encourage and support them as they diversify away from Russia,” she said.

But she also said European countries had to bear the cost of this transition, which required a commitent towards climate action, moving towards the digital economy, and to consume differently than today.

“Europe needs leadership, today. Not tomorrow. Leadership that saw us welcome more than 5 millions of people fleeing Ukraine. Leadership that is also on display here at EUI with people who have worked hard to integrate and facilitate Ukrainian professors, academics and students in this institution.”

She said Europe was now at a historic crossroads between the end of a pandemic and the Russian invasion, forcing it confront “easy cynicisma” and embrace a “determined sense of direction”.

“We have never had such a sense of purpose to collectively address war on our continent, a climate emergency, our digital transition and energy concerns.

“We have never felt such an urge to stand together against threats to peace and prosperity. We have never been more determined to stand up for European fundamental rights of democracy, liberty, solidarity and equality.

“We know the threats that we face and we know we must confront them. Let us have confidence in ourselves. Let us believe.”

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.

More in Ewropej