European elections will pitch populism versus pro-European narrative, says Metsola

EP President says getting the vote out in 2024 European elections very crucial in countering populist, black-and-white narratives

Roberta Metsola signs a memorandum of understanding with Ruslan Stefanchuk, Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, at the EP Conference of Presidents
Roberta Metsola signs a memorandum of understanding with Ruslan Stefanchuk, Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, at the EP Conference of Presidents

European Parliament president Roberta Metsola has said MEPs and candidates in the next European elections of 2024 will have to counter “populist, black-and-white narratives” in a bid to promote the reasons why the EU is a success story.

Addressing a press conference in Brussels with Ruslan Stefanchuk, the Speaker of the Ukrainian Parliament, Metsola said it was the duty of elected representatives to bring out the vote in 2024 by explaining very clearly the type of decisions taken in the House.

“This mandate has not been easy,” Metsola said of Europe’s challenges facing the COVID pandemic, the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and the bloc’s uncoupling from Russian gas.

“The next elections will depend on how we manage them, by ensuring as many people as possible get out to vote,” she said, pointing out that in four EU states suffrage will be extended to 16-year-old voters.

“It is not an easy task... it is an election where it is always easier to drive a populist, black-and-white narrative, than a constructive, pro-European, centrist one. But I believe that if you counter that narrative by explaining why the EU continues being a success story, we will have people voting for those who continue to have the task of taking difficult legislative decisions.”

Metsola also warned member states of taking decisions that treated other countries as second-class citizens, suggesting that the EU’s enlargement – which now includes the Ukraine as a possible candidate country – was a matter of both security as well as political integrity.

“What concerns me is if one country holds up a decision from being taken – such as Schengen accession to Bulgaria and Romania – because that automatically sends a message to that country that they are different classes of citizens, that there is discrimination, and no equality of access.

“That’s what we’ll be fighting for as we go to this election – celebrating 20 years of 10 countries having joined the EU... one that has had a transformational effect, which is why the way we see EU membership, also in the context of enlargement, has to be explained positively.”

On Tuesday morning, Metsola and Stefanchuk signed a renewed Memorandum of Understanding for parliamentary democracy support between the European Parliament and the Verkhovna Rada.

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