[WATCH] EU enlargement in 2004 meant renewal, pride and unity – Roberta Metsola

Metsola addresses MEPs in celebration of 20th anniversary since 2004 enlargement, with former PM Lawrence Gonzi in attendance

Ylenia Duncan, one of the first Maltese born after the 1 May enlargement, in a Q&A with former PM Lawrence Gonzi
Ylenia Duncan, one of the first Maltese born after the 1 May enlargement, in a Q&A with former PM Lawrence Gonzi

The European Parliament celebrated the 20th anniversary since 10 countries including Malta joined the European Union.

In a speech delivered in Maltese, at the plenary convened in Strasbourg, the President of the European Parliament Roberta Metsola referred to the night in which Malta celebrated this historic moment.

"20 years ago, I was standing in Valletta – with what felt like the entire country, staring across the sea towards our Grand Harbour just as we saw in the video. We were counting down the minutes and seconds until Malta together with Cyprus, Czechia, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia joined the European Union as Member States.

“I will always remember that huge crowd awash with the understanding of unbridled possibility, hope and belief in the future. A sense of homecoming, of victory in the potential of our people, of relief - feelings shared by so many across Europe.” 

Metsola said that for the European Union it “gave a renewed spirit, a sense of purpose, a unity of aim. The future, suddenly, was limitless. It meant safety, opportunity and prosperity. It meant everything."

Metsola said that in the past two decades, Europe has been met with unprecedented challenges, but underlined its member states had managed to meet them head-on. “I know how tempting it was in the most difficult of moments, for each one of us to go at it alone, and yet we resisted. Because we understood that even with all of its frustrations and imperfections, the European Union is still the best guarantee for all our people.”

Metsola also said the transformative effect of EU enlargement on the lives of generations of Europeans was still felt today. “It is evident in each and every one of our Member States. We have also heard it directly from our young Europeans – who we are so proud to have with us here in this chamber today. From the enforceable rights afforded to its citizens to the opportunities that are offered to young and old alike. From the Single Market that is strengthening our economies to our cohesion policy that realises our commitment to the equality of Europeans. Joining the European Union is not just about transposing legislation. It goes much deeper and far beyond that.”

The celebration was attended by the leaders of the EU and the member states when the biggest enlargement of the European Union took place, including former Maltese Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi, together with young people who were born on the first of May 2004. Among them, Ylenia Duncan from Malta, who asked a question to the former PM in the plenary of the European Parliament.

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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 action was co-financed by the European Union in the frame of the European Parliament's grant programme in the field of communication. The European Parliament was not involved in its preparation and is, in no case, responsible for or bound by the information or opinions expressed in the context of this action. In accordance with applicable law, the authors, interviewed people, publishers or programme broadcasters are solely responsible. The European Parliament can also not be held liable for direct or indirect damage that may result from the implementation of the action.

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