By Peter McLaren-Kennedy • 19 January 2022 • 9:30
The EU parliament has following the death of David Sassoli, elected the youngest president ever and the first woman in the role for more than 20 years. Roberta Metsola, 43, replaces Sassoli who passed away last week after a serious illness.
The MEP from Malta has been criticised for her voting record and has in the past joined other Maltese MEPs who said they were categorically anti-abortion. Malta is a strongly catholic country hence the stance, however she has bucked the trend saying she is pro LGBT rights.
When questioned by journalists on the issue of abortion she insisted thatshe will represent the European Parliament’s view on sexual and reproductive health, rather than her own.
The parliament has, she said, “repeatedly called for these rights to be better protected. My position is that of the European Parliament.”
Ms Metsola is one of three woman who now hold top jobs in the EU, the other being the head of the European Commission and the head of the Central Bank.
A member of the centre-right European People’s Party, she is a lawyer by training and she has long been part of the Brussels bubble urging MEPS to “burst through it”.
Her previous jobs have included acting as legal adviser to British politician Baroness Ashton, who was then the EU’s top diplomat.
Her origin seemed to attract more interest than her age or gender, Malta is the EU’s smallest member state with a population of just over 500,000 people.
She said with delight: “We’ve never had so many Maltese in the room!” noting the number of her fellow countrymen and women in the Strasbourg press pack.
The warmth was reciprocated: “Congratulations,” said one journalist. “As Maltese we’re very proud that you were elected for such a prestigious position.”
An EU diplomat said that while Ms Metsola would be “inclined to understand the British”, the country having closer ties with the UK since its independence in 1964, she would not be offering any new approach on post-Brexit ties: “She’s a Europhile. Her top priority will be the EU.”
It would be hard to be elected to the position of European Parliament president, let alone the youngest womand, if she was anything else.
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Originally from South Africa, Peter is based on the Costa Blanca and is a web reporter for the Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news.
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