President Metsola urges EU leaders to use this difficult moment as opportunity for change
President Metsola urges EU leaders to use this difficult moment as opportunity for change

People in Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia, and still in the Western Balkans, are now looking to Europe with hope. And I want people to believe as we did. And to do that we need to understand that we are not just an economic bloc. We need to be able to respond, we need to be able to lead, President of European Parliament Roberta Metsola said on Friday.

President Metsola addressed the opening speech of The State of the Union 2022 at the European University Institute in Florence.

She focused on the role of Europe and the challenges the continent now faces.

“I believe that we need to better understand what “Europe” is and more importantly what people want Europe to be. In my first address as President of the European Parliament, I described myself as part of the generation that sees no old and no new Europe. We are the first of the Erasmus generation, the last of the Wałęsa, Kohl and Havel generation. What I meant was that I am part of the Europe generation. 18 years ago on the 1st of May, I was standing in Valletta with what felt like the entire country, at midnight staring across the sea in our Grand Harbour as we counted the minutes and the seconds until Malta, together with nine other countries, joined the European Union as the Member States. I still recall the feeling of unbridled possibility, hope and belief in the future. A sort of sense of homecoming, of victory in the potential of our people, of relief, of joy – feelings shared by millions across Europe. With the war in Europe, today, it is that spirit, that sense of purpose, enthusiasm, and a clear direction, that I want our European project to re-capture.

People in Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia, and still in the Western Balkans, are now looking to Europe, with the same sense of belonging and hope. And I want people to believe as we did. And to do that we need to understand that we are not just an economic bloc, we are not just about free movement, or about abolishing roaming charges. For my generation, Europe is – as cliché as this might sound – about a shared dream. About shared values. About a shared future, about coming together. To us, Europe is the future. It has always been the future. However, we cannot deny that over the last years polarisation in our societies has increased. There are still too many people who feel lost, let down and left out. At the same time, many will now look to Europe and our institutions for leadership. And we need to be able to respond, we need to be able to lead,” she said.

President spoke about the war in Ukraine.

“There is a pre-February 24th reality and a post-February 24th reality. The world has changed. We must understand that the weight of the global democratic order now rests more heavily than ever before on Europe’s shoulders. And we must be able to carry it. It is our whatever-it-takes moment. A moment that comes once in a generation. A moment where we must understand that Europe is also on the streets of Bucha, in the tunnels of Mariupol, in the cellars of Irpin, on the shores of Snake Island,” she added.

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