European president Roberta Metsola dubs Portugal a “caring heart of Europe”
The President of the European Parliament, Roberta Metsola, makes her first official visit to Portugal tomorrow calling the country “extremely pro-European”, which “can be a leader” in the European Union (EU) on issues such as migration and solidarity.
“My main message in Portugal will be that a country like Portugal can be a leader, as it has shown itself to have an extremely pro-European public opinion”, she told Lusa today in Brussels.
Recalling that “the Portuguese were among the first to offer help” in welcoming Ukrainians fleeing the Russian invasion of Ukraine last February, the leader of the European assembly says she sees “Portugal as a kind of caring heart of Europe“, particularly in the area of migration.
This was also true in the 2015 migration crisis, when it was thought that “the further away [a country] was from an issue, the more exonerated it felt from responsibility”. “Portugal never said that”, she recalled.
“When there was the migration crisis in Europe, Portugal, I remember, was leading the way”.
Metsola thus “identifies” with “Portugal’s solidarity”, but also with the “geographical and economic perspective”.
“Portugal always said – and I remember that it did not matter which prime minister was around the table – that (…) if it was for a natural disaster or another, we could count on the country to show solidarity.
“My interactions with the Prime Minister and the various Portuguese representatives and different members of the European Parliament have also been to push the narrative that it’s better to be around the table to address the rising cost of living, inflation, prices”, she added.
After her election last January, the leader of the European assembly said Portugal was one of the first countries to invite her on an official visit.
Before that she said she had the “best experience of the Portuguese presidency [of the Council of the EU], which came at a very difficult time” in the first half of 2021.
“I think of the digital certificate, which would not have been possible without the Portuguese presidency, the Conference on the Future of Europe, which would not have been possible without the launch at which the prime minister, António Costa was present and was even one of the prime ministers I met” and also “the Social Pillar, which was so important”, she said.
“But of course, when we met for the first time, who would have told us that we were going to live through a war and now with an extremely difficult winter ahead of us…”
Roberta Metsola was elected as president of the European Parliament for the second half of the current parliamentary term, until the new assembly is formed after the European elections in 2024.
At 43, she is the youngest President of the European Parliament since becoming an MEP in 2013 for the European People’s Party.