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Plea from European parliament president: do not take Europe for granted

european union leaders summit in brussels
European Parliament President Roberta Metsola

By Roberta Metsola

Summer 2024 will be the largest global election year in history. Much of the world’s population will be called upon to vote, including the people of Cyprus together with over 400 million other Europeans. This year will be a decisive year. For Cyprus, for Europe and the world.

By voting for members of the European parliament, you take part in the largest supranational election of the world. Your vote matters. It matters to all of us, for our freedom and rights. For us, free elections are the cornerstone of European democracy, but too many take them for granted.

At the last European elections, just under 45 per cent of Cypriots went to the ballot box. I hope this year more people in Cyprus will make their voice heard. Especially with a war raging at EU borders and the prospect of resuming negotiations to end a 50-year Turkish occupation. Do not let anyone else decide for you.

Your vote matters for the kind of Europe you want to see.

Over the past five years, the European Union has delivered in an unprecedented way. We have come together in defence of our values and our way of life. We have done this in solidarity. We have procured vaccines for all European Union citizens. We have been firm in our support to Ukraine. We are bringing our neighbours closer to us, bolstering our collective security. Because we know that, we are stronger, safer and get more, when we are together.

Our historic asylum and migration deal, which is a key priority for countries like Cyprus at the frontlines, strikes the right balance between responsibility and solidarity. It will be fair with those in need of protection, firm with those not eligible for asylum and hard with traffickers who exploit the most vulnerable.

Our new European climate laws will mean cleaner air, healthier rivers and seas. They will make us the first carbon-neutral continent by 2050. Together with the digital transition, it will bring new opportunities, increase our competitiveness and bring economic growth.

None of this was easy, but that makes our successes all the more important. We have defied the odds and proven that Europe can deliver on the issues that matter to Europeans. Issues that cannot be solved by any one country alone.

That is not to say that the European Union is perfect. Indeed, I share many of the frustrations with some of its processes – but I believe that Europe can do even more, if we continue to act together. Because in a world where war is no longer unthinkable and fewer people live in a democracy than outside of one, our Europe has become a superpower of rights, freedoms and prosperity.

It is true that we may have become complacent in our achievements over the years. This has led to a rise of populism that offers false answers to complex questions. It spins a dangerous narrative by attempting to oversimplify things, one that risks threatening our democracy from the inside.

That is the challenge we are facing in the next months before the European parliament elections. That is why people of Cyprus should speak up on June 9. There is a lot at stake.

I am bringing this message to Cyprus today and am taking it all over Europe. After June 9, there will be 720 MEPs coming to Brussels – six from Cyprus. Who those people are and what they stand for is in your hands. They will shape policies and adopt legislation that affect all of Cyprus and Europe. It is up to you to choose, to vote. Do not take Europe for granted.

Roberta Metsola is the president of the European parliament

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