MaltaToday previous editions

MALTATODAY 19 December 2021

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 5 of 51

6 maltatoday | SUNDAY • 19 DECEMBER 2021 NEWS Metsola vows to represent EP majority amid 'anti-abortion' flak NICOLE MEILAK NATIONALIST MEP Rober- ta Metsola has told MEPs from major groups in the European Parliament that she will rep- resent the "majority voice" on abortion if elected president of the House, over challenges from French MEPs on her anti-abor- tion voting record. With a consistent position in favour of women's bodily au- tonomy as a human right, vari- ous MEPs and the French press have been vocal about Metsola's track record on votes dealing with gender equality and repro- ductive rights, questioning her candidature for the presidency of the European Parliament. The matter even forced a com- ment from French president Emanuel Macron, questioned on the issue by journalists during a presentation of his electoral pro- gramme. Metsola has told MaltaToday that if elected as President of the European Parliament, she would respect the majority opinions of the House – whether that be a pro-choice or pro-life opinion. "On sexual and reproductive health and rights, the position of the European Parliament is clear. As President of the Par- liament my duty is to represent the view of the Parliament and if I am elected, I will do my duty as I have always done." But Maltese MEPs do have a track record of abstaining or voting against parliamentary re- ports that even hint at abortion – from resolutions on the UN's millennium development goals, to reports dealing with gender equality and access to abortion services. An example is the 2015 Tara- bella report, which focused on the need to fight poverty and have more women appointed to higher decision-making po- sitions. The Labour delegation had voted in favour of the final resolution, but separately voted against all the clauses referring to abortion. The Nationalist MEPs – Met- sola, David Casa, and Ther- ese Comodini Cachia – voted against the entire resolution, an- nouncing the stand in an official EPP statement saying abortion was their "red line:". "We voted against the whole report to underline our strong opposition to abortion and to voice our serious reservations about attempts to encroach on the principle of subsidiarity," they had said. More recently, Nationalist MEPs Roberta Metsola and Da- vid Casa were joined by Labour MEP Alex Agius Saliba in voting to strike down the Matic report, which called for universal access to safe and legal abortion across the European Union, although the report itself was non-legisla- tive and non-binding. Metsola argues that her ab- stentions and votes were al- ways taken with respect to the famous 2003 protocol attached to Malta's EU accession treaty, a written statement reaffirming that abortion remains the pre- rogative of Malta's national par- liament. "Maltese MEPs from across the political spectrum have generally voted to respect this protocol and allow the de- bate to take place in Malta," she told MaltaToday. Yet, the prospect of an "an- ti-abortion" female president of the European Parliament has preoccupied some quar- ters within the French press especially, where even French president Emanuel Macron was asked for his views on Metsola's impending election. "As far as I am concerned, I de- fend and will always defend to the utmost women's rights, and in particular that of women to exercise bodily autonomy," Ma- cron responded to Libération's Jean Quatremer. "Even where political forces from all corners of Europe put that right into question and weaken it, I will do everything to oppose it, while respecting the sovereignty of each member state... "From where I am, I defend these values strongly and I hope everyone can do likewise. But the European Parliament is al- lowed to choose their own pres- ident, and I hope they do so co- herently and while staying true to their beliefs." Various French MPs, but also MEPs, have also tweeted that they would not support an 'an- ti-abortion' candidate for the EP presidency. However, some MEPs are tak- ing her party's anti-abortion stance as reason to not vote for Metsola. The French MEP Ber- nard Guetta has been reported saying during a Renew meeting with Metsola that a vote for her could be interpreted as a re- gression of women's rights. Ac- cording to Agence Europe, dur- ing the meeting French MEPs "recalled that one of the two women who chaired the EP, the French Simone Veil, had fought for the legalisation of abortion in her country despite her party's position. Veil was the first woman to Even French president Emanuel Macron was asked for his views on Metsola's impending election

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of MaltaToday previous editions - MALTATODAY 19 December 2021