Roberta Metsola’s election as European Parliament President is undoubtedly the most prestigious appointment of any Maltese citizen since EU accession in 2004. The crowning scenes witnessed in Strasbourg fly in the face of those who had vehemently tried to convince the electorate that as the smallest nation in the bloc we would just be small fry. Two decades later Malta can look back with pride having served in the rotating EU Council Presidency in 2017, and now having a Maltese at the helm of one of the three major institutions. This is surely testament that Malta is on an equal footing with other member states.

Metsola’s election also conveys a very strong message on meritocracy. Throughout her political journey until her very final crowning moment she forged ahead and persevered unaided and reached the targets solely on her own steam. There were no female quotas nor fast track access by co-option, neither at party level, nor in the European Parliament elections and not even when she was elected EP President. Her success is even more significant within the context that she is a mother of four. Metsola’s political journey shows that when there is a will, there is a way, and more importantly that milestones can be reached without compromising personal integrity or turning a blind eye to wrongdoing. Not so long ago, the newly-elected EP President was being despised by some Maltese politicians for standing up against blatant corruption and serious threats to the rule of law in Malta. Arguably, one of the most enduring images of her political career remains the moment she refused to shake hands with the then Prime Minister Joseph Muscat. While that stunt had earned her unenvious labels and titles, it did not hinder her whatsoever from winning over the support of other MEPs, even those hailing from Labour’s own political group. Indeed, from a political perspective the most defining moment for her was when she was greeted by Muscat’s successor, Robert Abela, who backed her nomination unreservedly. In political terms, Metsola’s stance has been vindicated.

Her appointment also makes historical justice with the Nationalist Party, the political force behind Malta’s drive for membership, which ironically has never won a European election. More importantly, however, Malta is finally making headlines for the right reasons. Unfortunately, our country has recently become synonymous with corruption claims, money laundering, lax controls and impunity. This is the result of the Panama Papers, the Pilatus Bank saga, the brutal murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia and having our country grey listed with the likes of Panama, Senegal and Uganda. This is why Metsola’s appointment was a statement in itself – a declaration on behalf of all honest law-abiding Maltese citizens who in recent years have been overshadowed by a greedy clique whose only road map was to fill their pockets.

Finally, one could not help but not think what would have happened had Metsola thrown her name in the hat in the 2020 PN leadership race where she would have probably been the frontrunner. Undoubtedly, it would have been Malta’s loss in the EU. Time will tell if this was at the PN’s expense. Surely, her potential re-involvement in Maltese politics will have to hold until 2024 when her term as EP President will be over. One thing is sure, however… Metsola’s success should serve as a beacon of hope to persevere in the fight for justice and truth in the face of adversity.