David-Maria Sassoli Elected President of The European Parliament
On Wednesday July 3rd, the 667 members of the European Parliament met in Strasburg to elect the new President. The majority of the votes, 345, went to David-Maria Sassoli of the Italian Democratic Party, who will replace another Italian, Antonio Tajani.
In 2009 he went into politics and became the president of the Democratic party delegation to the European Parliament. Before the election, he was serving as Vice President responsible for Mediterranean budget and policy. He was backed in this election by the European Socialist group.
The other three candidates for the presidency were the German Ska Keller of the European Green Party, the Czech Jan Zahradil of the Alliance of Conservatives and Reformists in Europe, the only candidate from Central/Eastern Europe and outside the Eurozone, and the Spanish Sira Rego of the European United Left-Nordic Green Left.
All were asked to briefly explain why they were running. Sassoli’s reply was that “Europe will be stronger only with a Parliament which plays a more important role."
The President of the European Parliament is elected for a renewable term of two and a half years, which is half the life-span of a five-year parliamentary term.
According to the Parliament’s website, his/her job is to “oversee the work of the Parliament and its constituent bodies as well as the debates in plenary and ensure that Parliament’s Rules of Procedure are adhered to.” The President also signs the EU’s annual budget, rendering it operational and along with the President of the Council, he/she signs all legislative acts adopted under ordinary legislative procedure.
After his election, Sassoli spoke on a few key issues including the rise of nationalism. "If we are European it is also because we are in love with our countries,” he said, "But nationalism that becomes an ideology and idolatry produces viruses that spur instincts of superiority and produce destructive conflicts."
He also spoke on migration, stating that the European Council has the moral duty to discuss the European Parliament’s proposed reform of the Dublin Rule on migrants. More generally, he said he believes that the EU needs to “reduce the distance” between institutions and citizens and that it must "combine growth, social protection and a respect for the environment."
In his view, the Parliament must be the “home of European Democracy” that "we must all, whatever our views, be committed to building.”
For more information and updates on the roles and activities of the European Parliament you can visit their website.