The right to petition, says Roberta Metsola, is "enshrined in the treaty on European Union". As a vice-chair of parliament's petitions (PETI) committee, Metsola's role, along with the 33 other MEPs it counts as members, "is to find solutions for citizens' petitions when these are considered to be admissible". "I am honoured with the appointment as vice-chair," she says, "and I appreciate the responsibility that comes with it."
"This is the committee that is closest to the citizen and one that has a direct role in empowering and giving a voice to Europe's citizens," stresses Metsola. "Even one person alone can submit a petition for consideration and I know just how important the role of the committee can be in protecting the best interests of the people I represent."
"It is time for people to have a greater say in the decisions that affect their lives and livelihoods and PETI is one forum that will allow this"
The Maltese MEP says that, "At a time when the people of Europe feel somewhat disconnected from the decision making process at EU level, this committee can play an important role in getting people involved and I will use this position to be a link between citizens and the European Union. It is time for people to have a greater say in the decisions that affect their lives and livelihoods and PETI is one forum that will allow this."
For Metsola, the most pressing issue facing PETI is "clearing the accumulated backlog of petitions as diligently as possible". "We need to improve the rate at which citizens get a response from us if we are to be as relevant to them as we could be," she adds.
Looking at her role as vice-chair from a personal perspective, Metsola says she wants "to help push the petitions committee forward". "I think that PETI's role within the European parliament is crucial for improved transparency and decreasing the perceived democratic deficit within the EU. Personally, I think that we can continue to work hand-in-hand with all the institutions and with the European ombudsman in order to find solutions to the legitimate problems faced by our citizens." She also spoke of her desire to "give the committee a higher profile by reaching these aims".
Metsola made it clear to the Parliament Magazine that she has "very high expectations" for the incoming commission. "I think that president-elect Jean-Claude Juncker understands how important it is to put the individual the very centre of EU decision making and that this is one of the overriding principles governing the new commission. I know that we will be able to work closely together to ensure that everyone's rights are respected and that people are able to find an avenue for their legitimate concerns," she concludes.
Roberta Metsola is a vice-chair of parliament's petitions committee