Last year saw our European Union and the world face unprecedented challenges. The conflict in Syria, the challenges of migration to Europe, terror attacks on our soil and the need to return to robust economic growth have occupied front pages across the continent.
In the European Parliament, 2016 was also a year of important work, extraordinary projects and increased focus on bringing our Union ever closer to the citizens we represent.
In these times of uncertainty and debate on the future direction of the European Union, it is us - as members of the European Parliament - who are called upon to stand up for the Europe we believe in and to speak out for the values and principles we hold dear. We will continue to do so.
To me, this is what makes these awards so special. It is about recognising the work done by MEPs in different sectors and at the same time, it is about providing a platform that shines a light on the exceptional and important work done by so many MEPs on behalf of their constituents.
I would therefore like to take this opportunity to commend not only all the nominees shortlisted but all MEPs, from every member state and across the political spectrum, who work so hard to further the European ideal.