Europe is not perfect, but the European Parliament is on the side of those who want to change things for the better, not destroy 


Addressing the National Assembly of Slovenia, the President of the European Parliament Roberta Metsola said that having a common European policy does not mean having a one-size-fits all. "Our job today is to continue to deliver and improve our project, to fix where needed and to help people recapture their enthusiasm for Europe."

President Urška Klakočar Zupančič,
Distinguished Members of the National Assembly,
Dear Europeans, 

It is a pleasure to return to beautiful Ljubljana. Thank you for giving me the honour of addressing this distinguished House of democracy. Hvala.

The first thing I learnt about the European Union is that the size of a Member State matters far less than the depth of your arguments. Ideas beat geography every time. And what better place to emphasise that, than here in Slovenia. A country where, even in the most difficult of times, has shown remarkable leadership in defence of our shared values, in addressing our climate challenges and in bringing the Western Balkan region closer to the EU. 

Just last week the European Council took the decision to open accession negotiations with Bosnia and Herzegovina. This was no easy feat. And we managed, in no small part, thanks to Slovenia’s commitment over the last decade. 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The story of Europe is as yet unwritten, but in the past two decades of EU membership, Slovenia has played a key role in the chapters that have seen us going from strength to strength. That have the power of Europe to make people more prosperous, safer and more secure. In our Europe, we see no old and no new States. No big and small countries. That every nation, every region, every person has an important role to play.

In January 2022 when I took office, I spoke of how people across Europe would look to the European Parliament for leadership and direction. I could not imagine how brutal that test would be when on 24 February 2022, Russian tanks rolled into sovereign independent Ukraine. 

I am proud that Members of the European Parliament, EU institutions and Member States rallied with unprecedented unity. And I am especially grateful to Slovenia - to you and your people - for your strong and unwavering support with Ukraine. Weeks after the invasion, Slovenian leaders where in Kyiv. You gave inspiration to the rest of Europe to stand firm. 

We know what is at stake in Ukraine.

That is why we will continue to condemn Russia’s aggression. We will continue to impose sanctions on its war machine. We will continue to assist Ukraine in becoming a member of the EU. We will continue to provide political, economic, military, financial and humanitarian assistance to Ukraine. And we will do this for as long as it takes. 

Because Europe will always, always, stand for peace. But we know only too painfully that peace without dignity, without justice is no real peace at all.

It is the same philosophy, the same humanity, that drives our reaction to the situation in the Middle East. To how we are working to address the horrific humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza. That is why the European Parliament was the first European Union institution to call for a ceasefire. Why we have always stood on the side of humanity. Why we will keep reminding and demanding the return of all hostages and why we underline that Hamas can no longer operate with impunity - and that they do not represent the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people. Why we will impose sanctions on extremist settlers.

This is how we get more aid into Gaza, how we save innocent lives and how we push forward the urgent need for a two-state solution that gives real perspective, a state to Palestinians and security to Israel. A peace that empowers peaceful, legitimate, Palestinian leadership and that ensures lasting stability in the region. It is why we welcome the UN Security Council resolution passed yesterday. And why Slovenian leadership was so critical. And I am glad your efforts were supported by my own country.

Ladies and Gentlemen, 

Indeed, the last years have not been easy - but as the saying goes ‘the best iron is forged in the strongest fire’. That is why I argue that Europe is stronger than it has been in the last decades. That we are today more resilient, more spirited and more united because of and not in spite of the challenges we have faced. 

We need to keep up the pace even when this is hard. That is also why enlargement remains a priority. For Ukraine, for Moldova, for Georgia, for Bosnia and Herzegovina, for the Western Balkans. For us all. Because in the new geostrategic environment, an enlarged EU that is based on clear objectives, criteria and merit, will always serve as our best investment in peace, security, stability and prosperity on our continent. In this legislature, we have put words into action. 

We have delivered on health, on migration, on Artificial intelligence, on the twin transition, on security, on media freedom, on meeting our obligations around the world, on standing up for the European way, and on giving real possibilities for Europeans to travel, study, work, create businesses in a great space of freedom. We are giving people - especially young people - the opportunity to build their talents and their future.

Because in our shared European space, everyone should have every opportunity to live up to their full potential. 

Europe is not about making everybody the same. I get asked this in every country I go. We honour our different customs, cultures, history, languages. This is our strength. And we should say that more.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am proud of how we have delivered. Of the political will and solidarity that we have shown together. Of the work of my Slovenian colleagues in the European Parliament. 

However, that is not to say the European Union is perfect. It is not. And we should be honest about that. Honest about where we have gone too far. Where we did not match the needs and expectations of our businesses, our farmers, our young people. Honest also, about where we have not gone far enough. About where red tape and bureaucracy have pushed people away.

No, the European Union is not perfect. But it remains the best guarantee for all of our people. Perhaps along the years we allowed ourselves to grow a little bit too comfortable. Maybe we sometimes took the benefits of Europe as so self-evident that we forgot to teach our children - who do not remember the battles of the past - to fight for it. So in many places, we have seen a new generation that is more sceptical than before. That is more cynical of politics. Who are more lonely. Who take the rights Europe protects for granted. We need to speak and we need to listen more.

In the last European Parliament elections, too few Slovenians voted. And while the signs are more encouraging now, it still worries me to see that too many people are yet to feel, perhaps even to believe, why their voice matters for the future they want to see. 

That is the challenge that we are facing in the next months before the European Parliament elections on the 9th of June, where the Slovenian people will be called upon to choose their 9 representatives to the European Parliament - one more than the current legislature.

And that is why I am here today. As President of the European Parliament, together with MEPs - some of whom I see in the audience today - we have made it our mission to burst through the Brussels bubble and bring Europe closer to the citizens it represents. 

We are here to work with national parliaments and boost that relationship. To speak with people, especially young people, to explain Europe, to listen more to what needs fixing and to deliver faster. That is how we help people re-capture their enthusiasm for Europe.

We should not make the mistake of assuming that everything that we have built and everything that we have done to get this far, were all things that came about by accident. It came about by people who sacrificed, by people who believed, by people who fought for their beliefs.

It came about by people, by Slovenian people, who went out to vote. 

And we need your help – each and every one of you - to remind people about that.

Thank you.

You can read the President's speech in Slovenian here.