Working together to safeguard a peaceful, free and democratic Europe 


Addressing an Article 17 dialogue on the humanitarian response to the war in Ukraine, the President of the European Parliament Roberta Metsola spoke about the display of unity and coordination between EU institutions, Member States, organisations and citizens in our response to Russia's senseless war on Ukraine.

© European Union | The President of the European Parliament Roberta Metsola

Dear Vice-President Karas,
Dear Commission Vice-President Schinas,
Faith and philosophical representatives, 
Colleagues and friends,

Thank you for inviting me to address you today. Although the context is altogether a very different - a very darker - one from the last time I was here, it really is a pleasure to be back in this important forum. 

Churches, faith groups and philosophical organisations all across Europe are very much part of the fabric of our communities across our Union. And so, it is most fitting that what we now refer to as the ‘Article 17’ dialogue has been consciously provided for in our Union’s founding treaty. 

In fact, it sends clear signal. A signal that the European Union is far more than just an economic organisation. It is fundamentally about people, about human dignity and for the common good. 
In these last four months, Russian bombs have killed indiscriminately. Millions of Ukrainians have been forcibly displaced from their homes and countries. And as we speak today, all of this continues.

Putin’s war on sovereign Ukraine is not only unjustified and unprovoked, it is senseless and it is illegal. This is why the European Parliament has shown its solidarity with Ukraine and its people. We stood united with Ukrainians who are not only fighting for their homeland but fighting to preserve the values that underpin our way of life: freedom, democracy and the rule of law. In the most recent Eurobarometer survey, published a few weeks ago, 59% of respondents consider the defence of our values to be a priority - even if it impacts prices and cost of living.

The European Union has matched its rhetoric with action. We stood up for our values when it mattered the most.

Since the start of the war, over one third of Ukrainians have been forced to flee from their homes in what is the largest human displacement crisis in the world today. Our Member States and citizens have opened up their borders, their homes and their hearts to over 5.5 million Ukrainians in what can only be described as a remarkable act of solidarity and engagement on every level of society.

But we also continued to help Ukrainians on the ground. Since the start of the war, the humanitarian needs in Ukraine have risen to unprecedented levels. As I speak, more than 15.7 million Ukrainians require humanitarian assistance. The ongoing war is not only endangering the lives of civilians but it is leaving millions of people with no access to basic needs. Putin’s damage to housing, water and electricity supplies, heating and public infrastructure such as schools and health facilities has been immeasurable. Food supplies are running low. 

For this, the European Union has mobilised all possible resources to enable emergency assistance into Ukraine. Items ranging from medical supplies and shelter items to vehicles and energy equipment have - and continue to be - delivered to Ukraine directly and through logistical hubs established in our Member States. As of the beginning of July, almost 45,000 tonnes of in-kind assistance have been delivered via the logistical hubs.

Since the start of the war, EU countries alone have mobilised nearly €950 million in humanitarian assistance. The European Union specifically has allocated €348 million for humanitarian aid programmes to help civilians affected by the war. The latest statistics show that over 8.9 million people have received food assistance, whereas nearly 2.9 million have benefitted from health interventions or supplies. In addition, over 1 million people were assisted with critical protection services, while over 4 million people now have access to clean water.

And this does not include all the support given by faith groups and philosophical organisations, who we know have made enormous contributions through for instance, coordinating fundraising and donation campaigns. On behalf of the European Parliament but also in my personal capacity, thank you for your service. 

Dear Europeans, this is what a united Europe looks like. EU institutions, member states, organisations and citizens working together to safeguard what we hold to be true: a peaceful, free and democratic Europe. And this display of unity and coordination shows once again why the Article 17 dialogue is so important. Let me assure you that this forum is in more-than in capable hands now that my colleague and dear friend Othmar Karas is taking over the responsibility of leading it for the second time. I have no doubt that on behalf of the European Parliament, Othmar will continue to strengthen this important dialogue in order to help bring our institution closer to the needs of the citizens, which will ultimately make our Europe more united.

Thank you.