I was 10 years old the first time I picked up the phone, and a Nazi told me that I didn’t belong in Sweden, where I was born and raised. He said they would kill me and my family if we didn’t leave the country, My home country.
The threats never stopped, but my fear became anger and my anger became political action.
I am European. I am elected by the people, a member of this house and I stand before you as the Greens/EFA candidate for President of this Parliament.
To those of you that keep telling me I don’t belong – You are wrong!
We, the pro-democratic majority of this house, will never allow you to define who belongs to this Parliament or to our European Family.
Standing here today, my thoughts go to our dear colleague, the late president Sassoli.
He will be remembered for his seemingly effortless commitment to the European project, and the work of this house. Let us honor his legacy together, by standing up for Fundamental Rights, European Solidarity and a European Union for all.
There are three little words, written at the bottom of every resolution, every report and every legislative position in this house. Three small words that connect us all. United in Diversity.
I believe in a European Parliament of diversity. But believing in diversity as a strength, also means we must defend this European Project. The fundamental rights of EU citizens and the rules of democracy are not negotiable. When autocrats in our own union have challenged these European values we have stood united. I am proud of our democratic commitment, thank you colleagues for not backing down!!
As your president, I will listen to and learn from those who stand up for their rights and our common future. From young people demanding climate justice, to minorities demanding a seat at the table and brave Europeans risking their own safety to help migrants at our common borders.
When governments tell our citizens that they do not have the right to decide over their own bodies, we must stand with them. As your President, I would honour the legacy of the former President Simone Veil, with an initiative to reward individuals and organisations fighting for sexual and reproductive health and rights, wherever they are challenged in Europe.
Dear colleagues, we must earn and protect the trust of our citizens, by delivering on the biggest challenges people around Europe face today.
So, let this Parliament be a force for social justice, green transition and a fair recovery for all.
This Parliament has declared a climate emergency. Let us act on it, by ensuring that the Commission delivers on the green deal. Let us raise the bar for climate action and the protection of biodiversity.
And let’s earn the title as guardian of the treaties, when the Commission fails to fulfil this role.
This house must lead by example.
As your president, I will work tirelessly for a European Parliament where diversity is an asset, not a disadvantage. Zero-tolerance on sexism is possible – let us make harassment training mandatory. Let us create an equal workplace with flexible methods. Let us ensure transparency and internal democracy in this house, ending the time of backroom dealings.
Let us practice what we preach, by making sure our own institution is a front-runner in the green transition – for example, by adding solar panels on the twenty thousand square meters of flat roof available on our buildings here in Strasbourg.
We have had the courage to take on the Commission and Council when it was necessary in the past. As your President, I will fight for a feminist Parliament that defends and protects. A house United in Diversity. Let us be courageous again!
President, colleagues, before I finish. You cannot be what you cannot see. To all the 10-year-old girls out there who are told that you do not belong. With this candidacy, I want to show you that you do. The European Parliament, this house, is yours.
ALICE BAH KUHNKE