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MEP Awards: Meet this year's winners for best EU lawmakers

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By Euronews
The MEP Awards are organised every year by the Parliament Magazine.
The MEP Awards are organised every year by the Parliament Magazine.   -   Copyright  European Union, 2022.

Brussels came together on Wednesday evening to celebrate the 2022 MEP awards, an annual ceremony that honours the European lawmakers who have carried the most outstanding legislative work.

The Nordic countries and the socialist group led the list of triumphs.

This year's edition, the 18th since the prizes were established, featured a total of 16 categories, including best young leader and best parliamentary assistant.

Among the winners was Urmas Paet, an Estonian MEP who sits with liberal group of Renew Europe. Paet was given the award for security and defence, a complex file that has acquired a new dimension due to Russia's war in Ukraine.

"I am happy to receive this recognition for my work. I was pleasantly surprised," Paet told Euronews.

"I believe that it is because of the topics that I have been consistently working on," he added, citing the war in Ukraine, cyber-security and Arctic policy as examples.

"The most important thing is for the war in Ukraine to end and for Ukraine to regain control of its entire territory," he said. "And for the aggressor to be punished, including for the war crimes."

Other liberal winners included Belgium's Hilde Vautmans, who took home the economy prize, which she credited to her work as rapporteur on the EU-China strategy, and Hungary's Katalin Czech, who received the people's choice for COVID-19 response.

From the centre-right European People's Party (EPP), the largest formation in the hemicycle, the honoured MEPS included Finland's Petri Sarvamaa (agriculture and rural development), the Netherlands' Axel Voss (digital strategy and single market), Portugal's Maria Graça Carvalho (innovation) and Cyprus' Loucas Fourlas (health and wellbeing).

"It will always remind me of the promise I made to the citizens. I dedicate this award to the patients and their families," Fourlas said.

The MEP received personal congratulations from Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades who praised his work with children affected by cancer.

European Union, 2022.
Estonia's Urmas Paet took home the security and defence award.European Union, 2022.

'The climate crisis requires a feminist response'

The Greens also took home several awards. 

Finland's Heidi Hautala received the people's choice for outstanding achievement in public service, while Denmark's Kira M. Peter-Hansen, who made history as the youngest MEP ever to be elected at age 21, was handed the best young leader award.

Sweden's Alice Bah Kuhnke, also from the Greens, was recognised for her work in environment and climate action.

"The climate crisis is a human rights crisis that requires a feminist response and an intersectional approach. This is what sets our green work apart," she told Euronews.

"For me, it is crucial that we recognise that we are in a climate crisis and that this recognition is present in all our policy work. We also need to ensure that the social perspective is not forgotten in our strive to ensure climate justice."

Bah Kuhnke said the EU should focus on complying with the 1.5°C target set by the Paris Agreement, end fossil fuel subsidised and ensure the green transition is "just."

The socialist front collect the highest number of prizes, with a total of five: Croatia's Predrag Fred Matić (rule of law and human rights), Sweden’s Jytte Guteland (energy and research), Hungary's István Ujhelyi (transport and tourism), Sweden's Evin Incir (diversity and inclusion) and Denmark's Christel Schaldemose (consumer rights). 

European Union, 2022.
Christel Schaldemose took home the award for consumers right after leading the negotiations of the Digital Services Act.European Union, 2022.

Schaldemose's victory came as no surprise as she is the lead rapporteur of the Digital Services Act (DSA), an innovative law that imposes a set of obligations and rules of accountability on online platforms, such as Google, Facebook and Amazon. The act, which is in the final stages of the legislative process, aims to strengthen content moderation and fight disinformation and illegal content.

The socialists squeezed in a sixth win when Monika Sikora, an advisor to Polish socialist MEP Robert Biedroń, was declared the best parliamentary assistant.

"This gives new energy to continue the fight for women's right," she said.

Wednesday's ceremony was organised by the Parliament Magazine and took place at Docks Brussels, the modern shopping district north of the city.

The majority of shortlists were selected by a four-person jury, who also chose the winners, except in the people's choice categories.

Ahead of the gala, a few MEPs decided to boycott the show, arguing the participation of some private sponsors, such as Novartis and Huawei, was problematic.

"I think it is inappropriate that companies such as Huawei are invited to sponsor these awards," Bah Kuhnke told Euronews. "In the future I think it would be more valuable to have more restricted collaborations and to involve civil society organisations instead."