Irish MEP Mairead McGuinness has been elected the First Vice-President of the European Parliament after topping the poll.
McGuinness was elected with 466 votes in the first count, well ahead of the absolute majority of 310 votes required and some 88 votes ahead of the next elected Vice-President.
“I am honoured to have been re-elected as Vice-President of Parliament and as First Vice-President in particular with such strong support from across the House, reflecting my work as a fair and firm Vice-President.
I am delighted with the result. 466 votes is impressive, representing 75% of the valid poll of MEPs.
“I will continue to be a strong voice for European citizens, for Ireland and my constituency of Midlands-North-West”, she said.
McGuinness was re-elected as Vice-President for a further two and a half years following the vote in Strasbourg in France this morning.
As First Vice-President, she will now replace the President of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani who was elected yesterday and is an EPP Group colleague, in first instance should he be absent or unable to discharge his duties.
These duties will include chairing plenary sittings or representing Parliament at specific ceremonies.
The Irish MEP will also hold several high-level responsibilities as a member of the Bureau, the body responsible for all administrative, staff and organisational matters of the Parliament.
The New Year signals a challenging time for the EU ahead of Brexit negotiations.
“It will be a particularly challenging time for Ireland and our best interests are served by a united EU27 negotiating a deal on Brexit which addresses the many challenges facing us and the EU.
“In that context is very important that Ireland has strong visibility in the European Parliament. The EU also faces many other challenges including migration and security,” she said.
McGuinness has been an MEP since 2004 and was first elected as Vice-President in 2014.
She oversees the European Parliament’s Information Policy, Press and Relations with Citizens, including the Parliament’s information offices across the Member States.
The Midlands-North-West MEP also has responsibility for the Parliament’s scientific research body, STOA, which aims to bridge the gap between the scientific community and policy-makers.
In 2017 there will be renewed focus on agriculture policy in advance of likely further reforms post-2020, the Irish MEP said.
These reforms will be influenced by further tightening of the EU budget, demands for greater environmental delivery and the need to strengthen the food supply chain in favour of the primary producer, she added.
“I expect the coming two and a half years to be demanding and challenging and I welcome the opportunity to shape the future of the EU as the First Vice-President of Parliament.”