The Agriculture, Rural Development & Fisheries Award
Marijana Petir MEP
Marijana Petir has been a member of Parliament’s AGRI committee since her election in 2014.
Her activities as Rapporteur of the AGRI opinion on the Directive on the promotion of renewable energy (RED2) ensured that the interests of the farming and forest sectors were considered when developing EU energy and climate policies. In her role as an Opinion Rapporteur on the Regulation on minimum requirements for water reuse, she contributed strongly to the creation of a new regulation that will ensure safe use of reused water in agriculture.
Petir has pursued farming interests throughout her political service, helping empower women in rural areas through her FEMM committee report on women and their roles in rural areas.
She also works to help keep young people in rural areas and to make farming more appealing to them. She organises an annual contest to find the best Croatian young farmer.
Petir is also a co-organiser of the European Week of Bees and Pollinators, an event that seeks to protect bees by establishing partnerships between farmers and beekeepers.
The Development Award
Maurice Ponga MEP
Maurice Ponga is the first Vice-Chair of Parliament’s DEVE committee. An MEP since 2009, he has helped steer several key dossiers through the institutions, including the EU-ACP partnership post-2020, the European Fund for Sustainable Development and the Instrument Contributing to Stability and Peace (ICSP).
Ponga was also Rapporteur for the own-initiative report on the EU-Africa strategy, a major report adopted ahead of the last EU-AU Summit in Abidjan in November 2017. This report stressed the importance of further enhancing the EU’s partnership with Africa to tackle common challenges such as migration, climate change, and sustainable development.
A French MEP for New Caledonia in the South Pacific, Ponga is Parliament’s only deputy from one of the EU’s overseas countries and territories (OCTs).
He is currently rapporteur for the EU-OCTs instrument – a new mechanism proposed by the European Commission following calls from Parliament to have a dedicated financial instrument for these territories. This can foster cooperation between the EU and OCTs and contribute to the implementation of the SDGs.
The Digital Single Market Award
Axel Voss MEP
Recently dubbed “the Man in the eye of Europe’s copyright storm”, Axel Voss has actively shaped the debate around Europe’s digital landscape since becoming an MEP in 2009.
Voss cut his legislative teeth in Parliament’s LIBE committee, however, he decisively raised his profile on digitisation by joining the JURI committee as a Vice-Chair in 2014. He has also acted as the committee’s spokesperson since 2017.
Voss aimed at balancing the diverging public interests by implementing a thoughtful strategy for addressing the much-needed reform of copyright. Irrespective of recent setbacks on the dossier, he says that his underlying aims on the directive remain unchanged. To safeguard the fair remuneration of content producers in the digital age and the fair remuneration for those that economically and structurally secure the distribution of work protected by copyright.
Voss was also Shadow Rapporteur on the General Data Protection Regulation where he pushed for a balanced legal framework. This not only improves the protection of personal data, but also at the same time does not hamper Europe from benefitting from the digital transformation.
The Economic & Monetary Affairs, Taxation & Budgets Award
Isabelle Thomas MEP
A member of Parliament’s BUDG committee and S&D group Vice-President in charge of budgetary questions, Isabelle Thomas was the Parliament’s Rapporteur on the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF), the EU budget for 2021-2027. She succeeded in building a strong Parliamentary consensus on the MFF for Europe and its citizens.
She fought to increase the budget in the face of new challenges, staunchly refusing to accept austerity proposals or budget reductions in all the texts concerning the MFF. She helped in strengthening the budget - reaching 1.3 per cent of the EU’s gross income - and in maintaining CAP and cohesion policies and support for Erasmus+ and Youth Employment. She also championed the introduction of new own resources to rebalance EU financing, including the Financial Transaction Tax (FTT) and the tax on multinationals. In the current negotiations with the Council, she has advocated that Parliament use the power offered by the consent procedure.
Thomas also ensured that the MFF integrated the UN's Sustainable Development Goals, climate ambitions, gender equality ambitions and policies in the fight against child poverty.
The Education, Culture & Media Award
Krystyna Łybacka MEP
A former Polish Education, Culture and Sport Minister, Krystyna Łybacka has been active in education for almost three decades. Among her many parliamentary activities, she oversaw the CULT committee’s report on the Modernisation of Education in the European Union. That report was prepared in response to seven European Commission communications on education; it deals with all levels of education and lays the groundwork for the creation of the European Education Area.
Łybacka believes that the role of education systems is to mould a well-rounded person, capable of fully realising their professional, social, cultural and civic life in a diverse, global environment.
She is also the European Parliament’s representative at the École Nationale d'Administration (ENA), the S&D group’s standing Rapporteur for Erasmus+ and the Vice President of the European Parliament’s Platform on Lifelong learning.
Łybacka is also active in the fields of culture and media. Her ‘uniting generations’ project, where seniors and children learn together about the EU through cultural and creative activities, has been a huge success.
The Employment, Social Affairs & Regions Award
Marek Plura MEP
Widely acknowledged for his work promoting UNCRPD implementation and for his commitment to an inclusive society, Marek Plura has played an active role in politics despite disability and a serious degenerative illness. He is a member of Parliament’s EMPL and TRAN committees and Vice-President of the Disability Intergroup.
Plura was Rapporteur on the report on Skills policies to fight youth unemployment. He takes an active part in improving the labour market and creating conditions to tap into the potential of young people from underprivileged backgrounds. He also organises annual internship contests and supports Parliamentary traineeships for students with disabilities.
Plura is very active in areas where he believes action at European level is crucial, such as rare diseases and brain disorders. He is involved in numerous campaigns and events on these topics.
He is currently engaged in promoting the participation of persons with disabilities in the upcoming European elections, including a seminar on political participation in the European Parliament, as well as taking part in information campaigns and events.
The Energy Award
Vladimir Urutchev MEP
As an MEP since Bulgaria’s accession in 2007, Vladimir Urutchev is his country’s longest serving EU deputy. He worked for 25 years as a nuclear engineer and has largely devoted his time in Parliament to nuclear safety, including the safe decommissioning of nuclear power plants as well as fostering research, innovation and training in nuclear matters.
Urutchev is a member of Parliament’s ITRE and AGRI committees and Vice-President of the European Energy Forum.
He was EPP Shadow Rapporteur on the 2019-2020 Euratom Research and Training Programme, supporting the €770m financial envelope for nuclear research and training activities. His extensive expertise also led to his appointment as ITRE Rapporteur on establishing a European Instrument for Nuclear Safety.
Urutchev believes that Europe must embrace the Fourth Industrial Revolution and make the (r)evolutionary energy transition towards clean energy. He supports completion of the European Energy Union and is a strong proponent of an integrated internal energy market aimed at reducing Europe’s dependency on energy imports.
The Environment Award
Benedek Jávor MEP
Benedek Jávor is first Vice-Chair of the ENVI committee and is a member of the delegation to the Euronest Parliamentary Assembly.
He has shown an outstanding commitment in driving forward environmental issues in the EU. His active involvement in issues such as Natura 2000, LIFE and the next MFF has helped to deliver stronger and improved EU legislation with better implementation. He has contributed to numerous reports, opinions and resolutions: the action plan for nature, various elements of the circular economy package, energy efficiency, whistle-blower protection, implementation of EU environmental policy and the Sustainable Development Goals.
Jávor was the Greens/EFA Shadow Rapporteur on the energy efficiency directive where he called, during recent trialogue negotiations, for more ambitious targets in the final draft, arguing that energy efficiency measures were the most cost-effective tool in reducing energy poverty.
He has also been pushing for sustainable forest management, for phasing out palm oil and for putting an end to deforestation. He fought for ensuring safe drinking water is available for all, including the vulnerable groups.
The Health Award
Lieve Wierinck MEP
In May 2016, Lieve Wierinck replaced Philippe De Backer as an MEP. She is a member of the ITRE committee and a substitute member of the ECON committee. Although not a member of the ENVI committee, she has a passion for health matters and is committed to delivering progressive and affordable healthcare across Europe.
As a former cancer patient, caregiver and now policymaker, she understands how important recent medical breakthroughs have been for changing health outcomes. She is an active member of the MEPs Against Cancer Group and Co-Chair to the Interest Group on Access to Healthcare.
She is currently Shadow Rapporteur in the ITRE committee for Horizon Europe. She describes her goal as one to ensure that research and innovation continue in a competitive atmosphere. She was also Rapporteur for the opinion on Health Technology Assessments and the European One Health Action Plan against Antimicrobial Resistance.
Wierinck holds a pharmacy degree and a post-graduate degree in pharmaceutical management. She owned and managed a pharmacy for almost 30 years.
The Industry, Research & Innovation Award
Maria Spyraki MEP
An MEP since 2014, Maria Spyraki is a firm believer in the transformative power of research and innovation. During this legislative period, with the support of the European Ideas Network, she hosted a two-day seminar followed by a school competition on the topic of “Investing in Education and Innovation” in Thessaloniki.
Spyraki also conceived and launched the single-use plastics awareness-raising campaign “Fish or Plastic,” with the support and participation of Commission Vice-President Jyrki Katainen and fellow MEPs Henna Virkkunen and Sofia Ribeiro.
Tackling climate change through innovation with a focus on lagging regions is high on Spyraki's priorities. She hosted in November the Annual Global Gas Centre Conference in the European Parliament and presented in the European Utility Week on the needs of diversification of the energy portfolio and the security of supply. In cooperation with the Technical Chamber of Central Macedonia she is hosting in March a debate on: ”Clean Energy Package: An opportunity for jobs and growth.”
She is a strong proponent of the transformation to a circular industry and of tackling climate change through innovation. Included in the many events that she hosts, organises or participates in are the EU Energy Day at COP24 Katowice, where she supported regions transitioning from coal, and in both 2018 conferences on "Clean Energy for EU Islands."
She also strives to take citizens on board to harness the digital revolution. Commissioner Gabriel engaged with the people in Thessaloniki and presented the digital agenda in an event hosted by Spyraki, in cooperation with the Cyber Security International Institute, where she is hosting on February 22 the workshop: “Digital Life safety and security for young people.”
The Internal Market and Consumer Protection Award
Maria Grapini MEP
As a former Romanian Minister responsible for SMEs, business and tourism and as a Vice-President of Parliament’s SME Intergroup, Maria Grapini is an acknowledged expert on measures to support and encourage the development of Europe’s small businesses.
As an IMCO committee member, she has worked to achieve legislative changes that eliminate administrative barriers and improve the functioning of the Internal Market. Grapini was Shadow Rapporteur on the late payments directive, IMCO opinion Rapporteur on the cross-border healthcare directive, Shadow Rapporteur on the Euro 5 step to type-approval of two- or three wheels and quadricycles and was Rapporteur on the regulation establishing the VAMA Customs Cooperation Programme.
Grapini has drafted more than 2499 amendments in support of SMEs, and within the SME Intergroup, she has been involved in numerous debates on topics including package services, business platforms, public procurement and late payments. This has seen the development of several important position papers, many of which have been further considered by the European Commission and a number of European Parliament committees.
The International Trade Award
Sajjad Karim MEP
ECR, United Kingdom
Following his election to Parliament in 2004, Sajjad Karim quickly established himself as a defender of free and values-based trade. He is widely recognised for his work in championing trade between the EU and the wider world, and on trade enhancing internal EU reform. He is a leading proponent of human rights conditions in trade agreements.
As Chair of the South Asia Trade Monitoring Group, spokesperson to the WTO and Rapporteur on numerous policy- setting files, including audit reform, the issue of Parliamentary reform has always been at the forefront of Karim's trade focus.
Whether as the Parliament’s original Rapporteur for EU-India FTA, on the reinstatement of GSP for Sri Lanka, on Bangladesh’s garments industry safety reforms, or by guiding the INTA committee towards the adoption of a preferential trade package for Pakistan, his contribution to EU-South Asia trade has been long-recognised both in and outside Europe.
Karim has also steered Parliament’s relations with the South Caucasus. As Chair of the region’s delegation he is helping finalise the negotiations on a new comprehensive agreement with Azerbaijan.
The Transport & Tourism Award
Merja Kyllönen MEP
Former Finnish Transport Minister Merja Kyllönen has been an active participant in EU transport policy and its development since her election to Parliament in 2014. Recognised by colleagues for her dedication in finding solutions and delivering workable legislation, Kyllönen is always ready to find compromises.
She has worked as the GUE/NGL group’s coordinator in Parliament’s TRAN committee and took part in the car emissions inquiry. Intelligent transport systems, mobility as a service, the development of public transport and maintaining a level playing field in transport as a whole are some of the issues close to her heart.
As one of the Rapporteurs on the mobility package on the posting of workers, as well as being Shadow Rapporteur on drive and rest times and cabotage, she has worked with her colleagues to find solutions that everybody can accommodate. As a substitute member of the ENVI committee, she has a clear vision of the importance of considering the impact on the climate and the environment when making legislation in the transport sector.