The European Commission has today adopted a positive assessment of Malta's recovery and resilience plan. This is an important step towards the EU disbursing €316.4 million in grants under the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF). This financing will support the implementation of the crucial investment and reform measures outlined in Malta's recovery and resilience plan. It will enable Malta to emerge stronger from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The RRF is at the heart of NextGenerationEU which will provide €800 billion (in current prices) to support investments and reforms across the EU. The Maltese plan forms part of an unprecedented coordinated EU response to the COVID-19 crisis, to address common European challenges by embracing the green and digital transitions, to strengthen economic and social resilience and the cohesion of the Single Market.
The Commission assessed Malta's plan based on the criteria set out in the RRF Regulation. The Commission's analysis considered, in particular, whether the investments and reforms contained in Malta's plan support the green and digital transitions; contribute to effectively addressing challenges identified in the European Semester; and strengthen its growth potential, job creation and economic and social resilience.
Securing Malta's green and digital transition
The Commission's assessment finds that Malta's plan devotes 54% of its total allocation to measures that support climate objectives. This includes investments to finance sustainable transport initiatives, including a ferry landing site and electric vehicles, as well as energy efficiency interventions in buildings. The plan also includes reforms that aim to improve transport planning, broaden the free access to public transport, and implement the Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan of the Valletta region. Reforms of waste management systems aim to strengthen the circular economy in Malta.
The Commission finds that Malta's plan devotes 26% of its total allocation to measures that support the digital transition. This includes efforts to further digitalise the public administration and public services, including the healthcare and judicial systems, as well as to strengthen initiatives related to digitalisation for the private sector.
Reinforcing Malta's economic and social resilience
The Commission considers that Malta's plan includes an extensive set of mutually reinforcing reforms and investments that contribute to effectively addressing all or a significant subset of the economic and social challenges outlined in the country-specific recommendations addressed to Malta.
The plan includes measures in the areas of healthcare, social protection, education and skills, innovation, energy efficiency, waste, sustainable transportjudicial independence, anti-corruption and anti-money laundering. It also includes measures that partly address challenges in the areas of aggressive tax planning, innovation and pension adequacy and sustainability.
The plan represents a comprehensive and adequately balanced response to Malta's economic and social situation, thereby contributing appropriately to all six pillars of the RRF Regulation.
Supporting flagship investment and reform projects
Malta's plan proposes projects in five European flagship areas. These are specific investment projects, which address issues that are common to all Member States in areas that create jobs and growth and are needed for the green and digital transition. For instance, Malta has proposed to provide €60 million to renovate private and public buildings, including hospitals and schools, to improve their energy performance. This will result in Malta reducing its primary energy demand, limiting energy waste, lowering carbon emissions, while also ensuring positive social, health and environmental implications.
The assessment also finds that none of the measures included in the plan significantly harm the environment, in line with the requirements laid out in the RRF Regulation.
The control systems put in place by Malta are considered adequate to protect the financial interests of the Union. The plan provides sufficient details on how national authorities will prevent, detect and correct instances of conflict of interest, corruption and fraud relating to the use of funds.
Members of the College said:
President Ursula von der Leyen said: “Today, the European Commission has decided to give its green light to Malta's recovery and resilience plan. I am particularly pleased that the plan places such a strong emphasis on measures that will help secure Malta's green transition. The investments in promoting energy efficiency and sustainable mobility outlined in Malta's plan are as urgent as they are crucial. We will be with you every step of the way as the focus turns to implementing this ambitious plan.”
Valdis Dombrovskis, Executive Vice-President for an Economy that Works for People, said: “Today, we have endorsed Malta's recovery plan to create a fairer, more digital and sustainable economy. This plan strikes the right balance, with over half of the total allocation geared towards climate objectives by reducing the country's energy demand and waste. It includes investments to finance sustainable transport, improve energy efficiency of buildings and reform waste management systems. On digital, Malta will further digitalise its public administration and services, including healthcare and the judiciary. I also welcome the plan's focus on addressing judicial independence, anti-corruption and anti-money laundering. Malta partially addresses challenges related to aggressive tax planning, and we will work with its authorities to do more in the future.”
Paolo Gentiloni, Commissioner for Economy, said: “The implementation of the Maltese recovery and resilience plan over the coming years will help to transform the country's strong economic rebound into a phase of sustained and sustainable growth. Supported by €316 million in funding from NextGenerationEU, the plan contains an impressive range of measures to green Malta's economy, boost its digital competitiveness and further strengthen its health system. I also welcome the important commitments to safeguard judicial independence, strengthen the anti-money laundering framework and close off opportunities for aggressive tax planning.”
The Commission has today adopted a proposal for a Council Implementing Decision to provide €316.4 million in grants to Malta under the RRF. The Council will now have, as a rule, four weeks to adopt the Commission's proposal.
The Council's approval of the plan would allow for the disbursement of €41.1 million to Malta in pre-financing. This represents 13% of the total allocated amount for Malta.
The Commission will authorise further disbursements based on the satisfactory fulfilment of the milestones and targets outlined in the Council Implementing Decision, reflecting progress on the implementation of the investments and reforms.
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