Key figures

Last Updated on Tuesday, 1 August, 2023 at 9:22 am by Andre Camilleri

Silvan Mifsud is director of Advisory at EMCS Tax & Advisory. Mr Mifsud is also a council member of The Malta Chamber

On 17 July an interesting publication was issued. This was the sixth edition of the Key figures on Europe. This publication delivers some insights on several statistics and how Malta compares to the rest of Europe.

Between 1 January 2012 and 2022, the EU’s population rose 6.2 million (or 1.4%); net inward migration was the driving factor behind this growth. The rate of population increase during this period was highest in Malta and Luxembourg, with the populations increasing overall by almost one quarter that is 24.8% and 23%, respectively.

In developed countries, a total fertility rate of 2.1 is considered to be the replacement level: in other words, this is the average number of live births per woman that is required to keep the total number of inhabitants at a constant level (in the absence of migration). In 2021, the total fertility rate in the EU ranged from a high of 1.84 live births per woman in France and 1.83 in Czechia, down to 1.13 in Malta.

The risk of poverty, unemployment or social exclusion is higher among people leaving school at a relatively young age. In 2022, the share of early leavers in the EU was 9.6%, ranging from 15.6% in Romania to 2.3% in Croatia. Malta stood at around 10%, close to the EU average.

In 2022, the share of the population that was at risk of poverty or social exclusion was highest among the EU member states in Romania (34.4%) and Bulgaria (32.2%). At least one in four of the population in Greece, Spain, Latvia and Estonia were also at risk of poverty or social exclusion. At the other end of the range, less than one in six people in the Netherlands, Slovakia, Finland, Poland and Slovenia were at risk of poverty or social exclusion, with a low of 11.8% recorded in Czechia. Malta stood just below the EU average (21.6%) at around 20%, meaning that around one in five where at risk of poverty or social exclusion in Malta.

On the other hand, material deprivation refers to the enforced inability (rather than the choice not to do so) to pay for/afford specific expenses; one example is unexpected financial expenses. In 2022, almost one third (31.5%) of the EU population living in private households were unable to face an unexpected financial expense. This share was 1.3 percentage points higher than in 2021 (which may, at least in part, be linked to the growing cost-of-living crisis). More than two fifths of the population were unable to face an unexpected financial expense in 2022 in five of the EU member states, with the highest share in Romania (47.9%). By contrast, a relatively small proportion of the population in Malta and the Netherlands was unable to face such expenses (15.4% and 14.6% respectively).

In 2022, the general government deficit across the EU was equivalent to 3.4% of GDP. Between 2021 and 2022 the deficit narrowed, reflecting the decreasing impact of the Covid-19 crisis on government expenditure. Six of the EU member states recorded a budget surplus in 2022; the highest was observed in Denmark (3.3% of GDP). By contrast, Malta, Hungary and Romania had deficits that were greater than 5% of GDP, with this ratio peaking at 8% in Italy.

In 2020, there were 23.4 million SMEs (with less than 250 persons employed) in the EU’s non-financial business economy. Together, these SMEs employed 82 million people and contributed €3,410bn of value added. The economic contribution made by SMEs was particularly notable in Cyprus (excluding electricity, gas, steam and air-conditioning supply), Malta and Estonia, where SMEs provided more than 75% of the value added in the non-financial business economy. The contribution of micro enterprises (employing fewer than 10 persons) was particularly high in these three EU member states. By contrast, large enterprises (with 250 or more persons employed) accounted for almost two thirds (65.7%) of value added within the Irish non-financial business economy and for more than half of the value added in France, Germany and Sweden.

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