Last Updated on Monday, 7 December, 2020 at 5:21 pm by Andre Camilleri
Malta will be getting a higher level of funding than originally allocated to Malta between the EU’s Heads of State in a deal after a marathon EU summit in July. This is a result of the negotiation between the European Parliament and Council where Parliament’s negotiators secured a larger allocation for EU flagship programmes like health, research and innovation, education and investment, in what has been widely-hailed in international media as a victory for the European Parliament.
The months-long negotiation required to secure the adoption of the EU’s multi-annual budget took an important step forward when a compromise was reached between the European Parliament’s and the European Council’s negotiators last month. This agreement still needs to be approved by both institutions, with the deal currently blocked in Council. The EU Summit scheduled on 11th December is expected to be a critical juncture in such a process, aiming to unblock Poland and Hungary’s opposition to EU funds being conditional on respect of the rule of law.
This was the first time that the European Parliament managed to secure increases to ceilings and financial allocations of EU programmes, as proposed by the European Council. Parliament’s top priority was to secure an increase for key programmes that were at risk of being underfinanced under the European Council’s July 2020 agreement, jeopardising the EU’s commitments and priorities, notably the Green Deal and the Digital Agenda.
These increases amounted to some €16 billion which will re-inforce expenditure programmes and flexibility mechanisms. These programmes includes the flagship educational programme Erasmus+, which sees its budget topped up by €2.2 billion, Horizon Europe, which focuses on research and innovation, getting an extra 4 billion, and EU4Health, to which €3.4 billion were added.
In practical terms, these increases mean a trebling of the health budget with Eramus+ getting the equivalent of an additional year of financing.
These increases will mean that Malta will be getting a better deal than the allocation agreed upon by the Member States’ political leaders back in July. With research and development being a critical component of Malta’s economic transformation, additional funding for Horizon Europe has been welcomed across the board.
MEP Josianne Cutajar (S&D) welcomed Parliament’s success in getting the Council to agree to a bigger budget for the EU4Health and Horizon Europe programmes: “EU4 Health will contribute to protecting European citizens through the promotion of their right to health, while Horizon Europe, along with other programmes such as the Digital Europe Programme, will help boost the competitiveness of European SMEs and spur them to innovate”.
Speaking at a webinar which discussed the MFF and looked beyond Malta’s allocation, hosted by the European Parliament’s Office in Malta on Monday, Malta Chamber of Commerce President David Xuereb said “funds and instruments need to reach the business community in a fast, efficent and widespread manner”.
Acknowledging the challenge for SMEs to access this money which is crucial for re-engineering their operations, he explained that the Chamber and the Malta Business Bureau will be extending the necessary support to such businesses to ensure they are informed of and able to tap such funds. The Chamber also highlighted the additional resources allocated for Horizon Europe: “We can all point to areas of expenditure where we would have liked to see more, and while we welcome the additional resources for Horizon Europe, we continue to support a greater emphasis on innovation and R&D.”
The Malta Council for Science and Technology explains that the Horizon Europe Framework Programme will be funding several initiatives revolving around five key missions. These include the adaptation to climate change including societal transformation, the fight against cancer, the drive towards climate-neutral and smart cities, and healthy oceans, seas, coastal and inland waters as well as soil health and food. The MCST is the contact point for Horizon Europe funds in Malta.