EU funding continues to bring benefits to Malta
Throughout the 2007-2013 programming period, EUR 850 million of EU funds (European Regional Development Fund and Cohesion Fund) were invested in key areas of the Maltese economy with the aim of substantially improving the quality of life of Malta’s citizens.
Building on the success already achieved in the past, a further EUR 700 million were allocated for the 2014-2020 programming period and are currently being used to support job creation, business competitiveness, economic growth, sustainable development, and to further improve Maltese citizens’ quality of life.
As part of the Europe 2020 strategy, which places research and innovation (R&I) at the forefront of Europe’s efforts to become a smart, sustainable and inclusive economy with high levels of employment, productivity and social cohesion, Malta has allocated funds to both R&I infrastructure and measures to strengthen the links between academia and industry. During the current programming period, this trend has been maintained and prospective investments will continue to focus on R&I facilities and access to finance for enterprises.
Previously, investment in educational infrastructure focused on providing a solid platform to increase the level of participation in education at post-secondary and tertiary level. ERDF investment of EUR 112.5 million was made in infrastructure and expansions, upgrades and other capital investments in the main post-secondary and tertiary institutions. During the 2014-2020 programming period, interventions will continue to try to reach Malta’s national targets of reducing early school leaving and increasing the number of 30- to 34-year-olds completing tertiary education. Educational investments are always complemented by the European Social Fund which place greater emphasis on the quality of education and students’ skills.
Promoting an economic hub
Due to Malta’s lack of natural resources, size and geographical position, the development of specific niche markets within which to excel and create economic wealth is crucial. With this in mind, several investments have and will continue to take place thanks to EU funding to increase Malta’s competiveness and make it a hub of excellence in various economical activities. EU funding will also continue to be used for restructuring and re-modernising efforts in the private sector through various grants and financial instruments.
The health sector is also one of the islands’ main priorities, especially since it ensures a more socially inclusive society. Flagship projects, such as the oncology centre, which featured in the previous programming period, will be further complemented with additional investments to improve health-care services in Malta and ensure the provision of community-based services.
The development of improved facilities for Malta’s tourism industry is considered vital given its importance to the local economy and the substantial employment it generates. The 2007-2013 programming period saw investments to improve the local tourism services, develop new niche markets, and restore a number of historical sites with high tourism value. Complementary measures for preservation of the natural, historical and cultural assets will continue during this period.
Malta’s specific characteristics, including its small size and the relatively high urban density, pose significant challenges for the country’s transport sector. Thus, EU funds will continue to focus on optimising the connectivity of the Maltese Islands, both domestically and internationally. This will be achieved through various investments in the TEN-T road infrastructures, maritime infrastructure as well as modal shift. Such investments help to reduce bottlenecks and journey times, among others, and thus will definitely lead to greater competitiveness.
To address Malta’s EU 2020 energy-related targets, a number of initiatives using EU funds have been undertaken to encourage the generation of clean energy and the introduction of energy-efficiency practices, thereby addressing the environmental impact of electricity and consumption. The positive results obtained will continue to flourish with interventions and initiatives targeting households, enterprises and the public sector by encouraging energy savings and promoting energy-efficiency systems.
Managing waste and water
Waste and water management are also two important pillars. To counteract the waste-management challenge Malta faces and its negative impact on the environment, EUR 125 million were allocated in the previous programming period to major investments such as the rehabilitation and restoration of closed landfills. New interventions will be implemented to reduce the amount of waste and divert remaining residues for recycling.
The security of water supply and the management of waste water are also major challenges for the country. In the past, substantial investments were carried out to tackle both problems. These sectors will continue to receive Cohesion Policy investments in order to develop the necessary infrastructure to provide Malta with enough water resources without depleting the natural aquifer. In an effort to address severe pressures on the islands’ water resources and to improve water quality while adapting to climate change, interventions will also seek to raise awareness on water conservation and efficiency and to optimise the use and quality of ground water.