Malta faces €189 million cut in EU budget, MEP candidate Peter Agius says

‘Unacceptable’ - former PN candidate and EU expert Peter Agius says Malta could face hefty cut in funds from Brussels 

EU Council President Charles Michel (left) with Malta Prime Minister Robert Abela
EU Council President Charles Michel (left) with Malta Prime Minister Robert Abela

Malta is facing a €189 million reduction in EU funds according to calculations by the former PN candidate for Europe, Peter Agius. 

The EU expert told MaltaToday that according to his calculations, Malta could be looking at cuts of €189 million in structural and cohesion funds as EU leaders haggle over the next programming period for the so called Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF). 

“My calculations are corroborated by unofficial sources... if confirmed, it would be unacceptable,” Agius, formerly a spokesperson for former EP president Antonio Tajani, said. 

“It would be unacceptable, especially now that it is becoming evident how much we need to invest in mass-transport systems, clean energy and the digital economy.” 

EU leaders held one-on-one meetings with European Council President Charles Michel on Friday, after disagreements were made clear with the plan put on the table as the EU has to contend with a budget that will be shorn of the contribution made by the UK. 

The special summit is discussing the next seven-year MFF for 2021-2027. The UK’s exit leaves a gap of around €75 billion over the seven-year period, which makes it hard for the remaining 27 states to adjust to a reduced budget. 

European Council President Charles Michel has put forward a budget that would commit the bloc to spending €1.095 trillion over seven years. 

“Don’t swallow the Brexit excuse,” Agius scoffed. “The global EU Budget proposed this week in Brussels was just 4% less than what it was seven years ago. The reduction in funds for Malta now would be 20% of what was negotiated by Lawrence Gonzi,” Agius said. 

“I hope the government will be seriously exploring all arguments during these negotiations so that Malta makes a success of the EU opportunity.” 

The big question is how to carve up those funds into three main components: agriculture, regional development (cohesion funding) and newer priorities such as research and innovation, defence, migration and student exchanges. 

Michel’s plan proposes cuts to cohesion funding of 12% and a reduction of nearly 14% in agriculture spending. These are expected to hurt some countries more than others. Malta, which has been a big recipient of cohesion funding, is likely to see its budget share drop under the proposal.

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