Almost €1 billion in EU COVID-19 recovery package proposed for Malta

Malta could receive €992 million to recover from impact of coronavirus as part of €750 billion EU rescue package

Malta could receive almost €1 billion in EU COVID-19 aid, sources told MaltaToday
Malta could receive almost €1 billion in EU COVID-19 aid, sources told MaltaToday

Close to €1 billion to help the economy recover from the effects of the coronavirus could be given to Malta under new proposals put forward by the European Commission, EU sources have told MaltaToday.

The funds, which would be distributed in the form of grants and loans, would be part of a €750 billion COVID-19 rescue package for the EU, which would sit on top of the €1.1 trillion European budget for the 2021-2027 period.

The proposals for a major recovery plan - dubbed Next Generation EU - to counter the coronavirus' economic impact, were unveiled by Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Wednesday.

Von der Leyen's proposals envisage €500 billion in EU borrowing on capital markets to finance grants, as well as a further borrowing of around €200 billion to fund loans to member states.

While the allocations for each member state under the Next Generation EU plan have not yet been finalised, sources told this newspaper that it is estimated Malta could receive €992 million.

The European Parliament and European Council will now have to draw up their respective positions on the Commission's proposal, after which it can be decided how much each country will get from the programme.

The funds will be over and above those which Malta would receive as part of the EU's funding programme - the Multiannual Financial Framework.

Von der Leyen has in the past weeks been unequivocal in maintaining that the long-term survival of the European project depends on its degree of response to the crisis.

The COVID-19  package will however have to balance the views of northern EU members, which are reluctant to increase the Union's spending, as well as the concerns of central and eastern European countries which want to avoid funds being redirected away from them and into the coronavirus recovery pot.

Potential watershed moment for Europe and Malta - Roberta Metsola

PN MEP Roberta Metsola, who has been involved in the negotiations within the European Parliament, said the COVID-19 funding package could be "a watershed moment for Europe and for Malta."

"We have managed to ensure that Malta and Gozo are eligible for a recovery package of close to 1 billion euros in grants and loans that we can use to transform our post COVID-19 economy into truly a circular, sustainable, one. These loans and grants are essential to protect jobs, to rescue industries and save livelihoods," the head of the PN delegation to the European Parliament said.

"Of course, one can always make the argument that we could use more, or that the funds could be financed differently - and I am sure we will keep making this point going forward - but the overall package for our country and our Union are positive," she said.

Metsola added that the challenge now is to drive home that Europe is not only about funds but about democracy, rule of law and solidarity. "Europe has shown that is stronger when it acts together and protects its values," she said.