Impact assessments needed on carbon neutrality measures, PM tells European Council

Robert Abela argued that island Member States have specific realities that need to be accounted for when planning for carbon neutrality

Prime Minister Robert Abela (centre) and European Council President Charles Michel (right)
Prime Minister Robert Abela (centre) and European Council President Charles Michel (right)

The impacts of proposed measures to reduce emissions in the EU will need to be analysed by Member States at a national level, Prime Minister Robert Abela argued on Tuesday.

Addressing heads of states at a European Council meeting held on Monday, Abela reiterated that while government agrees with the 55% reduction target on emissions, he emphasised that each Member States has its own specific circumstances, with each proposed measure having a variety of impacts depending on the country.

In light of this, there must be an analysis at a national level on the economic, environmental, and social impacts of the proposed measures in each sector, Abela explained.

The agenda for Monday's meeting, held physically in Brussels for the first time in five months, saw COVID-19, UK-EU and Russia-EU relations take centre stage, with further discussions on the situation in the Middle East and the forced landing of a Ryanair flight in Belarus for the arrest of journalist and activist Roman Protasevich.

On COVID-19, Abela told EU leaders that Malta was the first Member State to achieve herd immunity, while praising the EU's vaccination strategy.

He added that Malta welcomes the renewal of a supply contract with BioNTech-Pfizer, stressing the importance of a diverse portfolio of vaccine suppliers across the bloc. However, Abela said that Malta also acknowledges the EU's global responsibility to help countries in need by donating vaccines to third-world countries that do not yet have access to vaccines.

With regards to EU-Russia relations, Abela emphasised the importance of continued dialogue so as to avoid any escalations. 

On the situation in the Middle East, specifically between Palestine and Israel, Abela said that government welcomes the ceasefire agreement between Israel and Hamas, while expressing condolences to the families of the victims.

EU leaders went on to agree on further sanctions towards Belarus, including that European airlines should not operate in Belarus. As a whole, the Council called for the immediate release of the journalist and his partner, who were both detained upon arrival in Minsk.