[WATCH] Energy crisis: With war, EU needs fallback position on Green Deal

Labour MEPs Alfred Sant and Josianne Cutajar explore the different ways the war in Ukraine could affect Malta and the wider bloc

With the war in Ukraine pushing prices up, Labour MEP Alfred Sant insists the EU needs a fallback position on its European Green Deal and rethink how it will find the funds and energy to see the deal through.

Speaking with journalists, Sant pointed out that rising energy prices spurred by the war in Ukraine will create problems for the Green Deal.

“Gas supplies have been clamped down. But to do the Gren Deal you need funds. In order to change over on that basis, funds are going to be hard to find. I think there’s a serious prospect that the Green Deal will have to be delayed,” Sant said.

He added that if Russia cuts more supplies it will be increasingly difficult for countries like Bulgaria and Romania to make a switch. More so, the EU’s distrust in nuclear energy could create more problems.

“My argument is that the EU needs a fallback position on the Green Deal in terms of finance, energy, not just where but which energy, and perhaps a rethinking of nuclear.”

Labour MEP Josianne Cutajar pointed out that increasing import prices has a particular effect on the Maltese economy. “We depend on importation for a lot of essential goods. We saw these spiralling prices in energy from before the war. Now with the war there are more concerns in place.”

“We depend on importation for wheat and other essential supplies, it could mean further challenges for our SMEs, businesses, and an end-effect on the consumer.”

Despite an agreement from the Maltese government to assist in importing grain, Cutajar said that this aspect still needs to be tackled.

“We need a contingency plan that takes into account the reality of certain islands and member states like ours that depend on imports by sea and air.”

Golden passports

When the war in Ukraine first broke out, eyes turned to Malta’s golden passports scheme. The scheme is popular among Russian nationals, but government suspended all applications from Russian and Belarusian nationals due to the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

The EU was never keen on the golden passports scheme. In 2020 the European Commission launched infringement procedures against Malta and Cyprus over their respective schemes. Earlier this year the European Parliament voted in favour of a legislative proposal that asks Brussels to propose a law to shut down citizenship-by-investment schemes.

“I don’t like the passport scheme myself,” Sant said. “But I think the Maltese and Cypriot governments are perfectly entitled, legally, to institute it.”

“You get residence schemes in places like Portugal and France. In Austria they give citizenship in a closed system for any kind of reason. Nobody talks about that. So yes, I think it’s a matter of two weights, two measures. They don’t trust small countries with what they trust big countries.”

Cutajar agreed that the relevant schemes are within the rights of the member states in question, adding that it is essential for stringent procedures to be in place throughout the scheme.

“Bigger countries have greater leverage; this happens not just in residency schemes but in other aspects and infringement procedures taken vis-a-vis the various member states on other topics.”

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This article is part of a content series called Ewropej. This is a multi-newsroom initiative part-funded by the European Parliament to bring the work of the EP closer to the citizens of Malta and keep them informed about matters that affect their daily lives. This article reflects only the author’s view. The action was co-financed by the European Union in the frame of the European Parliament's grant programme in the field of communication. The European Parliament was not involved in its preparation and is, in no case, responsible for or bound by the information or opinions expressed in the context of this action. In accordance with applicable law, the authors, interviewed people, publishers or programme broadcasters are solely responsible. The European Parliament can also not be held liable for direct or indirect damage that may result from the implementation of the action.

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