In its first reaction, the MBB welcomed the European Council agreement announced yesterday (21 July) on the European recovery plan as well as on its long-term budget. The last summit showed how complex it is to put together an ambitious financial framework that addresses the long-term European objectives, while accepting the different member states’ political priorities. Discussions on the original EU budget proposal had been ongoing since 2018, so it was commendable for EU leaders to step up and ensure a swift agreement on the revised proposal, considering the extraordinary circumstances we are living in, and to make a historic deal.
The MBB hopes that the European Parliament and National Parliaments approve the deal as soon as possible to ensure that it comes into effect as of January 2021 and pave the way for the disbursement of funds to the respective priority policy areas and to kick-start economic recovery.
MBB President Simon De Cesare commented, “As it happens with every negotiation, this deal includes increases in budget in certain policy areas and cuts in others. One must also consider that Brexit is leaving an annual EUR 10 billion hole in the EU budget.”
“From a European perspective, we note that funds for the EU’s Research Programme Horizon Europe as well as the Digital Europe Programme were reduced in the final deal compared to what was originally proposed. This is regretful considering that the two programmes are key to the medium to long term EU political objectives of transiting to a green and digital economy; but clearly it was a matter of compromise to address other priorities,” Mr De Cesare said.
He continued, “From a Maltese perspective, it is positive that the level of Cohesion funding remains consistent with previous budgets, which will help the country continue investing in modernising infrastructure, support business competitiveness and invest in training and skills.”
Being a very extensive deal, the Malta Business Bureau will be assessing in more detail in the coming days to look out for opportunities for Maltese companies.