Following intense negotiations at the European Council, which Prime Minister Robert Abela attended, European leaders agreed on a joint gas purchase as well as a strategy to mitigate the rise in gas and energy prices. These were among the key conclusions of the European Council held in Brussels on Thursday and Friday (today).

Following the communique published earlier this week and the relevant legislative proposal, work on the joint purchasing of gas between the 27 member states will be intensified in the coming days, government said in a statement. At the end of the meeting, Prime Minister Robert Abela said that this agreement could also help Malta in shouldering the burden of assistance given by the Maltese Government to protect the livelihoods of our citizens and provide stability for our businesses.

Indeed, Government has pledged €608 million to freeze electricity and gas prices, and subsidise the importation costs of staple foods.

Although Malta is covered by a contract that ensures the security of its energy supply, the framework for the joint purchasing of gas could help reduce energy prices globally, including the energy imported from the interconnector between Malta and Italy, the Government added.

“Thus, Malta stands to gain from the agreement reached.”

Dr Abela added that Maltese and Gozitan families will continue to enjoy economic and social stability due to the unchanging local energy prices as a result of the government’s support, which, this year, will reach €1 billion. The Prime Minister also noted that this strategy, as reflected in the conclusions of the European Council, encourages support for families and businesses on a European level and thus attests to the bold and decisive action taken by the Maltese Government in this area.

Prime Minister Robert Abela said that this milestone achievement reached by the European Council is a step in the right direction. Throughout the discussions, he called on the European Commission to continue monitoring gas and energy prices closely and, when necessary, propose action to mitigate an increase in prices.

The state also welcomed the strategy adopted, as reflected in the European Commission’s communique, as “it will add flexibility to the use and implementation of EU funds. Through this flexibility, EU Cohesion Funds can be used for support in the energy sector.”

Furthermore, it continued, considerations are being made to increase flexibility in the Temporary Crisis Framework for State Aid, which would allow member states to provide aid through support schemes to private entities in various sectors, including transport and energy, up to a maximum of approximately €750,000 until the end of 2023.

The European Council also discussed the possibility of simplifying the framework on permits for renewable energy projects, and Dr Abela said that through this, Malta could benefit greatly and quicken the process to achieve its decarbonisation objectives.

Dr Abela referred to the European Commission’s commitment to supporting investment in renewable energy and supporting competitiveness in the EU and Malta. The conclusions also highlighted the need for investment in technologies that improve the efficiency of energy use.

Other thematic issues, including economic affairs, were also addressed during the European Council.

Prime Minister Robert Abela stated that a social policy safeguarding families and businesses must be implemented at both a national and EU level.

When discussing external affairs, European leaders reiterated their support for Ukraine, discussed EU-China relations, and looked forward to the UN Conference on Climate Change, COP27. Prime Minister Abela outlined the importance that at COP27, leaders must honour the Paris Agreement and the Glasgow Climate Pact to continue combatting climate change with long-term measures.

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