Malta is still a long way off most of the targets established by the European Council two years ago in its Europe 2020 strategy aimed at establishing a smart, sustainable and inclusive economy with high levels of employment, productivity and social cohesion.
The key objectives of the strategy are expressed in the form of five targets on employment, research & development, climate change and energy, education, and poverty and social exclusion. These targets are monitored on the basis of headline indicators that Eurostat compiles and publishes. Eurostat’s latest review shows how Malta is faring on the five key objectives set in 2010.
The biggest stride by Malta has been in the employment rate. Compared to a target rate of 62.9 percent for those aged 20-64 years, in 2011 we had already reached a rate of 61.5 percent. This is significantly higher than the 2005 rate of 57.9 percent. The EU as a whole has fared less well, achieving 68.6 percent and just a 0.6 percentage point improvement over six years, compared to a target of 75 percent.
Our record on the second key objective is quite satisfactory. Investment in Research and Development as a percentage of GDP, which is targeted to reach 0.67 percent by 2020, has risen from 0.57 percent in 2005 to 0.63 percent last year. The EU as a whole has also made significant progress, having attained 2.0 percent vis a vis a target of 3.0 percent.
The third key objective refers to climate change and energy, and has three elements: a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions (by 20% from the 1990 level); an increase in the share of renewable energy sources in final energy consumption (20% by 2020); and an increase in energy efficiency.
Whilst the EU has lowered its emissions steadily, having reduced them by 15 percent since 1990, Malta’s emissions have increased by 49 percent over the same period. The EU only needs a further five percentage point improvement over nine years. However, Malta is allowed to increase its 2005 emissions by 5 percent within the collective target.
Again, whilst the EU’s share of renewable energy has grown steadily from 8.5 percent in 2005 to 12.5 percent last year, Malta’s has barely moved. From 0.1 percent six years ago, we are now at 0.4 percent – well below the 10% target for our country by 2020.
For energy efficiency, the target for 2020 for the EU is a primary energy consumption of 1 474 million tonnes of oil equivalent (mTOE). This level fluctuated from 1 560 mTOE in 1990 to 1 650 mTOE in 2010.
As far as the fourth target is concerned, whist a certain amount of progress has been made; there is some way to go to reach the 2020 targets. The EU target is to reduce the share of the population aged 18-24 with at most lower secondary education and not currently in further education or training to below 10%. Malta has been allotted a target of 29 percent. From 38.9 percent in 2005, this share has gone down to 33.5 percent, but is still short of the target. The EU’s share has decreased continuously from 17.6% in 2000 to 13.5% in 2011.
For tertiary education, the target for 2020 is to increase the share of those aged 30 to 34 in the EU having completed tertiary education to 40% or more. This share has increased steadily from 22.4% in 2000 to 34.6% in 2011. But Mata’s share has ony increased from 18.4 percent to 21.1 percent, versus a target of 33 percent.
Finally, the fifth objective is a reduction of poverty, including monetary poverty, material deprivation and lack of access to the labour market. The target for 2020 is to reduce the number of persons at risk of poverty or social exclusion in the EU by 20 million persons. This number has decreased from 123.9 million in 2005 to 113.8 mn in 2009, but then rose to 115.7 mn in 2010. Malta’s persons at risk of poverty has risen from 80,000 six years ago to 83,000 last year.