Current Affairs
‘Agreement reached between EU-Mediterranean leaders to seriously address climate change’ – PM

Prime Minister Robert Abela said that an agreement has been reached between leaders of EU and Mediterranean countries to immediately address the climate change challenge as the Mediterranean will be among the most badly afffected regions in the coming years. He was speaking at the end of the leaders’ summit.

Climate change, the enviroment, the pandemic recovery, immigration and security in the Mediterranean were the major issues that the Prime Minister insisted on during the EU-Med9 summit, which ended late on Friday evening in Athens.

Speaking during a press conference, together with eight other leaders at the end of the summit, Prime Minister Abela expressed satisfaction with the agreement reached between the European and Mediterranean leaders that climate change challenge should be addressed seriously, and that everyone has placed it on the agenda.

“The EU has been a prime mover in setting the example globally and we need to continue showing leadership in the battle against climate change, especially if we are to ensure a successful outcome at COP 26 in Glasgow. As regards mitigation, a lot of work has been set in motion at an EU level with the Fit for 55 Package setting us on the right course. Taking the necessary action is a must.”

Dr Abela also expressed solidarity with the affected countries during this summer’s huge fires caused by great heatwaves. He said that the summit’s discussions on biodiversity, forests, the maritime environment and blue economy show the ambition by the countries to share between them information on the environmental sector.

The Prime Minister expressed solidarity with Cyprus on its current political crisis with Turkey, pointing to the need of dialogue to solve the issue. He said that, however, Turkey is an important country for the region also due to its cooperation with the EU on immigration.

The Prime Minister added that the Mediterranean centre is witnessing the greatest amount of persons crossing illegally from Africa.

“Over the last year, I visited Libya and had various discussions – as recent as last week when the Libyan Prime Minister visited Malta. This open channel of communication between Malta and Libya brought to the fore the excellent diplomatic relations we have established with this country over the past months, which is yielding great results. I can assure you that Libya is cooperating, and therefore ensuring forthcoming assistance to our closest neighbor should always remain a priority for the EU.”

On Afghanistan, he said that there is currently a big challenge both due to security and the humanitarian crisis, with Dr Abela saying that the European Union cannot take a position on such a sensitive matter.

The Prime Minister stated that there is agreement between the countries to safeguard competitiveness of a number of sectors, such as aviation and sea transport, which he said are of world importance especially for the Mediterranean region. He spoke on the need of connectivity especially for small island states, such as Malta and Cyprus.

Referring to the pandemic, Dr Abela said that this brought along great changes in the region, adding that priority shoud be the sustainable recovery. He praised the way that the pandemic was tackled on a European level, and mentioned Malta’s recovery and resilience plan with the country dedicating a high percentage to finance environmental and digital projects.

The Prime Minister welcomed Slovenia and Croatia which joined the EU -MED7 as new members as both will contribute to futher cooperation in the Mediterranean. He said that peace, security and stability are crucial to the Mediterranean region, calling for more work on these aspects.