The scheme forms part of the €750 billion Next Generation EU – the official recovery package designed for a sustainable and green recovery from COVID-19 in the EU.
Currently, €26 billion have been set aside in the EU budget as a guaranteed amount of the programme to kickstart the six-year investment plan across member states from 2021 to 2027.
InvestEU has been designed to support strategic investments in the pharmaceutical and medical supplies industries as well as the information and communication sectors crucial in the EU. Yet, in light of the grave economic strain that the pandemic is having on all EU countries, the programme will support SMEs negatively affected by the pandemic to help them recover.
In the long-term, InvestEU will not only promote recovery post-pandemic yet also put green growth, employment and well-being across Europe as the main priority.
For Malta, this will mean encouraging a shift towards sustainable projects that can prove a positive impact on the climate, environment and society. It will also allow us to adhere to the EU’s commitments towards spending at least 30% of EU budget funds on reaching climate goals by 2027.
This may lead to a huge change in the types of projects being approved in Malta if EU funding is to be acquired. Whilst it of course does not guarantee that more controversial projects will no longer be approved, it may help encourage a greener and sustainable development plan for Malta by growing pressure from investors.
When it comes to youth unemployment specifically, there is a growing concern that a similar impact on employed young people faced with the financial crisis may repeat or be worse with COVID-19.
Already around 3.1 million people between the ages of 15-24 are unemployed.
This number consists of those who are not in education, employment or training of any kind, and thus are effectively ‘inactive’. When it comes to those actively looking for jobs and are aged between 15-29 however, the number is a staggering 9.6 million.
EU Commissioner for Employment and Social Rights, Nicolas Schmit, has called for preventing another lost generation.
“We are just coming out of a period where we had a lost generation due to the financial and then an economic crisis,” he says, adding “We have to prevent the new lost generation.”
Malta is currently noted as having 9.8% youth unemployment in 2020 compared with 7.8% in 2019. When compared to other EU countries, Malta’s unemployment remains low even amongst youths.
Yet, with COVID-19 still raging across the island and new restrictions being implemented recently, Malta has essentially come full circle to how we were grappling with the pandemic in March 2020 – yet now it is only worsened.
As such, unemployment rates amongst youths (and people in general) could spike even further as businesses are forced to either lay off workers or shut down entirely.
Whilst the InvestEU programme will potentially help these businesses survive, alongside other schemes introduced by the Maltese government – there are no proper guarantees for workers being laid off or ways for new workers to enter the job market.
The European Commission has introduced the Youth Employment Support Programme (YES) to provide an investment of at least €22 billion over the next seven years to get young people into the job market. It follows similar schemes that Jobsplus in Malta is also a part of.
Such schemes allow young people to either re-enter education to complete it, or to get proper training and work experience in an industry they are interested in joining.
As the EU continues to fight the pandemic, only time will tell how great the economic and social recoveries from the pandemic will need to be. Nevertheless, continued investments to safeguard businesses, workers and those trying to enter the job market are a step in the right direction.
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 European Parliament is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.
How do you feel Malta can best prevent youth unemployment? Let us know in the comments