EU leaders are asking Malta how it managed to convince such a large portion of the population to take the vaccine when they are struggling to get even half their populations to take it, Prime Minister Robert Abela told Parliament this afternoon.
Giving a briefing of the latest EU Council meeting, Abela said that despite having the doses necessary, EU countries were unable to hit even 50% vaccination rates because many people are “refusing to take the vaccine”.
“My desire is to have everyone in the country vaccinated so that we can protect everyone,” Abela added.
Asked by members of the Opposition to give a clear picture of the “end game” given the increasing COVID-19 variants and the slow take up of the vaccine internationally, Abela said the Maltese government would remain “cautious” with the lifting of restrictive measures.
He said the Opposition had first criticised him for reducing the restrictive measures too quickly last year and was now saying that he was being too slow in opening up the economy. He said that due to the variant and the situation in the UK, a cautious approach remained the best option.
Abela said Malta’s EU-funded recovery plan had now been passed on to the European Commission for its verification and said that the slow timing was a result of the need to keep discussing certain points to get the best outcome for Malta, was was done last year with a similar EU financial package.
The government accepted the Opposition’s request for a parliamentary debate on the recovery plan which will take place tomorrow.
Earlier, Opposition leader Bernard Grech had said that the government was not consulting with anyone even though this was a time that required national unity.
Abela also spoke about the “heated” discussion at EU level over Hungary’s anti-LGBT laws. He said Malta pushed for there to be discussion rather than confrontation.
The Opposition questioned why Malta did not sign the condemnation letter against Hungary.
The Prime Minister said he signed a statement with another 15 EU leaders to mark the occasion of pride and he downplayed the fact that the Foreign Minister did not sign the letter by Foreign Affairs minister against Hungary.