Malta a big spender on environmental protection


The country’s record on environmental issues may be mixed at best, but Malta actually outspends most of the EU when it comes to environmental protection, figures released by Eurostat show.

Total government expenditure in the EU amounted to 46.7% of the GDP in 2018, a share which has been on a downward trend since 2009, when it peaked at 50.6% in the wake of a global economic crisis.

But government expenditure in Malta amounted to just 36.6% of GDP, the fifth-lowest proportion in the EU. France topped the list with expenditure amounting to 56% of the GDP, while Ireland’s government expenditure was lowest at 25.4%.

Consequently, Malta’s government spends proportionally less than the EU in most areas. Its expenditure is higher than the EU average in only three of the eleven categories identified by Eurostat.

And curiously, environmental protection is one of them, with Malta allocating 1.2% of the GDP in 2018, compared to an EU average of 0.8%. Only the Netherlands (1.4%), Belgium and Greece (both 1.3%) outspent Malta.

Expenditure on waste management is considered to fall under environmental protection, however, which may explain Malta’s figures.

Malta also outspends most of the EU on education, spending 5.2% of the GDP compared to an EU average of 4.6%, and economic affairs, a wide-ranging category including industry, transport, agriculture and energy. The Maltese government spent 5.5% of its GDP on economic affairs, compared to an EU average of 4.4%.

Second-lowest expenditure on social welfare

Expenditure on social protection accounts for the lion’s share of government expenditure across the EU, amounting to 19.2% of the bloc’s GDP in 2018.

Malta is no exception, but its expenditure on social protection – at 10.9% of the GDP in 2018 – is proportionally the second-lowest in the EU. Only Ireland (9%) spent less on welfare.

Health accounts for the second-largest share of government expenditure in the EU, accounting for 7% of the GDP. Once more, Malta’s expenditure is lower than average at 5.3% of GDP, though 10 other member states spend even less.

Malta is also outspent by much of its EU colleagues when it comes to general public services, defence, public order, housing and community amenities, and recreation.