Hon. First Vice President of EP Roberta Metsola

As our next contributor, we are honoured to introduce the first Maltese Vice-President of the European Parliament, Hon. VP Roberta Metsola to the platform! In her article on sustainability, Metsola points out that the conflict between the economy and the environment is an imagined one since in reality, we can achieve both. Metsola discusses how sustainability can lead us out of the COVID-19 crisis, both economically, and also health wise. The challenge is huge and the circular economy involves a fundamental change. Malta and Gozo need to do more. Metsola explains that our economy has the potential to grow further and more sustainably, if we are smarter. Have a look at Hon. VP Metsola’s article to find out more!

Sustainability is defined as “satisfying the needs of the current generation without compromising the ability to satisfy the needs of future generations”.

With the COVID19 crisis, the challenge of what we leave to our children has become much more acute. It is clear that as a continent, they will be the ones who will have to cancel the debt we are creating today for our economies to survive, and the least we can do is not saddle them with a planet gasping for clean air.

Our generation is still facing the threats our parents’ faced – only the situation has become more urgent. We are now the last generation of politicians who can take the action needed.

The shift away from a linear to a circular economy is beneficial not only in terms of environmental impact but it simply makes economic sense. It creates jobs, it generates new spheres of economic activity and it responds to the challenges of our time.

The conflict between Economy and Environment is an imagined one. We can do both. In the Circular Economy both words count—without economic logic there is no Circular Economy, without circulation our economy is not sustainable.

““Sustainability is that way out of this crisis economically and health wise. We cannot simply go back to the way it was before. Things must be different.””

I’m glad that Malta is one of the countries who have committed to protecting the Green Deal – but our national targets are shambolic. We have less sustainable development than we had in 2015.  So we really need to pull our socks are up.

The Green Deal is about modernizing sluggish economies and re-inventing European markets. It is central to our European economic vision.

It will help our economy to become more competitive and resilient, relieve the pressure on our resources and the environment, and promote innovation.

I think Jykri Katainen, said it best when he said: “There are many good reasons for moving away from our linear economic model. In a world where the population rises every day, with huge demand placed on land, water, food, feed, raw materials, and energy, we cannot rely further on a ‘take, make, use and throw away’ approach.

There will be a transition, and our job in the European Parliament is to make sure countries like Malta – that rely so heavily on maritime and aviation – are given the support we need to reach our targets.

We also have to make sure that targets are not just a quick headline but are achievable and obtainable.

Take our ban on single-use plastics: Less than a third of all plastic is collected for recycling. The EU’s goal is to quadruple the capacity for plastic recycling by the year 2030, at which point all plastic packaging entering the EU market will be recyclable or reusable. We produce 26 million tonnes of plastic waste per year, and mostly export waste to Asian countries and therefore throw away 95% of the value of plastic packages and only retain 5% in our economy. We can and we must change that.

Changing to a more circular economy remains a challenge in Malta. By 2020, Malta should have halved the amount of garbage it was landfilling in 1995. The reality is that nearly 90% of all rubbish is sent to landfills. This is unsustainable.

The coronavirus exposed the vulnerabilities of many of our supply chains- in medical supplies, food, and consumer goods- and the Green Deal provides tools for the Union to address these vulnerabilities and benefit local producers and manufacturers.

The challenge is huge. The circular economy involves a fundamental change. It really means re‑thinking the way we design, the way we produce, consume and dispose of products.

It is about transforming the market economy in a more sustainable direction. It is about changing mind-sets and business models. It is about promoting competitiveness, growth and job creation.

This transition will also be a chance to modernise our industry, increase its material and energy efficiency and to put it back on track for growth. This requires creating new business opportunities, enabling innovation and stimulating investment.

Malta and Gozo need to do more. Our economy can grow further, more sustainably, if we are smarter.  Malta was at the forefront of thinking about future generations, it was us who in 1987 put climate change on the global agenda. We must lead again.


Roberta Metsola
Hon. First Vice President of EP Roberta Metsola

Roberta Metsola was first elected to the European Parliament in 2013, becoming one of Malta's first female Members of the European Parliament. She was re-elected in 2014 and then again in 2019.  In 2020 she was elected as the First Vice President of the European Parliament, becoming the first Maltese national to hold the post. Professionally, she is a lawyer who has specialised in European law and politics. Prior to her election as an MEP, Vice-President Metsola served within the Permanent Representation of Malta to the European Union, and later as the legal advisor to the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. In her student years, she was active in various organisations, acting as the Secretary-General for the European Democrat Student organisation between 2002-2003.  Within the European Parliament, VP Metsola was the EPP Group's Coordinator in the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, between January 2017 and 2020. Vice-President Metsola was the Parliament's rapporteur on the European Border and Coastguard Regulation in 2019. VP Metsola is the Head of the Partit Nazzjonalista delegation within the EPP Group. She is currently a Member of the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee and of the Delegation for Relations with the United States. VP Metsola is a Substitute Member on the Committee for Environment, Public Health and Food safety, the Special Committee on Artificial Intelligence in the Digital Age, and the Delegation for Relations with Japan.