Press Releases Press statement by President von der Leyen with Maltese Prime Minister Abela

Press statement by President von der Leyen with Maltese Prime Minister Abela

It is a wonderful opportunity to be here in Gozo and to visit the Nadur Primary School. Many thanks for the warm welcome. First of all, after you have shown me the classrooms and the work you are doing, I want to pay tribute to the teachers, the staff here at the school and of course to the students for the great work that is being done here. You could just feel it. It is tangible that there is a very good atmosphere. It is heartwarming and wonderful to see that you are working with the children here, basically paving their way to the future. So, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for the teachers’ outstanding. Thank you very much for that.

This school is indeed brand new. The hull building, the historic building has been preserved, it has been completely renovated with funds from NextGenerationEU. And I am very glad to see that it is now highly energy efficient, it has spacious classrooms, it has a better air quality, the air condition is powered by the school’s own solar panels – that is smart, you have sun in abundance, you can use it –, and we could see the new digital equipment – it was amazing to also see how modern and digitised the school is now.

The children looked very much at ease and, as I said, it is heartwarming to see that. The environment plays a big role in how you are going into life in your school and how successful the teaching is. This has indeed been financed under NextGenerationEU and this is a great project for the islands of Malta and Gozo. And I know that you have many more projects like this in the pipeline. NextGenerationEU, our investment plan, is investing EUR 330 million here in Malta and Gozo. And indeed, you have chosen to dedicate almost 70% of this investment to climate objectives. This is way more than the European average. That is excellent. And I really want to thank you for that.

You are among the first countries to increase the share of renewables in your energy mix. Renewable energy is homegrown. It gives you independence. As I said, you have the resources in abundance – that is sun and wind – so this will help strengthen the electricity grid here. That is so important, especially considering the power cuts that were here in summer. We want to work together so that this no longer happens. And one of the ingredients for a solution is to indeed strengthen the renewable energy system. Malta basically needs to combine its strong growth with a sustainable use of its natural resources. And our common endeavour and task is to combine and reconcile both. I know it is a challenge. But I am also here today to tell you that Europe is by your side and all along the road.

I was in Malta two years ago to launch the recovery and resilience plan. And it is good to see already two years later the results of the work that we started back then. Because this is just the beginning. We will continue working on other great projects, so there is lots of good projects in the pipeline.

Being here in Gozo is also a great way to start the Summit of the MED9. Thank you very much for the invitation. Throughout history, Malta has played a strategic role in the Mediterranean region. Malta, with its unique cultural heritage, projects our European values in the Mediterranean. It is amazing. And we are not here long enough to see all the amazing treasures you have. And it represents all the opportunities for trade and investment in renewable energy that the Mediterranean has to offer. At the Summit, we will have important discussions on the future of the Mediterranean region. And there is no better place to have these discussions than here, at the crossroads of Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

Thank you very much again for the warm welcome. And many thanks for the opportunity to visit this school. Many thanks again to the staff and the teachers. And many thanks to the children.

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