Research and development continues to feature low in the government’s priority list with expenditure standing at below 0.5 per cent of GDP, official data shows.

Eurostat figures show that, in 2016, 0.3 per cent of the GDP was spent on research on education and a further 0.1 per on economic affairs.

The figures give a breakdown of the EU Member States’ R&D spending on social protection, public services, health, education, economic affairs, public order and safety, environment protection, recreation, culture and religions, defence and housing.

Other than on education and economic affairs, the government did not allocate any funds to R&D to any of the other areas listed.

0.3 per cent of the GDP was spent on research on education

According to the data, Malta spent 12 per cent of its GDP on social protection, the lion’s share – 7.4 per cent – going into pensions. Though this was the largest share of spending, in line with the prevailing trend in all other EU States, Malta is still one of the countries that spends the least on social protection.

The EU average in this category stood at 19.1 per cent of GDP.

The ratio of government social protection expenditure to GDP varied across EU States from below 10 per cent in Ireland (9.9 per cent) to over a quarter in Finland (25.6 per cent).

Eight States – Finland, France, Denmark, Austria, Italy, Greece, Sweden and Belgium – devoted at least 20 per cent of GDP to social protection. Ireland, Lithuania, Romania, Latvia, Malta, the Czech Republic and Bulgaria each spent below 13 per cent of GDP for the same purpose.

The second-highest spend by Malta – 6.4 per cent of GDP – was for general public services, followed by 5.6 per cent for health and 5.4 per cent for education.