New European Union rules could see Malta hit by much higher costs in air travel, warned PN spokesman Peter Agius.
“As an island, Malta already suffers from transport and logistical difficulties as it is. The proposed rules on aviation fuel and the consequent higher costs will exacerbate our disadvantages in accessing the European single market and penalize Malta’s tourism industry, “said Agius in a statement on Four.
This is after the European Parliament’s Transport Committee voted for new air travel rules which, if adopted by the EU, will see significant additional costs on air transport to and from Malta.
Describing it as “a blow to Malta’s competitiveness,” EU expert and PN spokesman Agius regretted how the new rules would bind Malta to much higher air travel costs while making exemptions for competing islands and smaller airports across Europe.
He said MEPs from other countries had ensured that the new rules exempt airports with less than 2 million passengers a year and all airports in the so-called ‘Outermost regions’ of the EU which does not include Malta.
On the other hand, said Agius, Malta has failed to get amendments to cater to our particular situation as an island member state.
“We are caught in a bureaucratic game of definitions that will end up giving a significant blow to our competitiveness. 98% of tourists entering Malta arrive on the islands by air transport while unlike continental European countries we have no transport by rail or road. Our economy depends almost exclusively on air transport. ”
The former candidate for the European Parliament added that EU rules should take this reality into account by including provisions specific to island territories.
“This is another case where Brussels is proposing one piece of legislation for everyone and the Maltese Government is failing to make the case of Malta for policies that cater to our specific situation. With the rules as proposed, our economy will see the costs of insularity rise further, ”said Agius.
Labor MEP Josianne Cutajar proposed amendments to the Transport Committee to cater for the specific situation in Malta. These amendments were however not supported by MEPs in the Committee vote.
The vote in the European Parliament comes after the vote of the Council of Ministers in Brussels where the Maltese Minister of Transport Aaron Farrugia voted in favor of a compromise text by the ministers who while recognizing the impact of the rules on islands, postpone any impact assessment of such rules. up to five years after their entry into force.
“The compromise signed by Minister Farrugia adds insult to injury because while acknowledging the additional impact on the islands they fail to take any action or include any corrective mechanism, leaving the matter for a report to be made within five years. It will be too late to avoid impact in 2027! We must include safeguards for the Maltese economy before adopting EU rules and not after their adoption, ”said Agius.
Agius added that this shows that his previous proposal to the Conference on the Future of Europe, for the Commission to carry out impact assessments on the cost of insularity before proposing transport legislation is vital for Malta. .