During a session with the committee on Transport and Tourism, Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Joe Mizzi and Minister for Tourism Edward Zammit Lewis presented the Maltese Presidency’s priorities in the area of Transport and Tourism before the European Parliament.
As the President of the Transport Council, Minister Joe Mizzi started off by stating that all modes of transport affect European citizens, and that Europe has established a sound legal framework aimed towards an efficient, safe, secure and environmentally-friendly transport system, which is helping to boost jobs and growth.
Minister Mizzi said that the Maltese Presidency shall treat all modes on an equal footing, and build on the exceptional work done by both the Dutch and Slovak presidencies, including other important milestones achieved by previous Presidencies.
Minister Mizzi said that the Government intends to maintain the maritime sector high on the EU political agenda, recalling the need for a more competitive and a sustainable maritime sector, maintaining an overarching guiding principle that shipping is a global industry regulated at a global level. He also added that despite different views, safeguarding the safety of citizens must be kept at the forefront in all modes of transport. In view of the large number of EU citizens travelling by sea, enhancing passenger ship safety is important.
With respect to passenger ships engaged on international voyages, the Presidency is committed to continue facilitating the coordination on the work that the EU has been actively pursuing on passenger ship safety in the framework of the International Maritime Organisation.
Minister Mizzi also announced the plan to host a major stakeholder and Ministerial conference in Malta focusing on Road Safety. The intention is to adopt a declaration outlining a future political direction addressing road safety and to instigate a political debate on a number of issues and also aim to reach an agreement on specific targets.
The Presidency has taken stock of the European Parliament’s call for a target on serious injuries of the various initiatives taken by several Member States, as well as the Council Conclusion on Road Safety adopted in 2010 under the Belgian Presidency.
Besides that, Minister Mizzi added, the Maltese Presidency is committed to continue to facilitate the coordination of the EU Member States related to the international dimension of transport in particular with respect to the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).
During his conclusion, Minister Mizzi said that during the Presidency, the Government intends to work efficiently and effectively in order to attain one common interest in making European transport sector fit for for today’s reality, making the sector safe, secure, clean and competitive in the interest of Europe’s citizens.
While addressing the Committee on Transport and Tourism of the European Parliament, the Minister for Tourism Edward Zammit Lewis referred to the Aviation Package as an initiative which generates growth, fosters innovation, develops the internal market, and strengthens Europe’s role as a global actor. He emphasized that the Maltese Presidency is set to address the challenges by focusing on regulatory concerns, while at the same time facilitating development of the economic aspect of aviation which would contribute to economic growth and job creation.
Minister for Tourism Edward Zammit Lewis stressed on air transport, in particular the revision of the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) Regulation. The Presidency considers this file a priority, as it touches upon the safety of EU citizens.
The Minister for Tourism took the opportunity to voice the priorities referring to tourism, while recognising the importance of strengthening the Single Market for this sector. “The full exploitation of the Single Market and the effective development of the Digital Single Market, will bring tangible benefits to our economies, business and families, by removing remaining barriers and improving access to services for consumers.” The Minister referred to the emergence of online platforms which has helped the collaborative economy to flourish. He stressed the importance of ensuring a level playing field.
The Maltese Presidency considers that addressing these challenges and opportunities is essential for the improvement of the competitiveness of the tourism sector in Europe. Thus, the Maltese Presidency will be organising two major conferences. The Tourism High Level Conference will be discussing thematic issues, contributing to increasing the competitiveness of the European tourism product, and a joint conference with UNWTO in recognition of the 2018 EU-China Tourism Year, which will bring together States in a common forum of discussion next May.
During his concluding remarks, the Minister for Tourism Edward Zammit Lewis invited the members of the Tourism Task Force within the Transport and Tourism Committee of the European Parliament to hold a meeting in Malta during the term of the Maltese Presidency, which will serve as an impetus leading to more action in the European tourism policy.