Labour MEP Alfred Sant has insisted in the European Parliament that the EU cannot simply impose across-the-board taxes on aviation fuel as part of its climate change measures because that would disadvantage small islands on the EU's periphery, such as Malta, that rely on aviation for connectivity and tourism.

The former prime minister was speaking in the context of a report on the ReFuelEU Aviation Initiative. The report proposes a regulation to introduce new green taxes on fuel.

"As I have repeatedly pointed out, the revised taxation of energy products as proposed will not affect the whole of the EU in the same way," he argued. 

"A real energy transition must be smooth. In all fairness, it cannot simply remove operational flexibility and reduce connectivity – vital for islands, and peripheral and remote regions that depend a lot on air transport."

He said the report on the ReFuelEU Aviation Initiativ  does not take this into account but foresees an abrupt increase in the share of sustainable aviation fuel within the transport mix. This, he said, would hit hard those member states whose economy depended on imports and visitors arriving by air.

Moreover, the EP report ignored operational realities for remote airports in its anti-tankering measures.  "The reality of an airport in the middle of the Mediterranean is not the same as that of Frankfort airport in terms of turnaround flexibility," he said. 

Sant said he was therefore voting against the report.

Malta government's failure

In a statement, PN spokesman Peter Agius said the Malta government's failure in EU negotiations on aviation rules were putting additional burdens on the Maltese consumer and industry.

‘The Maltese government has failed to shape new EU aviation rules that will place a disproportionate burden on Malta due to additional fuel costs. This is another case where the Maltese Government is failing to adapt proposed legislation to cater to our specific situation of insularity and dependence on air transport.’  Agius said.  

He too pointed out that the proposed rules place a disproportionate burden on Malta as an island state given, the islands’ dependence of air traffic.  98% of tourists to Malta reach the islands by air trasport.

"Our economy depends almost exclusively on air transport. We do not have the same access to rail and road networks as Germany or Poland. EU rules should take stock of this reality by including specific provisions for island territories. This is another case where Brussels is proposing one size fits all legislation and the Maltese Government is failing to make Malta’s case 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.

‘To add insult to injury, the proposed rules presumably accepted by the Maltese government recognise the additional impact on islands but fail to take any action or include any corrective mechanism, leaving the matter to a report to be done in five years time.’ he said. 


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