Two fundamental principles of the European Union are the right of all EU citizens to freely travel from one member state to another and their right to transfer their assets from one European member state to the other.

Not only so. Malta is one of the 28 states that make up the EU that has managed to transform itself into a vociferous economic activity moving in line with far more economically advanced member states.

It is actually here that the difficulty arises. In order for one to travel out of these islands, for whatever the reason, one must necessarily make use of either air or sea transport, thus incurring hefty expenses. If one travels by air, one must make use of any transport available, while if one travels by sea, the cost of travelling with a car is considerable.

I humbly believe that, as we have overcome the difficulty of competing with other advanced countries, so it shall be in finding a solution to this issue and being the first to herald such a change. 

The European Union is aware of the fact that, if it aspires to remain united, it must push towards the creation of jobs and be able to compete.  

So conscious of this fact is the EU that it puts forward substantial grants to assist member states to invest in road systems that unite the states, thus making it simpler to travel from one country to another. 

The Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) and European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) are such funds which bolster plans like the Ten-T project or other ambitious projects such as EVA+Electric Vehicles Arteries between Italy and Austria.

Even Malta has benefitted from these funds and programmes. On the continent, European citizens can make use of their car to cross from one country to the other. Beneficial as much such financial help or road construction might be, we in Malta, ultimately, end up in the sea.

We can never consider ourselves to be fully European once we are not in a position to enjoy the same rights, namely that of interconnectivity

Here it is worth observing that one of the European future principles is that of fairness and I am convinced that if this principle is to hold water, we cannot continue to be treated as tourists whenever we leave the Maltese archipelago and head over to the European mainland. 

If our European counterparts have the right to travel inter-state by making use of their vehicle at a relatively cheap price, it should also be so for residents of Malta and Gozo.

For European equality of rights to subsist in this sense, there must be equal access when it comes to dealing with interconnectivity policies, and hence, if I were to be afforded your trust, I will be doing all that is necessary to bring about a situation where, when it comes to travel by car on mainland Europe, such a right would be equal and applicable to everyone alike.

In our case, as is the case with other island states, there should be a system identical to that which is already in practice between Gozo and mainland Malta, whereby the difference between the established price and the actual price, which is expected to be paid for each destination, is either subsidised or guaranteed from a special fund set up for this purpose.

This is a solution that should be deeply considered given that, as matters stand, it is not conceivable to have a tunnel that unites our archipelago with mainland Europe.

We can never consider ourselves to be fully European when we are not in a position to enjoy the same rights, namely that of interconnectivity, as other Europeans within the bloc.

Joseph Sammut is a Labour Party candidate for the upcoming European Parliament elections.

This is a Times of Malta print opinion piece


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