The Malta Independent 12 July 2024, Friday
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Association calls for stronger Maltese representation on transport and logistics

Thursday, 30 May 2024, 17:48 Last update: about 2 months ago

Only a more direct involvement and active representation by Malta's MEP's at EU level can guarantee responsiveness and fruitful outcomes to issues that impact Malta's unique realities when it comes to transport and international connectivity, the Association of Tractors & Trailers Operators in Malta (ATTO) has said.

"Over the past weeks, ATTO has been hosting meetings with several important stakeholders and policymakers to discuss Malta's unique challenges and the importance of considering the island's unique realities," it said.

The Association which represents 80% of Malta's trailer operations has held one-to-one meetings with EU Parliament President Roberta Metsola, PL MEP Alex Agius Saliba as well as with Minister for Foreign and European Affairs Ian Borg, Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Public Works Chris Bonett and Minister for Economy, Enterprise and Strategic Projects Silvio Schembri. 

"We are happy that the EU's Combined Transport Directive is being acknowledged as a national issue and that ATTO has managed to bring consensus across the board. It has always been our belief that this is a national issue that Malta cannot afford to politicize. As such, we are deeply satisfied with the united front that is being formed against this crucial issue," said Joseph Bugeja, President of ATTO.

"The transport and logistics sector in Malta is a very particular one and given our country's small size we rely heavily on import and export activity, and this is why certain EU policies related to maritime and road transport such as the ETS Directive are a huge challenge to Maltese trailer operators given Malta's specificities and disadvantages particularly, insularity and other geographical realities," he added.

Bugeja   noted that the constant growth in the transport market is putting more pressure on the local sector with challenges that need urgent attention, including issues related to local operations, particularly the increasing challenge of the lack of space at Valletta's Grand Harbour for ro-ro operations.

"We are seeking to have these issues addressed at EU leveland to date, we have managed to secure important outcomes through several meetings with some of Malta's MEP's who have all agreed that at EU level, Malta needs to have a more direct representation on all matters related to the transport and logistics sector," added Mr Bugeja.

ATTO said that it, together with the Malta Chamber, the Malta Business Bureau, the Irish Road Haulage Association (IRHA) and the Cyprus Chamber of Commerce and Industry have put forward a position paper urging the European Parliament to revise existing road transport legislation because of the distorted competition that exists between countries on mainland Europe and disadvantaged island operators.

"In Malta's case, the ETS Directive goes against the principle of sustainability and cleaner transport operations because Maltese trailer operators are very often being compelled to travel back to Malta with empty trailers which makes no business sense. This is further compounded by the fact that operators are also faced with extra fuel and labour costs and extra expenses such as ferries and port duties which continue to diminish their competitiveness," it said.

Currently, Maltese hauliers are choosing to utilise the Malta to Genoa route entirely by sea instead of driving from Pozzallo in Sicily to Genoa, ATTO said. "This is leading to considerable savings in Co2 emissions of up to 70% when compared to the road link from Pozzallo to Genoa."

"To date, and in the spirit of more sustainable operations, many hauliers are opting for longer sea legs to save on fuel emissions. For these efforts, hauliers must be encouraged with the right support and incentives and not penalised further."

"This is a national issue and at this stage, what is most important is that this issue is not politicized but that we find support from all fronts," concluded Joseph Bugeja.


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