Official visit by European Commissioners Violeta Bulc and Karmenu Vella where the Commission could recognise more closely the hard and committed work of the Government in the transport and infrastructure sectors

Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Capital Projects Ian Borg had the pleasure of hosting European Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc and Maltese European Commissioner for the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Karmenu Vella on an official visit to our country.

During the press conference at the end of the day, Minister Ian Borg spoke about the considerable investment our country is making in our road network. He said that Malta is at an advanced stage in the implementation of projects on roads falling within our TEN-T road network as part of the Scan-Med corridor where 15 out of 22 kilometres are almost complete.

Among these he mentioned the Marsa Junction Project which will cost Euros 70 million, co-financed by the Connecting Europe Facility, and which is expected to have a positive impact on 120,000 people who use this junction every day as well as all residents and workers in the south. He also reminded those present that in November Euros 140 million were approved in EU funds for road and maritime infrastructural projects, which include this same project, the Marsa-Hamrun Bypass, Buqana Road, the Santa Lucija tunnels and the anticipated Central Link Project.

Minister Borg said, Malta welcomes the early revision of TEN-T and we are satisfied that the Malta-Gozo tunnel will be considered as part of this network. The Government is committed to create a permanent connection between the two islands. In 2018 we saw the movement of 5.3 million people between the islands, an increase of 6% over 2017. These figures continue to show how useful a permanent connection could be.

The Minister spoke about other work being done by the Government, such as the national investment of Euros 700 million in residential roads which will lead the rest of the Maltese road network to reach the expected standards towards more competitivity for our country.

Minister Borg reminded those present that the work being carried out on infrastructure does not stop with roads but also includes maritime infrastructure for our country where we are also receiving financing from the EU. Malta is in fact strengthening its TEN-T Core Ports because investment of this type is important as the maximisation of our harbours’ space continues to strengthen the maritime sector, which is doing very well. Right now, we have almost 3,000 merchant ships and more than 750 super yachts flying the Maltese flag at the moment. He said that this success appears to be reflected in the aviation sector as well.

Minister Borg also mentioned other initiatives which the Government is taking in the transport sector, including free transport for youths and initiatives promoting cleaner alternative means.

Transport and infrastructure are two vast sectors which affect the lives of every citizen and resident in our country. Today I had the pleasure of spending the day with two colleagues who work hard in Brussels and I thank them for their hard work while reiterating Malta’s commitment to continue cooperating and collaborating with the EU as well as our determination to continue using in the best way the funds and resources available to us, towards a better Malta and an improved quality of life and standard of living for the people, concluded the Minister Ian Borg.

From her end, European Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc described the visit as a fruitful day and expressed her gratefulness for the invitation. She said that her visit to the Marsa Junction was very important, in light of the fact that more than Euros 40 million in EU Funds are going towards that project and expressed her confidence that the money is being well-used in this project.

Commissioner Bulc stated that this visit has reconfirmed the importance of working together. She also said that the Maltese should be very proud of the deliverables resulting from the Maltese EU Presidency, particularly the maritime sector and said that the EU will continue pushing jointly on these matters.

With regard to the transport sector, the Commissioner said that the Government appears to have a clear commitment to further restructuring of transport systems in Malta, adding that there have been very good deliverables already. She had words of praise for the work of the Government, which is operating several initiatives in the transport sector, including free public transport and the ferry service among other, and said that these are initiatives which other European countries can take as an example. She expressed her belief that Europe will witness the Maltese transport sector transforming along with other states, adding that her experience from today’s visit signals steps in the right direction.

The Minister for European Affairs and Equality held that the Marsa Junction project was a prime example of the efficient use of EU funds in practice. The same goes for the Kappara Junction project, which further portrays the fact that good leadership in EU affairs bears good results which not only enhance our national infrastructure, but more importantly, improve the quality of life of all Maltese and Gozitans.

On a wider note, Minister Dalli said that during recent negotiations on the next funding programme for the period 2021-2027, Malta secured specific provisions to accommodate its geographical limitations. Along with Cyprus and Ireland, such an outcome enables Malta to sustain its investment in the national road network through the use of EU funds.

From his end, Commissioner for the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries spoke about the significance of such a joint trip between two commissioners, which shows the cooperation which exists. He stated that Malta’s maritime sector is seen as an environmentally sustainable one and said that along with the economic opportunities of this sector, we also have to take note of the environmental responsibilities when it comes to the blue economy. He said that we need to work together in order to find the necessary global solutions for our oceans, stating that no single country can ever expect to address the issue on its own.

The visit itself began with a bilateral meeting between the Minister and Commissioner Bulc where they discussed several important elements within the sector that fall within his remit, including the TEN-T road network of which the Marsa Junction, currently undergoing works, forms part.

After this meeting, Minister Borg invited Commissioner Bulc so that, together with Minister for European Affairs and Equality Helena Dalli and Parliamentary Secretary for EU Funds and Social Dialogue Aaron Farrugia, she could accompany him on a visit to the site where works are currently underway on the third phase of the Marsa Junction Project.

Later in the afternoon, the two Commissioners together with Minister Ian Borg, Minister Helena Dalli and Mr Louis Grech were invited to attend a meeting with Prime Minister of Malta Joseph Muscat where several topics related to the relevant sectors were discussed.

Source: Government of Malta