By Evie Andreou in Tallinn
EU islands like Cyprus need to work together better to tackle any connectivity problems with bloc’s mainland European Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc has said.
Addressing members of the press on the sidelines of ‘Connecting Europe’ conference in Tallinn, Estonia, the Commissioner said: “I think Cyprus has done well, they have two ways of connectivity, one by sea, one by air. They use the funds well in the transport sector including improving the modality of the island.”
She added that other Mediterranean islands face similar problems as regards connectivity and that she was recently presented by the Corsica and Sardinia their particular issues.
“I think islands need to work together better. It’s important we have a continuous dialogue to identify what the real problems are because they are very specific, but so far the deployment is going well,” Bulc said.
Last June, the European Commission introduced a series of measures as part of its aviation strategy aimed at further supporting open and connected aviation markets in the European Union and beyond. It also updated guidelines on the existing rules regarding Public Service Obligations (PSOs), whereby a state can subsidise a flight destination, to guarantee sufficient connections to the rest of their territory and of Europe. The updated PSO guidelines aim at facilitating states to address connectivity gaps, better serve the needs of local communities and contribute to their wealth.
These measures, Bulc said, are also aimed at assisting islands increase their connectivity.
Transport and energy ministers from the 28 EU-member states discussed these issues at an informal meeting in Tallinn.
Cyprus’ transport minister Marios Demetriades said that Cyprus had expressed the need for flexibility in the use of PSOs.
“We told them that small states that have connectivity problems must be able to use such schemes such as PSOs, or incentive schemes,” Demetriades told the Cyprus Mail.
According to the regulations, in case no air carrier is interested in operating the route on which the obligations have been imposed, a member-state may restrict the access to the route to a single air carrier and compensate it for its operational losses resulting from the PSO. The selection of the operator must be made by public tender at community level.