Godwin Xerri / MMF

Malta Maritime Forum (MMF) Chairman Godwin Xerri has highlighted the need for Malta to have a structured mechanism capable of screening European Union (EU) laws that are in the pipeline.

His statement came at the start of a meeting between MMF’s Board of Directors, Leader of the Opposition Bernard Grech, Shadow Minister for Maritime Affairs Ivan Castillo, as well as candidates running for the forthcoming MEP elections, namely Louise Anne Pulis and Peter Agius.

“The EU and its policies are ever so relevant to the Maltese maritime industry, particularly at this juncture when an unprecedented focus is being placed on decarbonisation and taxation issues,” Mr Xerri said.

His comments came as a reference to the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) Directive on Shipping, a key part of the EU’s strategy to address issues related to climate change, and has been described as a vital tool in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The directive obliges ships to surrender their EU allowances (EUAs) to compensate for the emissions they generate, thus leading to higher costs. For vessels with a tonnage exceeding 5,000 gross tonnage (GT) that have visited EU ports, annual emissions quotas will apply, with a pricing system set at €93 per EUA for every ton of CO2 emitted.

MMF Opposition Meeting
The meeting between the MMF and the Opposition

The directive, which was phased in at the start of 2024, came under heavy criticism by Mediterranean countries, including Malta – through the MMF, the local entity representing Malta’s maritime industry – particularly for the way it was introduced. The directive is set to have a significant impact on the countries’ attractiveness in terms of shipping, and industry stakeholders have urged policymakers to acknowledge these effects during discussions.

“For this reason, the country needs a structured and efficient mechanism of consultation to screen the horizon for EU laws in the pipeline, perform preliminary analysis, consult with key stakeholders in the industry, and revert back to the EU with strong positions in favour of Malta and its unique characteristics,” Mr Xerri added in his welcome statement.

He affirmed that the EU should safeguard its position and credibility by conducting its own rounds of consultation with a value-chain approach and stress testing the laws and regulations it proposes. Mr Xerri added that this needs to be done to ensure that the laws are “able to deliver their pre-defined objectives.”

During the meeting, the MMF recommended ongoing dialogue and exchange between the industry and MEPs to ensure that the interests of Malta are continuously safeguarded in the face of legislative proposals coming out of Brussels.

Members of the Board of Directors commented on the MMF’s current key policy priorities, namely the articulation and implementation of a national maritime strategy, the establishment of a Maritime Court, the setting up of a dedicated maritime authority, and the upholding of high standards to safeguard the international reputation of the maritime industry and the country.

The MMF proceeded to thank Dr Grech and Mr Castillo for taking an objective and non-confrontation approach with respect to the industry and for giving it the desired importance, to the extent of naming a Shadow Minister for Maritime Affairs.

On his part, Dr Grech praised the work and commitment of the MMF, adding that the maritime industry could take centre stage in a new economic model “which transforms from a punitive to a motivational approach.” He said that this will enable greater potential from the maritime industry, with the aim of “no longer treating it as a fringe sector.”

Featured Image:

MMF Chairman Godwin Xerri / MMF

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