MEP Metsola calls for EU funds for Gozo to be “more flexible”
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MEP Roberta Metsola is insisting that EU funds for Gozo should be made more flexible. “Gozitan businesses are facing increasing challenges to compete on a level playing field.,” she said.
The MEP argued that “the double insularity experienced by Gozitans – especially those in business – results in further costs and more time to transport products from Malta to Gozo.”
“This should be addressed, and Gozitan businesses should be provided with additional flexibility, particularly when it comes EU funding rules for transport,” said MEP Metsola.
Roberta Metsola was speaking as she submitted a Parliamentary Question to the European Commission, in which she made the call for additional flexibility for Gozo when it comes to the de minimis ceiling for road transport.
She said that “the de minimis aid rule allows businesses across the European Union to be provided with aid that is exempt from being notified to the Commission in advance if it is less than €200,000.” Adding that the de minimis rule also applies for aid of less than €100,000 to be used for road transport.
“This is too low,” stated the MEP. “Gozitan businesses are faced with much higher costs and this one-size-fits-all approach means that the playing field is being skewed. Gozitan businesses do not want handouts. They just want a fair approach that allows them to compete.”
Ms Metsola argued that, the specific characteristics of Gozo requires specific exemptions from this rule. “For the past years I have been visiting Gozitan businesses and meeting with entrepreneurs in Gozo on a weekly basis and opened a constituency office in Gozo in 2018.”
She insisted that “the challenges due to the double insularity of the island are felt across Gozo, with businesses facing a huge bureaucratic process to be able to tap into funds. If we really want to see Gozo as a business hub, we must act and lighten the burden to do business in Gozo,”
“High transport costs, time delays and storage costs are major difficulties encountered by Gozitan businesses,” said Roberta Metsola. The MEP added that throughout this legislature, she has applied pressure at a European level for these challenges to be addressed.
She said that she has called on the Maltese Government to ensure that, in view of the upcoming EU budget, Gozo’s special status is preserved.
MEP Metsola concluded by saying that she has called for massive public investment in traditional and digital infrastructure to make Gozo the destination of choice for foreign direct investment.