Last Updated on Friday, 3 February, 2023 at 1:18 pm by Andre Camilleri
In light of the revision of the European State aid regulations, namely, De Minimis aid, MEP Josianne Cutajar has been advocating for more aid to be granted to island businesses due to their particular circumstances and disadvantages, ultimately benefitting Maltese and Gozitan consumers.
Amongst other initiatives, Cutajar contributed to a public consultation by the European Commission and submitted a Parliamentary question to the Commission in this regard. Furthermore, the MEP pushed forth this point in a recent meeting with Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, re-emphasising the call for flexibility when it comes to the application of state aid rules vis-a-vis businesses coming from islands, a call which was included in the Report on Islands and Cohesion Policy, which she negotiated last year.
Such pressure is significant since it would also entail a revision of the ceiling for easy access funding coming from national governments to local businesses. Given that the current state aid rules apply equally when it comes to European businesses, irrespective of where they come from, the rules as they stand do not take into account the different particularities and realities of islands. “What I am proposing is that businesses located on islands, which do incur higher costs determined by transportation, levels of demand and fewer resources in general, benefit from reinforced aid from their local governments, also via the revision of the treshold of de minimis aid” MEP Cutajar stated.
“Naturally, this would help Maltese and Gozitan business, amongst others, remain competitive, whilst also offering their products and services at the best possible price for their consumers, especially in light of the current surge in inflation and costs related to the digital and green transition”, the MEP continued. Accordingly, the de minimis ceilings for European islands should be revised upwards and adapted to the additional costs and setbacks these businesses face.
“European rules should be devised in a way to put island businesses on an equal footing with their continental counterparts.” Josianne Cutajar concluded.