On Thursday and Friday, EU transport ministers met in Tallinn to discuss ways to ensure better flight connections in the European periphery, among other transport-related topics.
"There are currently two ways in which the EU is able to increase the number of air links needed — setting public service obligations for airlines, and providing state aid," Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure Kadri Simson (Center) said according to an EU presidency press release.
Meanwhile, Estonia has been analyzing the possibility of providing international air service with public service contracts to European economic centers, but has found that it cannot be implemented in full compliance with EU requirements without compromising the competitive environment. This current approach is more suitable for local, not international, connections.
"Therefore, we need a solution that would ensure sufficient air connections while not jeopardizing free competition in the single EU aviation market," Simson explained. "It remains to be seen whether the EU will be able to create opportunities that will provide all member states with solutions to ensure good connections."
European Commissioner for Transport and Mobility Violeta Bulc confirmed that good transport connections are an important issue for the European Commission, especially when considering various modes of transport.
"I believe that only when we include other modes of transport — in addition to air connections — can the provision of connections become sustainable," Bulc said.
The EU transport ministers on Thursday continued discussions to chart the policies and investment needs for the development of the trans-European transport network (TEN-T) and the next funding period, which will begin after 2020. On the second day of the meeting, the focus was on the results of previous TEN-T projects, the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) midterm review and discussing the use of possible sources of funding, including innovative sources, for building up the TEN-T network during the next funding period.
Editor: Aili Vahtla