The European Commission is currently “assessing” Malta’s reply on the bus fares discrimination issue relating to different prices being charged to non-residents and residents of Malta.
Last Thursday the European Commissioner for Transport Siim Kallas, replying to one of the several European Parliamentary Questions on the contentious issue, pointed out that the European Commission had initiated infringement proceedings against Malta on 25 January by way of a letter of formal notice – the first of three steps is taking legal action against a member state. The letter had warned Malta, and asked for explanation on the fact that “the differential bus fares for residents and non-residents could constitute indirect discrimination based on nationality”.
Malta had replied to the letter in March and, according to Commissioner Kallas, “The Commission is in the process of assessing the Maltese reply.”
This particular parliamentary question had been raised by British MEP Phil Bennion, who had remarked, “I am told that some Arriva buses in Malta are advertising travel for only €1.50 a day. However, I am informed that short-term residents and tourists have to pay €2.60 a day. Despite this, I am informed there is a lower rate, but this price only allows travel anywhere for two hours and it takes longer than this to get anywhere and back on the island.” He asked: “Can the Commission provide an update as to the contact it has had with the Maltese authorities and whether the Maltese bus fare scheme is compatible with EC law?”