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Brussels, 12 December 2006

Maritime cabotage: the Commission sends a reasoned opinion to Malta

Today the European Commission sent a reasoned opinion to Malta for failure to comply with Community rules on maritime cabotage. This is the last stage before a possible referral to the Court of Justice.

The Commission found that Malta had not justified the need to conclude in April 2004 an exclusive public service contract with a private operator to provide maritime services to Gozo. Moreover, the contract was signed without a prior tender procedure offering all interested operators equal access to the market.

Under the regulation applying the principle of freedom to provide services to maritime transport within Member States, the latter must allow the operators concerned to operate freely in this type of market. Exceptions to this principle are only granted in special circumstances where market forces do not provide a satisfactory level of service.

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