Malta assumes the presidency of the GTMO 5+5 at the 10th Conference of Transport Ministers of the Western Mediterranean countries

  • The ministers’ conference served to formalize the transfer of the GTMO 5+5 presidency from Mauritania to Malta
  • The ministers adopted the Declaration of Conclusions that will guide the work of GTMO 5+5 under the Maltese presidency

The 10th Conference of Transport Ministers of the Western Mediterranean countries took place on 6th October 2021 within the framework of the activities of the Group of Transport Ministers for the Western Mediterranean (GTMO 5+5), a group in which CETMO serves as Technical Secretariat.

Although the conference was held virtually for the first time due to the restrictions imposed by COVID-19, it was held in Valletta, as Malta was the host country and organizer.

All member countries of the group (Mauritania, Malta, France, Morocco, Spain, Tunisia, Italy, Algeria, Portugal and Libya) were represented at the conference. Representatives of the observer institutions were also present, more specifically: Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport from European Commission (DG MOVE – EC); the Secretariat of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM); the International Transport Forum (ITF); the European Investment Bank (EIB); the International Union of Railways (UIC); the Société Nationale d’Etudes du Strait de Gibraltar (SNED) of Morocco; and the Sociedad Española de Estudios para la Comunicación Fija a través del Estrecho de Gibraltar, S. A. (SECEGSA).

The main objectives of this conference were several. The first was to change the rotating presidency of the GTMO 5+5 between a European and a Maghreb country. This time, Malta assumed the presidency and chose the theme “Enhancing connectivity with GTMO African countries within the European framework” as the theme of its presidency. Previously, the report of the activities carried out during the presidency of Mauritania, as outgoing presidency, was presented and approved.

The second was the adoption of the Statement of Conclusions. This document gathers the topics of interest to be developed during the new presidency and is the basis for the preparation of a work program that will contribute to the development of transport in the region through cooperation. This Declaration of Conclusions is the result of coordinated work between experts from the member ministries of the GTMO 5+5 and CETMO. The Declaration was adopted unanimously, reinforcing the work carried out by the experts and the principles of collaboration and understanding that characterize the group’s activity.

Throughout the conference, the ministers highlighted the current challenge of transport connectivity in the region in a period of change, accelerated by COVID-19, and the sector’s commitment to environmental sustainability. More specifically, the important role to be played in the region by intermodal logistics chains, based on the Trans-European Transport Network and GTMO 5+5 Multimodal Transport Network corridors and the connectivity opportunities offered by the Motorways of the Sea (MoS), was pointed out.

Regarding sustainability, the importance of the policies and measures launched by different institutions was mentioned, such as the European Green Deal, “Fit for 55” to adapt European legislation to climate objectives, or the adoption of global standards by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to reduce emissions from transport.

In addition, other challenges of the sector were pointed out, such as digitalization. It should contribute to the recovery of the sector after the impact of the pandemic, and be a boost for its modernization with the incorporation of new technologies, as well as provide new opportunities for cooperation in the harmonization of standards between both shores of the Mediterranean.

The exchange of knowledge and experiences between countries and actors (public, private, academic…) was highlighted as one of the activities to continue working on in order to achieve a more efficient sector and thus favour the development of the region and the participation of the private sector.

Finally, the importance of cooperation among countries and coordination among regional institutions to boost the region’s potential was emphasized.

In conclusion, a new presidency of the GTMO 5+5 begins, full of challenges and opportunities and with a renewed commitment.