[WATCH] Malta against lowering driving age to 17 as EU ministers approve new rules

Transport Minister Aaron Farrugia says Malta does not agree to changes in a European directive that would see 17-year-olds permitted to drive if accompanied by an adult

File photo
File photo

Malta has come out against a proposal that would lower the driving age to 17 years across the EU as long as the driver is accompanied by an adult.

The new regulations proposed by the European Commission were approved earlier today with minor amendments by the Council of Ministers, paving the way for the final stage of approval involving dialogue with the European Parliament.

Transport Minister Aaron Farrugia, who was in Brussels for the meeting that discussed road safety, said Malta objected to the proposal to lower the driving age since the country wanted to promote public transport.

The rationale behind the proposal is to allow 17-year-olds to gain road experience until they are 18 years of age, while accompanied by an adult.

Farrugia said Malta was making efforts to encourage more commuters to use public transport. In October 2022, public transport was made free of charge for commuters in Malta with government subsidising the cost in a bid to encourage wider use of buses and reduce traffic congestion and pollution.

The new rules still have to go through other stages of approval but the Council's nod is an important step in the process.

Malta agrees with several other road safety measures being proposed by the Commission.

Meanwhile, Farrugia said Malta, Italy, and Spain were among the countries that managed to put on the agenda a discussion on the maritime emissions trading system. ETS will be extended to the shipping industry in January, leading to higher prices for European freight.

Malta also requested the European Commission to come up with concrete measures to avoid carbon leakages and safeguard European ports that will be obliged to levy an ETS surcharge unlike competing destinations in the Mediterranean.