VILNIUS – In an effort to improve air communication, Lithuania should use the opportunities and the innovative financing instruments offered by the European Union (EU), says transport policy Commissioner Violeta Bulc.
"The European Commission recognizes the challenges in the air connectivity, that some of the members states like Lithuania are facing. We adopted new guidelines on public service obligation and that member states can identify and address these connectivity issues, of course they have to be used in the spirit of state aid guidelines (...) I would certainly invite that innovative financial tools are used in order to address the connectivity issues, with investments, with proper conditions," she told a news conference in Vilnius on Tuesday.
Lithuania's Transport and Communication Minister Rokas Masiulis said at a public discussion on Monday that the least substantial progress had been achieved in the efforts to solve the air communication problem.
"The rules where the state can improve its accessibility by air in one way or another are excessively strict for such small countries, such as Lithuania, where Vilnius cannot be reached from all European capitals within six or seven hours. (…) This requires a change of rules, so that the state could earmark bigger sums for the purpose," said Masiulis.
The European Union bans countries from supporting airports or companies. Without an additional go-ahead from the European Commission, countries can only provide minor assistance of 200,000 euros to new flights.