A thorough proposal for the ferry link between Cyprus and Greece that has to be approved by the European Commission is almost ready, deputy shipping minister Natasa Pilides said in Limassol on Monday.
And if approved, the deputy ministry could call for tenders within the first quarter of 2020 so as to have it up and running in the summer season, she added.
“We are very focused on this issue, there are people in the deputy ministry working exclusively on this proposal that needs the green light by the European Commission,” she said.
“It’s very complicated because it’s not just the various state subsidy issues at stake, commercial and security issues also arise since passengers will be able to take their cars as well as suitcases on board…the proposal will be as thorough as possible so as to maximise the chances of a positive response to enable us to call for tenders in the first quarter of 2020 and not miss the summer season,” she added.
The deputy ministry carried out a feasibility study with the help of foreign consultants that was completed on August 5. The tender to re-introduce the ferry link will be EU-wide.
Financing using state or EU funds are governed by the EU acquis on state aid, particularly those on state aid in sea transport which are subject to European Commission approval.
This is given subject to specific preconditions for public transport (obligations as to the duration, financing, awarding of contract etc).
“We have to be very careful so as to ensure that the commercial part is not subsidised…At the same time, there are several issues we are consulting with the Greek Ministry of Shipping, such as how the passports will be checked, if and how a ship is affected by an intermediate stop and what checks and balances should be carried out before the subsidy is granted,” Pilides also said.
Calls for the restoration of a ferry link between the two countries that ceased in 2000 have been long-standing.
Previous efforts have stumbled on the problem of money, with feasibility studies indicating that such a link would not be financially viable.