Miriam Dalli requests answers from European Commission on Italy’s veiled interconnector threat

Italian Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio recently brought up the fact that Malta buys some of its electricity from an interconnector to Sicily while discussing Malta and the recent case of the Aquarius rescue vessel

Labour MEP Miriam Dalli asked the commission whether it felt that such veiled threats against a member state were acceptable
Labour MEP Miriam Dalli asked the commission whether it felt that such veiled threats against a member state were acceptable

Labour MEP Miriam Dalli has asked the European Commission whether it felt that it was acceptable for Italian Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio to threaten another European member state.

Di Maio made a veiled threat to Malta by bringing up the interconnector while criticising the island for refusing entry to the Aquarius on state television earlier this week.

“I am sorry for Malta. We supply Malta with electricity from a cable in Ragusa and they closed their ports,” he said.

As reported by the Malta Independent, Dalli told the Commission that the interconnector had been put in place to end “Malta’s isolation” from the European energy network and to provide security of supply and flexibility in the island’s electricity services.

She pointed out that despite Di Maio’s assertion that the Aquarius was in Malta’s search and rescue area, the migrants on board had been rescued within the Libyan search and rescue area.

Read more: Italy deputy PM mentions interconnector in veiled threat to Malta over migrant crisis

Dalli asked the Commission whether it considered “such threats” by a member state to be acceptable; how the Commission could ensure that “projects of common interest” are not used to “threaten energy isolated member states”; and whether the Commission, in view of the statement, could ensure that the supply of electricity to Malta via the interconnector is not disrupted.

The Maltese government reacted to Di Maio’s comments with “surprise”, noting that Malta bought energy from the European grid via the Malta-Italy interconnector.

“The agreement on the said interconnector is governed by European rules and specifies minimum and maximum loads, and circumstances when such loads can be reduced,” it said in statement.

It added that it was confident that the competent Italian authorities would draw Di Maio’s attention to the fact that the agreement was governed by the rule of law.

Di Maio is the head of Cinque Stelle, the party that emerged the largest political force after the March elections but not strong enough to form a government on its own. His party only managed to form a coalition with the hard-line Lega after months of political talks to resolve the election impasse.

Read more: Aquarius standoff: Spain will take rescue ship with 629 migrants on board

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