Mrs. De Monte introduced the event that focused on the opportunities, prospects and challenges for the transport sector in the near future by reiterating how 2017 is an important year for the realisation of innovative infrastructure in multimodality among Member States and in particular in Italy. She also introduced actions in the legislative and economic fields that the European Union intends to pursue in 2017 and the priorities of the Maltese Presidency Semester. In particular, a strong focus was put on the new CEF funding mechanisms in the transport sphere called "blending", which being based on a combination of grant resources and financial instruments the European Investment Bank (EIB) made available, has been published by the EU on the day of this event. The debate addressed three main broad issues: environmental sustainability, cabotage and digitisation. All speakers stressed that environmental sustainability in transportation does represent a high priority. Jocelyn Fajardo, Deputy Head of Cabinet of Transport Commissioner Bulc, has shown that the will of reducing emissions has entered into an enforcement phase. Michael Cramer, former President of the EU Parliament Committee on Transport and Tourism, said that a long and winding road still lies ahead of us in this field. Suffice to say that transport is the only sector which increased its CO2 emissions, whereas on the contrary in the industrial sector saw a 38 % of reduction: figures that call for persisting in stronger efforts towards decarbonisation while encouraging the development of sustainable transport systems. Mr. Enrico Puja, Director General of the Directorate General for Maritime Transport and the Inland waterways at the Italian Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport, stressed that it is right to push the use of alternative fuels, particularly referred to the Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), by stating that it is particularly important to create adequate infrastructure network for this fuel; he also stressed that Italy is moving straight ahead in this area, through the implementation of five ongoing European Actions and a new Proposal at National level submitted in the last CEF Transport Call 2016. The cabotage issue is no less important and with this in mind the Head of the Land Transport Cabinet of the Permanent Mission of Malta to the EU, Mr. Chris Farrugia, recalled that this is a matter to be solved. Uniformed rules are needed throughout the European context, simplifying the regulatory framework is a must, existing tools such as the digital tachograph, have to be used properly and, last but not least, the dumping phenomenon must be relentlessly fought, but without burdening economically on the conveyors. The Permanent Representative - Ambassador to the European Union Mr. Giovanni Pugliese emphasised that the priorities of the Maltese Government are the same of the Italian one, and agreed on the developed cabotage and dumping issues that must be addressed with the right means. The issue of digitisation was highlighted by Mr. David Kerr, Transportation Attaché of Maltese Permanent Representation to the EU, as a tool to improve ships efficiency and for this reason has to be made operational. The topic has been then taken up by prof. Giovanni Consoli, Conftrasporto, who cited the ‘smart’ tachograph as a virtuous example in the field. Mr. Marcello Di Caterina, Director of the Association A.L.I.S. highlighted, among the Association's priorities, the attention to environmental pollution and to cabotage in addition to the intermodal issue. He underlined that the ability to reroute the transport from road mode to other modes has a two-fold objective: to relieve congestion along the highway network and to boosting the decarbonisation. In closing the discussion, the President of Confimea Mr. Roberto Nardella described the Italian situation of SMEs, emphasising the launch of an important federal initiative among Mediterranean countries.