Towards the future

Malta's foreign policy is geared towards promoting Malta's interests and safeguarding those of its citizens internationally, with an overriding commitment to global and regional peace and security. Over the years, and even more so today, this has meant that Malta has continually striven to maintain the best possible relations with other countries and has played an active role in a wide variety of international and regional institutions.

As a European country that shares the values of democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights, Malta's destiny quite clearly lies with the Union. It is Government's intention to further consolidate Malta's European identity, creating a more open economy and new opportunities for Maltese citizens, whilst also participating in the development of Europe in the twenty-first century.

A number of milestones have sign-posted our path towards membership of the European Union. Two of the most important of these remain: Malta's application for membership, submitted to the Council of the European Union in July 1990, and the decision taken at the Helsinki European Council in December 1999 to open accession negotiations with Malta and the remaining Central and Eastern European applicant states. This meant that Malta was given the go-ahead to begin negotiations in February 2000, making up for time lost during the two-year freeze of the application by the Labour administration between 1996 and 1998. Negotiations were formally concluded on 13th December 2002 in Copenhagen , Denmark .

On the 8th of March 2003 , a referendum was held on the question of whether Malta should become a member of the European Union in the subsequent enlargement of 1st May 2004 .  143,094 votes cast were in favour and 123,628 against. The Treaty of Accession to the European Union was signed by the Prime Minister Dr. Edward Fenech Adami and the Foreign Minister Dr. Joe Borg on the 16th of April 2003 . Malta became a member of the European Union as from 1st May 2004 .

The inspiration behind the Government's policy for membership of the European Union is based on the conviction that Malta's economic, social and political development are best pursued within a framework of partnership and cooperation. This could only be given its full expression through membership of the European Union. It will also afford Malta the opportunity to fulfill her international responsibilities with the vigour they deserve.

Malta's commitment to Europe does not, however, lessen its determination to foster peace, security, stability and co-operation in the Mediterranean. Indeed, one of Malta's strongest arguments for membership of the European Union is precisely the enrichment which, through its Mediterranean location and perspective, it brings to the Union's southern dimension. The Government has in the past, and continues today, to play an important role in the Mediterranean region. Malta has been an active player in the EuroMed process that has at its focus the political, economic and social integration of the Mediterranean peoples. This, among other initiatives, continues to receive Malta's full support as one of the fundamental pillars of Malta's foreign policy.

Another important dimension of Malta's foreign policy is its consistent and active participation in the work of a number of international and regional organisations. Primary among these are the United Nations, the Council of Europe, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the Commonwealth.

Malta became a member of the United Nations on 1st December 1964. Since then, it has consistently endeavoured to encourage and support measures aimed at promoting international peace and security. Through its membership of the United Nations, Malta has sought to bring to the attention of the international community issues of a political, economic, social and environmental nature. Its major initiatives in this regard include the introduction of the concept of the Common Heritage of Mankind and the Protection of the Global Climate.

Malta has also been a member of the Council of Europe since 1965 and has consistently been committed to the role and objectives of this organisation. The incorporation of the European Convention of Human Rights in Malta's legislation constitutes a tangible expression of this commitment.

One forum where Malta has played an active role since the very beginning has been the OSCE. Members of the Armed Forces of Malta have participated in OSCE verification missions in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Georgia and have attended a number of OSCE conferences dealing with general security issues. Malta believes that peace-keeping constitutes an important element in the overall capacity of the OSCE to handle conflict prevention, crisis management and post-conflict rehabilitation. We believe that in furthering this role, the OSCE will also be in a position to provide a coordinating framework for the combined efforts of the international community. Within this forum, Malta has constantly sought to highlight its concerns regarding developments in the Mediterranean and continues to play a full part in the maintenance and enhancement of the Mediterranean dimension of the OSCE.

Within the Commonwealth, Malta also plays an active role and is one of the 10 Commonwealth Member States which participates in the High Level Review Group, comprising Heads of Government, and tasked to review the role of the Commonwealth. Through the Malta-Commonwealth Third Country Programme, a number of training programmes are co-funded by the Government of Malta and the Commonwealth Secretariat.

Malta's foreign policy is also aimed at promoting Malta as a business centre offering a full range of financial and investment opportunities to the international business community. Malta has a stable political and business environment with a highly skilled workforce that is conducive to commercially viable enterprises. 

Key Dates - Malta as a Nation

1964 Malta Independence within the British Commonwealth
1974 Malta becomes a Republic
1979 Last British services leave Malta

1987 Change in the 1974 Constitution

2004 Malta joins the EU

2008 Malta joins the Eurozone