France and Malta Republic

Presentation

Political relations

Political relations between France and Malta are excellent and have become more developed since Malta joined the European Union. Generally speaking, France’s attitude to the Arab countries is judged to be constructive as regards its position on both the Near East and the Arab League. The attention that France pays to the Mediterranean is also very well perceived by Malta.

On a European level, both France and Malta share the same wish to direct Europe towards growth and solidarity. The French and Maltese proposals on European issues are quite close, with the exception of the Maltese opposition in principle to tax on financial transactions within the Eurozone, as they are keen to retain an attractive and competitive financial system.

In 2016, the French National School of Public Administration (ENA) successfully trained 300 Maltese civil servants ahead of the Maltese presidency of the Council of the European Union.

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Economic relations

France’s position as Malta’s fourth-largest trading partner after Egypt, Germany and Italy, is somewhat misleading. French investments in the country remain modest, but French presence nevertheless remains essential for the Maltese economy: STMicroelectronics is the main employer and the island’s biggest exporter (50% of the country’s exports) and the French-funded CMA-CGM runs Malta’s commercial port (12% of the Mediterranean’s container shipping). Since 2008, several French financial companies have moved into Malta: PSA, RCI (Renault), Oney (Auchan) April for insurance as well as several French online gaming companies. As regards telecommunications, Alcatel is the industrial partner of Go, Malta’s leading telecommunications operator. In January 2011, Nexans won a contract worth €178 million to install an undersea electricity cable aiming to connect the Maltese electricity network to the European network. Several French brands are now successfully represented in Malta: Yves Rocher, Kiabi and Habitat since 2013. Lastly, Malta could be seen by French companies as a future base for accessing the North African market.

Cultural, scientific and technical cooperation

Work in promoting the French language in Malta is mainly driven by the Malta-Mediterranean alliance française which welcomes 800 students. While teaching of French is strong at middle school level, it drops off considerably as pupils get closer to employment (omnipresence of English).

University cooperation between the two countries is limited. The University of Malta is partnered with University of Nancy II but student mobility is weak. Competition from Italian and English is strong. Our policy is mainly based around grant programmes.

More is done from a scientific perspective with the most important initiative being the launch of a regional office of the French National Centre for Scientific Research at the University of Valletta and the implementation of the “Mistrals” research programme in 2011. This reflects our wish to construct a Euro-Mediterranean research area.

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Updated: 12 June 2017

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