Our political relations are very good and have intensified since Malta’s accession to the European Union. We are Malta’s 4th largest trading partner and our country has a very favorable image, especially since France decided to unilaterally implement the European Solidarity Pact adopted under the French Presidency of the European Union and relieve Malta of 200 migrants. However, French investments in Malta remain very modest.
1. Political Relations.
Frequency of Visits: following Malta’s accession to the EU, visits in both countries have intensified. They have set the pace since 2009. No state visit took place during President Sarkozy’s term. After Mr. Fillon met his counterpart in Malta on May 8th and 9th, 2008 (first visit to the archipelago by a French Prime Minister), Lawrence Gonzi came to France on October 20th, 2008, as part of the French Presidency of the EU. Numerous ministerial visits have also taken place since then (Mr. Jouyet, Mr. Hortefeux, Mr. Barnier, and Mr. Woerth in 2008, Mr. Kouchner and Mr. Besson in February 2009). Mr. Juppé participated in the 5+5 Forum defense ministers’ meeting on December 2nd, 2010, and Mr. Hortefeux, Minister of the Interior, met Mr. Borg on December 3rd, 2010, in Valletta. Finally, in September 2011, Malta’s Minister of Culture and Tourism was received by Mr. Mitterrand.
Fruitful dialogue: France enjoys a positive imagein the archipelago:
France unilaterally decided to implement the solidarity section of the European Pact on Immigration and Asylum, which was beneficial for Malta, desperate to find places to host migrants from the Libyan coast. We also supported Valletta during their bid to host the European Asylum Support Office;
unity regarding the Peace process: Valletta aligned with France in the UNGA regarding Palestine’s observer status, and voting alongside France for its admission to UNESCO;
- Operation Harmattan conducted in Libya demonstrated Malta’s total availability: provision of airspace and maritime areas, as well as Valletta airport, for French forces;
France has also benefited from its diplomatic stances during the U.S. intervention in Iraq. France’s restraint was appreciated by the Maltese, very committed to the principle of neutrality;
generally, France’s attitude towards Arab countries was considered constructive: both with regards to its positions in the Middle East and with respect to the Arab League. France’s interest in the Mediterranean is highly regarded by Malta;
finally, at a time when the Maltese are trying to break away from strong Anglo-Saxon influence they appear more disposed to focus on French culture and language.
Two issues require special monitoring:
Combating illegal immigration: this theme figures as a national priority.
Maritime security: despite transitioning from “black” to “white” classification under the Paris Protocol in 2010, the state of the fleet sailing under the Maltese flag remains unsatisfactory in terms of security: accident of the Maltese tanker “Erika” (37,000 tons of fuel) and, last December, the cargo ship TK Bremen (Maltese flag), with 190 tons of fuel on board, on a rated beach in the Morbihan. In 2011, the Maltese flag represented the largest fleet in Europe and seventh worldwide in transport capacity.
For reference: Online betting: several Maltese companies organize online betting for horse racing events in France. Prior to April 2010, this was against French legislation granting a monopoly to the PMU in this area, and caused a major dispute with the Maltese betting company Zeturf. This bilateral issue disappeared with the Law dated April 6th, 2010 regarding openness, competition, and regulating the gambling and betting sector being voted.
Updated on 12.10.12