Malta Report


Main Actors

In most cases, decision-making of a WGA-type in Malta involves public officials, the heads of the armed forces (AFM), and government ministers. In the most serious cases of crisis, the prime minister is also involved. In the past decade, only one international crisis has brought out all the characteristics of a WGA, namely, the 2011 civil war in Libya, which threatened to spill over into Malta, particularly if thousands of war refugees were to reach Maltese shores in a disorganised manner.
Malta ensures policy coherence at EU level by establishing a number of interconnected national decision-making bodies that bring all segments of government, parliament and civil society together. These structures have almost eliminated the problem of operating in separate silos. The protagonists in the decision-making process know each other, and their offices are often located within walking distance of each other. The smallness of the public service and the relatively few layers of bureaucracy (compared to those of larger states) facilitate horizontal cooperation and centralised decision-making. In fact, together with the UK and Ireland, Malta is among the most centralised EU countries (Thijs, Hammerschmid and Palaric 2017: 10).
Briefly, the national EU-related decision-making process works as follows: First, all ministries have set up an EU Directorate or the equivalent to deal with all EU issues falling under the particular ministry’s remit. Officials in these directorates participate in the EU’s comitology. Second, a new Ministry for European Affairs and Equality (MEAE) was established in 2013, effectively separating EU affairs from foreign policy. It was this ministry that led preparations for Malta’s presidency of the Council of the EU in 2017 (Harwood, Moncada and Pace 2018). Third, within the public service, an EU Co-ordination Department has been established to replace the EU Secretariat. Fourth, there is an Inter-Ministerial Committee that includes all the permanent secretaries (i.e. heads of ministries), which meets and reports to the cabinet. Fifth, above these stands the cabinet (of ministers), which is headed by the prime minister, approves the national position, and takes all final decisions. Civil society, NGOs and lobbyists are consulted through the Malta-EU Action and Steering Committee (MEUSAC), and their views are relayed to the key bodies within the national structure. When viewed in its totality, one sees that this national decision-making system has a WGA-like structure.
One can also mention a number of WGA-like cooperations. First, Malta has participated in one UN operation, the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). At first, its forces were part of the Italian contingent. But, in 2019, the UN listed Malta as providing 11 peacekeepers independently (UNIFIL 2019). Second, in accordance with the Vienna Document (OSCE 2011), Malta deploys military officers as guest evaluators/inspectors with arms control agencies of other European countries. Third, although Malta is not a member of NATO, it did re-join the alliance’s Partnership for Peace (PfP) in 2008, and its individual programme focuses on non-military activities of the partnership (NATO 2018). Lastly, in 2019, Malta joined two of NATO’s Science for Peace and Security (SPS) projects (Inside Quantum Technology 2019). The first aims to establish and implement post-quantum cryptographic solutions and protocols to guarantee a secure solution for cryptographic computerised communications used to protect sensitive information. The second aims to establish a communication channel between Italy and Malta using underwater optical fibres. In the long run, this project aims to help protect critical infrastructures in Malta and to pave the way for quantum communications to be used between Malta and Italy.
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