Malta is a Republic with a democratic system of Government. The parliamentary system is well established. The House of Representatives consists of members elected by universal suffrage. The country is effectively managed by a Prime Minister who is usually the party leader commanding the greatest measure of support in the House, and by the Cabinet, which is nominated by the Prime Minister. The President is appointed by the House of Representatives.
Elections are held ev very five years. The political scene is dominated by the two large parties, the Nationalist Party and the Labor Party. As from 1993, local councils have been established.
They are generally responsible for various local administrative matters. Elections for local councils are held every three years.
The legal structure is based on the civil-law pattern of continental Europe, but most administrative and fiscal legislation is based on well-tried British laws. Malta recognizes the right of individual petition to the European Courts of Justice, an nd the European Convention on Human Rights forms part of Malta’s domestic law.
From economical point the main priorities in the economic policy of the Maltese Government are to achieve a sustainable rate of economic growth, whilst ensuring a high level of

f employment, a low and stable inflation rate and improvements in the standard of living of Maltese households.
Sustaining the competitive edge in international markets is a key requirement within this context. Industry, tourism, the services and commercial sectors, as well as financial services, are the pillars on which economic development is sustained. A privatization programme has been in place since 1998, which has significantly reduced the role of government in the economy. Practically, all public sector direct investments, except for the shipyards in the productive sectors, have been privatized. In June 2000, a specific Privatization Unit within the Ministry of Finance was set up with the primary task of implementing the government’s policy on privatization as detailed out in the White paper on n Privatization. The Unit was given the responsibility of handling the process leading to the privatization of government-owned corporations and companies. The Malta Freeport, the Department of Public Lotto, the Malta International Airport and the Bank of Valletta are targeted for privatisation within the year 2001.
In December 1999 a white paper ‘Prosperity in Change: Challenges and Opportunities for Industry’ was published. Encouraging innovation and extending skills is an important principle of Malta’s industrial policy. At the end of 2000, the Ministry for Ec
conomic Services carried out an extensive operations review to improve its effectiveness. As a result of this exercise, the Ministry has been reorganized in various directorates falling under then the Commerce Division. This Division has amalgamated the former Departments of Trade, Industry and Industrial Property, including also the Small Business Efficiency Unit. The Division which is also intended to serve as a single service interface with government for small enterprises and craft industries was officially inaugurated on February 13, 2001.
The Institute for the Promotion of Small Enterprise (IPSE) has been established to facilitate the restructuring of locally oriented manufacturing enterprises in view of the possible impact of EU.
In July 1990, Malta officially applied to join the EU. Three years later, the Commission delivered its opinion on Malta. However subsequent to the change in Malta’s government as a result of the general elections, Malta’s application was frozen. Following new elections in 1998, Malta’s application was reactivated and in February 1999 the European Commission updated its 1993 opinion on Malta. Malta’s screening process started in May 1999 and was completed by the end of January 2000. At the Helsinki European Council in December 1999 the decision was taken to open accession negotiations. A revised National Plan for the Adoption of th
he Acquits (NPAA) was published in September 2000. The document identifies the structural reform and economic policy measures, including legislative alignment required in the process towards EU membership.
As at November 2000, twelve chapters of the Acquits have been closed for negotiation. During the first half of 2001, under the Swedish presidency, Malta is expected to open negotiations on the remaining chapters of the acquits. The Government’s target is to close all negotiations with the EU either by the end of the year 2001 or early 2002 so that the referendum on whether Malta joins the EU or not would be taken in that year.
On 12 April 2003 the Nationalist Party maintained itself in power with over 51% of the vote. This was comparable with its victory in 1998. Labour returned around 46.6%, with the Green Party on 0.7%. This was a decisive general election victory for Prime Minister Dr. Eddie Fenech Adami’s Party, enabling Malta to sign the Accession Treaty in Athens on 16 April 2003. Dr Fenech Adami retired as Prime Minister on 22 March 2004 and was replaced by Dr Lawrence Gonzi, who won the backing of his party by a wide majority. The Prime Minister’s initial meeting with Prime Minister Gonzi was during the 25-26 March Spring European Council. Upon retiring as Pr
rime Minister, Dr Fenech Adami was elected President of Malta, by Parliament, and assumed office on 4 April. He replaced Prof. Guido de Marco whose 5-year term ended on 3 March. HM the Queen sent messages to both outgoing and incoming Presidents.
The Nationalist Government applied, in 1990, to join the EU and received a positive European Commission Opinion in 1993. The Maltese Labour Government of 1996 – 98 froze, but did not withdraw, the application. The Nationalist Party reactivated it on their return to office in September 1998. The Helsinki European Council, in December 1999, invited Malta to open EU accession negotiations. On 15 February negotiations were launched and substantive negotiations began on 28 March. These were completed in December 2002. Public opinion on EU Membership has remained split. The opposition Malta Labour Party wanted a relationship with the EU but not membership and set up a ‘Campaign for National Independence’. On 8 March 2003, 92% of the Maltese electorate of 297,000 voted in the government’s EU referendum. 53.6% of those who voted said yes to the EU. The difference between yes and no votes was 19,500. Since the April general election, the MLP has developed a constructive approach to Malta’s EU destiny, accepting the decision of the people.
1 May 2004 marks an historic moment as Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia join the EU as new Member States sealing a period of enormous change. Just over a decade ago, six of the eight Central European states did not even exist. One of them was at war. These countries have voted to anchor their new and hard-won independence and nationhood in the EU. They rightly see the EU as the best guarantor of their new-found sovereignty.
As the European Union enters a new era, the UK Government wholeheartedly welcomes the ten countries of Central and Southern Europe as new members of the European Union. It is the clearest sign that the division, which for too long has marked our Continent, is finally erased. That can only be a cause of celebration as we shape a new future of further prosperity, stability and security for all member states in Europe.

Timeline: Malta
A chronology of key events:
1814 – Malta a crown colony of the British Empire.
World War ll – Heavy bombing by German and Italian air forces targeting Allied bases.
1942 – King George VI awards colony the George Cross – Britain’s highest civilian decoration – for heroism.
1947 – Self-government granted.
1959 – Self-government revoked.
1962 – Self-government restored.
1964 – Full independence.
1964-71 – Nationalist Party pursues pro-Western alignment.
1971 – Dom Mintoff’s Malta Labour Party takes power; new era begins of non-alignment and special friendship with Libya and Communist states.
1974 – Malta becomes republic.
1979 – Closure of British military base.
1984 – Mintoff resigns, succeeded by Carmelo Mifsud-Bonnici.
Towards Europe
1987 – Victory of Nationalist Party marks move toward European integration. Eddie Fenech Adami becomes prime minister.
1989 – Malta hosts first summit between Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev and US President George Bush.
1990 – Malta submits application for full membership of the European Union (EU).
1996 – Labour Party, led by Alfred Sant, regains power and shelves application for EU membership.
1998 – Eddie Fenech Adami’s Nationalist Party returns to power, revives application to enter EU.
1999 – Guido de Marco sworn in as president.
2001 May – Pope John Paul II visits Malta, where 98% of the populations are Roman Catholic. The Pope beatifies three Maltese clerics at an open-air ceremony.
2002 December – EU summit in Copenhagen formally invites Malta to join in 2004.
2003 March – Just over 53% of voters say yes to EU membership in a referendum.
2003 April – Adami’s ruling Nationalist Party claims victory in a general election, confirming the pro-EU referendum result.
2004 March – Lawrence Gonzi sworn in as prime minister following retirement of veteran leader Edward Fenech Adami.
2004 1 May – Malta is one of 10 new states to join the EU.


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