Malta, officially known as the Republic of Malta is a Southern European island country consisting of an archipelago in the Mediterranean Sea. It lies 80 km south of Italy, 284 km east of Tunisia, and 333 km
north of Libya. The country covers just over 316 km2, with a population of just under 450,000, making it
one of the world's smallest and most densely populated countries. The capital of Malta is Valletta, which
at 0.8 km2, is the smallest national capital in the
European Union. Malta has two official languages: Maltese and English.

Malta's location has historically given it great strategic importance as a naval base, and a succession of powers, including the Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans, Moors, Normans, Sicilians, Spanish, Knights of
St. John,
French and British, have ruled the islands. King George VI of the United Kingdom awarded the George Cross to Malta in 1942 for the country's bravery in the Second World War. The George Cross continues to appear on Malta's national flag. Under the Malta Independence Act, passed by the British Parliament in 1964, Malta gained independence from the United Kingdom as an independent sovereign Commonwealth realm, officially known from 1964 to 1974 as the State of Malta, with Elizabeth II as its
head of state. The country became a republic in 1974, and although no longer a Commonwealth realm, remains a current member state of the Commonwealth of Nations. Malta was admitted to the United Nations in 1964 and to the European Union in 2004; in 2008, it became part of the Eurozone.

website Malta government


Malta has a long Christian legacy and its Archdiocese of Malta is claimed to be an apostolic see because, according to tradition dating to around the 12th century, the Acts of the Apostles
is interpreted by the faithful that St Paul was shipwrecked on Malta. Catholicism is the official religion in Malta









Following centuries of unrest and a myriad of conquerors, the rule of the Military Order of St. John brought about a period of unprecedented stability and development to the Maltese Islands. The newly constructed fortified capital, Valletta, administrative centre and home to the variety of nationalities forming the Order, witnessed a further development as the islands’ cultural and entertainment hub.

Throughout the 17th and early 18th centuries, the demand for operas, pageants, theatrical and dramatic productions boomed as the Maltese embraced what had previously been entertainment reserved solely for the Nobility. Shows put on by amateurs and theatre professionals were then housed at the Knight’s Auberges around the city or in the open.

In 1731, António Manoel de Vilhena, Grand Master of the Knights of Malta, commissioned and personally funded the construction of this central building to serve as a Public Theatre. It was constructed in just ten months and cost 2,184 scudi (€41,714). The Portuguese Grand Master built the theatre to keep the young knights of the Order of St. John out of mischief but also to provide the general public with "honest entertainment." This motto was inscribed above the main entrance to the theatre, which read: "ad honestam populi oblectationem". The first performance on the 19th January 1732 was a classic Italian tragedy, Scipione Maffei’s Merope. The players in that production were the Knights themselves, and the set was designed by the Knights` chief architect, Francois Mondion.


Hinting at a Union with a variable geometry, Malta’s parliamentary secretary for the EU presidency Ian Borg said the EU needs to be flexible to cater for the disparate needs of member states and restore belief in the European project. “It is about time to address the notion that one size and model fits all shapes,” Borg said, speaking at an event in Brussels where he presented the priorities for the presidency.

For the first time since its accession in 2004, Malta assumes the six-month rotating presidency of the EU on 1 January. During the first half of 2017, the UK is expected to invoke Article 50, while the Dutch and French are voting for new governments. Addressing the fear and inequality felt by Europeans who think that national responses on migration, security and the economy are more effective will be a top priority for the island country, the Maltese said.

Balancing act

If the EU succeeded in its fundamental principles, Borg conceded, mentioning half a century of peace, security and prosperity, a new sense of vision and in-built flexibility needs to be defined to help the project to withstand unprecedented challenges. On 3 February, Malta will host a summit to continue the discussion that started in Bratislava and pave the way towards building a new vision for the Union ahead of the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome in March. “This should be a new momentum and a platform to rebuild trust in the EU project in a viable and sustainable way,” Borg added, insisting on a seriously fragile balance between flexibility “which should be too loose” andan intransigent rigidity that undermines the integration process.

Building bridges

After meeting European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat echoed the same discourse and argued that his government did not have any delusions of grandeur with respect to the presidency, and would be focusing on getting things done and making sure that Europe progresses on the issues that matter. “We are natural bridge builders, and we want to try and work out compromises that will allow us to move forward in the future,” said Muscat, stressing that the next six months will not be only about Brexit and migration. “There is a lot of other work that needs to be done to improve the livelihood of our people. We need to make what we say more understandable to people wherever they are from Vilnius to Valletta,” said Muscat.

Borg insisted that the deficit of citizens’ credibility was often the result of a deficit in the implementation of decisions. “We need to have the courage to review and reform when we need to do so and to remove, or improve stagnant concepts and thinking,” Borg added, though rebutting the option of a complete redesign of Europe. Opening up the treaties which have taken years to hammer out would be folly, he said, diverting energy that can be better used to tackle the fundamental issues. The economic crisis, Brexit, migration, security and terrorism have ‘traumatised’ the European project, the Maltese pointed out. “These crisis should not detract us from continuing the European agenda and project, but rather provide a window of opportunity to build a stronger, more competitive and social Europe.

Beyond social inclusion, migration, security, maritime policy and the single market, the small Mediterranean country is planning to focus on the Neighbourhood policy. On Brexit, the Maltese parliamentary secretary sent a message to London, saying the four freedoms could not be disengaged from each other. “We should take a pragmatic approach to negotiations and this should lead to fair, clear, swift solutions.” After meeting the Maltese premier, Juncker said he was convinced that the island’s presidency will be a successful one, as the small country will not be putting domestic concerns at the top of its agenda. He said that he did not hope for results, but expected them.