Select Committee on Foreign Affairs Minutes of Evidence

Annex 3


  The United Kingdom and Malta have a shared history and a close relationship. This action plan details initiatives undertaken by the United Kingdom and Malta to continue their constructive co-operation and to promote Malta's progress towards membership of the European Union. It includes the joint activities of both British and Maltese authorities. This is an evolving document and will be updated as further joint initiatives currently under consideration are agreed. This bilateral assistance complements assistance being channelled through the European Union.


  Well trained negotiators are crucial to Malta's EU Accession. The United Kingdom continues to contribute bilaterally by providing EU training to Maltese diplomats and public officers. In 1999 this included the running of a specially designed EU negotiating course for senior Maltese officials (mostly Permanent Secretaries) from various Ministries within the Maltese Public Service. This was followed up in 2000 with a course specifically designed for middle ranking officials—again from a wide range of government Ministries. The courses were designed to provide Maltese officials with the opportunity to acquire relevant experience in EU negotiating methods. The courses were run at the United Kingdom's Civil Service College.


  The United Kingdom can provide practical advice on how to achieve effective EU Co-ordination between Government Ministries. A senior UK official from the European Secretariat of the Cabinet Office visited Malta in March 2000 to explain the Cabinet Office's function and EU Co-ordination Structures within Whitehall.


  The United Kingdom has offered arrangements for Maltese officials to maintain direct contact with their UK counterparts on issues connected with Malta's EU Accession, including an invitation for a Maltese official to spend time with the CFSP Department of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. This visit programme will be undertaken in July 2000 and is designed to demonstrate how CFSP works between the member states of the European Union. The visiting Maltese official will be shown how the UK:

    —  contributes to CFSP working groups, political committees and General Affairs Councils;

    —  uses the Coreu network telegrams;

    —  contributes to the formation of Joint Actions and Common Positions;

    —  engages in political dialogue with third countries through CFSP;

    —  integrates CFSP into the policy work of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and within other Government Departments;

    —  co-ordinates the implementation of negative measures (sanctions);

    —  arranges for parliamentary scrutiny of CFSP instruments;

    —  expresses its foreign policy views in the European Union.


  A bilateral meeting to address Export Control measures was held in Malta on 29/30 March 2000. The meeting focused on implementation of the EU aquis in areas of free movement of goods, co-ordination of sanctions and implementation of dual use regimes covering areas of legislation, enforcement and technical equipment. A bilateral agreement on customs co-operation was signed in on 27 June while other visits by UK technical experts will follow in July 2000.


  The Chairman of the British Safety Council visited Malta in May 2000 to address a seminar focusing on Health and Safety issues. The British Safety Council and the Health and Safety Executive are now working closely with the Maltese Department of Social Policy and the Occupational Health and Safety Unit on the provision of advice on Malta's implementation of the acquis.


  The United Kingdom's Government Actuary visited Malta in January and April 2000 to promote collaboration on pension reform and insurance regulation.

  In January 2000 the British High Commission in Malta arranged a programme of visits in the United Kingdom for the leadership of the General Workers Union. The aim of the visit was to strengthen ties between British and Maltese trade unions, to discuss the implications of EU membership and to provide practical advice on implementation of EU directives. Plans are in hand for a similar visit by representatives of the Confederation of Maltese Trade Unions in July 2000.

  In June/July 2000 the Occupational Psychologist from Malta's Employment and Training Corporation completed a three-week training placement with the UK's Occupational Psychology Division of the Department of Education and Employment. The placement provided the opportunity to learn advanced guidance and counselling skills and how to implement the acquis.


  In June 2000 the Head of the European and International Unit of the UK Home Office visited Malta to establish closer links with Maltese officials responsible for JHA issues and to identify areas of possible future co-operation. In addition, Britain and Malta are considering the possibility of a bilateral agreement on combating drugs and international crime.

  The Centre for Political and Diplomatic Studies in the UK will run a course between 16-29 July 2000 on Justice and Home Affairs and preparing for membership of the EU. Two Maltese officials will participate.


  Our respective Ministers of Agriculture have confirmed their intention of establishing closer co-operation between the two Ministries at senior level. The Head of European Union and International Policy Group in the British Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food visited Malta in May 2000. The visit provided a solid basis on which to build future relations. Britain has agreed to provide the Maltese Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries with assistance in the drafting of a Maltese Rural Development Programme. This will be followed up by a visit of a UK expert to Malta. In addition, the United Kingdom has offered to host a study visit for Maltese officials on handling the European Union and Brussels negotiating skills.


  Close Ministerial contact across government between the United Kingdom and Malta is increasingly important to both countries. The British Minister of State for Europe, Mr Keith Vaz visited Malta in July 2000. We will work to maintain this momentum as Malta moves towards EU membership.


  The Personal Assistant to the Prime Minister and Chairman of Malta's EU Negotiating Team, visited London in January 2000. Meetings were held with the British Minister of State for Europe, and numerous officials dealing with the European Union at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and other Ministries.

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