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Summaries of EU Legislation

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Summaries of EU legislation: direct access to the main summaries page.

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Commission report [COM(1999) 69 final - Not published in Official Journal]Commission report [COM(1999) 508 final - Not published in Official Journal]Commission report [COM(2000) 708 final - Not published in Official Journal]Commission report [COM(2003) 675 final - SEC(2003) 1206 final - Not published in Official Journal]Treaty of Accession to the European Union [Official Journal L 236 of 23.09.2003]


Since the 1993 Opinion, Malta has made progress, particularly in the transposition of Community legislation in the areas of labour law, health and safety at work and equal treatment of men and women. However, the measures adopted are only partly consistent with the acquis, and additional efforts will be needed to supplement the provisions already in place and ensure correct application of the acquis in the main areas.

It is important for the State to encourage the representatives of workers and employers to set up an independent social dialogue, especially at sectoral level.

The 2003 report specifically states that Malta complies with the commitments and requirements arising out of the accession negotiations on labour law, equal treatment, social dialogue, employment policy, social inclusion and social protection and that it should be in a position to implement EU law in these areas by the time it accedes.

Malta also fulfils most of the accession requirements regarding health and safety at work, public health (specifically, communicable diseases), the European Social Fund and combating discrimination. But it must pursue alignment of its legislation if it is to comply fully with the requirement to transpose the whole corpus of EU legislation in these areas.

The Treaty of Accession was signed on 16 April 2003 and accession took place on 1 May 2004.


In the social affairs field, apart from the various specific action programmes, notably in the field of public health, and the European Social Fund, EU legislation covers health and safety at work, labour law and working conditions, equal opportunities for men and women, the coordination of social security schemes for migrant workers, and tobacco products.

In all these areas, EU social legislation lays down minimum requirements, accompanied by safeguard clauses for the most advanced Member States.

In addition, the consultation of the social partners and the social dialogue at European level are enshrined in Articles 138 and 139 of the Treaty (ex-Articles 118a and 118b).


In its 1993 Opinion the Commission considered that Malta's accession to the Community would not raise any major difficulties in the social sphere, the situation being comparable to that in the Member States. Official unemployment has risen in recent years - to over 5% in 1999 - but is still lower than the average for the European Union. Male unemployment is much higher than female unemployment. Overall unemployment has continued to rise, from some 7% in 2000 to 6.7% in 2001 and 7.4% in 2002.

The 2003 report states that Malta has to make a further effort to ensure effective implementation of the conclusions drawn from the joint assessment of the country's employment policy priorities. In particular steps need to be taken to increase the percentage of people in employment, especially for women and older workers, address the emerging mismatch between skills and available jobs and the question of informal and undeclared work, to provide incentives for people to take up work and to make further improvements to public employment services.

Malta has a tradition of social dialogue between employers and trade unions but this has to be strengthened in line with the approach of the European Union and its Member States. On major social problems the Maltese Government consults the Malta Council for Economic and Social Development, which comprises representatives of employers, trade unions and other competent bodies. The report calls for both the tripartite social dialogue and the bilateral sectoral social dialogue to be strengthened.

The first assessment reports stated that an effort had been made to align Malta's labour law on EU legislation, for instance regarding conditions of work for part-time workers.

The 2003 report points out that Malta has yet to transpose EU legislation on fixed-term work and that some adjustment is needed to the laws on posted workers, the transfer of undertakings and insolvency. On flexible working hours and collective bargaining arrangements in certain sectors Malta has been granted transitional arrangements which will apply until the end of July and the end of December 2004 respectively.

Where EU law on worker participation in European companies and on informing and consulting workers is concerned, Malta decided to postpone transposition until after accession.

On equal treatment for women and men Malta has adopted several laws since 1992 with a view to eliminating all sex-based discrimination. For instance, in January 2000 the country promulgated a law on equal treatment which entered into force in October that year. However, the 2003 report states that further alignment is needed, particularly on occupational social security schemes. Malta also needs to put implementing structures in place in this area.

Regarding anti-discrimination measures, the 2003 report states that Malta has not yet transposed the non-employment linked sections of the Directive on equal treatment that prohibits discrimination on the basis of race. Also, the body responsible for ensuring equal treatment that is required by EU law has yet to be set up.

Malta has embarked on a substantial review of its legislation in the area of health and safety at work. Regulations on safety signs at the work place entered into force on 1 July 2000, whilst others on maternity protection and the protection of young workers at work were promulgated in April 2000.

The 2003 report states that EU legislation in this area has been partially transposed but further legislative alignment is required on mining and quarrying, fishing vessels and work in potentially explosive atmospheres. The occupational health and safety authority has been set up but its staff and technical facilities still have to be built up. The Directives on mobile construction sites and noise at work have yet to be transposed and for the rules on workers' use of equipment and devices Malta has been granted a transitional period up to the end of December 2005.

The 2003 report states that, on public health, Malta has recently adopted legislation transposing the body of EU law on tobacco. Maltese law on the surveillance and control of communicable diseases has been aligned on EU law but the authorities need to reinforce implementation. New laboratory equipment and training in modern epidemiology, as well as additional computerisation, are needed. Malta should pursue its efforts to develop a health monitoring system that will provide health data and indicators comparable with those provided by the EU health monitoring system.

As regards social welfare, a public sector institution, the social welfare development programme, has been set up. National expenditure in this area and on services for the elderly has increased significantly. Migrant workers, half of whom are from EU Member States, represent less than 1.5% of the work force. Malta and the United Kingdom have concluded a bilateral agreement on coordinating social security for migrant workers and this provides for reciprocal arrangements. In 2004 the Commission and Malta are due to finalise a joint memorandum on social inclusion which will identify the key challenges to promoting such inclusion and, possibly, will outline policy in this area. On this basis Malta will have to devise an integrated strategy and a national action plan on social inclusion.

Last updated: 20.01.2004