Information Note for Consultation
As part of the outcome of the ‘Convention of Maltese Living Abroad’ held in March 2010, the Government of Malta committed itself to the setting up of a public institution to safeguard the interests, rights and aspirations of the Maltese living abroad. The Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Tonio Borg, expressed his intention to give this institution a legal basis through the enactment of a Bill in Parliament.
By means of this Information Note, the Government of Malta is seeking to provide the general guidelines of the intended legislation with a view to initiate a consultation process among Maltese Communities living abroad and seek their views and recommendations.
To this end, High Commissioners and Ambassadors of Malta will be consulting representatives of Maltese communities abroad and by the end of March 2011, seek their views on the principles of the legislation to be proposed. In addition, one may also submit suggestions and recommendations directly to the Ministry’s website on email [email protected]
The aim of Government is to set up the Council as an advisory body. It will be chaired “ex officio” by the Minister responsible for Foreign Affairs from time to time , since Maltese communities abroad are covered by the Minister’ s portfolio. The Minister will not enjoy a right to vote in the Council.
The Council will include a number of members representing Maltese Communities abroad. These will be chosen according to strength in numbers of these communities . Consequently, it is obvious that the Maltese Community in Australia will have an adequate representation as well as those in Canada and in the United States.
One cannot ignore the relatively large number of Maltese who reside in European countries particularly now that Malta is a member of the European Union. The aim is to give adequate representation to Australia/New Zealand, Canada, United States of America, and Europe.
It is obvious that there will be some Maltese Communities without direct representation. However, the council members will be in duty bound to safeguard the interest of all Maltese who live abroad.
The members of the council are to be appointed by the Prime Minister in accordance with certain criteria. Thus, wherever in any of the countries mentioned above there exists a federation of the various Maltese associations, its opinion will be actively considered; where there is no such federation the opinion of the community council of that town, region or state is to be sought. Where none of these institutions exist then consultations will take place with Maltese organizations who operate in the area.
Since shift and changes may occur regarding where Maltese communities choose to settle, changes in this scheme of representation may take place. However, this has to be done through the publication of a legal notice which has to be laid on the Table of the House of Representatives.
Besides representatives from Maltese Communities, the council will have other members who are appointed by the Prime Minister after consulting the Leader of the Opposition. These are to be chosen from among persons who reside in Malta or have been living abroad or are familiar with the interests, rights and aspirations of the Maltese Communities abroad. The number of overseas members will always be greater than that of the other members.
All members of the council have to be Maltese citizens although they may hold a citizenship of another country.
The main objectives of the council will be to promote the quality of life of the Maltese Communities abroad and their individual members, to strengthen their ties with the political, cultural, economic and social milieu in Malta, to safeguard adequately the interests of the Maltese Communities and their members, to facilitate the preservation of a cultural and linguistic identity of the Maltese Communities, to promote the Maltese culture abroad particularly the teaching of the Maltese Language as well as to improve the integration of the communities in their adopted countries and their effective participation in their localities. Moreover, the Council will be responsible for analysing and verifying the problems which Maltese Communities encounter, including those regarding living and working conditions, professional and educational training, as well as recognition of qualifications obtained in Malta. The council also is to put forward any proposal, suggestion or recommendation on any legislation or administrative measure . It will be responsible for promoting and encouraging studies and research on issues which affect the Maltese Communities and persons of Maltese descent around the world, and even provide adequate support to achieve this objective.
The council is to be consulted on any new legislation affecting the interests of the Maltese living abroad and may also contribute to such legislation.
The council will be responsible to advise the Minister regarding any bill or issue which can affect the interests of the Maltese abroad, including any transmissions of programmes for Maltese living abroad.
Any council meeting can also be held through video and/or audio conferencing or other means of communication. However, once a year the council has to meet in Malta. Government will provide adequate financial assistance so that overseas members will be able to attend such council meeting.
The council has to present an annual report on work carried out to the Clerk of the House and this will be laid on the Table of the House of Representatives and discussed by the Standing Committee of Foreign and European Affairs.
The Bill will provide the means so that , independently from the council for Maltese Living Abroad, a Cultural Institute will be set up so that financial and human resources within the Ministries of Culture, Education and Foreign Affairs will be amalgamated in one institution to promote Maltese Culture Abroad.