0001198 - A Mediterranean Success Story: Maltas EU...

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Spring 2008 The Ambassadors REVIEW 35 A Mediterranean Success Story: Malta’s EU Integration Molly Bordonaro United States Ambassador to Malta ithin the space of a few weeks earlier this year, the Mediterranean island nation of Malta further advanced its integration into European Union institutions by adopting the euro currency and joining the Schengen zone. * Malta has the distinction of being the first and only EU member state to adopt the euro and join Schengen at the same time. This achievement is even more impressive when you consider the fact that Malta joined the European Union less than four years earlier, in May 2004. Malta’s success in planning for and implementing these changes can serve as a model for other EU member states who have yet to adopt the common currency or accede to the Schengen visa regime. Despite its small size and population, Malta has effectively and rapidly met the requirements for full integration into the eurozone and Schengen area, and in doing so, has stepped confidently onto the European stage and bolstered its relationship with Brussels. Malta’s location at the heart of the Mediterranean has long made it an important port of call along the trade routes that connect Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East. This strategic location has enabled Malta to assume an outsized geopolitical and economic importance that would otherwise not correspond to a country of its small physical size and population. If you spend any time in Malta, you will soon discover that its people are accustomed to thinking beyond their own borders. History has shown time and again that the Maltese people are gifted at establishing mutually beneficial economic and political relationships with their larger neighbors. It is little wonder, then, that Malta made joining the eurozone a top priority after becoming a member of the European Union. Since it gained independence in 1964, Malta’s economic development strategy has been driven by the need to compensate for the country’s lack of natural resources and its small size. The chosen path of diversification into manufacturing and services, particularly tourism and, more recently financial services, has consequently had to depend heavily on inflows of foreign direct investment and on securing access to larger overseas markets. Economic openness and small size also entail exposure to external shocks, a characteristic
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0001198 - A Mediterranean Success Story: Maltas EU...

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