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Commission report [COM(1999) 69 final - Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission report [COM(1999) 508 final - Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission report [COM(2000) 708 final - Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission report [COM(2001) 700 final - SEC(2001) 1751 - Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission report [COM(2002) 700 final - SEC(2002) 1407 - Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission monitoring report [COM(2003) 675 final - SEC(2003) 1206 - Not published in the Official Journal]
Treaty of Accession to the European Union [Official Journal L 236 of 23.09.2003]
Research and technology development cooperation between the EU and Malta has continued principally through the EU Framework Programme. In the field of telecommunications, Malta has made major progress, but the Government's decision to maintain a monopoly until 2010 poses a serious problem.
The October 2002 Report emphasised the progress made by Malta in the field of science and research with, in particular, the launch of a national audit exercise aimed at setting priorities and updating policies. This report also detailed the progress made in the field of telecommunications, especially with regard to regulatory matters.
The November 2003 Report concluded that the Maltese legislation is only partially meeting the commitments given in the accession negotiations in the telecommunications and postal services areas. By contrast, Malta has met the requirements arising from the accession negotiations in the area of science and research.
The Treaty of Accession was signed on 16 April 2003 and accession took place on 1 May 2004.
The aim of Community research and technological development (RTD), as provided for in Article 164 of the EC Treaty (former Article 130G) and the Framework Programme (Article 166, former Article 130I), is to improve the competitiveness of EU industry and quality of life, to encourage sustainable development and to contribute to the development of other Community policies.
The objectives of Community telecommunications policy are to abolish the obstacles to the proper functioning of the single market in telecommunications equipment, services and networks, to open up foreign markets to Community undertakings and to provide modern services for EU nationals and businesses. These objectives are to be attained by means of harmonisation of standards and conditions for the provision of services, liberalisation of the terminals, services and networks markets and adoption of the regulatory measures required.
Research and technological development
Research and technological development cooperation between Malta and the EU has continued principally through the Framework Programme. Malta decided not to formally join the Fourth Framework Programme, but committed EUR 2 million of its financial agreement to foster integration in the Framework Programme on a project-by-project basis. To that effect, the Malta Science and Technology Council set up a network of local correspondents overseeing the completion of this exercise.
Malta has made great progress since the last report. As of 2001, the country was fully associated with the "Fifth Framework Programme". Successful implementation of the acquis in this area relates directly to the implementation of this framework programme. Malta has also expressed interest in being associated with the Sixth Framework Programme (2002-2006).
Malta has launched a national audit and foresight exercise to set priorities and update its science, research and innovation policy. The Malta Council for Science and Technology (MCST), responsible for the coordination of Malta's participation in the Community research programmes, has set up a policy development unit focusing on the development of sectoral networks to provide policy advice on areas of national interest. Efforts are also being pursued to develop joint public-private sector R&D ventures. In 2001, the MCST organised a number of briefing sessions focusing on the thematic and horizontal programmes of the Fifth Framework Programme.
The development of the research sector and its effective integration into the European Research Area will, in particular, require a further increase in business expenditure on research and development. Research activities at universities will need to be fostered and current efforts to foster the participation of the business community in the framework programmes and to develop joint public-private sector R&D ventures will need to be sustained.
The 2003 report from the Commission stresses that Malta has met the commitments and requirements arising from the accession negotiations in the area of science and research and will be in a position to implement the acquis as from accession.
In the field of telecommunications, progress has been made since 1993. Malta's telecommunications networks are fully digitised and therefore advanced services are provided such as high speed data transmission, frame relay service, telematics applications, GSM mobile telephony and Internet. The penetration rate in fixed telephony of 50.4% is close to the average rate in the EU Member States.
Malta's legislation in the field of telecommunications is mostly in line with the 1998-2000 acquis, which aimed at the elimination of obstacles to the effective operation of the single market and at providing universally available modern services. However, there is still a legal limitation on the number of licences (two) to be issued for the public mobile telecommunications system and services, and further licences will not be issued before 2005.
In order to further develop the competition in the market, Malta needs to complete alignment on the telecommunications acquis in the areas of carrier selection and cost-orientation of tariffs. The new regulatory framework on electronic communications adopted in 2002 remains to be transposed by the Maltese authorities.
From the institutional point of view, the requirement of the separation of the regulatory function from the State's control function over Maltacom has been fulfilled: the telecommunications regulator reports to the Ministry of Transport and Communications, whereas the ownership function is exercised by the Ministry of Economic Services.
The Maltese Government has taken the first step towards privatisation of the sector by selling 40% of Maltacom's capital via a public offering in June 1998, 20% on the domestic market and 20% at international stock exchanges.
In June 2002, the Malta Communications Authority (MCA) published an official decision on the designation of dominant market operators. Since November 2001, all operators have had to provide free telephone access to emergency services. The implementation of the new numbering plan was finalised in April 2002. The MCA has also published consultation papers on cost-based accounting systems, universal service obligations and on the introduction of price controls. The 2003 report from the Commission found that the Malta Communications Authority is fully operational.
The sector's infrastructure has developed well. The fixed network is now 100% digitised, with a penetration rate of 53% in fixed voice telephony. Since the introduction of a second GSM mobile network, a mobile penetration rate of 51% was achieved as of December 2001. The Internet penetration rate within the population is 29%, and the percentage of households connected to cable TV is the highest of the applicant countries, at 71%.
Postal services are provided by Maltapost, which has been partly privatised. Malta needs to complete alignment of its legislation with the acquis, mainly regarding the universal service obligation, accounting issues, quality of service, the general authorisation system and licensing. Transposition of the 2002 second postal directive remains to be done. The draft law amending the Postal Services Act with the aim of transposing the acquis and therefore further liberalising the sector has still to be adopted.
An e-Government programme was adopted in 2001, which aims at providing the majority of eEurope public services, on a full-transaction basis by the end of 2002, in line with the e-Europe+ action plan 2003 (1).(1) The eEurope+ action plan is aimed at speeding up reforms and modernisation of the applicant countries' economies, encouraging capacity- and institution-building, improving overall competitiveness, and strengthening social cohesion. It was launched by the prime ministers of the applicant countries at the Gothenburg Council (15-16 June 2001).
This summary is for information only and is not designed to interpret or replace the reference document.