Last updated in March 2013
German-Maltese relations are wide-ranging, reflecting both political and economic events and the role played by the two countries within the European Union. In addition, tourism and the numerous personal contacts that have developed over the years have helped foster lively mutual interest and a regular exchange between the two countries, despite the geographical distance dividing them.
Diplomatic relations were established between Germany and Malta in 1965, shortly after the country gained independence. Since Malta’s accession to the European Union on 1 May 2004, the traditionally close and amicable contacts between the two countries have become even more intensive. This is underlined by the mutual visits at senior government level. Maltese Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi last visited Germany in January 2013 at the invitation of Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel. Federal Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle was in Malta in September 2010. Minister of State at the Federal Foreign Office Werner Hoyer visited Malta in November 2010. Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel travelled to Malta for official talks in January 2011. Maltese Foreign Minister Tonio Borg visited Berlin in September 2011. This trend continued in 2012 with high-level visits in both directions: Federal Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection Minister Aigner visited Malta in early April and German Bundestag President Norbert Lammert also travelled there in April. Minister of State at the Federal Foreign Office Michael Link paid his first official visit to Malta in July and there were also visits by several committees of the German Bundestag and the Bavarian state parliament.
Malta has gained a reputation as a reliable member of the international community, contributing its own ideas and projects to international bodies.
Germany supports Malta in its efforts to cope with the refugee problem.
Germany is one of Malta’s major trading partners. Some 60 to 70 German companies are currently registered in Malta. In 2012, the volume of Malta’s bilateral trade with Germany grew, by 0.2 per cent for imports from Germany, to EUR 318 million, and by 5.7 per cent for Maltese exports to Germany, to EUR 344.7 million. At the end of 2010, German direct investment in Malta stood at EUR 26.8 billion, according to German Federal Bank figures, putting Malta in 12th place worldwide among German investment destinations.
The following economic agreements between Malta and Germany are currently in place:
- Investment promotion and protection accord, in force since 17 December 1975
- Double taxation agreement, in force since 27 December 2001
- Air transport agreement of 1994, in force since March 1997
Malta is a popular tourist destination for Germans. In addition to its wide range of cultural events, it offers visitors pleasant temperatures even in winter and can be reached quickly and reliably by air from Germany. Thanks to its situation in the Mediterranean, Malta is also an attractive cruise destination, the entrance to the Grand Habour alone offering spectacular views. German visitors are very welcome guests in Malta, being considered ‘quality’ tourists with an interest in the country’s history, culture, natural environment and language. Malta’s numerous English language schools are also very popular with students from German schools.
2012 was again a record year for Malta’s tourism sector. The number of German tourists grew by an above-average 2.5 per cent, to 137,214, making Germans the third largest group of visitors, after Britons and Italians. The number of German cruise ship tourists grew by 4.1 per cent, to 157,563, making Germans the largest group by far, ahead of the Italians and French.
A German-Maltese Business Council was set up at the Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry in October 2011.
On the cultural front, too, relations between Malta and Germany are close. The German-Maltese Circle, which was founded in 1962, fills the gap left by the absence of a Goethe Institute there. It not only offers language courses but also organizes exhibitions and film screenings. The German-Maltese Circle’s counterpart in Germany is the Maltese-German Association.
A fully fledged German Studies programme was established at the University of Malta in 2008. In addition, in autumn 2009 the Federal Government created – initially for a period of five years – a German Chair for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Malta’s Mediterranean Academy of Diplomatic Studies (MEDAC). Since autumn 2009, the Fraunhofer Institute has been providing assistance through an EU-funded project to the Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology (MCAST) in teachers’ further training and is helping to set up new training courses. Since 2013, the state-funded St. Margaret’s College has been a partner school under the Federal Foreign Office’s ‘Schools: Partners for the Future’ initiative (PASCH).
In 2011 and 2012, Germany provided funding under the Federal Foreign Office’s Cultural Preservation Programme to restore the Chapel of the Langue of Germany in St. John’s Co-Cathedral in Valletta.