Malta scores 48 on the100-point MIPEX scale, similar to the average MIPEX country (49). As Malta only recently started to address integration, Malta’s integration policies still create as many obstacles as opportunities for integration. Malta is trying to promote a comprehensive approach to integration, but only goes halfway to actually guarantee equal rights, opportunities and security for immigrants. Immigrants have greater obstacles to access basic rights, opportunities and security in Malta than in other countries with comprehensive policies.
Malta’s policies matter because they influence whether or not integration works as a two-way process. The way that governments treat immigrants strongly influences how well immigrants and the public interact and think of each other. Malta’s current policies do not encourage the public to see immigrants as their neighbours, equals and fellow citizens.
Many obstacles emerge for immigrants in Malta to reunite with their families, settle long-term, achieve at school and participate in public life. Malta needs family reunification and permanent residence policies in line with EU trends that would allow legal residents to reunite their families and settle long-term. A more comprehensive policy and support for migrant education can help immigrant children to achieve, feel safe at school and progress on to higher education.
The fact that Malta, denies immigrants the opportunity to be heard by politicians means that they are not able to vote, but also to contribute to improving public life and attitudes. Its bureaucratic and discretionary path to citizenship is the main factor depressing its naturalisation rate. All of these weaknesses make newcomers and locals less likely to develop relationships, positive attitudes about each other and a common sense of belonging, trust and civic participation.
Compared to other destinations in the Mediterranean, Malta’s integration policies are weaker than Italy, Portugal and Spain’s but more advanced than Cyprus and Turkey’s. Malta’s comprehensive but minimum approach is similar to Czechia and Estonia.
- Labour market mobility: Halfway favourable: The labour market regulations are only halfway favourable for non-EU residents to contribute to the economy. Non-EU nationals in Malta cannot quickly or easily change jobs or benefit from the same general support and benefits that Maltese citizens use to pursue jobs and training.
- Family reunification: Slightly unfavourable: Non-EU citizens were less likely to reunite with family in Malta than in most European countries, because of its long-delayed, restrictive and discretionary policy. Only Cyprus, Denmark, the Netherlands and UK are more restrictive.
- Education: Slightly unfavourable: Maltese education policies improved over the last years thanks to increased support for migrant children at school. But more could be done to promote intercultural education and diversity at school and remove obstacles to higher education.
- Health: Halfway favourable: For migrant groups eligible for ‘free’ healthcare or who are able to pay for healthcare, some services are slowly becoming more accessible and responsive to their specific health needs. But for the rest, healthcare entitlements are more unclear and discretionary in Malta than almost anywhere else.
- Political participation: Slightly unfavourable: Following other Mediterranean countries, Malta has now started to inform and consult immigrant communities. However, non-Maltese citizens have still no right to vote.
- Permanent residence: Halfway favourable: Immigrants have greater obstacles to settle long-term in Malta than in most other MIPEX countries, because of Malta’s restrictive language and economic requirements, discretionary procedures and unsecure status (e.g., in terms of duration and renewal).
- Access to nationality: Slightly favourable: Malta has not updated its citizenship policy to reflect its transformation from a country of emigration to immigration. Malta’s short and simple naturalisation requirements on paper are highly discretionary in practice, without citizenship entitlements for children born or raised in Malta.
- Anti-discrimination: Slightly favourable: Catching up with EU-wide trends, Malta adopted more comprehensive laws since 2012. Residents can better challenge discrimination, but not nationality discrimination, unlike in the majority of MIPEX countries. Stronger equality bodies and policies are needed to better inform and target immigrant victims of discrimination.