Malta has not made any major changes to its regulatory framework over the last years with the exception of extending their RIA requirements recently to primary laws in May 2021. The “Small Business Act” (SBA), adopted in 2011 and revised in 2017 and 2021, introduced a framework for ex ante impact assessment to be applied by ministries when developing subordinate regulations, including an SME-Test, and more recently for developing primary laws. The Maltese government continues to put a strong emphasis on the reduction of regulatory burdens for business and citizens. Whilst ex post evaluation of existing regulation is not mandatory, the Maltese government has conducted several ad hoc reviews of existing laws and regulations in specific sectors, reflecting limited review resources. However, Malta currently lacks a systematic approach towards reviewing whether laws and regulations achieved the intended policy goals, including a requirement to periodically evaluate existing regulations and a standardised methodology for ex post evaluation.

Competences for regulatory policy and regulatory reform are dispersed among various government bodies. The mandate of the Office of the Principal Permanent Secretary and Cabinet Secretary – located within the Maltese Cabinet Office – notably includes oversight on the quality of RIAs, co-ordination on regulatory policy and guidance on regulatory management tools. It is also responsible for administrative simplification and publishes the yearly Simplification Measures Report. Additionally, the Ministry within the Office of the Prime Minister (MSD) was established in 2020 and is responsible for the quality control of stakeholder engagement, particularly online public consultation. Finally, the Policy Development and Programme Implementation Directorate within the Ministry for the Economy, Investment and Small Businesses is responsible for the implementation of the SBA and for improving the regulatory environment for SMEs. It performs a range of core regulatory functions – such as quality control of regulatory management tools, systematic improvement and advocacy, and guidance – insofar as these relate to the SBA and to the SME Test.

Stakeholder engagement and open public consultation are required for all primary laws and subordinate regulations. Online consultations are accompanied by a feedback report, summarizing the views of participants and providing general feedback on the comments received. The transparency of the Maltese regulatory framework could be further strengthened by making RIAs available for consultations with stakeholders. Additionally, Malta could more systematically engage with stakeholders during the early stages of the legislative development process, particularly for primary laws, before a preferred regulatory decision has been identified.

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