Speaking in Brussels on Wednesday, Ian Borg, Malta's Parliamentary Secretary for the EU Council presidency, said social inclusion, migration and the single market will be high on the agenda, along with the maritime sector.
Borg was the keynote speaker at a pre-presidency briefing hosted by the European Policy Centre think tank at which Borg spoke of the "challenges" facing the Maltese presidency.
Malta's ultimate aim, he said, is to bring the EU "closer" to the people, saying that dialogue on the role of the EU will be encouraged
Borg said, "Malta, during its presidency, will encourage more vigorous debates amongst EU leaders on issues that are challenging the very existence of the bloc."
Fostering a "progressive approach" on social inclusion and issues such as gender equality in the labour market, will also be on its agenda for its six month stint at the helm of the EU.
In his speech, Borg stressed the need for a Europe-wide effort in helping refugees and those looking for a better life, saying Europe must also strengthen its borders in order to stabilise the European neighbourhood.
The single market will be beefed up by placing a sharper focus on EU legislation that addresses the challenges faced by SMEs and consumers while the maritime sector as this is of "great importance given the fact that Europe is becoming increasingly more dependent on the sea."
EPC director of studies Janis Emmanouilidis said, "Malta will take over the presidency at a difficult period in European integration. In this situation, the Maltese presidency will have to play the role of an honest broker, aiming to find consensus and achieve agreements in the Council and also with the European Parliament.
"Malta will have to deal with the many internal and external challenges related to migration, the fight against terrorism, modernising the single market, the package related to the review of the EU's multi-annual financial framework and, other challenges that the EU faces."
He added, "The EU has launched a process aiming to clarify how the Union should proceed in the years to come. Following the objectives laid down in the Bratislava declaration, the Maltese presidency will have to play a key role in offering citizens a vision of an attractive EU they can trust and support."