Malta has applied to become a member of OECD, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Based in Paris, the OECD brings together 30 countries sharing a commitment to democratic government and market economies.

Government sources told The Times that Malta's application was officially submitted last July together with that of five other EU member states.

The move came following disagreement between the EU, OECD and non-EU members of the organisation about how statistics and economic documents produced by the Paris-based organisation should reflect the new reality of an enlarged EU.

Since EU enlargement and due to the fact that not all 25 EU member states are members of OECD, reports about EU countries started to include a disclaimer saying that the examination of the country's economy may not be complete. Thus, an evaluation of the effects of EU policies on the economy of individual EU countries was not included. This irritated non-EU members of the organisation arguing that it was not fair to examine all polices of non-EU countries but not all policies in EU countries as this was amounting to double standards.

In order to find a solution, all six EU members that do not yet form part of OECD - Malta, Cyprus, Slovenia, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia - have now applied to join. Sources told The Times it is only when these countries are full members that the Commission would allow for EU-wide surveys to be produced in line with the eurozone assessments already produced by OECD.

Considered as one of the most important economic organisations in the world, the OECD provides a setting where governments can compare policy experiences, seek answers to common problems, identify good practice and coordinate domestic and international policies.

Set up in 1947 with support from the United States and Canada, the member countries allow the organisation to compare, analyse and comment on their individual economies in regular reports. The surveys often include recommendations for political action to be taken by the organisation's member states.

The OECD includes some of the richest economies worldwide, such as the US, Japan, Australia, Canada, Switzerland and the UK. In total, OECD members produce 60 per cent of the world's goods and services.

The government sources told The Times that Malta's application is still being assessed by the OECD council.

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