From the EU Observer.com Nov. 14 2013
By Andrew Rettman
BRUSSELS - The European Commission said
on Wednesday (13 November) it has no power to stop Malta, or any other
member state, from selling EU citizenship. "Member states have full sovereignty to decide to whom and how they
grant their nationality," its home affairs spokesman, Michele Cercone,
told press. He added that the EU court in Luxembourg has "confirmed" in "several"
cases that "it is for each member state to lay down the conditions for
His remarks came after Malta on Tuesday passed a law to sell its passports for €650,000 each.
The scheme is expected to raise €30 million in its first year and up
to €300 million a year when it is fully up and running. It is also
designed to attract big spenders and potential investors to the group of
islands, which are home to just 420,000 native people.
According to the draft law, which must still be signed by Malta's President, names of the buyers will not be disclosed. As EU citizens, they will also be entitled to live, work and, if need be, claim welfare, in all 27 other EU nations.
The Maltese opposition has attacked the scheme. Simon Busuttil, the leader of the centre-right Nationalist Party,
said he will strip any buyers of their new passports if he gets back
A Nationalist Party MEP, Roberta Metsola, filed a question to the EU
commission which noted "this goes contrary to the spirit of what it
means to be a citizen of Europe."
Alternattiva Demokratika, a Maltese green party, said it will "endanger" Malta's reputation as a "reputable financial centre."
Malta is not the only EU country to give perks to rich foreigners. Portugal's "Golden Residence Permit" gives people who invest €1
million or more the chance to get a passport after five years. Austria,
Spain and the UK also sell residency, but not citizenship, to wealthy
Meanwhile, the Cypriot President earlier this year said anyone who
lost €3 million or more in the EU bail-out can get fast-track
Cyprus' previous regime was tougher. Under a 2007 law, foreigners could get Cypriot/EU passports if they
had more than €17 million in a Cypriot bank, lived on the island, did
business there and had a clean criminal record.
The rules did not stop the scheme from attracting shady people, however. In mid-2012, Cyprus took away the citizenship of Rami Makhlouf, a
cousin of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, after the EU blacklisted him
for bankrolling Assad's massacres.
According to the latest EU statistics, the UK grants the most new
passports each year (177,565 in 2010), followed by France (114,599),
Spain (114,584), Germany (109,594), Italy (56,153), the Czech Republic
(36,012), Belgium (29,786), the Netherlands (28,598) and Portugal
Malta handed out 1,080 in the same year.
This appeared to be an article to support the ROMA (or Gypsies) to earn EU citizenship. But the price tag all but rules most of them out. --RSB