Malta, EU commission issues last warning over the “golden passport”
LA VALLETTA (MALTA) (ITALPRESS/MNA) – The Maltese government was warned for the last time by the European Commission over its’ ‘golden passport’ scheme before taking the matter before the Court of Justice of the European Union.
The commission considers the granting of EU citizenship in return for pre-determined payments or investments, without any genuine link to the Member State concerned, is in breach of EU law.
However, Maltese Prime Minister Robert Abela is refusing to scrap the scheme, and now his government has two months to reply to the European Commission.
Malta has recently suspended the ‘golden passport’ scheme for Russian and Belarusian nationals following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
“While this was a positive step, Malta continues to operate the scheme for all other nationals and did not express any intention to stop it,” the commission said. Insisting that European values are not for sale, the European Commission said investor citizenship schemes undermine the essence of EU citizenship and have implications for the Union as a whole.
Malta and Cyprus are the only two EU countries selling passports following last month decision by the Bulgarian government to scrap its scheme. EU citizenship automatically gives the right to free movement, access to the EU internal market, and the right to vote and be elected in European and local elections.
The Maltese government is argueing that the grant of citizenship falls within the national competence “and it should remain as such.” The ggovernment reiterated that only worthy individuals benefit from an important right as citizenship on such basis, and that it will be keeping an open dialogue with the Commission.
Despite Abelàs reassurances from the Maltese Prime Minister that no Maltese citizen is on the Russian sanctions list, last week the US treasury department sanctioned two Russian individuals who bought Maltese passports. In response to the sanctions, the Maltese government started the process to revoke their Maltese citizenship in accordance with the Maltese Citizenship Act.
During the recent election campaign, Abela was accused of having direct financial interest in Maltàs ‘golden passports’ scheme, with his wife Lydia Abela having been listed as the accredited agent of a passport sales in 2018. Abela has also admitted to renting out his ?ejtun villa to two Russian passport applicants.