Gov to reply to EC’s formal notice over citizenship scheme

passaport malti

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

The government will be formally replying to the European Commission’s letter of notice issued today.

The European Commission has launched infringement procedures against Malta and Cyprus by issuing letters of formal notice regarding the investor citizenship schemes also referred to as “golden passport” schemes.

In a statement published this evening, the government defended the programme, and remarked that it is “the intention of the government to use all possible legal measures.”

The Commission considers that the granting of EU citizenship for pre-determined payments or investments without any genuine link with the Member States concerned, undermines the essence of EU citizenship.

The Malta Individual Investor Programme will be closing in the coming week, and according to the government, the agency which operates the IIP has, since last August, stopped receiving new applications. Subsequently, Malta will be implementing new residence regulations which may lead to citizenship and which take into consideration the European Commission’s concerns and recommendations. 

The government said that the new regulations will ensure the highest standards in the sector of residence by investment. These regulations will state that individuals can only apply for citizenship after 3 years of residence or by exception through higher investment after 1 year. 

In this regard, no citizenship application can be submitted before such a period. Furthermore, individuals will be allowed to apply for citizenship only after a thorough due diligence assessment has been conducted, whereas those who do not pass such test would not even be allowed to apply for citizenship. The new regulations will no longer have a concessionaire, in contrast to the previous programme. The government will keep on publishing the names of all persons who obtain Maltese citizenship and will start to also publish the names of all persons deprived of Maltese nationality.

Both Prime Minister Robert Abela and Deuputy Prime Minister Chris Fearne stated that it is the fault of Nationalist MEPs Roberta Metsola and David Casa that the European Commission has started infringement proceedings against Malta because of the ‘golden passport’ scheme.