Malta and other EU countries should ban their sale-of-citizenship schemes, according to the European Commission’s vice-president designate for transparency.
During her grilling by the European Parliament today, Vera Jourova faced a question about Malta’s Individual Investor Programme (IIP) from Nationalist MEP Roberta Metsola.
“Daphne Caruana Galizia had investigated cash-for-passports schemes,” Metsola said. “We know there is no genuine link to Malta or to the European Union. We know only too well the security gaps these expose and the corruption, electoral manipulation and money-laundering avenues they create. The monetisation of the rights enjoyed by EU citizens should not be what we are about. It is time for them to be banned.”
Jourova said she agreed with Metsola’s assessment and voiced her disappointment at the fact that the EU doesn’t have the legal competence to put an end to the scheme itself.
“What we can do is a proposal to make the system more transparent and to give the member states more control over the process,” she said. “In principle, we said that there must be a clear, proven, genuine link [between the member state and the citizenship applicant]. It cannot be that someone with money can buy one country’s citizenship because they are also buying EU citizenship. You’re selling something you don’t fully own.”
She added that there must be much better due diligence controls over the applicants to ensure no one buys EU citizenship with the intent of hiding dirty money.
A survey published by MaltaToday yesterday indicates that 56.3% of Maltese people, including 31.4% of people who voted for the Labour Party at the last election, disagree with the sale of citizenship scheme.