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Malta delays plan to 'sell EU citizenship'

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The Mediterranean island of Malta announced on 19th November 2013 that it would delay the introduction of a new citizenship programme which would enable wealthy people to buy Maltese citizenship. Malta is an island in the Mediterranean which is a member of the European Union. Maltese citizens can therefore live and work in other EU Countries.

The Maltese government had previously announced that the scheme would open to applicants on 20th November 2013. Under the proposed rules of the scheme, applicants would have to make an 'investment' of €650,000 in Malta to receive Maltese citizenship.

One particularly attractive aspect of the proposed citizenship scheme is that the applicant would not have to spend any time in Malta before being granted Maltese nationality.

Big news

Because Malta is part of the EU, anyone with a Maltese passport can live in the UK, France, and in other EU countries. Sanwar Ali of said 'This is big news. If it goes ahead it will probably be the best citizenship programme in the world'.

On 19th November, the Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat announced that the scheme had been 'put on hold indefinitely' according to Reuters. The Maltese opposition opposes the scheme in its current form; negotiations are continuing between Dr Muscat's Labour Party and the opposition Maltese Nationalist Party.

The opposition objected to the fact that, under the original scheme, the names of those awarded passports would not be made public. Opposition leader Simon Busuttil said that such secrecy would be likely to damage Malta's reputation.

Talks with opposition continue

Following a vote of the Maltese parliament the scheme was amended so that the names would be made public. However, Dr Muscat announced another delay while talks between the government and the opposition take place.

The government and opposition have since held several meetings about the scheme but, so far, have not reached an agreement. The two sides have agreed not to comment publicly while talks continue so it is impossible to know if a deal is close.

The main demands made by the opposition are that the scheme should be linked to job creation or residence in Malta.


Should the programme ever be introduced, applicants would have to;
  • Invest €650,000 (This 'investment' appears to be more like a fee)
  • Be aged over 18 and
  • Have no criminal record.
Visas would be issued within three months.

Malta had announced that it intended to grant citizenship to 200 to 300 people each year. This would have raised 195 million Euros for the Maltese government which, like many other EU governments, is very short of money at the moment.

'Likely to be extremely popular'

Sanwar Ali of said 'Maltese Citizenship is likely to be extremely popular among wealthy businessmen from Russia, China and India. Citizens of an EU country can live and work in other EU countries which make a Maltese passport particularly useful'.

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