Malta golden passport: EU should take action on Portugal too, says Green MEP

German MEP Sven Giegold:  the Commission should also address seriously the investor programs of Bulgaria, Portugal and other member states

Sven Giegold
Sven Giegold

German MEP Sven Giegold (Greens) has called on his country’s government to push forward the EU agenda for action on investor programmes, after Brussels launched action on Malta’s and Cyprus’s sale of passports.

Malta this year will rake in at least €50 million just in fees of office, apart from some €500 million in historic revenues.

Giegold, a member of the European Parliament’s rule of law committee for Malta, said Europe could not ignore other programmes such as Portugal’s golden visa, saying there was evidence that criminals had profited from the programme.

“The German government, in its role as EU Council Presidency, is silent on these matters. The Council must finally put the issue of golden passports and visas on the agenda. In addition to the proceedings against Malta and Cyprus, the Commission should also address seriously the investor programs of Bulgaria, Portugal and other member states. Portugal alone has sold over 20,000 long-term visas, which lead to citizenship after five years. Europe may not ignore the huge Portugese programme and the evidence that criminals have profited from it.”

Earlier in the week the European Commission started infringement proceedings against Malta and Cyprus to stop their golden passport programmes which allow the sale of citizenship through investment or real estate purchases.

An Al Jazeera report on Cyprus revealed the Speaker of the House actively discussing how to override the programme’s restrictions for a passport-buyer with a criminal record.

Giegold, financial and economic policy spokesperson of the Greens/EFA group said: “This is an important step against money laundering and corruption in Europe. It was high time that the EU Commission takes concrete measures against these violations of EU law. Our pressure is finally showing effect.

“Malta and Cyprus give shelter to criminals and the corrupt along with their wealth. This practice endangers internal security in Europe. The sale of passports is a blatant violation of EU law. Passports and visas are not a commodity. Whoever sells citizenships violates the duty of all EU member states to cooperate in a spirit of trust. Money should not be the criterion for citizenship and residence rights in the EU.”

Giegold said that in the long term, a ban on citizenship rights for sale was needed throughout Europe.

The European Parliament is planning a legislative initiative report in order to create a legal framework that is binding for all EU states.

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