Revised golden passport scheme to be launched by government

EU justice commissioner Didier Reynders said in a committee debate on Thursday how the commission wrote to Malta, Bulgaria and Cyprus to move away from such schemes 

Government will be launching a “revised” Individual Investor Programme scheme after discussion with European institutions on the subject. 

In a statement, government said while citizenship remains the individual competence of member states, it remains open to ideas on further improving the programme. 

It also said that discussion with relevant stakeholders who all reiterated their belief in such a programme have also initiated. 

“The majority of the investment generated from this programme has been retained, only to be used in the event of the country facing unexpected challenges, as has recently happened with COVID-19,” government said, reiterating its belief in the programme. 

The government also cited the high due diligence in Malta’s citizenship programme, pointing out that it is the only one with an independent regulator. 

“As a result, applicants rejected by Malta try in other countries,” government said. 

A recommendation by the European Commission in a letter sent to government, called on Malta to “phase out” the programme. 

In a European Parliament Civil Liberties and Justice committee debate on Thursday, EU justice commissioner Didier Reynders confirmed the commission wrote to Malta, Bulgaria and Cyprus about moving away from such schemes. 

Acknowledging such schemes remain the individual competence of the members states, he insisted on their impact on the whole EU 

Reynders also confirmed receiving feedback from the three countries. 

A report prepared by the commission last year said citizenship sale schemes posed money-laundering and corruption risks.

Concerns were raised about the schemes operated by Malta, Cyprus and Bulgaria, whose applicants had no real obligation to reside in the countries in question.