‘Citizenship sale undermines European values’ - Hannes Swoboda

President of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats says linking EU citizenship to income 'undermined European values'.

February 2013: Joseph Muscat was promised the 'support and solidarity' of the European Parliament’s social democrats if he were to be elected Prime Minister.
February 2013: Joseph Muscat was promised the 'support and solidarity' of the European Parliament’s social democrats if he were to be elected Prime Minister.

Hannes Swoboda, the President of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament - which is home to Labour's four MEPs - has given the clearest of indications that he does not support Malta's sale of EU passports by the Labour government.

In a clear statement outlining his reasoning, Swoboda - who had addressed a Labour mass meeting in last year's general elections - said that linking EU citizenship to income "undermined European values".

Malta is selling passports for €650,000, in a bid to raise funds for a national posterity fund. Applicants must also buy property worth €350,000 and invest €150,000 in government bonds, but these can be redeemed after five years.

Swoboda said the decision for Malta to sell EU citizenship to third country nationals reflected "a worrying trend in the conception of all those rights related to EU citizenship, including above all freedom of movement."

One of the unique characteristics of Malta's 'Individual Investor Programme' is that it introduces a direct and free gateway to citizenship purely based on the €650,000 donation.

Swoboda struck a contrast between the monetisation of citizenship, and the restrictions on the free movement of poorer EU citizens from Romania and Bulgaria, whose restrictions were finally lifted in 2014.

"The supporters of the idea that 'free movement has to be less free' base their belief on the assumption that free movement should be free for those citizens who have a suitable income, and less free for those who haven't," Swoboda wrote in a contribution to the European University Institute's EUDO citizenship observatory.

"I would say that the very idea of the European Union as a community of values is put in question by these trends, particularly the idea that it is the duty of the EU to reinforce social cohesion, to eliminate discriminations and to provide a level playing field for the material exercise of the fundamental rights defined in the EU Charter."

Swoboda illustrated his argument by saying that many 'new Europeans' already live, study, work in EU countries and contribute to them, but do not have direct access to citizenship.

"Some have been born and raised in Europe - but still are limited in their access to citizenship. These fellow Europeans have to go through detailed and lengthy citizenship tests before they can hope to achieve naturalisation in a member state and therefore be fully EU citizens.

"I am convinced that - should member states go in the direction of a privileged gateway to national citizenship solely based on income - this would create an unacceptable discriminatory situation that is probably also incompatible with EU law as it currently stands."

Malta has no standardised test for foreigners seeking to become naturalised Maltese citizens, who also have to wait for an unspecified amount of years for a decision from the home affairs minister to grant them citizenship.

The European Parliament will discuss Malta's sale of passports on 15 January, where a vote will be taken by MEPs on a resolution concerning the IIP.

On his part, Swoboda said the EU needed common and shared guidelines on national and EU citizenship. "If we don't want to leave a golden opportunity to Eurosceptics, nationalists and populists, we must seize the chance for a leap forward in the European process involving a much wider concept of citizenship than that defined in the letter of the EU Treaties."

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What does this FOREIGNER have to say about the UK plan which is based on bidding and the highest offer?
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Svoboda is first Austrian than socialist. He does not want competition from Malta to the Austrian scheme. Shame on Simon for as usual acting against the interests of us the Maltese.
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If linking EU citizenship to income, undermine European values, what is Mr. Swoboda going to say to Britain because their scheme is also connected with a financial income? Only the conditions are different. Is giving them for free OK for Mr. Svoboda ? Does it make any difference if instead of giving citizenship after 5 years and giving it after 1 or 2 years? Another question, Mr. Svoboda. Do these values apply equally to all the EU member states?
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I hope PL MEPs will abstain or vote against Swoboda's candidature for EU president. What EU values is he talking about, the refusal by most EU members to take illegal migrants off our hands. " for Malta to sell EU citizenship.... " Malta is not selling an EU citizenship as it does not exist. There no common european passport of citizenship in existence. Muck you Swoboda Malta does not need you and I hope Joseph learns a lesson from all this . Beware of friends with false smiles and shoulder tapping.
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Mr Swoboda,do you know that PN gave 7000 citizenship in 20 years free.They never told us who they are or what they invested in Malta.
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But the scheme where rich Russians were 'donating' 1 million euros to an Austrian political party to get citizenship is ok with European values - ja Herr Swoboda?
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European values - what in God's name are these??????Is this Swoboda some kind of joker? Why doesn't he go off and lecture French President Hollande about his Mistress ... or maybe Italy's Silvio Berlusconi? ALBERT FENECH Qawra
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So this guy, rather than enrich our European value/talent mix, would rather lower the overall value mix with all those penniless new citizens that are showered/forced on us in their hundreds of thousand on a yearly basis. Think again Dear Swoboda, please!
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Now wait for the PM reaction blaming everyone other than their incompetent selves for this mess they have brought upon us!
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Forsi s-Sur Swoboda jista jispjegalna kif se nhallsu tad dejn li ghamel il Partit Nazzjonalista. Il poplu ma jistax igorr hlas ta taxxi meta kien hawn parti mil popolin li kaxkret kull centezmu li kellna u allura ghaliex ghandu jhallas il poplu kollu? Din l-ideja anki L-Inglizi qedin iwettquha u kif ukoll hemm pajjizi fl-Unjoni Ewropeja li jghamluha wkoll, forsi S-Sur Swoboda , pajjizu ma jaqbilx ghalihom, pero jekk jidhol fis site taghhom issieb li hemm mezzi kif iggieb ic-cittadinza. L-Awstrija hi tiga mimlijja barranin b'kulturi differenti li l-posizzjoni taghha tforni lil kull pajjiz ewropej facilment b'ekonomijja soda bizzejjed li diga mimlijja b'nies barranin li xtraw djar u investew f' Industriji. Huma mghoqdijien, komdi bla dejn, kulhadd jghamel kif jaqbillu, tahseb li Swoboda jaqbillu jitilqu l-investituri barranin min pajjiizu biex jigu f'pajjiz bix xemx b'pagi orhos?
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Quite a dose of hypocrisy or blinkered ignorance by the austrian MEP Hans Svoboda Does he know that Henley & Partners have an office in Austria to promote the Austrian citizenship scheme? Does he know that article 10(6)of the Austrian constitution grants Citizenship by investment which is essentially a variation of the local scheme at best better disguised. This is why in a letter I wrote to all MEPs I (i) Called the misnomer of IIP as a Sale of citizenship as malicious. (ii) I invited MEPs to look at the spirit of all such schemes in EU member states in particular the Austrian one and engage in a general debate on all such schemes. If this hypocrisy persists then we should take the principles of the varied schemes offered among others by the UK, Portugal, Spain and Austria and with more attractive parameters incorporate them in our IIP scheme.
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We have seen 'European' values in action in the present voluntary burden sharing agreement! Its a long way to Tipperary Mr Swoboda!