EU passports ruckus: add dash of North vs South snobbery, and you’re golden

The Skinny | No. 58 – Golden Passports Get Malta Wrist-Slapped by EU

What are we skinning? The EU instituting infringement proceedings against Malta and Cyprus due to its respective ‘cash for citizenship’ schemes.

Why are we skinning it? Because it represents a juicy coming together of ye olde collectivism vs sovereignty debate that is a constant source of tension within EU member states. Add a dash of North vs South snobbery, and you’re golden.

Snobbery? Is that what this is about? Given that Malta and Cyprus in particular are being singled out here, it becomes very tempting to assume that a distrust of the supposedly less ‘disciplined’ southern European countries doesn’t at least form a small part of what motivates this action.

But surely the EU would never act based on prejudice alone? Of course not. But perceptions matter in this game, and ignoring the emotive dimension – and the tendency towards countries feeling unjustly victimised – would be a tiny bit delusional.

I don’t want to remain mired in that muck of self-pity though. You shouldn’t. Not least because there’s quite a bit about the ‘cash for citizenship’ thing that’s highly questionable.

Like what? Well, there’s the stuff that the EU itself is focusing on: the fact that it cheapens the notion of citizenship by eroding any sense of real belonging to a country and a society, and that it will create a super-class of the super-rich passport-shoppers – which is bound to fragment the given society further.

Not to mention that it’s a slap in the face for those who gained citizenship by naturalisation. Right. Often a long and arduous process that requires a kind of immersion in the country by proxy, something that the citizenship-shoppers will never be asked to spend much time on.

On the other hand, we should be able to differentiate between citizenship-shoppers, those who get Maltese (EU) citizenship by naturalisation and just everyday locals. Yes, they do all ‘serve’ an individual purpose within society…

And the citizenship-shoppers simply serve to make life easier for us by boosting the economy. So, hold your nose and walk through the muck, right?

Something like that. Fair enough. We’re all wearing face masks now anyway.

Do say: “While individual countries should be allowed to pursue their own selected economic models and policies within reason, it is also difficult to deny that a cash-for-citizenship model chips away at the very notion of citizenship, reducing it to a rat-race capitalist game that flies in the face of genuine love and appreciation of one’s country – adoptive or otherwise.”

Don’t say: “New requirements for citizenship-shoppers: Double park to buy pastizzi at least three times a week, shoot a protected bird species out of hunting season, and bribe the hell out of your local MP to allow you to build an ‘agricultural store’ (read: boutique hotel) on ODZ land.”

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