“The socialist government in Malta has found a new way to traffic human beings”

Published: November 19, 2013 at 12:00am

Tages Anzeiger_Switzerland

Tages Anzeiger, Switzerland’s leading German-language newspaper, carries a report today on Malta’s sale of citizenship. It is headlined ‘SELL PASSPORTS AND EARN MILLIONS’.

It is given here in idiomatic translation.

Malta plans to sell citizenship to rich foreigners and put EU passports on sale, provoking strong criticism in the European Parliament. The deals are to be handled by a Zurich lawyer.

Resistance is building up against Malta’s plans to sell citizenship to wealthy foreigners. “The socialist government in Malta has found a new way to traffic human beings,” Conservative MEP Elmar Brok was quoted as saying, in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAS).

Berlin is also irritated, according to that same newspaper report. The German Minister of State Michael Link will today put forward Germany’s concerns to his Maltese counterpart (George Vella) concerns at a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels.

And Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich will ask the Council of the European justice and interior ministers in December to demand of Malta’s representative (Manuel Mallia) that these plans not be implemented.

The plans of the Maltese government became public last week, when the Valletta Parliament legislated on Tuesday. Foreigners can now obtain a Maltese passport if they pay 650 000 euros to a national development fund. Passports for the wife and children under 18 cost 25,000 euros each. Prime Minister Joseph Muscat wants to boost the revenue of the country and attract rich foreigners to the Mediterranean island.

The EU Commission said last week that EU member states have sovereignty in granting citizenship. The EU has no powers there. But when foreigners buy Maltese nationality and citizenship, they have the right to settle in every state within the EU and to participate in local elections there.

Brok yesterday also urged the Deputy Group Chairman Manfred Weber and Liberal MEP Alexander Graf Lambsdorff to check again whether Malta is contrary to the letter or at least the spirit of the European Treaties. There is a loophole in the law which has to be closed, he said.

«Malta has turned EU citizenship into its national commodity,” the Liberal Lambsdorff complained to the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. Manfred Weber said that Malta is selling legal access to the EU. “This is not a national affair,” he said.

The government of Malta has engaged the firm Henley & Partners to market Maltese citizenship to wealthy foreigners. The company, based on the British Channel Island of Jersey, specializes in advising wealthy world citizens in tax and domicile/residency matters. Malta’s government expects to bring in approximately 30 million euros in the first year by selling passports to around 45 foreigners.

There has also been criticism on the Mediterranean island. The Opposition is critical of the fact that applicants do not have to live in Malta and will not be obliged to invest in the island. Malta will soon be on a par with tax havens in the Caribbean, it said.

The government has sought to appease its critics by saying that it will review the applicants and exclude criminals. But the Opposition also wants the names of these new citizens to be made public.

Malta’s business model is different. Cyprus asks for an investment of at least three million euros. In Portugal, investors can get a visa (not citizenship) if they invest one million euros, create 30 jobs or buy a property with a value of at least half a million euros. Hungary grants citizenship for political reasons to Serbs who can prove they have Hungarian ancestors. But even the United Kingdom or the Netherlands vie for rich foreigners and large investors, where the residence permit will be granted without red tape (but this is not citizenship).

3 Comments Comment

  1. Alexander Ball says:

    I can see Zippy from Rainbow but where is Joey?

  2. Piña says:

    These Germans/Swiss are so negative my God, haven’t they learnt anything yet? I bet they are just jealous that they didn’t come up with this themselves

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