And the race to the bottom begins: first Bulgaria, and now Portugal undercuts Muscat’s passport scheme

Published: March 19, 2014 at 11:24pm

The immediate consequence of Muscat’s much-vaunted ‘approval’ from the European Union for his sale-of-citizenship scheme (it wasn’t approval, but saying ‘we can’t stop you’) is that first Bulgaria began to sell passports for Eur180,000 and now Portugal is selling visas to Chinese for Eur500,000.

Both are undercutting Malta’s government.

It was inevitable that the most stricken EU member states would do this.

It was obvious that Muscat had based his reckoning on a monopoly, and that he will now have to use hindsight once more to work out where he went wrong.

Muscat hasn’t only made a mess for Malta. He’s kick-started one hell of a problem for Europe: the race to the bottom in selling passports and visas.


24 Comments Comment

  1. Dissident says:

    Cheaper, within Schengen and with more than 100 golf courses to choose from, Portugal is a no-brainer for a Chinese millionaire.

    • albona says:

      Personally I would choose Bulgaria instead if I were of unsound morals.

      It is much easier to grease palms there and all Schengen restrictions have now been lifted.

  2. Edward says:

    So there you have it.

    Although, I m not too sure if Muscat was all that bothered about getting that many “investors”. I have a feeling all he cared about was getting people who funded his campaign a Maltese passport so that he can then call it even.

    You know, people who are worried they might suddenly not be allowed to travel because of something they did to democracy in their country, or someone else’s.

  3. David says:

    The Portughese scheme however is not new and predates the Maltese one. Other countries including the US and the UK have similar schemes. What is surprising is that it is only the Maltese scheme which attracted so much media interest and controversy. Even if Malta did not have this scheme other countries would still have such similar schemes.

    • albona says:

      David, I will give you one reason why the Maltese scheme attracted so much attention: it was the only one that out-rightly sold citizenship with no residency requirement or bond/link to the country.

      It was really a case of selling a small book with ‘Malta – Unjoni Ewropea’ written on it – hence selling the rights conferred upon those holding this citizenship, rights to which they are eligible in 27 countries other than Malta.

      Do you get it now?

  4. ACD says:

    He who wields the dagger, never wears the crown. Muscat’s worked hard to ruin the countries reputation; now everyone can draw up similar, cheaper policies without nearly the same amount of self-harm.

    I would call him a stupid clown, but thanks to the way he dresses, that may actually be libellous.

  5. edgar says:

    So Scicluna, the Finance Minister was right when he mentioned the sum of 8 million euro. Even millionaires love a bargain.

  6. Jozef says:

    They really smelt the coffee on this one did they?

  7. canon says:

    We can attribute this after-effect to Joseph Muscat.

  8. observer says:

    I wouldn’t wonder if Henley and something are already gnashing their teeth in desperation.

    Farewell to the 200 million Euros (plus commission from Maltese estate agents on property sales)

    Serves them right – for backing the wrong horse?

  9. gigi says:

    Gejna qisna qeghdin il-pitkali, kulhadd irrahhas biex ibiegh.

  10. gaetano pace says:

    JOSEPH MUSCAT FALLA U FALLA BL-IKRAH. Meta habbar il bejgh tac-cittadinanza, Muscat, f`att ta glorifikazzjoni tieghu innifsu, tipo ta EGO SUM……” ftahar kemm hu negozjatur kbir, kemm kien negozjatur bravu u ghaqli. Meta f`hajtu bniedem qatt ma jkun ra xejn u mbaghad jara ftit miljuni, dawk iz-zerijiet tal miljuni jifxluh u jhawwduh.
    L-akbar zball li ghamel dan Joseph in negozjatur kien li qabel beda jbiegh il prodott ma ippatentjahx. Ma irregistrax l-idea bil copyright. Bravu kemm kien bravu fin negozjati skond hu innifsu, kien zvijat u injorant mill fatti li graw ftit qabel u fil bidu tas-seklu ghoxrin. Kienu saru hafna skoperti u min ma irregistrax l-prodott tieghu ittiehditlu l-ideja minn haddiehor, li ghamel il prodott hu u ha il kreditu sew tal invenzjoni kif ukoll il prodott. Mid dehera hekk gralu Joseph Muscat, Falla fin-negozjati qabel biss bdihom Il bejgh ma jibdiex mill prodott imma mill ideja li toholqu. U ta dan Joseph lanqas biss kellu hjiel minkejja li kien studja fil-fond il produzzjoni, it-teknika u l-metodu tal produzzjoni. Kien ghad jonqsu jkompli jistudja il bicca l-ohra, l-aktar wahda importanti KIF ISIR IL BEJGH. Li mar kmieni fis suq kif ghamel kellu cans jilhaq l=ewwel erba klijenti imma jitlef l-elf li jigu wara. Li kieku mar fis-suq u kellu il prodott registrat hadd ma kien ikun jista jmur fis-suq bil prodott tieghu kif ghamlu il Portugall u l Bulgarija. Irid jitghallem jisma qabel jibda jghajjat “Cittadinanza ghall bejgh min inbieghelu”. Spicca dak iz-zmien

    • pablo says:

      Portugal’s scheme requires the passage of 6 years before the applicant can claim citizenship within which period he has to keep his nose clean.

      The Spanish one seems to be more like our IIP but cheaper. It would be interesting to see if there was any Henley-type exclusivity there.

  11. Calculator says:

    Frankly, I see the whole Schengen Area system understandably in danger now, all thanks to Muscat.

  12. Caroline says:

    Henley & Something stand to gain even from the Portugal scheme if I’m not mistaken

  13. Claudine Borg says:

    It should have been expected that as soon as Malta launched such a programme, the rat race to undercut the price would start in other countries.

    What impresses me more than Bulgaria and Portugal undercutting is the UK programme to start selling visas on auction:

    Under the proposal, overseas millionaires will be invited to bid for a limited proportion of investor or tier-one UK visas that allow holders and their families to live indefinitely in Britain.

    This type of UK visa would allow the bidder to apply for UK citizenship in one year too.

    I think the UK is stooping even lower than Malta did.

    All that remains now is to sell off citizenship on eBay, which might be not far off.

  14. Ed says:

    (it wasn’t approval, but saying ‘we can’t stop you’).

    Exactly. It’s just like a guest asking if he can go to a wedding in a gold and purple spotted suit, when all the other men will be wearing dark suits.

    Some things aren’t done – unless you’re a pruzuntuz philistine of course.

  15. canon says:

    Instead of creating jobs for the unemployed, Joseph Muscat lost time, money and energy on the citizen scheme.

  16. alex says:

    Henley & Partners are probably also advising other governments on this issue. Their prime motive is the bottom line, not our future. They’re right about that, because it’s their business – but then it’s up to national governments and the European Commission to resist their advances.

  17. Kevin says:

    Yesterday I received email from a Maltese real estate agent about the passport-for-sale scheme. They are offering a 4m plus Euro home on the island.

    With 4m Euros prospective investors could, in theory, either buy a tract of land in Bulgaria and open a thriving niche hotel business or invest in the US to get a green card.

    Decisions, decisions, decisions.

  18. C.G says:

    Bye-bye dawk il-miljuni li kien minghalieh ser idahhal is-Sur Muscat ghal dak ir-roap map tieghu.

    Possibli li ser ikollna nissapportuh erba snin ohra?

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