The European Commission launched infringement procedures against Cyprus and Malta on Tuesday in response to their ‘golden passport’ schemes, and allowed a two-month period for the countries to respond in writing to the Commission’s warning letter.
The Commission said that the granting of nationality – and thereby EU citizenship – in exchange for “pre-determined payments or investments without any genuine link with the member-states concerned, undermines the essence of EU citizenship.”
It also noted that the effects of investor citizenship schemes “are neither limited to the member-states that have them, nor are they neutral” with regard to other member-states and the EU as a whole.
Cyprus and Malta will now have two months to reply to the letters of formal notice. If the replies are not satisfactory, the Commission may issue a so-called “reasoned opinion” in this issue.
A Commission spokesperson told Kathimerini Cyprus that Malta has informed the Commission that it plans to extend its citizenship-by-investment program, while Cyprus recently announced that it will abolish its current program on November 1, though all pending applications submitted until that time will be processed as normal.
We’ve launched infringements against #Malta and #Cyprus on #goldenpassports schemes, because there cannot be a weak link in EU efforts to curb corruption and money laundering. EU passports cannot be for sale.https://t.co/0HSFEA4xb0— Věra Jourová (@VeraJourova) October 20, 2020
The governments of Cyprus and Malta have two months to respond to the warning letters. If the answers are unsatisfactory, the Commission may issue a reasoned opinion on the matter.
As noted by Kathimerini Cyprus’ Yiorgos Kakouris on Monday, an infringement procedure is the way in which the Commission tackles member states which violate EU law. The procedure can go as far as the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg, although many cases are resolved with compliance much earlier.
The first stage of the procedure is a formal letter in which the Commission requests an explanation from the member state. If there is no satisfactory response, the Commission sends a formal request for compliance, known as a reasoned opinion. If again within two months there is no compliance, the case is referred to the European Court of Justice which may impose sanctions on the member state.