November 15, 2013
The 21st century will enter history as the era of total “monetisation”. Every action, every achievement will be coined in monetary terms. With a small majority of 37 to 30 the socialist- dominated parliament of the tiny tourist paradise of Malta has just decided to sell its citizenship at a price of € 650 000. Hoping for 200 to 300 applicants per year, the citizenship is expected to yield budgetary revenues of € 130-200 million per year, not negligible for the Maltese budget.
Maltese EU membership has, of course, a bearing to this bizarre legislation, as Maltese citizens automatically enjoy “Union citizenship” according to article 9 of the Lisbon Treaty. Had Malta not become an EU Member in 2004 the price of Maltese citizenship would have to be fixed at a substantially lower level! And it is an irony of history that the Labour party, which has pushed through this legislation in no time, had been dead-against EU membership in the 1990`s when it had last been in power.
Legally the EU has no means to object against the methods by which member states confer citizenship.
It is unlikely that the Malta’s legislation will set a precedent for many other EU member states, but some other prosperous countries in the world will no doubt have a close look at the results of the Maltese legislation.
Malta is a special case because of its small size, climate and luxurious sea front. It will be wise enough to limit the number of immigrants. Anyhow, the high price for citizenship constitutes an obstacle for ordinary people. The government has also decided to screen all applicants for their criminal record, for instance tax evasion.
In a way the EU should be happy at the Maltese legislation: EU citizenship now has a price.
Eberhard Rhein, Brussels, 15/11/2013Author : Eberhard Rhein