Com­mis­sion non-com­mit­tal as MEP asks pass­port-sell­ing states to pay com­pen­sa­tion

Malta Independent - - FRONT PAGE -

The Euro­pean Com­mis­sion did not rule out a pro­posal by a Euro­pean par­lia­men­tar­ian to see the four EU mem­ber states that sell cit­i­zen­ship - Bul­garia (which started its pro­gramme in 2009), Malta [2011], Por­tu­gal [2013] and Cyprus [2014]) – to com­pen­sate the other 24 mem­ber states for sell­ing some­thing which be­longs to them too.

French ENF MEP Do­minique Martin has asked the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion to “take ac­tion and ask these four Mem­ber States to con­trib­ute to­wards the cost of ac­cept­ing il­le­gal im­mi­grants or the fight against ter­ror­ism, as a way of le­git­i­mately com­pen­sat­ing the other mem­ber states”.

The par­lia­men­tary ques­tion, omi­nously ti­tled, ‘Ter­ror­ism and the sale of Euro­pean cit­i­zen­ship’, notes that, “Aside from the moral ques­tions raised by the sale of EU cit­i­zen­ship, these coun­tries are sell­ing some­thing which be­longs to all of us and which they have no right to sell: namely the right to free move­ment in their fel­low mem­ber states.

“On 2 April 2014, the Com­mis­sion un­der­took to launch an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the is­sue and to take ac­tion. Four years later, noth­ing had been done. And then the ter­ror­ists struck,” Martin noted, re­fer­ring to the ter­ror­ist at­tacks across Europe since.

EU Jus­tice Com­mis­sioner Věra Jourová, in her re­ply, stressed, “Mem­ber states should use their pre­rog­a­tive to award cit­i­zen­ship in line with in­ter­na­tional and EC law and in a spirit of sin­cere co­op­er­a­tion with other mem­ber states.

“If one mem­ber state does not ap­ply the nec­es­sary se­cu­rity and crim­i­nal­ity checks, then this can in­deed pose a risk for all mem­ber states. It is for mem­ber states to en­sure that the nec­es­sary steps are taken to coun­ter­act se­cu­rity risks. They must also ap­ply rig­or­ous cri­te­ria to iden­tify and com­bat crim­i­nal­ity and cor­rup­tion.”

Martin noted how French me­dia re­ports how Malta has sold 2,000 Cyprus is re­ported to have sold 11,000 and ev­ery year the four mem­ber states are said to earn US$3.5 bil­lion from pass­port sales.

Jourová added, “In its 2017 Cit­i­zen­ship Re­port, the Com­mis­sion set the pri­or­ity of safe­guard­ing the essence of EU cit­i­zen­ship and its in­her­ent val­ues. Malta.

“In the light of this it an­nounced it would pro­duce be­fore end 2018 a re­port on na­tional schemes grant­ing EU cit­i­zen­ship to in­vestors, de­scrib­ing the Com­mis­sion’s ac­tions in this area, cur­rent na­tional law and prac­tices and pro­vid­ing some guid­ance for mem­ber states.”

Jourová re­cently crit­i­cised the sale of pass­ports to rich peo­ple from out­side the bloc, and is urg­ing them to do more to en­sure that cit­i­zen­ship isn’t given to crim­i­nals.

The Com­mis­sion ar­gues that cit­i­zen­ship should be awarded only in cases where there is a gen­uine link to the coun­try con­cerned, but that de­ci­sions are a mat­ter for in­di­vid­ual coun­tries.

Jourová was quoted as telling Ger­man daily Die Welt ear­lier this month that award­ing cit­i­zen­ship can be a “se­ri­ous se­cu­rity risk” be­cause it con­fers rights in­clud­ing free move­ment in­side the EU.

She said that “some coun­tries must do more so that cit­i­zen­ship is not awarded to crim­i­nals who want to en­dan­ger Europe’s se­cu­rity or en­gage in money-laun­der­ing.”

Jourová said the Com­mis­sion will ex­am­ine each mem­ber coun­try’s prac­tices in grant­ing cit­i­zen­ship to peo­ple from out­side the bloc. She said she has brought for­ward a re­port on the is­sue from De­cem­ber to this au­tumn.

Af­ter that, the EU is ex­pected to is­sue new, tougher guide­lines call­ing for mem­ber coun­tries to guar­an­tee that can­di­dates for cit­i­zen­ship won’t dam­age the bloc.

If one mem­ber state does not ap­ply the nec­es­sary se­cu­rity and crim­i­nal­ity checks, then this can in­deed pose a risk for all mem­ber states - EU Jus­tice Com­mis­sioner Vera Jourova

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