Commission non-committal as MEP asks passport-selling states to pay compensation
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 , Portugal  and Cyprus ) – 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