By: Andreja Đurđina
Do you wanna be a citizen of the European Union? Well then, today’s your lucky day. When Europe’s media got wind of this news, people were scandalized.
After years of controversy, the European Commission declared that member states are free to sell citizenship to any person. The government of the small Mediterranean island of Malta recently announced proposals to start selling citizenship of its nation to foreigners for about $888,000. So this proposal is only truly feasible for the fairly wealthy. So, if you ever wanted to be a citizen of the great nation of Malta and obtain European citizenship, now is the time. While the paperwork and waiting time to obtain citizenship has still been greatly reduced, you still need to have more than a few Euros to spare.
A passport from an EU member state is useful for people from crisis-torn regions, non-Europeans who live and work in Europe, and even to people who want to travel the globe.
This seems to be an attempt to alleviate the Malta’s economic shortcomings caused by the European Union financial crisis in late 2009/2010. Foreigners are willing to dish out hundreds of thousands of dollars to gain a freshly-minted passport in their new home country. After investors receive their Maltese passports, becoming free to live, work, and claim benefits in any one of the European Union’s 27 member states.
Malta’s prime minister Joseph Muscat told that he estimates the new programme will net the state around €30 million euros in the first year – meaning he expects at least 46 applicants. He also said that he expects 200 to 300 applicants in later years. For a nation of only 420,000 people, this is a major economic boost.
The political opposition in Malta has heavily criticized the passport scheme but it’s nothing new. Whether anything can be done to stop the program’s implementation remains to be seen.
Everybody knows that immigration is among the most contentious policy issues of our times. Using these offers, which circumvent the EU’s strict asylum and immigration rules, the governments of Greece, Spain and Hungary all seek to lure investors from around the world.
Not everything in this world comes at a price, and citizenship of a country should certainly not be one of them. Sales can enrich the coffers of a country in the short run, but in the long haul it risks cheapening something far more important: citizenship itself. We can conclude that offering Maltese or any nations citizenship at an price is tantamount to selling the national soul.
The European Parliament is to hold a debate on the scheme on January 15, 2014.