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European Parliament condemns EU citizenship for sale

By Rainer Bauböck (EUDO CITIZENSHIP co-director)

On 16 January 2014, the European Parliament adopted a non-binding resolution criticizing a Maltese law that offers EU passports for sale. The resolution was supported by all major political groups and adopted by an overwhelming majority of 560 votes, with 22 parliamentarians voting no and 44 abstaining. A motion to remove explicit references to Malta did not receive enough support. 

The plenary debate on 15 January addressed not only the Maltese law but also comparable policies in other member states as well as schemes that offer residence permits to investors. The overwhelming majority of interventions from all political groups condemned the sale of national and EU citizenship, while opinions were more divided on "golden visas" or residence permits. While emphasizing that nationality laws remain the competence of the Member States, Commissioner Reding pointed out that national decisions on naturalisation are not neutral with regard to the other Member States and the EU as a whole. She referred specifically to the Member States' duty of sincere cooperation according to article 4(3) of the Treaty on European Union and stated that citizenship should not be for sale and be awarded only where there is a genuine link or connection between the individual and the Member State concerned. In his concluding statement Commissioner Füle similarly emphasized that EU citizenship implies holding a stake in the Union and a personal tie with a Member State. These arguments were also included in the resolution adopted on 16 January. MEPs from Malta were divided on the issue, with those from the Labour Party currently in government questioning the right of the European Parliament to debate an issue already decided in the Maltese parliament. 

The EUDO CITIZENSHIP forum debate "Should Citizenship be for Sale?" had been distributed to the political groups and committees of the EP prior to the debate.

Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said the government had noted the vote in the European parliament on the sale of citizenship but the scheme in Malta would be retained. Opposition leader Simon Busutti condemned Muscat’s response as “immature and stubborn”


Watch the video of the EP debate here.

Read the Resolution of the EP on Citizenship for Sale here.

Read the commentary of the European Parliament Research Service which preceded the debate here.


Read press reports on Malta's response to the criticism:

The Times of Malta: Muscat: EP position noted but citizenship scheme will stay

The Malta Independent: Busuttil condemns‘immature and stubborn’ PM, says Malta lost respect; PL replies 


Read the earlier reports on the EP debate:

EU Observer: EU institutions attack Malta passport scheme.

The Times of Malta: Swoboda links citizenship issue with migration, calls for common rules on granting of citizenship

The Malta Independent: Major EP groups unite behind joint motion on citizenship debate.