Commission opens infringement procedures against Cyprus for selling passports

TAGS: Cyprus, EU

The European Commission announced on Tuesday it was opening infringement procedures against Cyprus and Malta over their respective citizenship schemes.

The Commission said that the granting of nationality – and thereby EU citizenship – in exchange for “pre-determined payments or investments without any genuine link with the member-states concerned, undermines the essence of EU citizenship.”

It also noted that the effects of investor citizenship schemes “are neither limited to the member-states that have them, nor are they neutral” with regard to other member-states and the EU as a whole.

Cyprus and Malta will now have two months to reply to the letters of formal notice. If the replies are not satisfactory, the Commission may issue a so-called “reasoned opinion” in this issue.

The Cypriot House speaker resigned on October 15 in the wake of a cash-for-passports scandal after he was secretly filmed by the Al Jazeera network talking to an undercover reporter posing as a representative of a Chinese businessman with a criminal record.

Demetris Syllouris is shown promising to facilitate the businessman’s passport application.

The citizenship for investment scheme has brought in eight billion euros for Cyprus since 2013.