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A little under one year ago I wrote about citizenship in Malta and the (then) new IIP scheme. At the time, it was unclear what the working rules of the new programme would be. Things seem clearer now…

A recent New York Times article has investigated the matter and found themselves with a handful of very interesting quotes.

Perhaps the most relevant is from Maltese lawyer Mark Hyzler who says that, “They come twice, once to get a residency card and once to get a passport“. I’m no expert, but that doesn’t sound much like residency to me. If that is the case, then I am probably a permanent resident of Spain, owing to a couple of holidays in Ibiza 15 years ago…

In Mr Hyzler’s defence, he penned an article for in January in which he asks this very question.

Since the issuing of passports has been determined to be a national and not a European competency, there might be more countries that wish to pursue citizenship by investment. If this is to be the case, it would appear that a discussion as to what period of time is considered to be acceptable for residency ought to be initiated.

Cyprus also has it’s own scheme. The financial costs are higher than Malta’s, but the turnaround time is faster. Reading about the details, it appears that from application to receipt of passport can be as short as three months.

That is longer than my Ibiza holiday was, I’ll admit it, but it still seems to be a very short period of time.

Clearly the procurement of citizenship is a profitable business. Clearly it is also competitive, with countries around the world competing for clients. In any competitive space, there will always be room for one operator to improve terms and offer a better deal.

So far, so good. My question is, when the terms of the deal being improved relate to European residency and citizenship, should EU nations really be competing with each other? And if they are, shouldn’t we be having a debate to clear up exactly what it means to be European? Can you become a European in one year? Three months? 48 hours?

Author :
EurActiv Network