The Malta Independent 5 December 2020, Saturday

‘I am confident we will reach an agreement with the Commission’, Fearne says on action against IIP

Tuesday, 20 October 2020, 15:15 Last update: about 3 months ago

Deputy Prime Minister Chris Fearne has spoken of his confidence that the government will be able to reach an agreement with the European Commission over its passport-selling scheme, after the Commission opened infringement proceedings against Malta on it.

On Tuesday, the European Commission officially opened infringement proceedings against Malta and Cyprus on their respective passport-selling schemes, saying that the schemes have significant implications on the European Union as a whole.

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In a statement, the Commission said that it considers the granting of EU citizenship for pre-determined payments or investments without any genuine link with the Member States concerned, as something which undermines the essence of EU citizenship.

Speaking about the subject, Fearne said that the government will be contesting the decision and “defending our country”.

“Like we always do, we will be discussing with the European Commission. I am confident that we will reach an agreement with the Commission”, Fearne said.

Fearne said that the Nationalist Party definitely did not help with the situation. If there was an influence by the PN behind this, it was surely against the interests of the country, not in favour, he said.

Weighing in, Finance Minister Edward Scicluna said that, when an infringement procedure is launched, the affected country enters into a dialogue with the EC and takes a position. “There were times where we won such cases in the past.”

The government, he noted, has already revised the IIP and the new scheme will be more in line with today’s times.

Malta’s own Individual Investor Programme (IIP) has run for the past few years, with some 1,800 people obtaining Maltese citizenship through this means.

It is currently inactive after its first phase finished, with a second phase with some proposed changes to residency periods in the offing and awaiting Commission approval – which may now prove to be a harder nut to crack than was previously thought.

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