Malta Ready to Defend Citizenship-Sovereignty in Court, Establishes New Agency to Handle RCBI Applications

As Malta prepares to roll out its new investment migration program – which, though it offers a path to citizenship within just one year, the government is prudently referring to as a residency program – the government is letting the European Commission know, in no uncertain terms, that it will defend its sovereign right to decide whom to naturalize, even if that means taking the case all the way to the European Court of Justice (ECJ).

In a move that has been widely lambasted by experts on EU law for its contravention of the member state competence principles that underpin the very foundations of the EU, the European Commission last month launched formal infringement procedures against both Malta and Cyprus over the countries’ respective citizenship by investment programs. (See: Kochenov: Commission Would Likely Be “Humiliated” If CIP-Matter Goes to Court Over “Genuine Links”).

“Malta is willing to take all legal paths to ensure nationality and citizenship remain a member state’s competence, and will defend this position even if the case is taken to the ECJ,” said Junior Minister for Citizenship, Alex Muscat, yesterday, the Times of Malta reports.

Though regulations for the new program are slated for publication only today, their contents have been known for some time already. The contribution element, which previously amounted to EUR 650,000, will now range from EUR 600,000 to EUR 750,000 (those who contribute the lesser amount will have to spend three years in Malta before naturalizing, while those who contribute EUR 750,000 will be able to obtain citizenship after one year). The minimum value for the real estate investment has doubled to EUR 700,000. See more details about the new program here.

Malta has now instituted a new body – the Community Malta Agency – to oversee and process applications for naturalization in the country under all routes to citizenship, including through investment, marriage, birth, descent, adoption, and merit. The new agency will replace the roles of both the Malta Individual Investor Programme Agency (MIIPA) and the Citizenship-Unit.

The new agency will be subject to “supervision and unfettered access of the Office of the Citizenship Regulator in relation to applications submitted under the investment route,” according to Maltese law firm Chetcuti Cauchi.

Image via: Alex Muscat on Facebook

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Investment migration people in the news this week include: Patricia Casaburi of Global Citizen SolutionsJoão G. Gil Figueira of GFDL AdvogadosDominic Volek of Henley & PartnersArthur Sarkisian of AstonsPedro Cortés of Rato, Ling, Lei & Cortés - Lawyers.Jeffrey Ling of Bartra Wealth AdvisorsTina Cheng of Midland Immigration ConsultancyAna Vukovic of Collier's New York Times: House Hunting in Portugal: A Light-Filled Retreat Near the Atlantic Coast In the downtown area, homes in the priciest areas — specifically the neighborhoods of Baixa and Chiado — sell for an average of 6,575 euros a square meter ($727 a square foot), said Patricia Casaburi, the CEO of Global Citizen Solutions, an investment migration consulting firm. “Prices are rising fast. Rent prices in this area are also very high, making it an ideal location for investment,” she said. She also pointed to two “up-and-coming” districts, Marvila and Beato, onetime industrial areas that now have “a number of creative spaces and industries, as well as microbreweries, and can be a good choice when it comes to investing in property in Lisbon.” [...] Property ownership by foreigners is not restricted in Portugal, said João G. Gil Figueira, a partner with the Lisbon-based law firm GFDL Advogados. “Legal
 

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Christian Henrik Nesheim AdministratorKeymaster

Christian Henrik Nesheim is the founder and editor of Investment Migration Insider, the #1 magazine – online or offline – for residency and citizenship by investment. He is an internationally recognized expert, speaker, documentary producer, and writer on the subject of investment migration, whose work is cited in the Economist, Bloomberg, Fortune, Forbes, Newsweek, and Business Insider. Norwegian by birth, Christian has spent the last 14 years in the United States, China, and Spain. 

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