© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: European Union flags flutter outside the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: European Union flags flutter outside the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Commission said on Tuesday it was launching legal procedures against Cyprus and Malta over their investor citizenship programmes, also referred to as “golden passport” schemes.

The European Union executive said in a statement that the decision was taken because the two member states granted nationality – and thereby EU citizenship – in exchange for a pre-determined payment or investment and without a genuine link with the country concerned.

“The Cypriot and Maltese governments have two months to reply to the letters of formal notice,” said the Commission, adding it could escalate the legal cases if the two countries do not provide satisfactory answers or make amends.

A deputy head at the bloc’s executive, Values and Transparency Commissioner Vera Jourova said: “There cannot be a weak link in EU efforts to curb corruption and money laundering. EU passports cannot be for sale.”

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