21 Maastricht J. Eur. & Comp. L. 406 (2014)
The Price of EU Citizenship: The Maltese Citizenship-for-Sale Affair and the Principle of Sincere Cooperation in Nationality Matters

handle is hein.journals/maastje21 and id is 405 raw text is: THE PRICE OF EU CITIZENSHIP
The Maltese Citizenship-for-Sale Affair and
the Principle of Sincere Cooperation in
Nationality Matters
SERGIO CARRERA*
ABSTRACT
How much does European citizenship cost in the EU? This was the question that has raised
so much controversy over the Maltese citizenship-for-sale programme. The outright selling
of Maltese nationality to rich foreigners led to unprecedented responses by the European
Parliament and European Commission. This paper examines the affair and its relevance
for current and future configurations of citizenship of the EU. It studies the extent to
which Member States are still free to lay down the grounds for the acquisition and loss
of nationality without any EU supervision and accountability. It is argued that the EUs
intervention in the Maltese citizenship-for-sale affair constitutes a legal precedent for
assessing the lawfulness of passport-for-sale programmes in other EU Member States. The
affair has also revealed the increasing relevance of a set of European and international
legal principles limiting Member States' discretion over citizenship matters and providing
a supranational constellation of accountability venues scrutinizing the impact of their
decisions over citizenship. The Maltese citizenship-for-sale affair has placed at the forefront
the EU general principle of sincere cooperation in nationality matters. Member States'
actions in the citizenship domain cannot negatively affect in substance the concept and
freedoms of European citizenship.
Sergio Carrera is Senior Research Fellow and Head of the Justice and Home Affairs Section at the Centre
for European Policy Studies (CEPS), Brussels. The author would like to first express his gratitude to
Prof. Elspeth Guild (Radboud University of Nijmegen and CEPS) and Prof. Rene de Groot (University
of Maastricht) for their comments on a previous draft of this paper. This paper is a revised and shortened
version of a previously-published report falling within the framework of the ILEC (Involuntary Loss
of European Citizenship) project, funded by European Commission, and coordinated between the
Faculty of Law of the University of Maastricht and CEPS.

21 MJ 3 (2014)

406

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