Baby boomer travelers looking to relocate in the European Union during retirement (or before) without going through pesky residency and visa requirements can now achieve instant EU citizenship: for a price.
According to a story by Thomas Steinmetz in Global Travel Industry News, the Mediterranean island nation of Malta has just approved a plan to sell Maltese EU passports — and citizenship — for a mere 650,000 euros (about U.S. $875,000), which would allow you to live anywhere within the European Union.
France? Mais oui!
Spain? No problema!
Germany? Machen Sie sich’s bequem!
The Netherlands? Een glas bier, alstublieft! (Well, I don’t know much Dutch)
Personally, I love Malta (see my earlier post on it) as well, so if I had that kind of cash it would be a tough choice. There are 28 EU countries altogether, and citizenship in one permits residency in any other.
If you haven’t already guessed, Malta’s new law is intended to raise extra cash for Maltese coffers. According to the Steinmetz piece, the company that will be processing the paperwork estimates that 300 people annually will buy into the deal, which would amass a cool 195 million euros (U.S. $262.5 million) each year for the nation of 452,000 residents.
And here’s the beauty part: for just an additional 25,000 euros (about U.S. $34,000), you can obtain Maltese citizenship for immediate family members as well.
If this all sounds a bit sketchy, a spokesman for the European Union is said to have issued assurances that member states have full discretion in setting rules for deciding who gets their passports and how.
But there is a potential catch, according to the Global Travel Industry News: Malta’s government opposition party is threatening to repeal the law in the future and revoke all the passports that have been issued. They contend that since the names of the newly bought and paid for citizens will not be made public, that the process lacks transparency, and, by implication, that some unsavory new characters might be moving in.
After earlier criticizing the Maltese for failing to take advantage of the obvious marketing potential of the Maltese Falcon to baby boomers, I’m not about to pile on this enterprising method of larding up the country’s treasury. But it would worry me a bit to know that if the opposition party came to power, I might lose the passport I’d paid so dearly to obtain.
So maybe I’ll hold onto my $875,000 for now — at least until there’s a better exchange rate with the euro.
What do you think, readers? If the price comes down a bit, would you buy EU citizenship?
UPDATE: In an attempt to defuse opposition criticism of the citizenship for sale policy, the Maltese government has now announced that the names of those purchasing passports will not be kept secret after all.
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