EU Citizenship and Money: A Liaison Dangereuse? International and EU Legal Issues Concerning the Selling of EU Citizenship

Anno L, n. 212, gennaio-aprile 2015
Centro Einaudi
Articolo completo/Full text


The pressure exerted by the economic and financial crisis has led EU actors to reshape the way in which some of the most relevant features of EU law are interpreted and applied. A significant example of such a "resilient approach" is given by the EU citizenship regime, which has revealed a Janus-faced attitude vis-à-vis the crisis. On the one hand, the contents of EU citizenship—and in particular the right to free movement—have been considered by some EU countries as a threat to their state budget. On the other hand, some EU countries have used the EU citizenship regime as a tool to help them face the budget constraints brought on by the crisis. A clear example of the latter attitude is represented by the investor and citizenship schemes that have recently been adopted by Cyprus and Malta, where EU citizenship is reshaped as a "commodity" that can be sold—subject to certain conditions—by Member States. This article tries to shed light, from a legal point of view, on the practice of selling EU citizenship. After a short illustration of the schemes involved and the reactions they have provoked from EU institutions (notably, the European Parliament and European Commission), this contribution will consider possible limits to the selling of EU citizenship: first it will assess possible limits under international law, and then it will consider the specific obligations arising out of EU law. The article closes with a summary of the author's main findings.