EU Commission announces infringement procedures against Malta

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The European Commission has announced a number of infringement decisions vis-a-vis Malta in the latest package of infringements announced earlier on Thursday. The infringements vary from the passport selling scheme to bird trapping and include issues related to waste management and residency permits.

The European Commission has decided to take further steps in the infringement procedures against Cyprus and Malta regarding their investor citizenship schemes, also referred to as “golden passport” schemes. The Commission considers that by establishing and operating investor citizenship schemes that offer citizenship in exchange for pre-determined payments and investments, these two Member States fail to fulfil their obligations under the principle of sincere cooperation and the definition of citizenship of the Union as laid down in the Treaties. While the previous investor citizenship scheme is no longer in force, Malta established a new scheme at the end of 2020. Commission has decided today to issue an additional letter of formal notice to expand the concerns set out in the letter of formal notice to a new scheme operated by Malta.

The Commission decided to send letters of formal notice to Lithuania and Slovenia, and an additional letter of formal notice to Malta, for failing to correctly transpose the Long-Term Residents Directive which defines the conditions under which non-EU nationals can obtain long-term resident status and defines their right to equal treatment to support their integration. Under the Directive, Member States grant long-term resident status to non-EU nationals legally and continuously. Under Maltese legislation, applicants for long-term residency must prove a certain knowledge of the Maltese language, while applicants for Maltese citizenship by naturalisation have the choice between providing evidence of their Maltese or English language skills. The additional language requirement for long-term residents does not comply with the principle of proportionality.

The Commission also decided to send a reasoned opinion to Malta for failing to amend its rules on car taxation. The Commission considers that Maltese legislation is not compatible with Article 110 of TFEU prohibiting discrimination against imported products since cars imported from other Member States are taxed more heavily compared to domestic cars. Under the national provisions currently in force, cars first registered in Malta from 1st January 2009 are subject to a generally higher annual circulation tax than those registered before that date, due to a difference in the way the tax is calculated.

The Maltese car taxation system does not take into account the date of first registration of the vehicle, where registration took place in another Member State. Consequently, the Maltese car taxation system has a discriminatory effect with respect to motor vehicles coming from other Member States. If Malta does not act within the next two months, the Commission may decide to refer the case to the Court of Justice.

Three other infringement letters called on Malta to discontinue its practice to authorise finch trapping as per the Birds Directive and to fully enact new EU rules on waste streams into national legislation and rules on landfilling into national legislation.