As for "genuine ties" to European countries, Delia explained what the process of "becoming Maltese" consists of these days."They fly in, they're brought by car here," he said. "They're here for 30 minutes just to sign their papers and get their passport and go on to move to Europe. So we cannot check for sure what these people are doing and why they bought a European citizenship."
Can the EU just decide not to honor those passports if they haven't actually shown some commitment to Malta? Portugal and Spain at least require several years of good-standing residency before you get the opportunity-opening red passport.
Deputy Prime Minister Portas is not impressed by any of these arguments. He even wants to lower the price for the new golden visas. If he has his way, a pledge to invest 350,000 euros in building renovation or art or science projects will be enough to get a residency permit. Those investing in underdeveloped regions can even expect a discount of 20 percent. The competition to win over rich foreigners has got tougher, says Portas: "After all, we're competing with 13 other countries."
Instead of scaring potential applicants away with tough conditions, Portas would rather offer them gifts. As for the accusations of corruption and other crimes in connection with the golden visa, Portas has just this to say: "Anyone who is guilty should be hit by the full weight of the law." What he fails to mention is that Portugal's police, state prosecutors, and judges are now hopelessly overburdened thanks to the austerity measures imposed by his government.