The European Commission has stepped up legal action against Cyprus and Malta over their cash-for-passports schemes in a move that may eventually see the two island nations end up in court and face fines.
The EU executive kicked off the first step of the legal process in October last year when it sent letters of formal notice to the two countries, giving them two months to respond.
On Wednesday, the Commission sent a reasoned opinion to Cyprus for failing to address its concerns. The country has two months to inform the Commission of measures taken to comply with EU laws or faced being taken to court.
“While Cyprus has repealed its scheme and stopped receiving new applications on 1 November 2020, it continues processing pending applications,” it said in a statement.
The move came two days after an official inquiry found that the Cypriot government broke its own law countless times in granting citizenship to almost 7,000 people from 2007 to 2020.
The Interior Ministry in Nicosia said in a statement it was assessing the reasoned opinion and would respond within the specified time frame.
It also said persons were already facing legal action for alleged transgressions connected to the programme.
The Commission also issued an additional letter of formal notice to Malta, expanding on its concerns last year and giving the island two months to respond. The next step would be a reasoned opinion from the EU executive.