European Commissioner for Justice Didier Reynders first spoke on Al Jazeera about the revelations of the international media network and revealed that he is considering legal action against Cyprus over its citizenship status through investments.
Mr Reynders also called for changes across Europe in citizenship programs through investment and said it would be preferable for him to abolish them altogether.
His comments came after the publication of Al Jazeera’s Research Unit, The Cyprus Papers, a collection of leaked documents showing that Cyprus had sold passports to criminals, fugitives and people believed to be at high risk of corruption.
These documents, which reveal almost 1,500 passport applications with more than 2,400 names, showed that Cyprus failed to carry out the appropriate checks in dozens of cases, thus allowing criminals and persons subject to international sanctions to purchase EU citizenship. .
Reynders also told Al Jazeera that he had asked the legal service of the European Justice Committee “to analyze whether it is possible in the legal framework that we should now start an infringement procedure or submit a legislative proposal”.
Reynders added that he would like to see some action from the European Union on the new legislation, but most of the responsibility lies with Cyprus.
“After the report you have published and some others in the past, the first element is to make sure that there are some national investigations by the judiciary,” Reynders said.
“It is the duty of the judiciary in Cyprus to investigate the situation, and if possible for the Cypriot authorities to revoke their nationality,” he said. Mr Reynders also focused on the importance of co-operation between EU Member States, calling for more information to be exchanged between supranational authorities.
“We want to have clear information about the different people applying for nationality through a clear exchange of information with Europol and other types of institutions at European level,” he concluded.
MEP Sven Geingold said “The European Commission should put Cyprus before the European Court of Justice. The passport scheme of Cyprus is a risk to security in Europe.
“You should earn your passport and your citizenship by integrating in society. And not because you have a lot of money.”
The Cyprus ‘Citizenship for Investment’ scheme has been controversial, even among Cypriot politicians. Speaking to Deborah Davies of Al Jazeera, AKEL MP Eleni Mavrou said: “The way the scheme was implemented, the last few years, it was obviously a procedure that allowed cases for which the Republic of Cyprus should be ashamed.”