Citizenship schemes should be ‘phased out as soon as possible’

Hard not to agree with this recommendation of  the European Parliament:

Schemes which offer citizenship or residency by investment should be phased out as soon as possible, a European Parliament special committee has said.

In a draft report released on Tuesday, the Special Committee on Financial Crimes and Tax Evasion expressed concerns about Malta’s Individual Investor Programme, saying it could “potentially pose” high risks.

Their concerns came following an analysis by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, which found Malta could potentially offer a back-door to money-launderers and tax evaders.

Read: Malta at ‘high’ risk of being used for money laundering

Following continued revelations over the past year, including the Panama Papers and Paradise Papers, the European Parliament decided to set up a special committee on financial crimes, tax evasion and tax avoidance.

After many months of expert hearings, studies and fact-finding missions, the committee presented its findings on Wednesday.

The report, put forward by Czech MEP Luděk Niedermayer and Danish MEP Jeppe Kofod, calls for an urgent reform of outdated and international tax rules.

“Anti-money laundering provisions in Europe are a loose patchwork blanket of EU and national rules. The blanket clearly doesn’t cover all it needs to, and the patches don’t quite line up, leaving loopholes,” Mr Kofod said.

In a statement, the EPP also came out strongly against schemes offering citizenship or residences for investment.

These schemes were being abused and posed a security threat to the rest of the EU, MEP Dariusz Rosati, EPP group spokesman in the committee said.

In his reaction, PN MEP Francis Zammit Dimech said concerns related to proper lack of due diligence meant countries were facing “totally unnecessary security risks”.

Nationalist MEP Francis Zammit Dimech

“This is why we shall keep on insisting on the full and clear disclosure of the names of all persons acquiring citizenship and not try to hide those names from public attention and scrutiny,” he said.

The draft report will be discussed on November 27.

And in other citizenship-by-investment news, this editorial in the Jordan Times regarding recent Jordanian proposals:
The government decided on Sunday to have another look at the regulations governing granting of the Jordanian nationality to foreigners by raising the financial stakes for their eligibility.

Depositing $1.5 million with the Central Bank of Jordan, purchasing no less than $1.5 million worth of Jordanian treasury bonds or even buying stakes in Jordanian companies worth $1.5 million are all well and good revisions, but making the price of citizenship higher does not go far enough. The Jordanian nationality has no price and cannot be measured in US dollars or Jordanian dinars. There must be something much more important and valuable for obtaining the Jordanian nationality.

One would have thought, therefore, that the government would revisit other factors for citizenship qualification that go beyond money. What about having potential citizen take a test, like all countries do when they grant citizenship to foreigners, with a view to determining the extent of their knowledge of the history of the country and its goals and aspirations.

Potential citizens must be also sensitive to the culture of the country, and its regional and international challenges. Above all, there is a need to gauge the extent of their solemn loyalty to the country.

None of these non-material testing grounds appear to figure highly in the process leading to granting citizenship to foreign applicants. And come to think of it, why not invite Parliament to have a look also at the citizenship process for foreign applicants. The people’s representatives need to have voice in this important policy.

Being a Jordanian is a very serious matter and taking it should not be for serving applicants’ immediate needs. Otherwise, the Jordanian nationality would become a citizenship of convenience.

Jordanians at large would want to make sure that no one is contemplating taking Jordan for a ride, to serve their own immediate and perhaps temporary goals. This whole process of granting citizenship to investors requires another look, a look that is deeper and multidimensional.

Source: Citizenship is not a commodity

Brisk business in EU golden visas and citizenship scams

More on these scams:

As demand for residency or citizenship in EU member states has grown, a market has emerged in which corrupt national officials falsify documents for a fee. And that is not all: Many governments of EU member states openly and officially benefit from selling “golden visas,” raking in billions of euros.

Last week in Bulgaria, about two dozen officials were temporarily detained because they had for many years illegally sold fake certificates of ancestry to people from Macedonia, Moldova and Ukraine — and reportedly made thousands of euros in doing so. People holding such certificates, authenticated by the State Agency for Bulgarians Abroad, can apply for citizenship. Petar Haralampiev, the head of SABA and a notorious nationalist politician suspected of being the ringleader, was among the officials arrested; he has been removed from his post.

In 2012, DW’s Bulgaria desk was one of the first media outlets to report on SABA’s sale of fake ancestry documents to foreigners. Beginning in 2013 Katja Mateva, a lawyer and the former head of the citizenship department in Bulgaria’s Justice Ministry, repeatedly offered senior government officials information on the sales. In 2014, Petko Petkov, the deputy justice minister at the time, sent a memorandum on the matter to interim Prime Minister Georgi Bliznashki. Nothing happened.

Mateva told DW that she was sidelined for years at the Justice Ministry, and ultimately dismissed in 2017. Petkov was branded a traitor by his colleagues. Both Mateva and Petkov told DW that senior politicians have not been keen to stop the deals.

Ancestry certificates offer citizenship in Romania and Hungary, too. In Romania, the deal mainly affects people from Moldova, where two-thirds of the population are of Romanian descent. Ukraine is also home to people of Romanian and Hungarian descent. Regional media report that fake certificates have been sold in Romania and Hungary for years. Thousands of Russians and Ukrainians are believed to have secured Romanian or Hungarian citizenship in this manner.

‘Security risks’

There’s also a brisk trade in golden visas in the European Union. Non-EU citizens can buy citizenship or a permanent residence in many countries by coming in as investors. EU member states such as Bulgaria, Greece, Great Britain, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Austria, Portugal, Spain, Hungary and Cyprus have offered or still offer such programs.

Transparency International and Global Witness report that at least 6,000 people have bought citizenship and more than 100,000 have received residency in this manner over the past decade. The total income, the NGOs report, amounted to at least €25 billion ($28.5billion). Golden visa programs encourage money laundering and offer businesspeople a safe haven, the NGOs report. They urge the European Union to put a stop to this practice.

Hungary’s golden visa program ran until 2017. Though there is almost no official information, Hungarian investigative journalists have repeatedly — most recently three weeks ago — published findings on the program’s beneficiaries. According to the reporters, Russian politicians, relatives of high-ranking Russian secret service officials and confidants of Syrian dictator Bashar Assad have received Hungarian citizenship or residency. Ghaith Pharaon, a Saudi businessman who died in 2017 and was wanted by the US for bank fraud and money laundering, also allegedly received a Hungarian residence permit and applied for citizenship.

“This business practice poses security risks, not only for Hungary but the entire European Union,” Andras Petho, an editor with Hungary’s Direkt36 center for investigative journalism, told DW.

He pointed out an “interesting contradiction.”

The Hungarian government minces no words when speaking out against immigration. “At the same time, lots of people from outside the EU are being brought into the country by way of the golden visa program,” Petho said, “people hardly anyone has checked.”

Source: Brisk business in EU golden visas and citizenship scams

The EU Is Demanding A Critical Change To Malta’s Sale Of Citizenship Scheme

Overdue (and likely not enough):

The European Commission demanded Malta revamp its controversial sale-of-citizenship scheme to ensure new Maltese citizens live on the island for at least a year.

“Becoming a Maltese citizen means becoming an EU citizen and gaining the benefits of free movement,” EU Justice Commissioner Vĕra Jourová said during a visit to Malta this afternoon. “The European Commission must ensure that Malta only gives citizenship to people with a real link to the country and who reside in it for at least a year.”

Jourová’s warning will come as a blow to the Maltese government, which often rebuts criticism at the Individual Investor Programme (IIP) by insisting that the European Commission has no problem with it.

While acknowledging that member states have sovereignty over citizenship schemes, Jourová pledged to continue raising concerns about potential threats posed by the IIP.

“We must not enable suspicious people to acquire European citizenship through an easy way and use it to launder money or to pose some sort of security threats to the continent,” she said. “We have a legitimate right to require some basic parameters for citizenship scheme.”

She said the European Commission is currently analysing all EU citizenship schemes, including Malta’s IIP, ahead of a detailed report that will be published by the end of the year.

“If it turns out that this assessment isn’t favourable to the Maltese IIP, then I believe we will be able to work hand in hand with the Maltese authorities to improve the system.”

Jourová’s assessment came after she met key players in the industry today, including the IIP’s chief executive officer Jonathan Cardona.

The IIP requires applicants to pay €650,000 to the government as well as to invest in government bonds and to either buy a property worth at least €350,000 or to rent a property out for at least €16,000 over five years. However, it doesn’t require applicants to actually live on the island – a fact that was probed by the BBC alongside Daphne Caruana Galizia a few months before her assassination.

Source: The EU Is Demanding A Critical Change To Malta’s Sale Of Citizenship Scheme

EU Agency Rolls Out Survey of European Jewish Reactions to Antisemitism in 13 Countries

Will be interesting to see the results. Would be also nice to have an equivalent survey with respect to Muslim citizens and residents and their experiences with racism and discrimination (FRA may have already done this):

Jewish citizens and residents of 13 European Union member states are being urged to fill out on an online survey detailing their personal experiences with antisemitism, as part of a new EU initiative to combat hatred and prejudice toward Jews.

The survey, launched earlier this month, has been organized by the EU’s Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) in association with two UK-based institutions — the Institute for Jewish Policy Research (JPR), a think tank located in London, and the polling organization Ipsos.

A statement from the FRA said that the goal of the survey was to compile “comparable data on the experiences, perceptions and views of discrimination and hate crime victimization of persons who self-identify as Jewish on the basis of their religion, ethnicity or any other reason.”

The survey is being conducted in Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Sweden and the UK. As well as completing the survey in their national languages, respondents also have the option to submit their answers in Hebrew — a reflection, perhaps, of the growing presence of Israeli émigré communities in cities like Berlin and Paris.

Judith Russell — development director of the JPR — told the French Jewish newspaper Actualité Juive that her institute had carried out a similar survey in 9 European countries in 2012, with positive results.

“The results of the 2012 study prompted the European Commission to appoint a coordinator in the fight against antisemitism, and to agree on the definition of the word ‘antisemitism’ on a European level,” Russell remarked.  “This new survey can still drive new solutions at European level.”

The survey asks respondents for their opinions about general trends in antisemitism — for example, whether they feel that there has been an increase in antisemitic statements by elected politicians — as well personal experiences of antisemitism at work or at school, or in public places. Initial results are scheduled for release in November.

Source: EU Agency Rolls Out Survey of European Jewish Reactions to Antisemitism in 13 Countries

UK immigration latest: EU net migration falls over past year as Brexit uncertainty continues | The Independent

Not surprising:

EU net migration is falling as more European citizens leave the UK and fewer arrive in the wake of the vote for Brexit, new statistics show.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said overall net migration in the year to September was 244,000 – a similar level to early 2014 and down on record levels in the next two years.

The number of European citizens arriving has plummeted since the EU referendum, while the number of people from outside the bloc has increased.

“EU net migration has fallen as fewer EU citizens are arriving, especially those coming to look for work in the UK, and the number leaving has risen – it has now returned to the level seen in 2012,” said Nicola White, head of international migration statistics at the ONS.

“The figures also show that non-EU net migration is now larger than EU net migration, mainly due to the large decrease in EU net migration over the last year. However, migration of both non-EU and EU citizens are still adding to the UK population.

“Brexit could well be a factor in people’s decision to move to or from the UK, but people’s decision to migrate is complicated and can be influenced by lots of different reasons.”

The number of EU citizens coming to the UK plummeted by 47,000 in the year and the number leaving – 130,000 – is the highest recorded level since the 2008 financial crisis.

Almost a quarter of a million people arrived in the UK to work in the period 2017, with the number of EU citizens falling by 58,000.

Most of the Europeans arriving had a definite job lined up, while a smaller proportion were looking for work.

The biggest nationality starting work in the year to September, according to National Insurance number registration data, was Romanian, followed by Polish, Italian, Bulgarian, Spanish and Indian – who accounted for over half of all skilled work visas granted.

The ONS said that the overall employment rate for EU nationals was 81.2 per cent, followed by Brits at 75.6 per cent and non-EU nationals on 63.2 per cent.

George Koureas, a partner at immigration law firm Fragomen, said: “The UK has become a significantly less attractive place for European citizens to work since Brexit, so it’s no surprise that more EU workers are leaving the country.

“Although the Government may see this as good news, it presents a significant threat to UK businesses, already struggling to hire the skilled workers they need to thrive.”

He said there could be a further impact from the Government’s plan to double the Immigration Health Surcharge, which is paid by migrants to use the NHS, and caps on visas for skilled workers.

via UK immigration latest: EU net migration falls over past year as Brexit uncertainty continues | The Independent

EU chiefs ‘IGNORE’ ethnic minority staff ‘despite promoting diversity’ |

The numbers are telling:

Statistics published by the Politico website show minorities make up just one per cent of EU institutions.

Part of the reason for the EU’s deliberate colour blindness stems from countries like France where there is huge opposition to compiling statistics on race.

But critics say that has led the bloc to become a “bubble” for rich white people and no longer reflects the continent it purports to represent.

Is the EU too white?

British Conservative MEP Syed Kamall said there was a clear divide between those high up in Brussels and the staff performing low-level jobs.He told the site: “If you want to see diversity in the European institutions, look at the faces of the cleaners leaving the building early in the morning and contrast that with the white MEPs and officials entering.”

One MEP’s assistant, Rachael Moore, even accused politicians at the European Parliament of ignoring her as one of the few “black faces” andclaimed she was subjected to security checks for no good reason.

She said: “It’s like I am not even there — they just look straight at my boss.

“They don’t look or reply to me when I ask a question. I get looks like ‘you’re not supposed to be here’.”

She went on: “I don’t sound like anything in particular on the surface.

“There is shock, a blank stare when they see me for the first time. It plays on my daily life.”

There is a lack of diversity at EU institutions

British Conservative MEP Syed Kamall said there was a clear divide between those high up in Brussels and the staff performing low-level jobs.

And Sarah Chander from the European Network Against Racism (ENAR) told Politico there was an “audacity” in Brussels where “every single one” of those promoting multiculturalism were white.

She said: “Many working in the Brussels bubble feel that working on progressive issues gives them a sense of immunity for the overwhelming whiteness of their institutions and organisations.”

It is not the first time concerns have been raised about a lack of representation in the EU corridors of power.

The ENAR penned a letter to Jean Claude-Junker earlier this year calling for changes to its diversity strategy.

It came after the Commission published a new policy on boosting the number of women, people with disabilities and LGBT staff working at its buildings, but ignored their race.

The letter said: “The European Commission has been widely criticised for under-representation of racial, ethnic and religious minorities within its workforce.

“Many commentators have argued that the European Commission must better reflect the diversity of the European society.

“Particularly at senior levels, the issue of under-representation is acute.

“This points to a trend of structural discrimination within the European Commission and jeopardises the equal inclusion of racial, ethnic and religious minority staff.”

But last year Alexander Winterstein, deputy chief spokesman for the Commission, defended its policies.

He claimed: “If you walk through our corridors you will see people from all walks of life, from all over Europe.”

via EU chiefs ‘IGNORE’ ethnic minority staff ‘despite promoting diversity’ | World | News |

EUROPP – The question of citizenship in the Brexit divorce: UK and EU citizens’ rights compared

Some interesting polling data. No surprise that “on average British citizens are more supportive of their rights abroad compared to EU-27 citizens’ rights in the UK:”

One of the key priorities for the EU during the Brexit negotiations is safeguarding citizens’ rights. This refers to 3.5 million EU citizens living in the UK and 1.2 million UK nationals living in EU countries. The EU supports equal treatment in the UK of EU27 citizens as compared to UK nationals, and in the EU27 of UK nationals as compared to EU27 citizens, in accordance with Union law. In her Florence speech on 22 September, the UK Prime Minster, Theresa May, offered to incorporate legal protections for EU citizens living in the UK into UK law as part of the exit treaty.

However, since the UK triggered Article 50 on 29 March, there has been little substantive progress in the Brexit negotiations with the question of citizens’ rights being one of the primary sticking points. A European Parliament resolution criticised the lack of sufficient progress on this issue, with the Parliament’s Brexit chief, Guy Verhofstadt, arguing that ‘citizens’ rights are not being well-managed’ suggesting the possibility of a potential European Parliament veto of the Brexit deal.

Against this background of uncertainty, it is important to understand how citizens’ rights feature in the hearts and minds of the British public. To do so, we designed a survey, conducted by YouGov for the University of York on 29 June just a few days after official negotiations for departure began between the UK and the EU on 19 June. The key questions we sought to address were:

  • What is the opinion of British citizens on the rights of EU citizens in the UK as part of the Brexit divorce?
  • How do attitudes towards the rights of UK citizens abroad compare to attitudes towards the rights of EU citizens in the UK?

Our sample consisted of 1,698 individuals and was representative of the general British population in terms of age, gender, education, social grade, region, political attention and EU referendum vote. We broke down the question of citizens’ rights into four subsequent components that relate to freedom of movement in the EU, i.e. the right to freely work, reside and do business in another EU member state, as well as receive welfare.

UK citizens’ attitudes towards EU-27 citizens’ rights in the UK

Overall, British public opinion is dispersed on EU-27 citizens’ rights in the UK, as shown in Figure 1. There is much more support for doing business in the UK as opposed to working and living in the UK. The least support is observed on the question of access to welfare where we may observe comparatively much more disagreement and potentially a level of polarisation among the electorate.

On a scale from 0 to 10, where 0 denotes full disagreement and 10 full agreement, approximately a quarter of the respondents (24.16%) fully disagree that EU citizens should be allowed to claim welfare benefits in the UK. If we were to add those who have responded below 5, i.e. the middle point of the scale, then this proportion reaches 50% of the respondents. This shows that opposition to EU citizens’ accessing welfare benefits in the UK is much higher to opposition to EU citizens’ right to live, work and do business in the UK, which is at 20.84%, 19.57% and 9.25% respectively. Put differently, the majority of British citizens tend to be in favour of EU citizens living, working and doing business in the UK, but they are not as happy for them to claim welfare benefits in their country.

UK citizens’ attitudes toward UK citizens’ rights in the EU-27

How do these findings compare to how British citizens view their own rights abroad? Here the picture is slightly different. Figure 2 shows that on average British citizens are more supportive of their rights abroad compared to EU-27 citizens’ rights in the UK. Overall, fewer people disagree that UK citizens should have the right to live, work, do business and claim welfare benefits in other EU countries (responses below point 5 on the scale). These percentages range from 14.74% disagreeing that UK citizens should have the right to live in an EU country, 14.04% being hostile to UK citizens having the right to work in the EU, only 7.74% disagreeing that UK citizens should be able to do business in other EU countries, and 44.9% arguing that UK citizens should not receive welfare abroad. The latter number on UK citizens’ welfare rights in other EU countries is about 5 percentage points lower than those who oppose EU citizens’ welfare access in the UK. That being said, however, British citizens are similarly polarised on the question of welfare access even if this concerns their own nationals abroad.

Our findings suggest that although the question of EU immigration is very important among the public, and – as we know – contributed to how people voted in the Brexit referendum in 2016, it is much more nuanced and potentially contradictory than we had previously thought.

First, often – at least in the British case – some nationals may have ‘double standards’ not viewing non-nationals having equal rights to themselves. This might undermine the UK government’s popularity following a Brexit divorce deal that guarantees equal rights for both UK nationals in EU member states and EU-27 citizens in the UK.

Second, the British public is much more agreeable to EU citizens’ living, working and doing business in the UK, but they are considerably less comfortable with them sharing welfare. This suggests that it is the social aspect of EU citizenship that is the key issue featuring in the hearts and minds of the majority of the British public. This could be because the anti-EU campaigns, parties and individuals heavily politicised the welfare aspect of EU integration during the Brexit referendum, by for example associating EU membership costs with a deficit in the NHS.

via EUROPP – The question of citizenship in the Brexit divorce: UK and EU citizens’ rights compared

Brexit vote creates surge in EU citizenship applications | The Guardian

Although the overall numbers are still relatively low, the increase is notable and to be expected. Good summary of the available data:

At least 17,000 Britons sought the citizenship of another EU member state in the year after the Brexit vote, a Guardian analysis shows.

While comprehensive figures for the previous year are not available, the larger countries surveyed all reported a jump in applications, suggesting a significant overall increase.

Figures collated from requests to London-based EU embassies and interior ministries across the bloc show that EU citizenship applications from UK residents and Britons living in other member states surged in the 12 months after the referendum

Responses received from 20 countries showed the greatest number of applications were for Irish citizenship with almost 9,000 applications from UK residents and Britons living in Ireland in the 12 months from July 2016, the month after the referendum took place.

The Irish embassy in London received 8,017 applications from UK residents between July 2016 and the end of June 2017 compared with just 689 in the full year of 2015. There was also a surge in applications from British residents in Ireland: 894 applications were made in the year from 1 July 2016, compared with just 104 the previous year.

An overall agreement on Britain’s article 50 withdrawal from the EU is far from settled, and the EU chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, said on Thursday that sufficient progress had not been made on the issue of citizens’ rights for the estimated 1.2 million Britons living in other EU countries and 3.6 million EU citizens who are residents of the UK.

Dora Kostakopoulou, a professor of EU law and European integration at Warwick University, said the main reasons for the surge in applications was because people wanted security of residence and were seeking to retain EU citizenship rights, including the right to travel and live in the 27 countries that will remain members of the EU after the UK leaves.

“They value European citizenship and therefore they do not wish to lose this status as a result of Brexit,” she said. “So gaining citizenship of (another) member state would guarantee their existing status and their existing rights.”

The Guardian contacted the UK-based embassies and interior ministries of the other member states requesting the number of citizenship applications made by UK residents and Britons living in the respective countries.

In the first eight months of 2017, 2,129 Britons living in France applied for French citizenship, figures from the interior ministry show. This compares with 1,363 applications in the whole of 2016 and just 385 in 2015. These figures exclude those made directly to the French embassy in London.

Just over 1,700 UK residents applied for German citizenship in the 12 months following the Brexit vote, compared with just 63 applications in the full-year 2015. About 90% of these were made under restoration of the basic law for the Federal Republic of Germany which confers citizenship rights on the descendents of people whose citizenship was renounced on political, racial or religious grounds in Nazi Germany.

One of them is London-based Jon Landau, the chief operating officer at tech startup Wazoku. He, his father, uncle and son all applied for citizenship on the grounds that Landau’s grandfather lost his German citizenship in the 1930s.

“As soon as the Brexit vote became clear, I started looking more seriously into the application process. Becoming a German citizen isn’t just about my future, but also about my young son’s opportunities. I want to ensure that he will see himself as a European citizen, with all the possibilities and freedoms of travel, study and work that I’ve enjoyed,” he said.

There was also a large increase in German citizenship applications among Britons living in Germany. The Federal Office for Statistics (Destatis) recorded 2,865 such applications last year, up from 622 in 2015. Figures for 2017 are not yet available.

The Swedish migration authority reported a steep increase in applications by British citizens: 1,965 Britons applied for Swedish citizenship domestically and abroad in the year to the end of June 2017, more than double the previous year.

British applications for Danish citizenship more than doubled to 604 in the same period compared with the previous year.

In Spain, where foreigners can apply for nationality after 10 years’ residence but must renounce their prior citizenship, the numbers seeking citizenship are relatively low: data on the number of people taking Spanish knowledge tests with the Instituto Cervantes shows there were 579 applications in the year after the Brexit vote.

As the test was only made compulsory in October 2015, it is not possible to compare this with the previous year period, but the average number of applications per month shot up from nine to 58 after June 2016.

One of the largest proportionate increases was recorded in Italy where the number of applications rose more than eightfold from 70 in the 12 months to the end of June 2016 to 593.

Applications for Finnish citizenship trebled to 115 applications while the number of applications for Cypriot and Greek citizenship quadrupled to 306 and 45 respectively.

There were about 170 applications in the Netherlands in the 12 months after the vote compared with just 40 in the full year of 2015.

Dawn MacFarlane, who has lived in Holland for the past 19 years and is awaiting a decision on her Dutch citizenship, said: “I actually considered myself a European citizen so I never felt the actual need to change my citizenship to Dutch even though I’ve been here a long time.”

However, she became concerned after the Brexit vote about her entitlements should she become unemployed and she said her feelings about the UK changed after the result.

“I just feel that being part of Europe is a very important part of my identity. For a large part of my life, I felt more European than British. I am Scottish first and I would have been British but the European feeling overpowered the British part.”

The Austrian embassy said it usually received about 10 applications per year, but that rose to 35 in the year following the Brexit referendum. A further 37 applications were received across the country’s nine states compared with just 15 between July 2015 and June 2016.

Other countries reported more modest increases in the number of UK residents seeking citizenship in the 12 months following the vote: the Czech republic recorded 27, up from 11, while Slovakia had 24 applications, up from 15.

No Britons were recorded as having applied for citizenship of Estonia and Slovenia.

The Guardian did not receive responses or got incomplete figures from Bulgaria, Croatia, Latvia, Malta, Poland and Portugal, and a Belgian official said its figures were not centrally collated.

Citizenship applications differ from applications for passports which can only be obtained by existing citizens. Irish passport applications made by UK residentshave soared since Brexit: more than 100,000 Irish passports were issued in the UK in the first six months of 2017, up from 65,000 in 2016.

People born in other countries are automatically Irish citizens if they or either of their parents were born in Ireland (including Northern Ireland) before 2005. However, foreign-born individuals with an Irish grandparent or a parent who, although an Irish citizen, was born outside the country, must apply for inclusion in the foreign births register in order to gain citizenship.

Source: Brexit vote creates surge in EU citizenship applications | Politics | The Guardian

Brexit: EU nationals seeking British citizenship more than triples in past year, new figures show | The Independent

Not surprising given the insecurity caused by Brexit.

Given the cost of UK citizenship £1,236 (CAD 2,150), it is highly skilled and other wealthy professionals or individuals who are applying:

The number of European Union (EU) nationals seeking Britishcitizenship has more than tripled during the past year, in a huge surge since the Brexit vote.

In just the first quarter of 2017, 9,400 EU applicants sought UKcitizenship –  three times as many as in the same period as last year, according to The Times.

Applications from the founding EU states France, Germany and Italy more than quadrupled to 4,790 — the highest such figure in at least seven years.

Those from German nationals rose from 163 to 832. Applicants from Italy meanwhile, increased from 180 to 1,062, while Spanish applications rose from 124 to 463. Polish applications rose from 728 to 1,937.

Source: Brexit: EU nationals seeking British citizenship more than triples in past year, new figures show | The Independent

Court case ruling may allow Britons to keep their EU citizenship and rights | The Independent

Interesting wrinkle:

Britons might be able to keep their EU citizenship and rights to live, work and claim healthcare across Europe, even if Theresa May walks out of the negotiations with no deal.

This could depend on the outcome of a legal case brought by four plaintiffs, who are seeking a ruling from the European Court of Justice over whether Article 50 can be revoked without the permission of other EU states.

The case, brought by the Good Law Project, is an attempt to get a ruling over whether Brexit could be reversible until 29 March 2019.

But it will also be asking whether or not UK citizens would remain EU citizens post Brexit.

The argument is based on Article 20 of the Treaty of Lisbon, which states that EU citizenship is additional and separate to national citizenship.

There are no provisions for removing this citizenship and its associated rights from individuals, regardless of whether their nation leaves the EU.

The case will argue that it is unclear from current legislation whether UK citizens can be stripped of their EU citizenship.

Speaking to Buzzfeed, Jolyon Maugham QC, a lawyer helping to bring the case, said: “There seems to be an assumption – convenient both to a particular type of Brexiter and to those voices in the EU that would rather be shot of the UK – that the citizenship rights of UK nationals can be taken away from us.

“Whether that assumption is right is ultimately a question of EU law. And it’s very unclear to us that it is.

“The question is likely to be of particular importance to those – very often British pensioners – who have made their lives abroad in France or Spain.”

Source: Court case ruling may allow Britons to keep their EU citizenship and rights | The Independent