The European Commission will not go into the workings of the citizenship scheme, although at a later stage it might ask for clarifications due to budgetary concerns, according to EU Commissioner Tonio Borg.

Answering questions during the debate held as part of the European Year of Citizens at the Hotel Phoenicia in Floriana, Dr Borg made it clear he would not be drawn into the merits of a scheme being proposed by a sovereign country.

“Even if that citizenship will at the end of the day confer European Union rights,” he said.

The only area where the Commission could be involved, he said, was when it came to the budget.

“The fact that till now the EU has not pressed the alarm button on the scheme means that there is nothing which is alarming from the budget point of view. But questions might follow at a later stage, for more clarifications.”

The event, moderated by Times of Malta’s Head of Media Herman Grech, formed part of a series of dialogue meetings as part of the 2013 European Year for the Citizens.

Dr Borg was also quizzed on the topic of immigration by members of the audience. He underlined the €84 million in aid which the EU has given Malta so far.

“Financially, the burden sharing is there, but it does not stretch to a commitment for all the countries to take in asylum seekers – some countries for some reason or other prefer this to be on a voluntary basis,” he said, adding it was up to the Member States, not the Commission, to come to an agreement on this.

“You cannot impose solidarity: Malta has to put pressure so that other countries show solidarity with the smaller countries.”

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