Senior Malta government sources, including cabinet ministers, civil servants and external advisers, have told Times of Malta that its prime minister Robert Abela is considering ending the programme. 

The paper reported on 20 April that sources said Abela has been presented with a Goldilocks assortment of options ranging from the piping hot move to end the scheme to a cold redrafting.

Abela is understood to be weighing whether to halt passport sales outright, setting a cut-off date within the next few years - roughly 2025 - or reworking the scheme for a second time. 

The European Commission moved to the second stage of its infringement proceeding against Malta on Wednesday 6 April, sending a "reasoned opinion" regarding the existence of citizenship by investment schemes in the country.

Malta now has two months to reply to the Commission's reasoned opinion. If the reply is not satisfactory, the EC said it "may bring this matter before the Court of Justice of the European Union".

In March, the island's government had announced the suspension of its golden passports for Russian and Belarusian nationals.