Bowing to stiff EU criticism, Malta has agreed to require one year of residency for foreigners buying Maltese passports.

The tiny Mediterranean island nation is a member of the European Union, so Maltese passport holders become EU citizens, too.

Malta and the European Commission said in a statement Wednesday night that naturalization certificates will only be granted after applicants prove they have lived in Malta for a year. They still must make investments totaling 1.15 million euros ($1.57 million).

Malta's Parliament still must debate the proposed changes

Initially, there was to be a 1,800 cap on the number of such passports granted. But the statement said Malta now reserves the right to raise that limit.

Earlier this month, the European Parliament urged Malta to stop the program.