European Commission urges tighter control of EU citizenship schemes

NEWS 23.01.2019 16:26
Source: Pixabay (ilustracija)

The European Commission warned on Wednesday that programmes introduced by some EU states to sell passports and visas to wealthy foreigners imply certain risks in terms of security, money laundering, tax evasion, and corruption.

The Commission unveiled a comprehensive report on investor citizenship and residence schemes available in a number of EU countries.

It noted that Bulgaria, Cyprus, and Malta sell their citizenship, issuing so-called “golden passports” in exchange for investments in the country worth €1 million or more.

In addition, 20 EU countries, including those three, award residence permits, or “golden visas”, to foreigners investing smaller amounts, ranging from nearly €15,000 in Croatia to over €5 million in Luxembourg and Slovakia.

“Legally residing in the EU and in the Schengen area comes with rights and privileges that should not be abused,” Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, Dimitris Avramopoulos, said.

“Member States must at all times fully respect and apply existing obligatory checks and balances – and national investor residence schemes should not be exempt from that. The work we have done together over the past years in terms of increasing security, strengthening our borders, and closing information gaps should not be jeopardised. We will monitor full compliance with EU law,” Avramopoulos added.

Commissioner for Justice, Consumers, and Gender Equality, Vera Jourova, called for more transparency and urged tighter checks on these schemes.

“Becoming a citizen of one member state also means becoming an EU citizen with all its rights, including free movement and access to the internal market. People obtaining an EU nationality must have a genuine connection to the member state concerned. We want more transparency on how nationality is granted and more cooperation between member states. There should be no weak link in the EU, where people could shop around for the most lenient scheme,” Jourova said.

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