The European Parliament’s members have called on the EU Commission to table a proposal on the termination of the so-called Golden Passports, and the regulation of the Golden Visa schemes before the end of its mandate, in order to avoid the abuse of these schemes by criminals.
In a meeting held today, on March 9, the MEPs have voted pro a draft legislative initiative report which lays out several measures that the Member States are urged to address regarding their citizenship and residence by investment schemes approved previously by the EU Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs on mid-February.
Throughout the Parliament’s meeting, Rapporteur Sophia in ‘t Veld said that the programmes serve shady individuals as a back door into the EU.
“It is time we closed that door so that Russian oligarchs and other persons with dirty money stay out. Member state governments have refused to address the problem, claiming it was not an EU matter. Given what is currently happening, they cannot duck this issue anymore,” she said.
At the same time, the MEPs want the EU to impose a tax on each Golden Passport that is issued until the programmes are terminated and a tax on Golden Visas indefinitely.
According to a press release of the Parliament, regarding the Golden Passport schemes, which are officially known as ‘citizenship by investment’ (CBI) schemes, the same threaten the essence of EU citizenship.
“Parliament describes the practice – in place in Malta, Bulgaria and Cyprus – as “free-riding”, as member states sell what was never intended to become a commodity. Applications have been accepted even when requirements were not met, MEPs say, and demand that these schemes be phased out due to the risks they pose,” the press release notes.
Regarding the so-called Golden Visas, through which 12 Member Countries grant residency to foreigners in exchange for investments in their territory, the Parliament wants the EU to set out rules that would tackle money laundering, tax evasion, and corruption, including here stringent background checks on the applicant.
The MEPs also want the authorities of these 12 Member states to impose requirements for minimum physical residence and active involvement, quality, added value, and contribution to the economy through their investments.
They also ask for the EU to set a tax on these kinds of schemes.
“Parliament calls for an EU levy of a meaningful percentage on the investments made – until ‘golden passports’ are phased out, and indefinitely for ‘golden visas’. It also asks the Commission to put pressure on third countries that benefit from visa-free travel to the EU to follow suit,” the MEPs insist.
Finally, the Parliament has applauded the decision of some Member States to limit the issuance of Golden Visas and Passports for Russian applicants amid the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine.
The Member States have also been encouraged to reassess the approved applications of Russians in order to make sure that no individual with ties to the Putin regime benefits from the EU citizenship and residency.
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