EU To Debate "Citizenship for Sale" and "Golden Visas"

By Editorial 17 December, 2013

The sale of "Golden Visas" and even citizenship to wealthy non-EU nationals is to be the subject of a debate in the European Parliament in January.

Currently, Cyprus, Greece, Latvia, Portugal and Spain offer pathways to permanent residency for investors, while Malta and Cyprus have schemes leading to citizenship. Last month, the European Commission confirmed that EU states have "full sovereignty" when it comes to granting citizenship, but European Parliamentarians representing the Verts/ALE (European Green Party and European Free Alliance) have now asked the Commission to clarify whether Malta's citizenship offer respects "the letter and the non-discrimination principle" of EU treaties and the Schengen Borders Code.

The Commission is asked to consider whether Malta's scheme is an "an abuse" of the rights acquired by the island through its EU membership, and whether selling citizenship may undermine "the very concept of European citizenship." The tabled question suggests that foreign investors are being given the rights of citizenship without being held to the responsibilities of citizenship.

The Commission is further asked to comment on the situation in the countries that are offering residency schemes to investors. In the case of Spain, investors who spend EUR500,000 or more on residential or commercial property or land, and who are able to show they can meet their own living expenses, can reside in Spain for an initial 12 months, rather than just 90 days, and are then eligible for a two-year residency permit, renewable every two years.

Residency in Greece, Latvia, Portugal or Spain allows free movement without a visa within the 26-member Schengen Area, and permanent residents of Cyprus can apply for a Schengen visa. Citizenship in an EU state gives residency rights across the EU.

The subject will be debated on January 15, 2014.

Tags: Malta | Portugal | Latvia | Cyprus | Greece | Spain | European Union (EU) | Expats | Investment | Visas And Passports | Europe | Invest | Investment |


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