February 3, 2023

Athens News

News in English from Greece

The era of “golden visas” in Europe is coming to an end

European “golden” passports will soon become invalid. The European Union plans to abolish them by 2025.

A decision has already been voted that it is time to put an end to the process of “selling” European citizenship to people from third countries. MEPs plan to abolish golden visas over the next three years, by 2025. An important argument in favor of such a decision was that with the help of purchased citizenship, rich Russians can avoid sanctions imposed because of the war in Ukraine. Among them are people from the circle of the Russian president. Sophie in’t Weld, a liberal politician from the Netherlands, denounces the practice of exchanging investments for visas and permits:

“It attracts very dubious personalities, dirty money, shadow business. We saw, for example, how many Russian oligarchs bought citizenship or residence permits in EU. This is what war criminals have done in the past. The entire royal family of Saudi Arabia at some point received citizenship, which was revoked. So we are not talking about legitimate investment in the EU economy.”

Among the states that issued “golden” passports, EU member states such as Portugal, Greece, Cyprus, Malta, Bulgaria. Not so long ago, Malta temporarily suspended the issuance of such documents to citizens of Russia and Belarus. But already, at least 130,000 people managed to acquire European passports, generously donating at least 21.8 billion euros to the budget of the host states.

Is it possible to deprive the owner of the coveted document of citizenship thus obtained? This task is quite difficult, but doable. Moreover, precedents, as they say, have already taken place. Sophie in’t Weld explains:

“This has been done on several occasions in Cyprus and Malta where it was found that not all information was provided during the application process. Let’s be honest: we know where these people come from – mainly from Russia and China. This means we have to rely on the Russians and the Chinese for information about the origins of the oligarchs close to Putin and their wealth. How reliable is this information?

The parliamentary report will be sent to the European Commission, and then to the EU member states – for them, the document can become a guide to action, reports euronews.

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