Sven Giegold
Mitglied der Grünen/EFA-Fraktion im Europaparlament

Sprecher Europagruppe Grüne

Citizenships and visas: EU Commission must set and comply with binding minimum standards against the sale of citizens’ rights

Today, Wednesday, the European Commission warned EU Member States of the controversial “golden passports and visas” programmes that grant residence permits and even citizenship to non-EU citizens in exchange for money and investment. The report of the European Commission published today finally creates more transparency and is also a success of our demands in the European Parliament. There is ample evidence that these so-called “golden visas” programmes aid corruption and organised crime. The Commission’s communication refers to golden visa programmes as a threat to Europe’s security. In the last ten years, the European states have used such programmes to grant citizenship to some 6,000 people and have actually sold residence permits to some 100,000 others. In return, there were fees and investments, such as real estate purchases or investments in local companies. EU Member States have received up to 25 billion euros from such applications.

The spokesman for Bündnis 90/Die Grünen in the European Parliament, Sven Giegold, said:

“The sale of civil rights poses a serious threat to our security and the fight against corruption in the EU. The Commission’s proposal is half-hearted and was presented only at the insistence of the European Parliament. This is incomprehensible given the serious allegations that passports and residence permits in Malta and Cyprus have yielded high profits. It is clear that golden visa programmes run the risk of opening the doors of the EU to crime and corruption. The Commission’s recommendations are a drop in the ocean. Binding security checks and mandatory lists are not enough, especially in countries with weak rule of law. Golden visa and passport programmes should be stopped immediately.

EU passports and visas are no commodities. Wealth must not be the key criterion for citizenship and residence rights in the EU. It is not enough for the EU Commission to make recommendations to the Member States. The EU Commission must propose binding minimum standards for these programmes and ensure that they are respected by all governments offering passports and visas to investors. We need a European law to curb the sale of European citizens’ rights. Now the German Government should underpin the Commission’s timid attempt with strong demands for legislation in Europe. The EU Commission must also finally enforce the originally agreed minimum standards for passport programmes, for instance in Malta. Contrary to original promises, Malta sells citizenships to persons who have never lived in Malta for a longer period of time”.

Please find the Commission Report on “Investor Citizenship and Residence Schemes in the European Union” here: https://ec.europa.eu/info/sites/info/files/com_2019_12_final_report.pdf