In response to the revelations of Al Jazeera, the Cypriot government yesterday declared that it would end its citizenship acquisition programme on November 1. Al Jazeera had shown through undercover investigations that senior officials and politicians were helping criminals to circumvent the rules in order to obtain an EU passport. The expiration of the current programme does not, however, rule out the possibility that the Cypriot government will reinstate a modified programme in the future.
MEP Sven Giegold, financial and economic policy spokesperson of the Greens/EFA group commented:
“The suspension of passport sales in Cyprus is an interim success in the fight against money laundering and corruption. We have to thank courageous investigative journalists for this success. But it is only a first step against mafia-like structures in Cyprus. The EU Commission must prevent a new programme for passport sales in Cyprus. The sale of visas in Cyprus must also be stopped. The EU Commission should promptly initiate infringement proceedings against Cyprus. The mafia-like structures in Cyprus have not been crushed with the suspension of passport sales. There are also similar programmes in other countries: Malta and Bulgaria also sell EU passports with questionable programmes. Considerable security risks also exist in connection with residence permits that can be purchased, so-called golden visas. The biggest seller of golden visas is Portugal, offering access to citizenship after six years.
The EU Commission must take action against the sale of passports and visas with infringement proceedings in all relevant member states. The Council and the German government should speak out against the sale of citizenship rights. We Greens in the European Parliament have requested a plenary debate on this topic for next week.
EU passports and visas are not a commodity. Money must not be the criterion for civil and residence rights in the EU. For far too long now, criminal money has been flowing into Europe through the residence and citizenship programmes of some careless EU states and endangers internal security.
EU Commission overview of all citizenship and visa sales programs (unfortunately only available in English)
P.S.: Save-the-date: Webinar on financial regulation in the pandemic and beyond with top economists William White and Daniela Gabor. Tuesday, 20 October 2020, 8-10pm CET. Register here now!