Today, the EU Commission starts infringement proceedings against Malta and Cyprus to stop their golden passport programmes which allow them to acquire citizenship through investment or real estate purchases. Research, such as the reports recently published by Al Jazeera on Cyprus, show that such programs attract criminals and convicted offenders from around the world and promote money laundering. The murdered Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia had repeatedly reported critically on the sale of citizenships in Malta. The European Parliament has long demanded to end the sale of visas and passports.
MEP Sven Giegold, financial and economic policy spokesperson of the Greens/EFA group commented:
“This is an important step against money laundering and corruption in Europe. It was high time that the EU Commission takes concrete measures against these violations of EU law. Our pressure is finally showing effect. Malta and Cyprus give shelter to criminals and the corrupt along with their wealth. This practice endangers internal security in Europe. The sale of passports is a blatant violation of EU law. Passports and visas are not a commodity. Whoever sells citizenships violates the duty of all EU member states to cooperate in a spirit of trust. Money should not be the criterion for citizenship and residence rights in the EU.
“The German government, in its role as EU Council Presidency, is silent on these matters. The Council must finally put the issue of golden passports and visas on the agenda. In addition to the proceedings against Malta and Cyprus, the Commission should also address aeriously the investor programs of Bulgaria, Portugal and other member states. Portugal alone has sold over 20,000 long-term visas, which lead to citizenship after five years. Europe may not ignore the huge Portugese programme and the evidence that criminals have profited from it”.
“In the long term, a ban on citizenship rights for sale is needed throughout Europe as demanded by the European Parliament. The European Parliament is planning a legislative initiative report in this regard in order to create a legal framework that is binding for all EU states.”
Press statement of the EU commission:
Link to the report of Al Jazeera on Cyprus: https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/08/exclusive-cyprus-sold-passports-criminals-fugitives-200818112722072.html
Report of European Parliament on golden visas and passports (part of the final report of the TAX3 Committee):
EU Commission overview of all citizenship and visa sales programs: https://ec.europa.eu/info/investor-citizenship-schemes