European civil rights are for sale through golden passports and golden visas. After the economic crisis, Cyprus and Malta started to grant citizenships for money. In Cyprus, an investment of 2 million euros in a property or a company and the deposit of 200,000 euros in two state funds is enough. Since 2013, golden passports have generated around 6 billion euros additional income for Cyprus – at the expense of the security of all EU member states. But also golden visas are a source of state income in Cyprus and 18 other EU member states. The Commission has recently opened infringement proceedings against Cyprus and Malta for their golden citizenship programmes. In the subsequent parliamentary debate, however, the EU Commission indicated that it did not intend to take appropriate action against golden visas. Thereupon I wrote to EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and the responsible EU Commissioner for Justice, Didier Reynders. In the meantime the President of the Commission has replied.
MEP Sven Giegold, financial and economic policy spokesperson of the Greens/EFA group commented:
“It is a mistake that Ursula von der Leyen does not want to initiate infringement proceedings against member states who sell visas. Von der Leyen does not do justice to her role as guardian of the EU treaties. Doing nothing is an open invitation to criminals. Golden passports and golden visas are equally contrary to European law and must be punished equally. Visas are not a commodity. Civil rights come to depend on one’s wallet if they can be bought. The sale of visas violates the values and spirit of European cooperation. Individual countries make money selling visas, but the rights apply to the entire Schengen area.
Portugal alone has so far issued golden visas to more than 25,000 people, earning more than 5.5 billion euros. Greece has issued golden visas to another 25.000 people. We know of another 5,500 golden visas to main applicants in Spain. Portugal and Spain make profits from rights which are valid throughout Europe. It is a sign of hope that France and Germany do not participate in this questionable source of income. But all member states are exposed to the security risks that golden visas entail throughout the EU. Golden visas open the door for criminals. They can easily launder their dirty money in the EU and avoid taxes. The EU Commission should immediately initiate infringement proceedings against EU member states with visa sales programmes.”
My letter to EU Commissioner of Justice, Didier Reynders: https://sven-giegold.de/mein-brief-an-kommissionspraesidentin-von-der-leyen-und-justizkommissar-reynders-bezueglich-goldener-paesse/
Answer from the President of the European Commission: