MEPs want common EU rules on golden visas to fight money laundering and corruption.
No passports, no visas for Russian oligarchs
Parliament welcomes the commitment of the relevant Member States to limit the sale of citizenship to Russians with ties to the Russian government and calls on all CBI and RBI schemes in the EU to exclude Russian applicants with immediate effect. MEPs are calling on EU governments to review all approved applications over the past few years and ensure that “no Russian citizen with financial, business or other ties to the Putin regime retains their citizenship and residency rights.” In addition, they call on the Commission to ban Russian citizens subject to EU sanctions from participating in all RBI schemes.
Fragmented system and the role of intermediaries
MEPs deplore the lack of comprehensive security checks and screening procedures in both types of schemes, adding that it should not be possible to submit consecutive applications in different Member States. Member States should not rely on audits by non-State actors. The Parliament calls on the EU to charge a significant percentage of the investments made – until golden passports are abolished, and indefinitely for golden visas. He also asks the Commission to put pressure on third countries that enjoy visa-free travel to the EU to follow suit.Noting that the intermediaries in these schemes are non-transparent and not accountable, Parliament calls for a ban on their participation in the CBI and “strict and mandatory regulation” of their role in the RBI, which should include sanctions.
Sofia in ‘t Veld (Renew, The Netherlands) commented: “These schemes only serve to provide a back door to the EU for dubious individuals who cannot enter in broad daylight. It’s time to close that door so that Russian oligarchs and other people with dirty money don’t enter. Member state governments have refused to address the issue, arguing that it is not an EU issue. Given what is currently happening, they can no longer shy away from this issue.”
The Commission must prepare a legislative proposal or justify its decision not to do so.
History of golden passports and visas
At least 130,000 people benefited from CBI/RBI schemes in the EU from 2011 to 2019, generating more than €21.8 billion in revenue for the countries concerned.
CBI schemes exist in Malta, Bulgaria (where the government has submitted a bill to terminate the scheme) and Cyprus (where only applications submitted before November 2020 are processed, all of which, according to the Cypriot government, have already been considered).
Twelve Member States have RBI schemes based on different investment amounts and options.