The European Union’s Commission orders member states that still operate “Golden Passport” programs to cease their operation at the soonest possible time.
EU Targets Malta and Cyprus Over Golden Passport Scheme
Malta and Cyprus are the last two EU nations that still operate the so-called Golden Passport scheme. The same also presses the Member States to reconsider the issued passports in question to Russian
or Belarusian nationals. EU outlines concerns that a few persons on the sanctions list connected to the Ukraine war are holders of such passports.
According to the EU Commissioner for Justice and Consumers, Didier Reynders, it’s illegal to sell EU citizenship through such schemes under EU law. At the same time, it jeopardizes the bloc’s security.
“European values are not for sale… All Member States concerned should end their investor citizenship schemes immediately. In addition, they should assess whether they should revoke any ‘golden passports’ already granted to sanctioned individuals and others significantly supporting Putin’s war,” said the Commissioner.
The EU Commission appealed to the Member States to reevaluate the Russian and Belarusian citizens’ lists. They are those who have gained from the Golden Visa and Golden Passport programme. EU countries operate this system, and the members will withdraw these passports and visas of persons subject to the EU’s sanctions list associated with the Russian-Ukraine war.
Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson, emphasised that the right to travel freely across the Schengen Area is one of the EU’s best assets. She demands more efficient checks to avoid abusing this right. Johansson added that under EU sanctions, the said passports issued to Russians and Belarusians must be invalidated.
No More Permission to Visa Application Under EU Sanctions
EU voids Russians from applying for a Golden Visa to Europe. They can no longer apply for visas from Portugal, Spain, Ireland, Greece, and the Czech Republic. Bulgaria is the latest nation to cease the Golden Passport scheme leaving Malta and Cyrus still in operation.
The EU Commission stipulated rules such as administering stringent background checks before releasing a residence permit to a foreign investor. It would also decline the permit of Russian and Belarusian citizens subject to EU sanctions.
Furthermore, the Commission also requests the Member States to cancel the issuance of residence permits under investor residence schemes. They need to suspend the residential permit’s issuance to all Russian and Belarusian nationals.
Ending the Golden Passport scheme will hinder rich people from returning to the bloc’s citizenship. It will also help members evaluate whether Russian oligarchs are associated with the Kremlin. They’ll be able to determine if they need to strip these nationals with previously granted citizenship rights.
In 2020, the European Commission initiated infringement procedures against Malta and Cyprus regarding their Golden Passport schemes. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine increased the emphasis on the issue.
According to the Commission, 877 individuals have been on the list of asset freezes and travel bans since 2014. There could be some Russian or Belarusian citizens among those individuals who back Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Through these schemes, they might have obtained EU citizens or had access to the Schengen area.
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