Article by Kevin Holland, photo by Sébastien Bertrand. This photo is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.
The EU Commission’s recent action plan on the ‘golden visa’ misuse has been criticised as falling well short of the measures needed.
The scheme allows wealthy people to essentially buy residency or citizenship in return for investment, and has been criticised for facilitating money laundering and aiding criminals.
The Commission’s report did acknowledge these shortcomings, saying the schemes posed “serious security risks”. But it is the EU’s plan of action that has drawn criticism; it simply doesn’t go far enough.
In the last ten years the scheme has allowed around 6,000 people to buy citizenship and 100,000 more to buy residency. Both Malta and Cyprus actually sell citizenship.
The EU proposes an expert group to analyse and evaluate different countries’ approach to the issue, with a view to building common security measures by 2019.
This has angered a number of political groups and campaigners, who instead wanted minimum standards and controls put in place. The Greens criticised the report as ‘half hearted’.
The EU report and action plan put forward proposals for an expert group to monitor how schemes are operated, aiming to develop common security checks by 2019.
While the UK has pledged to suspend its golden visa scheme this does not appear to have been actioned at the time of writing.
Given the broader climate in Europe with regard to corruption, money laundering and scandals, it was hoped the report on golden visas would be much more hard hitting, with a clear plan of action to end criminal misuse of the scheme swiftly. The Commission’s report clearly falls short.