According to an interview with EU Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova, published in Die Welt on Tuesday, the European Commission is urging EU member-states to be more vigilant when offering citizenship.
The Czech politician explained that a large number of EU nations have been granting citizenship to third-country citizens if they have previously invested large amounts of money in these countries.
“The granting of citizenship poses a serious security risk because it gives beneficiaries all the rights of EU citizens and allows them to move freely throughout the Union. The EU must not become a safe haven for criminals, corruption and dirty money,” she said.
Die Welt pointed to Cyprus, Malta, Greece, Bulgaria, Portugal, Latvia, Lithuania and Hungary as examples of EU member-states that are running citizenship-by-investment schemes, handing over the so-called “golden passports” to anyone who can afford them.
Jourova has called for greater scrutiny by EU states, insisting that they needed to “quickly adopt” new European legislation to counter money laundering.
“We don’t want any Trojan horses in the EU. Some member states must do more to ensure citizenship is not awarded to criminals.”
Twelve EU nations, including Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Monaco, Portugal, Spain and the United Kingdom, are currently offering Golden Visa programs, which provide the possibility of a permanent residency visa to individuals who invest, mainly in real estate, a large sum of money into the respective country.
Residency-for-investment schemes “only allow the richest third-country nationals to obtain EU citizenship, without any other criteria being considered,” the parliament stressed at the time.