EU rights and citizenship should not be for sale

In recent years, in the aftermath of the financial crisis, several EU Member States have set up investor citizenship and residence schemes to attract investment and increase their revenues. According to an opinion adopted by the EESC at its October plenary session, this practice poses serious risks and should be banned in all EU Member States.

A large number of EU Member States have set up schemes allowing non-EU citizens fast-track access to EU citizenship or residence in exchange for making a significant investment in the Member State in question – known as "golden passports" or "golden visas". The EESC calls these practices into question in its opinion on Investor Citizenship and Residence Schemes in the European Union and urges Member States to phase out these schemes or provide reasonable arguments for not doing so.

The EESC's opinion endorses a recent report by the European Parliament's research service, which also calls for an end to all existing schemes as soon as possible. In addition, a report issued by the European Commission points out that these schemes pose risks in terms of security, money laundering, tax evasion and circumvention of EU rules.

Jean-Marc Roirant, rapporteur for the EESC's opinion, underlined that "these schemes often do not comply with the fundamental rights underpinning European cooperation" and stressed the need to phase out the schemes across the EU: "The EESC is very worried about the promotion of EU rights and EU citizenship as a product for sale". (dgf)