The EU Commission has issued a recommendation to member states still operating citizenship-by-investment schemes, also known as the Golden Passport programme, urging them to end as soon as possible.
On Monday, 28 March, the EU issued the recommendation that specifies Cyprus and Malta, as both countries are still operating the CBI program.
The same also urges the Member States to reassess the Golden Passports issued to Russian or Belarusian nationals, expressing concerns that some of the persons on the EU’s sanctions list regarding the war in Ukraine are holders of such passports.
Commenting on the recommendation, the EU Commissioner for Justice and Consumers, Didier Reynders, said that the sale of EU citizenship through these schemes is illegal under EU law and poses serious risks to 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,” the Commissioner said.
Through this recommendation, the EU Commission has called on the Member States to reevaluate the list of Russian and Belarusian citizens who have benefited from the Golden Passport and Golden Visa schemes operated by the EU countries and withdraw these visas and passports for persons who are under the EU’s sanctions list in connection to the war in Ukraine.
Regarding the issue, the Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson, has insisted that the right to travel freely throughout the Schengen Area is one of the greatest assets of the EU, demanding stronger checks in order for this right not to be abused.
“Golden residence permits issued to Russians and Belarusians under EU sanctions should be revoked. Now more than ever, in the face of war, we must do everything to ensure that Russians and Belarusians under sanctions and those supporting Putin’s war of aggression cannot buy their way into the EU,” Commissioner Johansson said.
Amongst the first sanctions imposed by the EU countries is also stripping Russians from the right to apply for a Golden visa to Europe. Several countries, including the Czech Republic, Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Malta, and Spain, no longer permit Russians to apply for such visas.