European Socialists are supporting a proposal to phase out citizenship-by-investment schemes, also known as golden passports, calling on the Commission to come forward with legislation that would phase them out by 2025, while developing a regulation on residency-by-investment schemes (RBI). he European Parliament is set to vote on Wednesday on the report urging the EU to ban golden passport schemes by 2025 and immediately stop the issuance of visas and passports to rich Russians in exchange for investments.
A spokesperson for the S&D Group – of which the Labour Party in Malta is a member – told CDE News that the Group supports a proposal that Member States should submit detailed annual reports to the Commission on the overall institutional and governance elements of their schemes, as well as on the monitoring mechanisms in place. They should also report on individual applications, including on rejections and approvals of applications, and the reasons for approvals or for rejections, such as non-compliance with anti-money laundering provisions.
Statistics should include a breakdown of the applicants by the country of origin and data on family members and dependents who have gained rights via an applicant under a RBI scheme. The Commission should publish those annual reports, where needed redacted in line with data protection regulations and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, and should publish alongside those annual reports its assessment of them.
The report, which says that golden passports constitute free-riding and produce severe consequences for the Union and the Member States, calls for a financial contribution to the Union budget until these are phased out.
The MEPs further called on the European Commission to submit a proposal for the establishment of a new category of the Union’s own resources, consisting of a ‘CBI & RBI Adjustment Mechanism’ that would place a levy of a meaningful percentage on the investments made in Member States as part of CBI/RBI schemes, reasonably estimated on the basis of all negative externalities for the Union as a whole identified with respect to the schemes.
Citizenship-by-investment schemes are currently available in Malta, Cyprus and Bulgaria, with the latter currently phasing them out. Earlier today, Maltese PM Robert Abela defended these schemes again, insisting that applications are scrutinised in detail, with a substantial number being refused. The Labour leader said there was open dialogue on the subject.
The move follows Russia’s invasion of Ukraine which has triggered global sanctions of unprecedented severity against Moscow, with targets including a number of powerful and wealthy Russians seen as close to President Vladimir Putin.