The European Commission’s Justice Commissioner has warned EU Member States to be cautious when granting citizenship to third country nationals in exchange for investment.
Vera Jourova told the German newspaper Die Welt this week that an increasing number of EU Member States are issuing citizenship to third country nationals if they had previously invested large sums of money in their respective countries.
But the Commission is ‘extremely concerned’ that these ‘golden passports’ schemes represent a security threat, because it gives beneficiaries all the rights of EU citizens, and allows them to move freely throughout the Union, she said.
‘The EU must not become a safe haven for criminals, corruption and dirty money’, warned Jourova. ‘Some Member States must do more to ensure citizenship is not awarded to criminals. We don’t want any Trojan horses in the EU.’
EU countries offering citizenship by investment schemes include the UK, Malta, Cyprus, Portugal, Spain, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Greece, Latvia and Lithuania. Moldova and Montenegro have recently announced plans to launch their own schemes. Hungary has recently suspended its own scheme.