Labour MEPs on their own as European Parliament majority says no to golden passports

Labour MEPs the only members of the entire S&D Group not to vote in favour of a report that calls on the European Commission to propose rules that will shut down golden passports

Practically the entire European Parliament has voted in favour of a legislative proposal that asks Brussels to propose a law to shut down citizenship-by-investment schemes.

Malta’s four Labour MEPs were the only members of the entire S&D Group not to vote in favour of the report by Dutch MEP Sophie In’t Veld (Renew) that calls for the stoppage of all citizenship-by-investment schemes by 2025, through a gradual phasing-out.

A total of 595 out of 681 MEPs voted in favour of the report, signalling to the European Commission that it now must propose a way how to shut the door to elites who use countries like Malta to buy EU citizenship.

The legislative report by Int’t Veld means that the European Commission must give serious reasons to ignore a request to use its power of initiative and draw up a law that calls upon member states to stop golden passport schemes.

“The time to ask national governments nicely is over,” In’t Veld told Didier Reynders, the EU’s Commissioner for justice on Tuesday. “CBIs must disappear, structurally, as the outcome of an EU law. The Commission has the power to do this in the interests of European citizens.”

Since 2014, Parliament has been calling for a ban of CBI/RBI schemes, but so far the Commission has not put forward any proposals. Although the Commission claims it has no legal basis for legislative action, it did launch infringement proceedings against Cyprus and Malta in October 2020.

European Commissioner for justice Didier Reynders declared that it was the intention of the Commission to pursue the elimination of golden passports. “We already launched infringement procedures in 2020 to put a complete end to these schemes... Malta needs to act not only for Russian citizens, but must consider removing this activity completely.”

Malta’s citizenship-by-investment scheme was suspended for Russian and Belarusian nationals due to the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine only last week, but only because “existent due diligence checks cannot be carried out effectively because of the war.”

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In’t Veld’s report calls for a comprehensive set of measures to phase out golden passports, harmonise RBI schemes; increase due diligence checks for all applicants and family members, including source of funds; phase out golden passports; lay down minimum physical residence requirements and minimum active involvement in the investment; and create a monitoring mechanism on applicants’ continued compliance with the legal requirements of RBI schemes.

It also foresees for the proceeds of the sale of citizenship and residency benefit the Union budget, given that they are based exclusively on the benefits of Union membership.

“CBI/RBI schemes are a threat to security in Europe and a threat to our democracy. The contrast with the treatment of refugees or labour migrants, or of Union citizens with dual citizenship born in the Union, is staggering,” In’t Veld said.

READ ALSOMalta’s reformed citizenship-by-investment programm


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This article is part of a content series called Ewropej. This is a multi-newsroom initiative part-funded by the European Parliament to bring the work of the EP closer to the citizens of Malta and keep them informed about matters that affect their daily lives. This article reflects only the author’s view. The European Parliament is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.

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