European liberals to draft law against golden passport schemes in EU member states

Dutch MEP Sophie in 't Veld says scheme can never be water-tight if it relies on cooperation with Russian, Chinese and Saudi authorities

Dutch MEP Sophie in 't Veld
Dutch MEP Sophie in 't Veld

Liberal MEPs will be drafting legisaltion that will ban golden passport schemes across the EU.

The legislative initiative is being taken by Renew Europe's MEPs in the LIBE committee of the European Parliament in a bid to stop member states from adopting schemes where EU citizenship is sold to rich foreigners.

During a question and answer session in the European Parliament with European Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders, Dutch MEP Sophie in 't Veld said no such schemes can ever be clean.

“No golden passport nor a golden visa scheme can ever really be clean and legitimate because due diligence that relies on cooperation with the Russian, Chinese and the Saudi authorities frankly can never be water tight,” she said, adding she was being polite about her criticism.

She also questioned the lack of initiative in investigating such schemes.

“Why did the authorities wait so long to intervene? Why did we have to wait for brave journalists to uncover the scandals that we all suspected for a long time? Some these journalists have paid a very high price, the highest price as we know,” she said.

She went on to ask whether the European Commission will be carrying out retrospective checks on those who have already received a golden passport.

“Will there be a second screening to see what kinds of people we have actually elevated to the status of EU citizen?” she said.

Earlier this week the European Commission said it will be taking legal action against Malta and Cyprus over their respective passport schemes.

Citing infringements against the treaties of the EU, the Commission said the scheme was incompatible with the principle of sincere cooperation while undermining the integrity of the status of EU citizenship.

The Commission has so far issued a letter of formal notice regarding the citizenship-by-investment scheme. Malta will have two months to reply to the letter, after which if the replies are unsatisfactory a 'reasoned opinion' will be issued by the Commission.

In a post-budget press conference, Deputy Prime Minister Chris Fearne said Malta will be contesting the infringement procedures. He also put the blame on PN exponents who he said “did not help” the situation through their criticism.

READ ALSO: Government to contest Brussels action on golden passports

Malta ended its Individual Investor Programme last month and is replacing it with an updated scheme that requires applicants to first apply for residency status before being able to apply for citizenship.