Yesterday, some four weeks after the European Council announced its partial suspension of visa-free travel to the Schengen area for Vanuatu citizens, the Vanuatu Citizenship Commission released a statement in which it informs stakeholders of the establishment of a National Task Force to look into and address the shortcomings that precipitated the visa-waiver suspension.
The Task Force will “assess and mitigate the shortfalls of the Citizenship program, which present serious deficiency [sic] and security failures for the EU and its member states,” as well as “review the screening process” and “continue to hold enhance [sic] dialogue with the European Union” before the suspension is due to take effect, on May 4th. The “ultimate purpose” of the Task Force’s work, said the statement, would be to obtain a reversal of the EU’s decision on a partial suspension.
Made up of representatives of various government agencies connected to the citizenship program, the Task Force will also “develop a political mechanism for leaders to engage in a meaningful dialogue to establish an understanding on progress to date and way forward” and submit a report on its work to Vanuatu’s Council of Ministers (cabinet) by the end of April.
The Commission characterized the European Council’s decision as one of “paramount importance” that will have “serious consequences” for the freedom of movement of its citizens.
Hopes for a reversal may be unduly optimistic. Speaking to IMI last month, Vanuatu resident and CBI specialist Martin St-Hilaire indicated it would not be realistic to hope for a last-minute change of suspension plans:
“I think it is a final decision,” he says. “I was hoping that politically, behind the scenes, common sense would have prevailed. But now that the Commission has recommended it and the Council has supported it? It is difficult to reverse the situation because, now, to remove that suspension, the Commission must recommend the removal, and then the Council must approve it. That would take months and, with the specific point raised about physical presence, or country of origin, I do not see any way to please the EU other than stopping the whole program.”
The same St-Hilaire has argued that the European Council’s decision should be a cause for concern also among other CBI jurisdictions that rely on Schengen access to market their programs: Vanuatu Was Only the Beginning – Brussels Is on a Crusade Against Global Mobility.
Christian Henrik Nesheim is the founder and editor of Investment Migration Insider, the #1 magazine – online or offline – for residency and citizenship by investment. He is an internationally recognized expert, speaker, documentary producer, and writer on the subject of investment migration, whose work is cited in the Economist, Bloomberg, Fortune, Forbes, Newsweek, and Business Insider. Norwegian by birth, Christian has spent the last 16 years in the United States, China, Spain, and Portugal.