President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen has dismissed calls from Green Party MEP Sven Giegold this week to launch the same infringement procedures against golden visa jurisdictions Spain, Portugal, Greece, and others as it recently did against Malta and Cyprus over their citizenship-by-investment programs.
Giegold’s arguments adhered to the by-now familiar refrain of IM-antagonists: “Golden visas open the door for criminals. They can easily launder their dirty money in the EU and avoid taxes,” Giegold said this week, reports The Express.
The MEP, a long-time, vocal opponent of investment migration, who is a co-founder of ATTAC Germany, a movement that “fights for the regulation of financial markets, the closure of tax havens, the introduction of global taxes[…]” openly denounced von der Leyen in the European Parliament, accusing her of “extending an open invitation to criminals” and letting EU citizens down by not opening infringement procedures against golden-visa countries.
“Golden passports and golden visas,” said Giegold, “are equally contrary to European law and must be punished equally. Visas are not a commodity. Civil rights come to depend on one’s wallet if they can be bought,” and added that the Commission should “immediately initiate infringement proceedings against EU member states with visa sales programmes.”
Von der Leyen, however, indicated she had no plans to initiate such proceedings (which, after all, would have to be levied against the at least 23 member states who offer investor visas, including five out of the EU’s six founding members) even though she had recently taken this step against Malta and Cyprus over their CIPs.
Conceding to Giegold that golden visa programs “raise very similar concerns” as CIPs, von der Leyen nonetheless stopped short of arguing for infringement proceedings, choosing instead to reiterate that the Commission “continues to closely monitor investor residence schemes and their application […], in particular, we want to verify that Member States carry out all obligatory border and security checks in line with EU legislation prior to the issuance of any residence permit.”
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.