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Next Previous Commission: Withdrawal of gold passports by Russians HOME • INSIDER • CYPRUS • Commission: Withdrawal of gold passports by Russians
A recommendation calling on all Member States to end the “golden passport” programs without delay, but also to consider canceling nationalities granted under such programs to Russians or Belarusians on the EU sanctions list, was issued on Monday. Commission, linking the issue to Russia's ongoing invasion of Ukraine. residence permits for Russian or Belarusian investors on the EU sanctions list.
It is up to the Member States to implement the recommendation, with the Commission asking Member States to end of May.
Asked how many Russians or Belarusians have obtained a Member State passport or residence permit through such schemes, Commission spokesman Eric Mammer said the Commission had no information on the exact numbers and that it was up to the Member States to review them.
Commenting on which Member States are involved in the recommendation, Commissioner Christian Wiegand said that an infringement procedure was under way against Malta and Cyprus, while a warning had been sent to Bulgaria.
Bulgaria has voted to abolish the program and Cyprus has abolished the program and no longer provides citizenship under the “golden passports” from November 2020. Malta, he noted, is the only country in which there is still a relevant program.
Asked about the status of the infringement proceedings concerning Cyprus, Mr. Vigant said that the Cypriot government had informed the Commission that it had revoked the nationalities of 39 persons and 6 dependents on October 15, 2021. In a letter of October 2021 The Cypriot Minister of Interior informed about the recall of seven more cases that had been identified in previous investigations, the spokesman noted, adding that the Commission continues to monitor the issue.
The recommendations of the Commission for golden passports/visas
In particular, according to a communication on the establishment of the Commission, Member States are called upon to “immediately cancel any existing citizenship programs for investors and to ensure that there are strong controls in place to address the risks posed by residence permit programs for investors”./p>
The Commission has repeatedly raised concerns about these programs and the risks involved, the statement said, adding that “the current context of Russia's aggression against Ukraine highlights these risks once again.”
As noted, some Russian or Belarusian citizens who are subject to sanctions or significantly support the war in Ukraine “may have acquired EU citizenship or privileged access to the EU, including free movement within the Schengen area. , under these programs “.
The Commission therefore recommends that Member States “assess whether the citizenship granted under the 'Golden Passports' program to Russian or Belarusian nationals on the EU sanctions list in connection with the war should be revoked. in Ukraine “.
With regard to residence permits issued under residence permits for investors, which concern Russians or Belarusians subject to sanctions, the Commission requests that they be “immediately revoked, after an individual and the national law of the Member States. “
” European values are not for sale, “said Justice Commissioner Didier Raders. “We consider the sale of citizenship through 'golden passports' to be illegal under EU law and pose a serious risk to our security. “It opens the door to corruption, money laundering and tax evasion,” he said.
“All Member States concerned should immediately end their investment citizenship schemes. “In addition, they should consider whether to revoke any 'golden passports' already issued to sanctioned individuals and others who strongly support Putin's war,” he added. Home Affairs Commissioner Ilva Johansson emphasized that the EU needed strong controls to ensure that the right of free movement within the Schengen area would not be abused.
“The golden residence permits issued to Russians and Belarusians subject to EU sanctions should be revoked,” said Johansson.
p>- Any Member State still pursuing investor citizenship schemes must terminate them immediately as these schemes “are incompatible with the principle of sincere cooperation and with the concept of EU citizenship enshrined in EU treaties”. & nbsp; As recalled, on 20 October 2020, the Commission initiated infringement proceedings against two Member States concerning the investor citizenship system (Cyprus and Malta) and urged another Member State to terminate the program. Since then, it added, two Member States have scrapped the programs or initiated proceedings.
– Member States are asked to assess “whether citizenship previously granted to Russian or Belarusian nationals who are subject to sanctions or who strongly support the war in Ukraine should be revoked”, taking into account “the principles established by the Court of Justice of the European Union on the loss of EU citizenship “.
With regard to residence permits, the Commission calls on the Member States to introduce strict controls before issuing residence permits, in order to prevent the use of such programs in a way that poses a security risk or facilitates money laundering. , tax evasion and corruption. Checks include “conditions of residence and security prior to the issuance of such residence permits, as well as verification of whether the residence is continuous”.
– The Commission also calls on the Member States to withdraw or refuse immediately the renewal of residence permits issued under investor residency schemes for Russian or Belarusian nationals subject to EU sanctions in connection with the war in Ukraine, following an assessment. The same measure should be applied to those who strongly support the war in Ukraine or other related activities of the Russian government or the Lukashenko regime that violate international law.
– Suspension of residence permits in the context of of the programs for granting the residence status of investors to all Russian and Belarusian citizens.