Portuguese socialist MEP, Ana Gomes, stated this Wednesday in Brussels that the European Commission should be radical and forbid the "sale of citizenship" from the European golden visa policy.
The Portuguese socialist MEP took a stance against the golden visa policy in Europe this Wednesday, considering it to be “utterly immoral” to “sell citizenship” through the acquisition of golden visas.
The MEP was speaking in a panel after the presentation of a report on the European golden visas, “European Getaway – Inside the Murky World of Golden Visas”, but she has been for long one of the strongest voices against the golden visa policy at the European Parliament.
She urged the European Union to be radical and forbid these citizenship programmes, or at least, to demand more public scrutiny and control regarding the Authorization for the Investment Residency Permit.
“I believe that the golden visa system is immoral, absolutely immoral. It is utterly immoral to attribute golden visas to corrupted rich men and women, while member-states refuse to help poor migrants seeking shelter in Europe, letting them die at the Mediterranean. It is a scandal, in this context.”
For the MEP, Ana Gomes, the idea that these golden visa schemes bring prosperity to countries is not accurate. “It might bring prosperity to companies and institutions who are involved in the processes of golden visa acquisition and attribution, as well as lawyers and public authorities, but not directly the country. It is actually a menace to the real estate market, as we have witnessed in Portugal.”, she highlighted in her comment, also using the moment to criticise the Portuguese government for refusing to make public the list of people who have been given the golden visas.
The socialist MEP also noted that attributing golden visas is a “prostitution of the Schengen framework” and in effect a Community problem.
“This is, in fact, a European problem, even for those members who do not attribute golden visas, as these golden visas are an open door to questionable people, connected with dictatorial systems, to corruption, oligarchy. When the whole continent is talking about the risks the entry of refugees entails, governments are actively letting in people who are a proven danger for EU members states”, the Hungarian MEP from the Greens, Benedek Jávor, noted.
The Hungarian MEP argued that Brussels should intervene in the national decision regarding the golden visa attribution, given that “no member state has the right to compromise the overall security of the EU as a whole”.
“I can’t find any argument to validate this scheme. I don’t think there is in any way a reason for a State to cooperate with criminals”, he insisted.
Rachel Owens, from the Global Witness, and an IT partner in the report on the attribution of visas in Europe, being discussed that day, left some recommendations to the European Commision regarding the issue, namely that the institution should create common norms to increase transparency in the processes of golden visa attribution, and it should invest in broadening the legal framework aiming at preventing money laundering. She also advised the Commission to activate the legal procedures against member states who have been putting the security of the European Union in danger.
“What is essential here, is that the member states who do not have these programmes, wake up and realize the severity of the situation”, she said.
The golden visa programme in Portugal represents a real danger if used in an abusive fashion by corrupt individuals or criminals, as it lacks “clear criteria” and the “necessary diligence”, according to Transparency International’s report, published this Wednesday.
The report, published this Wednesday in Brussels, and called “European Getaway – Inside the Murky World of Golden Visas”, talks about the dangers of the lack of clear criteria on the attribution of golden visas, and how the programme can “represent a great risk if used abusively by corrupted people”.