On 28 March, the European Commission issued a recommendation urging Member States to immediately repeal any existing investor citizenship schemes and to ensure strong checks are in place to address the risks posed by investor residence schemes. The Russian aggression against Ukraine is once again highlighting these risks, says the press release by the Commission.
The Commission says that some Russian or Belarusian nationals who are subject to sanctions or are significantly supporting the war in Ukraine might have acquired EU citizenship or privileged access to the EU, including to travel freely in the Schengen area, under these schemes.
To address these immediate risks, the Commission also recommends that Member States assess whether Russian or Belarusian nationals with ‘golden passports’ are on an EU sanctions list in connection to the war in Ukraine. In this case, the citizenship should be withdrawn.
Residence permits granted under an investor residence scheme to Russian or Belarusian nationals subject to sanctions should be immediately withdrawn, following an individual assessment and in accordance with the principle of proportionality, fundamental rights and Member States’ national law. These measures should apply to Russian or Belarusian nationals significantly supporting the war in Ukraine.
“European values are not for sale. We consider that the sale of citizenship through ‘golden passports’ is illegal under EU law and poses serious risks to our security. It opens the door to corruption, money laundering and tax avoidance,” said Commissioner for Justice and Consumers, Didier Reynders.
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