By Stelios Orphanides
Two members of the European Parliament (MEPs) of the European People’s Party (EPP) group, in which the ruling Disy is a member of, have criticised the Golden Visa, a practice applied by Cyprus and other European Union member states, for undermining the fight against corruption and money laundering.
The Golden Visa schemes, which allow investors to acquire citizenship or a residence permit in a member state, also allow “the rich to escape sanctions or launder money,” said Dariusz Rosati, a MEP from Poland and EPP group spokesman in the European Parliament’s Special Committee on Financial Crimes, Tax Evasion and Tax Avoidance.
“We have been working in the (former) Money Laundering, Tax Avoidance and Tax Evasion Committee and the Financial Crimes, Tax Evasion and Tax Avoidance Committee to bring this to an end,” Rosati said, according to a statement on the website of the EPP. “However, Golden Visas present another, discriminatory burden that we should minimise and tackle in our work. Over the years, Europeans have worked too hard and too long to establish the meaning of being European”.
The Polish MEP, who was commenting after a special debate on Wednesday at the European Parliament’s plenary in Strasbourg, added that the EU needs to establish common rules instead of putting a price tag on the European citizenship.
Maltese MEP Roberta Metsola said that Golden Visa schemes constitutes a “commoditisation” of the EU citizenship.
“As the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has recently noted, such schemes are hugely vulnerable to abuse and undermine the fight against corruption in our member states,” she said. “They have created a backdoor to the EU in the opaquest way possible and undermine all our efforts to tackle the influx of dirty money, corruption and money laundering.”
In March, the European Commission said that it would scrutinise the Golden Visa schemes of member states and issue a related report.