Current Affairs
European Commission’s report on citizenship programmes and their risks

The European Union is expected to publish in the coming hours the report on the citizenship and residence programmes in EU countries.

In the report, which Reuters agency appears to have a copy, the European Commission will warn European countries who have such schemes with the risks they present.

Among others, Reuters quotes the report saying that these programmes may assist foreign organized criminal groups to infiltrate the European Union and increase the risk of money laundering, corruption and tax evasion.

Malta, Cyprus and Bulgaria are the only countries among the 28 member EU states who have these citizenship programmes, while 20 states including these three countries, also sell residence permits.

Reuters reported that the report shows shortcomings in the three countries when checking the wealth that individuals who buy citizenship have, while these countries do not facilitate the identification of who is purchasing passports.

Those selling residence programmes are also facing the same risks as the citizenship programmes.

The European Commission’s report raises doubts, among others, on the Portuguese programme and criticized it due to the granting of residence to foreigners who live in the country for only seven days a year.

The report adds that Portuguese authorities hardly make any scrutiny on payments and income of the individuals who apply for this scheme.

In the report’s conclusions, the Commission is expected to announce the setting up of an experts group who will recommend the necessary measures by the end of the year to limit the risks of these schemes.

Meanwhile, Henley & Partners firm welcomed in a statement the publication of the report, however it said that the European Commission was misguided and did not clearly understand how the industry operates, especially on the scrutiny carried out in this regard.

Henley & Partner expressed concern on the lack of integration between the various EU departments and the lack of involvement of the Investment Migration Council (which is the recognized association in the industry) and firms that operate in this market, including Henley & Partners themselves.

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