The idea was defended within the European Parliament during this week’s plenary meeting, during which the MEPs defended the end of these programs, which exist in 19 member states.
This debate had the participation of European Commissioner for Justice, Didier Reynders, to whom the MEPs highlighted the risks inherent to these programs, such as money-laundering, tax evasion and corruption, defending that Europe «should not provide an easy entry to criminals», quoted press agency Lusa. And they defend that attributing nationality in exchange for investment violates the principle of sincere cooperation enshrined in the EU’s Treaty, besides harming the integrity of the citizenship status.
This position was taken after, also during last week, the European Commission launched an infringement procedure against Malta and Cyprus due to this type of programs, which offer nationality to foreign investors. Bulgaria also bestows citizenship in exchange for investment.
In Portugal’s case, the program Autorização de Residência para Investimento (Residence Permit for Investment Purposes) has been active since 2012, but it does not guarantee citizenship to investors. However, it is expected that the new restrictions to be applied to the program, approved for the 2020 state budget, may be implemented until the end of the year, limiting investment to the regions which are not coastal and as such excluding Lisbon and Porto. The sector believes it will dictate the end of the programme.
Eco recalls that last January the European Commission created a specific task force in charge of developing common norms and guidelines for these programs. The task force met 4 times last year but is yet to meet in 2020.