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Brussels to tackle EU cash-for-passports schemes

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The EU plans to pressure member countries that offer passports to investors from outside the bloc to adopt more selective screening processes, according to the European Commission, reported Politico (Germany).

A handful of countries in the bloc — including Malta and Cyprus — offer citizenship-for-investment programs that allow people from non-EU countries to effectively buy an EU passport in exchange for large investments. More than half of the bloc’s countries also allow non-EU citizens to buy residence permits.

Critics have long charged that the program undermines the concept of European citizenship and poses a potential security risk. An EU passport allows its holder to travel freely in the passport-free Schengen area, which some fear could open the door to people engaged in criminal activity and corruption.

The Commission is “deeply concerned” about the growing number of EU passports granted in exchange for money, and will call on the countries that offer them to “quickly adopt” new EU anti-money laundering laws, European Commissioner for Justice Věra Jourová told Die Welt, which first reported the plan.

“The granting of citizenship poses a serious security risk because it gives beneficiaries all the rights of EU citizens and allows them to move freely throughout the Union,” Jourová said.

“Some member states have to do more to ensure that citizenship isn’t given to criminals, that endanger the security of Europe or want to engage in money laundering,” she said. “We do not want any Trojan horses in the Union.”

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