The report maps the existing practices and identifies certain risks such schemes imply for the EU, in particular, as regards security, money laundering, tax evasion and corruption. A lack of transparency in how the schemes are operated and a lack of cooperation among Member States further exacerbate these risks, the report finds.
Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos said: “Legally residing in the EU and in the Schengen area comes with rights and privileges that should not be abused.
“Member States must at all times fully respect and apply existing obligatory checks and balances – and national investor residence schemes should not be exempt from that. The work we have done together over the past years in terms of increasing security, strengthening our borders, and closing information gaps should not be jeopardised. We will monitor full compliance with EU law.”
In the EU, three Member States (Bulgaria, Cyprus and Malta) currently operate schemes that grant investors the nationality of these countries under conditions which are less strict than ordinary naturalisation regimes.
The Commission’s report has identified a number of areas of concern. Among them are security, money laundering, tax evasion and transparency and information.
The report finds a lack of clear information on how the schemes are run, including the number of applications received, granted or rejected and the origins of the applicants.
In addition, Member States do not exchange information on applicants for such schemes, nor do they inform each other of rejected applicants.
Investor residence schemes such as the one found in Portugal, while different from citizenship schemes in the rights they grant, pose equally serious security risks to Member States and the EU as a whole, Brussels said.
A valid residence permit gives a third-country national the right to reside in the Member State in question, but also to travel freely in the Schengen area. While EU law regulates the entry conditions for certain categories of third-country nationals, the granting of investor residence permits is currently not regulated at EU level and remains a national competence.
The Commission will monitor wider issues of compliance with EU law raised by investor citizenship and residence schemes and it will take necessary action as appropriate.