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Metsola: Cash-for-passports schemes undermine fight against corruption

The sale of citizenship and the sale of the rights associated with EU citizenship is wrong, MEP Roberta Metsola says 

Roberta Metsola
Roberta Metsola

The European Union cannot, on the one hand, pledge to fight corruption, abuse and money laundering, and on the other hand, allow schemes such as the Golden Visas and the sale of the EU citizenship with no genuine link to Member States.

MEP Roberta Metsola told the European Parliament that there is wide consensus among her colleagues that “the sale of citizenship and the sale of the rights associated with EU citizenship is wrong.

“This commoditisation dilutes every European’s citizenship. We should not turn a blind eye and neither should the European Commission. Citizenship must imply a genuine link with a Member State – these schemes do not,” she added.

Metsola who is the EPP’s spokeswoman in the European Parliament’s Committee on Justice, Home Affairs and Civil Liberties noted that as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development recently said, “such schemes are hugely vulnerable to abuse and undermine the fight against corruption in our Member States. They have created a backdoor to the EU in the most opaque way possible and undermine all our efforts to tackle the influx of dirty money, corruption and money laundering.”

Polish MEP Dariusz Rosati MEP said the sale of EU citizenship does not only enable the global rich to free-ride on common European assets but “it also allows the rich to escape sanctions or launder money. Take the example of Malta, where rich Russian citizens – who potentially could be targeted by further sanctions – are amongst the nationalities that most frequently receive Maltese – therefore European – citizenship.”

He added that huge multinational companies and rich individuals can break the social contract purely because they have more money and avoid or evade paying taxes.

“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. 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. We therefore also need to establish some common EU rules, which would not be discriminatory, and we should not put any kind of price tag on European citizenship.”

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