Since 2013, it has become possible for non-EU investors to “obtain” EU citizenship through the Golden Visa scheme. To qualify you’d have to invest 500,000 euros in, for example, real estate or in EU companies and in-turn you’d then receive a residence permit. This residence permit can then be used to travel freely, as well as work, within the 26 Schengen countries.
To obtain this residence permit, investors do not have to live in the country or speak the language. The first residence permit is only valid for a limited period. Often, if the investor wants an extension, he must have spent a week in the relevant country. However, for true EU citizenship, the investor must live in the EU country for several years.
The scheme is mainly intended to attract more foreign investors, since the recent crisis, and to stimulate the collapsed real estate market, as well as to fill the treasury.
As for the investor, acquiring a visa in this manner is easier than the traditional route, since he does not have to undergo a whole lot of procedures.
Spain earned 2 billion euros in 2017 with the issuance of Golden Visas, so it is a huge success. In other countries, too, many billions in extra income have entered the state treasury. The Ministry of Finance in Spain says that the program is only for “honest investors” and that applicants are strictly monitored. The investment money would have been investigated for money laundering practices and more extensive background checks would also be carried out. However, a previously leaked list of investors who have made use of the scheme shows that there are also several questionable individuals amongst them.
Selling EU citizenship is asking for trouble. It provides an opportunity for corruption and detracts from democracy. Wealthy investors are allowed to easily obtain EU citizenship whilst at the same time the European Union closes its doors to those who have to flee their country due to war or political instability. This undermines citizenship and completely destroys equality. Most countries seem to have no problem with that and the financial benefits seem more important than humanity.