The European Economic and Social Committee has demanded from the EU member countries operating investor citizenship and residency schemes to immediately put an end to them, as the committee believes the practice poses serious threats to the EU.
Through the endorsement of a recent report of the European Commission and another one by the European Parliament, the EESC calls on the member states in its opinion on Investor Citizenship and Residence Schemes in the European Union to phase out these schemes or provide reasonable arguments for not doing so.
According to Jean-Marc Roirant, rapporteur for the EESC’s opinion, these schemes often do not comply with the fundamental rights underpinning European Cooperation.
“The EESC is very worried about the promotion of EU rights and EU citizenship as a product for sale,” Roirant said while insisting on the need to put an end to these schemes.
Until these schemes are totally phased out, the EESC recommends through a press release, that the European Commission should create a coordination mechanism that would allow the Member States to exchange information on successful and rejected applications for citizenship and residence in order to avoid “passport-shopping” or “visa-shopping” between jurisdictions by risky individuals.
It also suggests that all agents and intermediaries providing services to applicants should be subject to EU’s anti-money-laundering rules, calling for clarification of the role of the private sector with the introduction of an obligatory code of conduct.
“Lastly, the EESC recommends that, while working towards a phase-out of existing schemes in the EU, accession countries should not be allowed to run their own schemes when they join, so that no new schemes are added to the ones currently in place,” an EESC press release on the opinion reads.
The EESC is a consultative body that gives representatives of Europe’s socio-occupational interest groups and others a formal platform to express their points of view on EU issues. Its opinions are addressed to the Council, the European Commission, and the European Parliament, which makes it a key role player in the Union’s decision-making process.
The Committee issues between 160 and 190 opinions and information reports per year, 70% of which are referrals by the Council, the European Commission, and the European Parliament, while 21% are own-initiative opinions and information reports. The rest of 9% are exploratory opinions usually requested by the country holding the EU Presidency.