Officials of the European Union have implied that the block does not support plans of Albania’s Primer Edi Rama to start selling Albanian passports to foreign rich investors, through a few statements in response to the local media.
According to the EU Commissioner for Justice Vera Jourova investor citizenship schemes in EU candidate countries raise concerns about certain inherent risks, in particular as regards security, money laundering, tax evasion, and corruption.
“Due to the prospect of future Union citizenship of the citizens of candidate countries, citizenship of these countries becomes increasingly attractive to investors. This is the case already during the accession process as candidate countries and potential candidates develop closer relations with the EU and can obtain the right for their citizens to enter the Schengen area visa-free for short stays,” she explains.
She further adds that countries concerned are expected to have very robust monitoring systems in place, including systems to counter possible security risks such as money laundering, terrorist financing, corruption and infiltration of organized crime linked to any such schemes.
Commissioner Jourova recommends to EU candidate countries that they should refrain from any measure that could jeopardize the attainment of EU’s objectives.
The EU Delegation to Albania also told local media exit.al that “the European Commission has encouraged Albania to consider whether the introduction of an investor citizenship scheme would be worth the inherent risks.”
According to the EU Delegation in Albania, if the Albanian government fails to ensure proper security and background checks on those applying for Albanian passports, the consequences could be huge, as the reintroduction of the visa requirements for Albanian citizens traveling to the Schengen Area.
Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama announced his plans to start granting foreigners with Albanian passports, in exchange for investments in the country at the Global Citizenship Conference in London held by citizenship advisory Henley and Partners.
“I know there are controversies around this program… I know that when I get back home, I will receive an alert from the European Union about this, but I strongly believe this is what we have to do,” Rama had said at the event, aware of the EU’s stance on the issue.
He also said that those who want to get Albanian passports by investing in the country will receive a “tax holiday” for 10 years and a 6% VAT rate, though Rama did not specify the minimum threshold of the investment amount required.
While similar programs are operated by several European Union members countries as Malta, Spain, Cyprus, and Portugal, the EU is not very happy with them despite that they are completely legal, as several previous reports by NGOs have asserted that such schemes are a door to the EU for the corrupt and criminals.