The EU says member states need to keep an eye on the number of citizenships they hand out in exchange for investment, with Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova warning that citizenships for sale represent a security threat.
In an interview with the German daily Die Welt on Tuesday, EU Justice Commissioner urged EU countries to be more cautious when granting citizenships.
Jourova said an increasing number of EU member states had been issuing citizenship to third-country nationals if they had previously invested large sums of money in their respective countries.
The Commission was “extremely concerned” about the escalation of “golden passports,” being offered, the Czech politician said.
“The granting of citizenship poses a serious security risk because it gives beneficiaries all the rights of EU citizens and allows them to move freely throughout the Union. We do not want Trojan horses in the EU,” Jourova told the daily
“Some Member States must do more to ensure that citizenship is not granted to criminals who want to endanger European security or launder money. The EU must not become a safe haven for criminals, corruption and dirty money,” she continued.
The newspaper singled out Cyprus, Malta, Greece, Bulgaria, Portugal, Lithuania, Latvia and Hungary as examples of EU states that had handed out a significant number of citizenships to wealthy Russians, Chinese, Africans and Turkish people in exchange for investment.
Jourova insisted member states needed to “quickly adopt” new EU laws on combating money laundering.
“We don’t want any trojan horses in the EU,” she said. “Some member states must do more to ensure citizenship is not awarded to criminals.”