European Parliament to call for end of Golden Visa regimes

 In News

The European Parliament has approved a report which calls on member-states, including Portugal, to abolish their Golden Visa regimes

The regimes, which are operated in Spain, Portugal, Malta, Greece and Cyprus have been targetted by both the Commission and Portugal’s Euro Deputy Ana Gomes who has been a vehement opponent of Portugal’s Golden Visa scheme which has brought in nearly €3Bn of investment and helped kick-start Portugal’s ailing property sector after five years of profound recession between 20011-2015.
The EU and various anti-corruption NGOs claim the regimes, which offer residency authorisation in return for investment, encourage corruption, money laundering and tax evasion.
The European Parliament voted overwhelmingly in favour (505 votes for against 63 against with 87 abstentions) for the report which recommends “the revoking quickly and progressively all Golden Visa regimes.
The Euro MPs state that the potential economic benefits do not compensate the “serious risks of money laundering and tax evasion”.
Portugal’s Golden Visa programme or Authorisation for Residency for Investment (ARI) was introduced in 2012 by the then Deputy Prime Minister Paulo Portas in the PSD-CDS-PP coalition government. At that time the majority of applications were from Chinese citizens unable to own property outside the place where they were born.
The EU is concerned at the “lack of transparency as to the number and origin of the applicants and their wealth” with concerns over the quality and reliability of the due diligence required to be undertaken to assure the investments come from open and honest sources.
One of the issues raised by the Golden Visas issued by a member state is that it confers a wide range of rights across the entire territory of the European Union to the beneficiary, including free circulation in the Schengen zone.
The EU also questions the real economic benefits that these investments actually bring to the economy of the country in question.
In Portugal, Golden Visas netted the state €838 million from the 1,409 issued of which the vast majority was from property transactions. Since 2012, €4,2Bn was raised of which most (€3.8Bn came from buying property). Capital transfer only accounted for 401 million and job creation accounted for even less with just one Golden Visa issued for job creation.
However, supporters of the Golden Visa scheme, particularly in the property sector, claim that the scheme has provided many indirect jobs and business for accountants, estate agents and companies that specialise in helping applicants negotiate the application process.
In terms of nationality, Chinese citizens were issued with 4,073, Brazilians 653, Turkish, 295, South Africans 275 and Russians 243.