The European Commission (EC) has called on EU countries to immediately scrap any “golden passport” citizenship-by-investment schemes and to withdraw residence permits of Russian or Belarusian nationals subject to sanctions over the war in Ukraine.
As The Sofia Globe reported, Bulgaria’s Parliament last week abolished “golden passports” but its law allowing residence in exchange for investment remains in place, with amendments or repeal legislation yet to be drafted and tabled.
“The Commission has regularly and consistently raised serious concerns about citizenship and residency-by-investment schemes and the risks inherent in them,” the EC said on March 28.
“Today’s recommendation is part of the Commission’s wider policy to take decisive action on these programmes,” the EC said.
The current context of Russian aggression against Ukraine again highlights these risks, it said.
Some Russian or Belarusian nationals who are subject to sanctions or significantly support the war in Ukraine may have acquired European Union citizenship or privileged access to the Union, including traveling freely within the Schengen area, under these programmes, the Commission said.
To address these immediate risks, the Commission is also today recommending that member states assess whether to withdraw the citizenship granted under a “golden passport” scheme to Russian or Belarusian nationals listed on an EU sanctions list in connection with the war in Ukraine, the statement said.
“Residence permits issued under a residence by investment programme to Russian or Belarusian nationals subject to sanctions should be withdrawn immediately, following an individual assessment and in accordance with the principle of proportionality, fundamental rights and the national law of the member states”
These measures should apply to Russian or Belarusian nationals who significantly support the war in Ukraine, the EC said.