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The European Union is calling for an end to their member states’ “golden passport” schemes and for them to suspend the sale of visas to Russians and Belarusians following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine last month, Reuters reported.
A number of EU nations have implemented the “golden passport” programs as a way to sell citizenship to foreign investors. But the multi-billion-dollar industry has been long considered a security risk.
The recent move follows a push by the European Parliament to reduce and regulate the contentious scheme. It comes amid fears that some of the individuals who were subject to EU sanctions following Russia’s invasion might be golden passport holders.
The European Commission urged countries to end the existing national programs and check whether sanctioned individuals hold a golden passport or visa.
Currently, only Malta, Cyprus and Bulgaria have such schemes and they have all committed to ending them: Bulgarian lawmakers recently voted to end the program.
It’s unclear how many sanctioned Russians and Belarusians are beneficiaries of the passport scheme.
According to numbers released by the EU Parliament in February, around 130,000 people took advantage of citizenship and residency-by-investment initiatives in the bloc between 2011 and 2019, the Washington Post noted.
The schemes brought in more than $20 billion to participant countries.