The European Union cannot, on the one hand, pledge to fight corruption, abuse and money laundering, and on the other hand, allow schemes such as the Golden Visas and the sale of the EU citizenship with no genuine link to Member States.

Speaking after the debate in the Plenary Session in Strasbourg, the EPP Group Spokeswoman in the European Parliament’s Committee on Justice, Home Affairs and Civil Liberties, Roberta Metsola MEP, said: “The Parliament's view is clear: the sale of citizenship and the sale of the rights associated with EU citizenship is wrong. This commoditisation dilutes every European’s citizenship. We should not turn a blind eye and neither should the European Commission. Citizenship must imply a genuine link with a Member State - these schemes do not.”

“As the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has recently noted, such schemes are hugely vulnerable to abuse and undermine the fight against corruption in our Member States. They have created a backdoor to the EU in the most opaque way possible and undermine all our efforts to tackle the influx of dirty money, corruption and money laundering.”

Dariusz Rosati MEP, EPP Group Spokesman in the Special Committee on Financial Crimes, Tax Evasion and Tax Avoidance, said: “For me, selling EU citizenship does not only mean enabling the rich to free-ride on our common European assets. It also allows the rich to escape sanctions or launder money. Take the example of Malta, where rich Russian citizens - who potentially could be targeted by further sanctions - are amongst the nationalities that most frequently receive Maltese - therefore European - citizenship.”

“Huge multinational companies and rich individuals can break the social contract purely because they have more money and avoid or evade paying taxes. We have been working in the (former) Money Laundering, Tax Avoidance and Tax Evasion Committee and the Financial Crimes, Tax Evasion and Tax Avoidance Committee to bring this to an end. However, golden visas present another, discriminatory burden that we should minimise and tackle in our work! Over the years, Europeans have worked too hard and too long to establish the meaning of being European. We therefore also need to establish some common EU rules, which would not be discriminatory, and we should not put any kind of price tag on European citizenship!”

Today’s debate in the European Parliament has not been the first on the issue. In January 2014, the European Parliament approved a Resolution saying that EU citizenship must not come with a price tag.

NOTE TO EDITORS

The EPP Group is the largest political group in the European Parliament with 219 Members from 28 Member States

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