The European Union decided for the first time to punish an entire country for trading in passports that entitle visa-free travel to the EU. The small island state of Vanuatu is at risk of becoming the first victim, however, behind other “citizenship in” exchange for “investment” schemes Europe is watching closely.
The Golden Passport Market estimated at $25 billion a year. Every second country in the world trades citizenship in one form or another.
And if in Europe a passport costs from half a million dollars and almost always requires residence and verification of the origin of money, then on the islands of the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean you can meet 100-150 thousand, and quickly and without any questions.
The West is concerned that similar schemes play into the hands of attackers and are used, among other things, to avoid taxes. Europe does not like it more than others, because in the Old World, thanks to the Schengen Agreement, the borders between three dozen countries of the largest and richest political union on the planet with a population of half a billion people.
Europe has declared a vendetta “golden passports” a few years ago, in 2019.
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“Some countries purposefully advertise their citizenship as a way to get visa-free access to EU countries, — stated in the EU Policy Paper — Often this is used by rich citizens of visa-free countries to bypass the requirements and checks stipulated by the Schengen Agreement, including those designed to stop money laundering and financing of terrorism».
The European Union is suing its own members Malta and Cyprus, demanding tougher conditions for granting citizenship in exchange for investment. And he doesn’t need to stand on ceremony with third countries, it’s enough to threaten the abolition of the visa-free regime.
In in New visa-free countries like Ukraine or Georgia will not think of anything like that.
Moldova quickly canceled its program, one of the most accessible in the world.
However, the the abolition of the visa-free regime. And now the European Commission decided to arrange a demonstrative flogging. An archipelago lost in the Pacific Ocean somewhere between Australia and Fiji.
$130,000 for 130 visas
A Vanuatu passport opens the borders of 130 countries and costs $130,000. You don't even have to fly anywhere for it, everything can be done remotely and in record time.
And the chances of being refused are microscopic: over the past eight years, 10.5 thousand investors have become citizens of Vanuatu, and only one has been refused.
This alerted the European Commission (in fact, the EU government) and it held an explanatory conversation with the Vanuatu authorities.
< p>The Europeans shared their doubts about the fact that since the signing of the visa-free regime agreement with the EU, the number of Vanuatu citizens began to increase rapidly, and among the newly-minted islanders-investors there were people listed on the Interpol international wanted list, as well as dubious characters from ;Syria, Yemen, Iran and Afghanistan.
Cyprus authorities have illegally issued more than 4 thousand “golden passports”Attention to the scheme was drawn by an investigation by the British newspaper The Guardian in July last year. Britain has left the EU, but and it has a visa-free agreement with Vanuatu. And the first decided to act the European Union.
We respect the sovereignty of third countries in matters of citizenship, but will not allow visa-free entry into the EU as a bait for investments in exchange to passport», — explained the European Commission its proposal to deprive Vanuatu of visa-free entry.
Only this was missing Vanuatu — everything is so bad there, and in the ranking of the most dangerous countries in the world, the UN regularly gives the Pacific archipelago first place. Now cyclone, now earthquake, now volcanic eruption. Every third resident suffers from natural disasters every year.
Vanuatu does what it can. Looking for investors, patrons and sponsors. It attracts the rich and business with zero taxes, and loans its vote to the interested powers in international forums.
However, this is bad luck — this year, the UN stripped Vanuatu of its voting rights for non-payment of dues, along with war-torn Sudan and socialism bankrupt Venezuela.
The covid pandemic has driven the final nail.
Vanuatu has only one hope left make ends meet – selling passports. It brings the country almost half of all income, calculated Investment Migration Insider.
The Chinese are more eager than others to become islanders — They bought 40% of the passports. Russians, Afghans and Syrians — about 3%.
Now and this earnings are in question. The European Commission invited 27 EU countries to suspend the visa-free agreement. If they agree, then after a two-month transition period, everyone who received a Vanuatu passport after 2015 will lose the right to visa-free entry into the EU.