European Parliament urges end of golden visa schemes

Pedro Gonçalves
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European Parliament urges end of golden visa schemes

The European Parliament has urged member states to adopt new measures to tackle financial crime, including setting up an anti-money laundering watchdog and a financial police force, as well pushing for the complete phasing out of the Golden Visas program. 

The recommendation is part of a hard-hitting report which also accused seven EU countries of acting as tax havens: Luxembourg, Cyprus, Ireland, Malta, Hungary, Belgium and the Netherlands.

As well as the anti-money laundering watchdog and the financial police force, the vote sets in motion the phase out of the Golden Visa program "with those offered by Malta and Cyprus singled out for their weak due diligence."

A good first step to combat intra-EU money laundering would be to get rid of the so-called ‘golden visa’ which are a gateway for money laundering and organised crime"

Co-rapporteur Ludek Niedermayer, the Czech representative to the European Parliament, has previously said that the Committee had found the program was of little economic benefit for the countries who partook in it.

"A good first step to combat intra-EU money laundering would be to get rid of the so-called ‘golden visa' which are a gateway for money laundering and organised crime," said Markus Ferber, head of the conservative group in the parliament's economic committee.

Other adopted findings include that seven member states "display traits of a tax haven."

Belgium, Cyprus, Hungary, Ireland, Luxembourg, Malta and The Netherlands contribute to the undermining of the EU's single market. Weaknesses in their tax systems result in a loss of some €43bn from EU member states, according to a Committee report.

Malta's Financial Intelligence Unit was accused of breaching EU law in respect to its failure to conduct effective supervision of Pilatus Bank, due to "procedural deficiencies and a lack of supervisory actions".

More broadly, deputies called for tougher EU rules against tax evasion and tax avoidance, saying the bloc should counter these practices in foreign tax havens and also in the seven EU states that "facilitate aggressive tax planning".