Brussels tells the Netherlands, other EU countries to clean up golden visa schemes

The IND offices in The Hague. Photo:
The IND offices in The Hague. Photo:

The European Commission is urging the Netherlands and 22 other countries to halt schemes granting ‘golden’ visas and passports to foreign investors because of the risk they could involve criminal cash.

The commission said in a new report on Wednesday that allowing people to pay for citizenship or residence presents serious risks to the country itself, but given free movement rules, has an impact on the entire union.

Bulgaria, Cyprus and Malta grant foreign investors citizenship without requiring them to live in those EU countries in return for hefty fees. And the Netherlands is one of 20 countries offering a residence permit in return for payment.

In the Netherlands people can qualify for a residency permit if they invest €1.25m in an innovative company or a firm which has added value for the Dutch economy.

The commission said there is a lack of ‘transparency and oversight’ for the residence schemes, including too few statistics on how many people obtain a residence permit in this way. It plans to set up a group of experts to improve the supervision of the schemes.

Spain, Cyprus, Portugal and Britain are said to gain the most financially from operating the schemes.

A foreign ministry spokesman told the Volkskrant that officials are looking into abolishing the Dutch system. has contacted the IND for comment.

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