The European Commission reiterates its call on Albania not to launch the golden passport program
The European Commission has once again warned Albania not to introduce its golden passport program because, according to the Commission, it goes against European Union law and poses a risk to the membership of Albania to the block.
Recently, Albanian authorities announced that they would introduce the Citizenship by Investment program, which allows internationals to acquire Albanian citizenship, provided they meet specific conditions and invest a specific amount, reports SchengenVisaInfo.com.
The Citizenship by Investment program is eligible in several European countries; however, authorities in EU countries have often criticized such a system after it has often been implicated in illegal business such as money laundering and corruption, even though golden passport programs bring significant benefits to the economic sector.
Despite warnings from the European Commission, the Albanian authorities have previously made further amendments to the law on public-private partnerships (PPP) by also including the Golden Passport scheme in the law, whereas at present the Albanian government plans to hire private companies to promote such systems in other countries.
Even though the citizenship-by-investment program has been seen as a gateway to many illegal business, according to the Albanian authorities, there is nothing to fear about this program; according to them, the issuance of citizenship and security checks would fall under the jurisdiction of the state.
Moreover, some Albanian government officials have dismissed EU authorities’ criticisms of such a system, adding that it would be corruption-free while its main aim is to attract wealthy internationals.
But Brussels has another opinion. According to Albania’s latest progress report, presented last year, the establishment of such a system poses a risk to the country’s security, among others.
“On citizenship rights, a provision of the Citizenship Act passed in July 2020 could still lead to the establishment of a golden passport program for investors. Such programs present risks in terms of security, money laundering, tax evasion, financing of terrorism, corruption and infiltration by organized crime and are incompatible with the EU acquis. Therefore, as a candidate country, Albania should refrain from developing such a programme. points out the report.
Albania became an EU candidate in 2014; However, the Balkan country is not officially a member of the European Union. Recently, the European Union began accession talks with Albania for the Balkan country to join the bloc, which was seen as a historic moment by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.