Brussels calls for sanctioned oligarchs to lose EU citizenship

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Gold Passports and Investor Programs for Rich Russians Obtaining citizenship or permanent residency in the European Union has long been a thorn in the side of the European Commission. Now that more than 30 oligarchs have been sanctioned in connection with the war in Ukraine, Brussels is renewing its calls on EU capitals to crack down on plans and even revoke the passports or residence permits of those on the sanctions list.

The move is part of a wider attempt by Western allies to close loopholes, with the U.S. warning Russians imposed sanctions that their deals are being carried out. FollowedIncluding those of friends and family who do not appear on the list.

Meanwhile, Russia has announced that it will Travel restrictions On Western passport holders, including on scientists and exchange students.

And the war in Ukraine is also changing the discourse when it comes to Green Investment ClassificationWith a new possible category, amber, raised by an advisory group of the committee.

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Gold, not anymore

The European Commission has a lot of time struggle With countries that sell passports or offer permanent residency to wealthy investors in the country. Malta, Cyprus and Bulgaria in particular come On target over the last decade, even though everyone has canceled (or, in the case of Malta, suspended) the plans so far.

Still, the committee released a recommendation Calls on countries to completely abolish these regimes and even examine ways to revoke the citizenship or residency granted to the 30 Russian oligarchs who have been sanctioned by the EU in connection with the Putin war in Ukraine, write Valentina Pop in Brussels, Eleni and Ravitsioti in Athens and Peter Wise in Lisbon.

EU Justice Commissioner Didier Rainers said the plans violated the bloc’s art and posed security risks, as well as opening up options for corruption, money laundering and tax evasion.

“All the member states concerned should end their citizenship programs for investors immediately,” Rainers said. “In addition, they must assess whether they should deny any ‘gold passports’ that have already been granted to people who have been granted sanctions and others who significantly support Putin’s war.”

In Cyprus, authorities have confirmed that one oligarch who has been sanctioned in the past has acquired Cypriot citizenship through his now-discontinued golden passport program, which applies to people investing more than € 2 million in the country.

Russian agriculture Billionaire Vadim Moskowitz, who has been approved by the European Union and reportedly enjoys Cyprus’ golden passport program, fits the profile, but Cyprus authorities have refused to approve his name for privacy reasons. Moskowitz’s name was revealed in Al Jazeera investigation In 2020, he obtained the records of the Cyprus Gold Visa Program and led to street demonstrations, high-level resignation and cancellation of the program.

When asked yesterday whether the authorities would revoke the person’s passport, Cypriot President Nikos Anastasiades said “look.”

“Up to this point, Cyprus has been fully supported [the sanctions regime based on] International law. Rest assured we will continue in the same direction, “Anastasiades said.

In Portugal, authorities are separately in the process of examining the naturalization process of Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, who was also placed on the EU’s asset freeze list and travel ban because of his ties to the Kremlin.

Wealthy investors buying a property in Portugal can be Awarded Permanent residence in the country – thus traveling without a visa in the EU – but Abramovich acquired his Portuguese passport last year in a different process that allows the descendants of Sephardic Jews deported from Portugal in the late 15th century to become citizens. He may still get rid of him if the investigations reveal injustice.

Earlier this month, the Lisbon government amended its national legislation regarding the descendants of Sephardic Jews, making it a requirement to demonstrate a “strong and lasting contemporary connection to Portugal” in addition to Spanish origin. This was “to prevent a generous and just law from being distorted by manipulation,” said Augusto Santos Silva, foreign minister in the outgoing government.

As a Portuguese passport holder, Abramovich could not be prevented from entering the country, Santos Silva said. But he added that “it is very unlikely that he will do so” because EU sanctions have led to him being removed not only from all the assets he owns in Portugal, but also from those he carried with him.

On what is known as its gold visa program, Portugal said it had only revealed one pending application from someone on the list of sanctions and suspended it. The residency program has been tightened and the Portuguese authorities no longer issue these permits to Russian citizens. Out of about 430 Russian citizens who have already received permanent residency, none were on the list of sanctions, according to Portuguese authorities.

In Sofia, the Bulgarian government is now examining the 200 or so gold passports that had already been issued before the plan was canceled. “The Russians who have been sanctioned are a clear case, I think their passports will be revoked faster,” said a Bulgarian official familiar with the matter.

And in Malta, a government spokesman said yesterday that none of the Russian or Belarusian citizens who received sanctions had acquired Maltese citizenship under the suspended program at present.

Brussels’ renewed efforts to crack down on gold passports have been welcomed in the north, with Sweden’s integration and immigration minister Anders Yegman saying his government had “pushed for it” and that “people outside the EU should not be able to buy EU civil rights for money”.

Chart du jour: Hunger Games

The war in Ukraine threatens to cause ongoing damage to low- and middle-income countries, push millions of people into poverty and lead dozens of countries into a debt crisis, the World Bank warned. (More here)

There is no spring break in Russia

Europeans tempted to visit or study in Russia may soon find themselves on no-fly lists, as Moscow prepares to impose travel restrictions on citizens of “unfriendly” countries, writes Polina Ivanova in London.

“A new presidential decree is being drafted on visa-related measures in response to the unfriendly actions of some foreign governments,” Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said yesterday. “This order will introduce a whole series of restrictions on entry into Russia,” he added during a party meeting on international cooperation and the Russian diaspora.

Russia maintains an official list of “unfriendly” countries, including the United States, Canada, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Ukraine, Japan and Australia.

Lavrov also said that the authorities should work on measures to entice Russians living abroad to return to Russia.

Tens of thousands of Russians have fled the country since the outbreak of war in late February due to their opposition to the conflict. So far, Moscow has not imposed restrictions on Russians leaving the country.

Yevgeny Primakov, head of Rossotrudnichestvo, a Russian government agency involved in international cooperation projects and dealing with Diaspora issues, defended the planned moves.

“We can not afford to teach people who hate and harm Russia, at the expense of Russia. We must not invite them to visit at the expense of our country,” he said, adding that the restrictions would likely apply to researchers and student exchanges.

“I do not want to create parallels with blacklists, but we make lists of such people and organizations,” Primakov said.

Inbar Investments

European Commission consultants have considered one of the most controversial aspects of the EU’s latest green policy moves: the inclusion of gas and nuclear power in its classification program for sustainable funding, writes Alice Hancock in London.

In contrast to the committee, which on New Year’s Eve proposed Because gas and nuclear power should be labeled as “green” activities, experts from the Sustainable Finance Platform said a new “amber” category should be introduced to define investments that were between “significantly harmful” to the environment and aid in moving to more sustainable pursuits.

The report, published yesterday, also suggested a category of “low environmental impact” activities that are not red, amber or green, but in fact environmentally neutral, such as childcare or accounting.

The committee’s move to call nuclear and gas “green” through a noble act in the quiet post-Christmas period has sparked outcry from businesses and member states. Austria and Luxembourg threatened to sue the commission over the rules, while Anders Shelda, chief investment officer at AkademikerPension, one of Denmark’s largest pension funds, told Europe Express that the inclusion of gas and nuclear was a “mistake” to be corrected.

MPs, who are due to vote on the committee’s proposal in July, also resented not consulting with them.

But the dynamics have changed in Brussels since the Ukraine war caused a rush to ensure a long-term non-Russian gas supply.

The advisory group says that taxonomy, which currently covers industries that produce about 80% of EU greenhouse gas emissions, should be extended to the EU economy first on a voluntary basis to make it a more coherent way of estimating the environmental impact of different businesses.

Sebastian Godino, a senior economist at the WWF’s European Office – an environmental activist – and contributing to the report, said that when it comes to taxonomy “one piece of the puzzle does not give a complete picture”. “To contain different categories and cover all the main sectors to clarify where we are now and accelerate the transition to a sustainable economy.”

Some criticism came yesterday from the European Parliament, in which Marcus Farber, a German MP, Marcus Farber, recommended that the commission leave its advisers “in a much shorter strip”.

“So far, the platform seems to be trying to impose their moral code on society by dividing the whole world for better or worse. What the platform offers borders on socialism and will only come down to clear things,” Farber added.

What to expect today

  1. US Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Edimo is holding a joint press briefing with EU Financial Services Commissioner Mairead McGuinness

  2. EU Interior Commissioner Ilba Johansson speaks to European Parliament committee on the plight of women fleeing Ukraine

  3. The head of EU foreign policy, Joseph Burrell, addresses the ECFR case

Worth noting, quote

  • Abramovich, poisoned: Roman Abramovich, the Russian billionaire sentenced to death, and two Ukrainian officials Suffering Symptoms of poisoning, including loss of vision, in Kiev in early March after peace talks with Russia, according to three people familiar with the matter. Since then they have returned to sight.

  • Swiss compatibility: U.S. lawmakers Asked That Credit Suisse is sharing details about its handling of sanctions against Russian oligarchs after the FT reported that the bank had asked investors to destroy documents related to the private jets and yachts of its wealthiest customers.

  • Taiwan Antiquities: Volodymyr Zalansky’s role in leading Ukraine’s resistance to the Russian invasion has inspired Taiwan to adjust its defense plans against potential attack From China. Officials told FT that Taiwan needs its president to emulate Zalanski if China invades.

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