Another country ends Golden Passport program as EU pressure rises

TIRANA – The residency through investment scheme seems to be dying across the world as Albania has also suspended its Golden Passport scheme. 

The move, apparently on the pressure mounted by the European Union, would impact many but seems to be inevitable. During the European Union (EU)-Albania Stabilization and Association Council meeting, Albania’s premier confirmed that the scheme would not become effective in the near future.

“Regarding the golden passports, we have made it clear that we have suspended the process until the position is clarified at the European level. We did not invent this. We took it from EU countries that have implemented it successfully,” said Edi Rama.

The premier announced the move during a joint press conference with the Vice President of the European Commission, Josep Borrell, as well as the European Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement, Oliver Varhely and mentioned the fact that there is a case in the European Court.

Nonetheless, Rama elaborated that it would not be brought to the table without seeing how the case ends in the European Court, adding that if the Court decides against this scheme, it is a closed issue, but if it determines in the government’s favour, each country will make its own choice, Schengenvisainfo reported.

The scheme was envisioned to give wealthy foreign billionaires free passports, subject to the condition that they bought apartments in the Durres Port and meet certain conditions; however, it seems to have been shut finally.

The European Union is currently pressing all countries that offer Citizenship by Investment and Residency by Investment Programs to shut the programs as they are against the bloc’s law and allow persons involved in illicit affairs to benefit from these programs.

The Golden Visa scheme has although attracted billions of dollars for multiple countries, yet its effectiveness is marred by disputes. Recently, Portugal also announced that it was shutting its Golden Visa scheme despite the fact that it helped country attract investors in large numbers. Besides other factors, the rents in the country had sky rocketed making it difficult for locals to survive, ultimately compelling the authorities to close the program altogether.