By Uglobal Staff
The European Commission has recommended that eight countries in the Western Balkans and Eastern European region, which the EU has visa-free regimes with, to phase out their planned CBI programs if they are to remain eligible for full EU membership.
The recommendation was made in the Commission's fourth monitoring report on the EU's visa-free regime with Albania, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia, Serbia, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.
While the report concluded that the eight countries met the EU's conditions for visa liberalization, it said:
"Visa-free countries granting citizenship in exchange for investment should effectively phase out such schemes, so as to prevent nationals of other visa-required countries from circumventing the EU short-stay visa procedure and the in-depth assessment of migration and security risks it entails.”
EU body tells 8 Balkans, Eastern European nations to phase out CBI programs
Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson hinted that the main reason for the recommendation are security concerns.
"While restrictions linked to the COVID-19 pandemic had a major impact on mobility, visa-free countries in the Western Balkans and Eastern Partnership must continue and step up their efforts in managing migration and asylum and in fighting corruption and organized crime,” Johansson said.
Visa-free regime allows non-EU citizens to visit and stay in the Schengen zone for up to 90 days without applying for a visa for each EU state they visit. Montenegro, Serbia and North Macedonia have had visa-free arrangements with the EU since 2009; Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina since 2010; Moldova (2014), Georgia (2017) and Ukraine (2017).
Uncertain future for nations going through their EU ascension process
Ever since the eight Western Balkan states and Eastern European nations had made headway in their EU ascension processes, there had been a buzz in the RCBI industry that investors would now be able to get more investment immigration opportunities, especially since other European states such as Greece and Portugal already offered well-established RCBI programs of their own.
Although nothing was made official, countries like North Macedonia were already said to be on the edge of making major government announcements about their own CBI program, which was expected to be as low as 200,000 euros investment in government-approved funds.
However, the latest European Commission report has thrown a spanner in the works for all such programs and one would have to wait and see what the future would hold for all these eight countries.
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