The European Union (EU) has a new excuse to tighten travel restrictions. The European Commission published a report claiming five Caribbean states have sold “golden passports” citizenship to 88,000 individuals from around the globe, including China, Iran, and Russia.
“Investor citizenship schemes (or citizenship-by-investment programmes, also commonly referred to as “golden passports”) run by third countries with visa-free access to the EU may present a number of security risks for the EU. These schemes grant citizenship rights on the basis of local investments or against a flat fee, with low or no residence requirements, weak security checks and no genuine connection with the third country in question. The third countries concerned often advertise those schemes as ‘golden passports’ with the express purpose of allowing visa-free travel to the Union to third-country nationals that would otherwise be visa required,” the report states.
These are more than merely passports as they provide a path to visa-free travel to 60 nations. The Guardian reported that these passports have a starting price of $100,000. The EU report sets out for the first time the true scale of the Caribbean passport trade, with prices starting at $100,000 a head, leading me to believe that the people of these Caribbean nations are not the main buyers.
Not only is the price tag suspicious, but the sheer number does not make sense. The Dominica alone sold 34,500 of these golden passports but has a population of only 72,000. In 2015, the EU permitted citizens of certain Caribbean islands to travel visa-free for up to 90 days. Visa-free travel to countries such as the EU and US is one of the key benefits advertised by Caribbean citizenship by investment schemes.
So, the European Union already announced that a mere passport will not grant people entry beginning in 2024. Those traveling to Europe must apply for authorization through the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) before their visit. Now, that restriction on free movement was implemented before the 88,000 golden passports came to light, so we can expect harsher restrictions. The European Commission now says it must overhaul regulations as it is concerned that these passports could be enabling the “infiltration of organized crime, money laundering, tax evasion, and corruption.” This is one of many reasons that I have warned travel will become increasingly difficult as we go down the long road to 2032.