The European Union Delegation in Tirana has confirmed to Exit that it does not support Prime Minister Edi Rama’s plans to start selling Albanian citizenship to wealthy investors in collaboration with citizenship advisory, Henley and Partners.
Answering questions posed by this portal, they explained that “the European Commission has encouraged Albania to consider whether the introduction of an investor citizenship scheme would be worth the inherent risks.”
They also stated that any failures of the Albanian government to ensure that proper security and background checks are carried out on those granted passports, will result in “grounds for re-imposing visa requirements.” They reiterated that they will monitor the impact of the scheme as a part of the-visa suspension mechanism report, with the third report due to be published soon.
The Delegation stated that they and the Commission have “shared its position and comments with the Albanian authorities on several occasions,” yet Rama has said he will go ahead.
In the EU’s reply, their spokesman commented that “investor citizenship scheme pose risks as regards security, money laundering, tax evasion, terrorist financing, corruption and infiltration by organised crime.”
They added that schemes that allow bypassing regular Schengen visa procedures for 3rd country nationals, can result in “security risks” and an “evasion of measures to prevent money laundering and financing of terrorism.”
At a Henley & Partners event in London last month, Rama told the audience that he was aware of the risks and that the EU and EC would not approve of the move, but that he would do it anyway. Acquisition of an Albanian passport would allow holders to move freely in the Schengen Area without the need for a visa.
In other countries that have similar schemes, the most common nationalities that apply for second or even third passports are Russian, Chinese, and those from the Middle East.
Last week, European Commissioner for Justice Vera Jourova told Exit that the Albanian government should refrain from any measures that would jeopardize Albania’s EU aspirations. She has previously called for a bloc-wide ban on citizenship by investment schemes.
Exit reached out to Endri Fuga, Rama’s communication director to ask if they would still go ahead with the scheme, despite it harming Albania’s accession hopes but no comment was forthcoming at the time of writing.