What power does the supra-national European parliament have regarding the control of Golden Visa/Passport schemes run by many EU member states?

The EU report on the Investor residency and citizenship Schemes urges member states to take safety steps like rigorous checking for money laundering etc.., or things like sharing of the data about the rejected applicants to each of the member states (so that a rejected applicant does not succeed in applying in another state). This is primarily to safeguard the whole of the EU from potential criminals/terrorists.

EU is apparently urging member states (in its report) to take proper measures for a safe Golden Visa scheme and has also decided to form a committee that will itself monitor the issues and take appropriate actions to make these schemes safe. The EU apparently cannot interfere in National legislation of member states to remove these schemes that have the potential of fraud and other security risks. It just directs member states to be careful as a golden visa scheme introduced by national legislation directly affects other member states due to free movement rights.

But can the EU altogether scrap each and every golden visa scheme (currently around 20 member states run such schemes) of all member states? Does the supra-national parliament legally have the sort of power to do a thing like that?

  • 1
    I’m voting to close this question because it asks about politics, not the law.
    – Trish
    Aug 16, 2020 at 20:54
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    @Trish I think I will disagree as this is a question about the legal powers that the EU possess. But you are experienced, so may be I am wrong. Aug 17, 2020 at 8:24

1 Answer 1


No, it can't unilaterally scrap such schemes

Immigration is a shared competence between the Union and Member States under Article 4(2)(j) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. This means that the Union may legislate and adopt legally binding acts. However, it is predicated on a triad: the Commission (proposer of legislation), Parliament (co-decision maker), and the Council of the European Union (co-decision maker). The Parliament would not be able to propose and enact legislation scrapping the schemes by itself.

The matter of proposing legislation would fall to the European Commission under the ordinary legislative procedure. Such a proposal would go before the Parliament and the Council of the European Union for a "co-decision". Either side may amend, accept, or reject the proposal.

While the Parliament may accept any proposed legislation from the Commission, the Council is unlikely to agree. This is because the Council is comprised of government ministers from each Member State. In the matter of immigration, it is likely that the Home Affairs minister of each Member State would meet as the Council to consider the proposed legislation.

Given the obvious conflict of interest for each "golden visa" scheme, it seems unlikely that the Council would agree to curtail or scrap the system given the advantages it provides that Member State, and the need to be "competitive" with other Member States (even though such competition should not really exist, to ensure the harmony of the Union).

Therefore, the Council would likely reject the proposed legislation and assuming the subsequent conciliation committee cannot get both the Parliament and the Council to agree on the matter, the proposal will be abandoned.

  • It seems very likely, though, that such schemes are well on the route to be scrapped. On an official document, the EU has explicitly called all member states to phase out such schemes and until then, they have formed a committee to regulate the schemes. Can EU simply call member states to phase golden visas out? Aug 17, 2020 at 8:27
  • Moreover, the EU Commission in its report, stated that the advantages that these schemes provide to the member states do not outweigh the risks it brings like money laundering, fraud, terrorism, tax evasion etc...In this relation, can you give a solid foundation for your belief that the Council is unlikely to agree to scrapping golden visas (given many MEPs and National leaders/Government ministers are actually against it themselves, but not in majority)? The Council members who actually support the schemes could easily be singled out for seconding an obviously improper route to EU citizenship Aug 17, 2020 at 17:29
  • Question no. 3 [ :) ]: When all the news websites mention that "EU urges member states to terminate such schemes", who exactly is asking so, the Parliament, the Council, or the Commission? Aug 18, 2020 at 7:45
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    That's interesting. Presumably Golden Visa schemas will now be scrapped by the EU because the Commission can enlist the political cooperation of the Council and presumably the Parliament is in favour of it as well.
    – Matthew
    Oct 17, 2020 at 14:30
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    The Commission can say "We propose to issue legislation scrapping Golden Visa schemes" and given the current developments re Cyprus, the Council is unlikely to block it (because politically it suits them to be seen to be acting on this "corruption" now). Therefore under the triad model, it is entirely possible that both co-decision makers (Council and Parliament) will agree to pass the legislation and Golden Visa schemes will be outlawed.
    – Matthew
    Oct 17, 2020 at 14:46

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