European Commission proposes visa waiver suspension over Vanuatu’s investor citizenship

The European Commission has proposed a partial suspension of the short-stay visa waiver agreement between the European Union (EU) and Vanuatu, citing concerns regarding the latter’s investor citizenship scheme.

Article 8(4) of the agreement permits suspension, inter alia, ‘for reasons of public policy’ and ‘the protection of national security’. The Commission considers that Vanuatu’s ‘golden passports’ scheme – which allows individuals to acquire citizenship of the country in exchange for an investment of 130,000 USD – poses ‘heightened risks for the security of the EU and its Member States’.

According to the Commission, the scheme’s ‘serious deficiencies and security failures’ include the ‘very low rejection rate’, a lack of information exchange with applicants’ countries of origin, and the ‘granting of citizenship to applicants listed in Interpol’s databases’. It is also concerned that the scheme creates a route for individuals to bypass the usual EU visa requirements.

The European Council will now decide whether to proceed with the proposal.

For more information on citizenship regimes in the Pacific region, read the comparative report by our Regional Coordinator Anna Dziedzic.

Featured image: Fábio Hanashiro