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Portugal set to kill off its 'golden visa'

By EARLE GALE in London | China Daily Global | Updated: 2023-03-06 09:20

Portugal has bowed to pressure from the European Union and agreed to stop issuing so-called golden visas, which let people move to the bloc for a 500,000-euro ($530,000) investment.

Officially, the country is withdrawing the visa because of a shortage of housing, the German broadcaster Deutsche Welle, or DW, reported. But it said the real reason was the visa's unpopularity in the EU's Brussels headquarters, where critics say it has links to money laundering.

The golden visa impacted the whole bloc because people buying them could, after making an investment in Portugal, live in any Schengen-zone EU nation, which comprises 23 of the EU's 27 member nations, with only Bulgaria, Cyprus, Romania, and Ireland not fully participating.

DW said around 12,000 people bought the visas since their launch in 2012. They brought around 7 billion euros into Portugal's economy, but 90 percent of the money was spent on luxury homes.

The Associated Press news agency said the influx of investment drove up property prices. The Portuguese Immigration and Border Service reported only 22 golden visas were directly associated with job creation, with around 280 jobs attributed to them.

While refusing to acknowledge the visa's problems, Portugal's Prime Minister Antonio Costa said they would not be issued after March 16.

DW quoted Ana Gomes, a former Socialist Party member of the European Parliament, as saying: "It's good that the golden visa is finally being abolished. They should never really have introduced it. They were an invitation for money laundering, and they made it possible for criminal and terrorist organizations … to infiltrate the Schengen zone."

Gomes said one big problem was that Portugal never asked purchasers where they got their money. Pedro Fontainhas, from the Portuguese Association of Residential Tourism and Resorts, told The Portugal News website the end of the visa will damage the nation's economy and urged the government to delay the move for one year.


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