26th May 2024
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Spain to scrap ‘golden visas’ that allow wealthy non-EU residents to obtain residency

Spain plans to scrap so-called ‘golden visas’ that allow wealthy people from outside the European Union to obtain residency permits on investing more than €500,000 in property.

Socialist (PSOE) Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said his minority coalition government would study the reform in the weekly cabinet meeting on Tuesday.

Speaking in Seville on Monday, during a visit to a subsidised housing project, Sánchez (main image) said the reform was part of the government’s push to make housing ‘a right, not a speculative business’.

The government says some 10,000 such visas have been issued since the measure was brought into law in 2013 by a previous government led by the right-wing People’s Party (PP) as a means to attract foreign investors.

‘Golden visas’ are strongly criticised for spurring property price hikes and speculation in the housing sector. Soaring house prices have long been a major problem for many Spaniards, particularly in the country’s major cities.

‘Housing is a constitutional right and not a mere speculative business. That is why we are going to eliminate the Golden Visa, the law approved by the PP that allows you to obtain a residence visa if you invest more than 500,000 euros in housing in our country,’ said Sánchez. ‘Having decent housing cannot depend only on market rules. This will be the legislature that turns housing into the fifth pillar of the welfare state.’

Spain’s left-wing Culture Minister Ernest Urtasun referred to the Spanish ‘golden visa’ as a ‘European disgrace’, saying that ‘it cannot be that someone is given a residence permit for the fact of being rich; this is creating first and second-class citizens’.

According to Sánchez, 94 in every 100 ‘golden visas’ issued were linked to properties bought in popular cities such as Barcelona, ​​Madrid, Málaga, Alicante, Valencia or Palma de Mallorca, where property prices and rents have all risen exponentially.

The Netherlands, Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Malta have all either scrapped the equivalent of their ‘golden visas’ or made the conditions much harder for millionaires who want to make a real estate investment.

In Spain, access to the ‘golden visa’ has also been open to those who invested €1 million in shares in Spanish companies, or €2 million in government bonds, or transferred €1 million to a Spanish bank account. It is so far unclear if the changes that the government will make will also affect business investments.

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