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Golden2

There is a lot of discussion about mass tourism and golden permits but in Portugal, one is inclined to say: ‘don’t kill a chicken with golden eggs.’ After reviewing the tourism industry, we will now take a look at another precious egg of the Portuguese state: the golden visa program.

Twenty EU states have golden visa or similar programs.
To obtain such a golden permit in Portugal one has to invest at least half a million euros in property in exchange for permanent residency and visa-free travel through Europe’s Schengen area.

In the past six years – between October 2012 and January 2019 – over 7000 golden visas have been issued by the Portuguese authorities. In particular to Chinese (> 4000), followed by Brazilians, South Africans, Turks and Russians. It yielded the treasury the sweet amount of 4.3 billion euros.

Just like luxury goods, residence rights are for sale. A multibillion-euro industry but not without risks. Real estate has always and everywhere been attractive to money laundering, corruption and tax evasion.
Transparency International – the global civil society organisation leading the fight against corruption – recently accused the Portuguese government of being unable to control their golden visa program.

A special commission of the European Parliament suggested abolishing all golden permits as the potential economic benefits of these programmes do not compensate for the serious security risks. Unfortunately not all member states agree. A European database will instead be created, to verify if applicants for a golden permit at least have no criminal record.

The Portuguese government is going to maintain its golden visa program against the wish of the EU but is willing to make legislative changes to improve transparency. ‘Contrary to what happens in other countries, Portugal will continue assigning only residency – not citizenship – in exchange for investment, declared the Secretary of State for International Relations Eurico Brilhante Dias lately.

The majority in the Portuguese Parliament even wants to go a step further in the residency scheme for wealthy foreigners by introducing ‘green visas to investors, who spend at least half a million euros in ecotourism, renewable energy and other environmental projects that contribute to cut carbon emissions.
Much to the displeasure of the Left Bloc (BE), who wishes the program to end altogether and emphasises the hypocrisy between an immigration regime for the rich and the poor.

Bom fim de semana        Have a great weekend                (pic Publico/Sapo)

 

Refugees

Nearly 1 in every 100 world citizens is on the run  –  UNHCR

‘I am very sad and angry. For more than a year in Portugal and still no permit. Why’s that?’, Mustafa asks. ‘They keep saying I have to be patient.’

When ISIS claimed one of his younger brothers for the Jihad at the end of 2015, Mustafa al-Sabee – a 30-year-old, successful tailor from Mosul – decided to flee Iraq with his family. He pays 3700 euros to reach Syria and another 5000 to enter Turkey, where he leaves his sick parents, his two younger brothers and a sister behind. He crosses the Aegean Sea by rubber boat and reaches Greece in February 2016. Six weeks later, he flies together with a selected group of – mainly Syrian – refugees to Portugal, convinced to get asylum there.

Mustafa belongs to one of the more than 1200 refugees, allocated to Portugal by the European Commission, within the framework of resettlement of refugees from Italy and Greece.

He himself would rather have gone to Belgium – where he knows a cousin – or to Germany, where distant relatives live.

In the meantime, he has been staying in Portugal for over a year, and despite the fact that pre-selection took place in Greece, he’s still waiting for his residence permit.
Without that, he can’t work officially and his family is not allowed to join him.

Resettlement of refugees is slow. To date, only 20% of the promised number of relocations of refugees from Greece and Italy, has been realized by all European member states together. Although Portugal accepted over 40% of its assigned refugees, it does not succeed in retaining them, as almost half have already left the country!

Refugees arriving in Portugal want to leave. Not at least because they prefer Northern European countries – like Germany, France or Switzerland – and feel utterly “lost” in Portugal.

Moreover, they do not find the conditions they hoped for and are distributed across the countryside, while most of them have an urban background. In addition, asylum procedures are very slow, there are problems with the recognition of diplomas and there is a lack of Arabic-speaking interpreters.

In the last 18 months, only 64 (5%) of the asylum seekers were granted a residence permit.
Is it surprising that many are heading for greener pastures up north?


Bom fim de semana