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Spain to end golden visas for foreign real estate investors

Bathers enjoy the beach in Barbate in southern Spain's Cadiz province.
Bathers enjoy the beach in Barbate in southern Spain's Cadiz province. Copyright Emilio Morenatti/Copyright 2020 The AP. All rights reserved.
Copyright Emilio Morenatti/Copyright 2020 The AP. All rights reserved.
By Gavin Blackburn with EBU
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Lawmakers hope closing the scheme will shut off an opening that critics say has allowed dirty money into the economy.

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Spain’s cabinet has approved measures to scrap the country's so-called golden visa scheme.

It was introduced in 2013 in the wake of a housing market crash and euro currency crisis in a bid to revitalise the property sector and granted residency rights to wealthy foreigners who invested in real estate.

But critics say it creates inflationary pressure and acts as a back door for dirty money to enter the economy. That prompted Pedro Sanchez’s government to announce in October that the scheme would be phased out.

“We are going to take the necessary measures to ensure that housing is a right and not just a speculative business,” Sanchez said.

The Minister of Housing said that between 2013 and 2023, more than 14,000 such permits had been issued, mostly to citizens of China and Russia. 

Those from the United Kingdom, United States, Iran and Venezuela are also among those dreaming of a house in the Spanish sun.

Housing is a right and not just a speculative business.
Pedro Sanchez
Prime Minister of Spain

Scrapping the scheme is unlikely to impact the property market significantly. Property website Idealista says less than 0.1% of the more than four million homes sold during that period were purchased under the scheme.

Neighbouring Portugal has recently revised its golden visa scheme, excluding real estate investment to tackle a housing crisis.

The European Commission has long called for the end of these visa schemes, citing security risks and saying citizenship is granted with no real obligation for the beneficiary to live in the country.

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