The Balearic government is to ask the Spanish government to amend state law that enables the granting of express residency visas to non-EU foreign citizens who invest at least 500,000 euros in buying property. These so-called gold visas are given for property purchases which otherwise have nothing to do with investment in productive sectors.
According to Transparency International, of the thirteen EU countries which offer this form of residency, Spain is favoured by investors. The Balearic Islands are among the preferred options, with 116 gold visas having been granted since the system started in 2013. The Balearics lie seventh behind Barcelona, Madrid, Malaga, Alicante, Valencia and Gerona.
The majority of these visas go to Chinese, Russian and Swiss citizens. The gold visa is also available to highly qualified professionals, but in 95% of cases it is given solely for financial reasons.
Figures for the Balearics in 2018 show that there were 138 purchases of properties valued at over half a million euros; twenty of these involved a gold visa. While the college of registrars in Spain gathers this information in order to assess the impact of the visa on the luxury property market, the Balearic government is now responding to warnings for Spain from the European Commission. These have to do with the potential links to money laundering and tax evasion.
The gold visa brings with it certain rights, such as freedom of movement within the Schengen zone; hence the concerns of the European Commission.
The European Parliament has demonstrated its opposition to these visas. In 2014, it passed a resolution which considered that they undermined the concept of residency for European citizens and called on member states to exercise caution in their granting.