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Wednesday, 17 July 2019

EU citizenship for investors

Many European Union countries now offer incentives to foreign investors in the form of permanent residency rights or easier requirements for citizenship

Salma El-Nashar , Wednesday 20 Jun 2018
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A previous article in Al-Ahram Weekly touched on Egyptian laws governing the foreign ownership of real estate in Egypt, including the advantages granted to foreigners in tourist areas and the restrictions on ownership in strategic areas and the Sinai Peninsula.

The article also noted the key role played by the real-estate sector in reviving markets, taking into consideration its impact on the economic and investment climate in Egypt.

Globally, the real-estate sector has played a fundamental role in enhancing investment and tourism, and many governments grant foreign investors advantages and incentives to urge them to pump money into their countries, especially when it comes to real-estate development projects.

A large number of real-estate markets have recorded great successes and continuous development as a result of legislation targeting investors around the world.

Some of this legislation gives permanent residency rights to those who buy property that exceeds a certain price, and some leads to citizenship being granted to investors, as is the case in Greece, Spain, Portugal and Ireland.

Launched in July 2013, the Greek golden visa grants five-year residency to those making investments in real estate worth at least 250,000 euros. Portugal also offers the opportunity to obtain a golden visa that gives non-Europeans the opportunity to obtain a residence permit when purchasing property worth at least 350,000 euros, and which can be renewed every two years with permanent residence being given from five years and citizenship from six years.

Spain offers the opportunity to obtain a golden visa for anyone investing at least 500,000 euros in real estate in the country. These golden visas reward investors with residence permits that can lead to citizenship in return for investing in real estate.

Such visas are highly prized as they entitle holders to travel freely throughout the EU.

In Cyprus, the beautiful Mediterranean island that officially joined the European Union in 2004, according to the civil registry laws of 2002-2015 anyone who invests in real estate, land development or infrastructure projects worth at least two million euros can acquire Cypriot citizenship and thus EU citizenship.

This gives the holder the right to live, work and move freely in any EU member country and enjoy the advantages and benefits that the EU offers European citizens.

Such policies are rooted in the desire of the countries concerned to support investment in local infrastructure through the real-estate sector, giving it a clear importance in stimulating the investment and tourism market as an effective means to increase the total value of GDP.

After eight years of financial crisis in Greece, according to the European Commission and the Greek Statistics Authority there are now positive growth rates of 1.4 per cent in 2017, 1.9 per cent in 2018, and a projected rate of 2.3 per cent the year after.

These indicators point to a return to growth in Greece, according to preliminary estimates.

Greece, a southeastern European country strategically located at the crossroads of Europe, Asia and Africa with the longest coastline in the Mediterranean Basin and the third-largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, has had strong relations with Egypt from ancient to modern times.

Egypt, Greece and Cyprus have always been neighbours having many historical ties and enjoying much economic, political and diplomatic cooperation and many partnerships.

Many cultures and civilisations have brought these countries together in the past, and it is to be hoped that a mutually beneficial vision of the future will serve in strengthening the development ties between them.

The writer is attorney at law.

*A version of this article appears in print in the 21 June 2018 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly with headline: EU citizenship for investors

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