EU Expresses Concerns Over Dominica’s Citizenship by Investment Program

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In a significant development concerning the Citizenship by Investment (CBI) programs in the Caribbean, the European Union (EU) has reportedly voiced apprehensions, particularly targeting Dominica’s low-cost/high-volume model. The concerns were raised during a meeting in Dominica, attended by EU representatives and heads of Caribbean Citizenship by Investment Units, as per a report by Investment Migration Insider (IMI).

The meeting, held at the Intercontinental Dominica Cabrits Resort on January 22, 2024, aimed to address the EU’s concerns regarding the future of visa-free Schengen travel and the overall functioning of the CBI programs in the Caribbean. Representatives from Dominica, St Kitts and Nevis, Antigua, Grenada, and Antigua were present.

The EU’s unease stems from potential national security and immigration risks associated with the granting of citizenship through CBI programs. Another significant worry for the EU is the economic model adopted by these programs, especially the low-cost/high-volume approach of Dominica’s CBI. The EU representatives suggested that Caribbean nations consider raising the prices of their CBI programs to maintain revenue levels but reduce the volume of applications.

Despite the EU’s concerns, Caribbean nations are keen on continuing their CBI programs due to their critical role in national economies. According to Bloomberg, these programs bring in about $579 million a year, a substantial contribution to the island nations’ finances. Prime Ministers of Saint Kitts and Dominica, Terrance Drew and Roosevelt Skerrit respectively, have strongly advocated for the continuation of these programs, citing economic benefits and national prosperity.

The EU has not immediately threatened to revoke visa-free Schengen access for Caribbean citizens. However, this remains a possible consequence if the concerns are not adequately addressed. The European Commission is also looking into revising regulations surrounding the Caribbean CBI programs, which could impact the visa waiver program.

The meetings in Dominica are part of a broader fact-finding mission by the EU. The outcomes of these discussions and any subsequent actions could significantly influence the economic stability of these Caribbean nations. Michael Martin, head of St Kitts’ Citizenship by Investment Unit, described the discussions as “constructive and informative,” indicating an ongoing dialogue between the Caribbean nations and the EU.

This situation underscores the challenges Caribbean nations face in balancing their economic needs with international security and immigration concerns. The future of these CBI programs, crucial for the economies of these island nations, hangs in balance as they navigate the complexities of international diplomacy and economic sustainability.

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