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Spain axes ‘golden visa’ scheme to curb property speculation – Times of India

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Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez on Monday announced the Spanish government’s decision to abolish the controversial “golden visa” scheme, signaling a pivotal move in curbing the rampant speculation plaguing many Spanish cities. Under this scheme, foreign investors could obtain residency in Spain by investing €500,000 in property.
During his visit near Seville, Prime Minister Sanchez emphasized the government’s commitment to combatting speculative investment practices that have hindered access to housing for numerous young people and families across the nation.The proposal to terminate the scheme is set to be approved at Tuesday’s cabinet meeting.
The “golden visa” initiative, initiated in 2013 to attract foreign capital during economic struggles, granted non-EU investors a three-year work and residency permit in exchange for significant investments in Spanish real estate or companies.
Sanchez underscored that the overwhelming majority of visas issued under the scheme were linked to property investments, primarily concentrated in major urban centers such as Barcelona, Madrid, Malaga, Alicante, Valencia, and the Balearic Islands. This concentration exacerbated housing tensions, making it increasingly difficult for residents to secure decent accommodation.
The decision to abolish the scheme follows similar moves by other Southern European countries grappling with housing crises. In February 2023, Portugal terminated its golden visa program, which had contributed to soaring house prices. Greece also recently tightened its visa rules in response to mounting concerns.
Culture Minister Ernest Urtasun, speaking on behalf of the Socialist-led ruling coalition, labeled such visas a “European disgrace,” emphasizing that residency permits should not be granted solely based on wealth. This sentiment echoes Brussels’ 2019 call for member states to crack down on such schemes, citing their propensity to facilitate corruption and money laundering, primarily benefiting wealthy Chinese and Russian investors.
The abolition of Spain’s golden visa scheme marks a significant step in addressing the root causes of housing inequalities and speculative practices, signaling the government’s commitment to fostering a more equitable housing market for all residents.

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