EU Official Urges Tougher Citizenship

EU Official Urges Tougher Citizenship

BERLIN (AP) -- The European Union's justice commissioner criticized some member countries' practice of awarding "golden passports" to rich people from outside the bloc, urging them on Tuesday to do more to ensure that citizenship isn't given to criminals.

Brussels argues that citizenship should be awarded only in cases where there is a genuine link to the country concerned, but decisions are a matter for individual countries. Malta and Cyprus are among those that have drawn criticism.

Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova was quoted as telling German daily Die Welt that awarding citizenship can be a "serious security risk" because it confers rights including free movement inside the 28-nation EU.

She said that "some countries must do more so that citizenship is not awarded to criminals who want to endanger Europe's security or engage in money-laundering." She didn't name any culprits.

Jourova said the EU's executive Commission will examine each member country's practices in granting citizenship to people from outside the bloc. She said she has brought forward a report on the issue from December to this fall.

The EU will then issue new, tougher guidelines calling for member countries to guarantee that candidates for citizenship won't damage the bloc, she added.