Non-Europeans can now buy EU citizenship in Bulgaria for £150,000, according to an undercover investigation by the Telegraph. Journalists posed as representatives of a fictional Indian businessman seeking to purchase a Bulgarian passport, and found several companies happy to help:
Arton Capital, a “one stop shop for citizenship” with offices in Sofia, London and Dubai, explained that there were extensive benefits from buying a Bulgarian passport.Milan Keremedchiev, the vice-president of the firm, said: “When you become a Bulgarian citizen, then you have all … the rights of an EU citizen, you live, study, work, settle down, uh, anywhere within the European Union.” […]The passport broker explained that potential clients would barely have to visit Bulgaria to qualify for citizenship, because the firm can provide clients with a “virtual” address.
Bulgaria started offering a “fast-track” citizenship process just before England’s decision earlier this year to leave off pushing restrictions on Bulgarian and Romanian immigration. The story may well stoke fears that anyone will be able to waltz into the UK via a fast-cash purchase of EU citizenship.The story also highlights the growing separation between citizenship and residency in the world. Many people reside in places where they aren’t citizens, and through schemes like this one, people can buy citizenship where they effectively aren’t residents. But this freedom of movement comes at a price: £150,000, in this case. It is something only shady kleptocrats or the straight-up wealthy can afford, but definitely is not on offer for your average African, for example. Even as citizenship is becoming a more fluid concept, one’s country of birth largely determines just how fluid it will be for you.Simply put, those born in wealthy countries tend to enjoy much greater freedom of movement than others do. Despite the West’s cherished ideals of equality and social mobility, it’s still pretty hard to imagine a status quo in which citizens of third world countries can bum around the United States as easily as Americans can take backpacking trips abroad.