Now anyone can live and work in the EU… for a price. An “investment” of as little as €2-million in countries like the Republic of Cyprus will buy you an EU passport, along with the visa-free travel and favorable tax regimes that come with it. These schemes arose partly as an attempt by Cyprus and countries like it to dig themselves out of post-crash financial crises and the threat of a “haircut” from the EU, but have instead become an easy way for the wealthy to launder suspicious money. The consequences include rising rents and gentrification while the CBDs of major cities are abandoned as citizens driven out and ghost investors buy up prime real estate, which often remains empty. Meanwhile, the homes and businesses of locals are plastered with billboards with “for rent” or “for sale” signs, some in foreign languages to target anonymous investors and their families. Social and economic fallout plagues the marginalized and fragmented local population. Young couples can no longer afford to move out from their family homes. As developers circumvent the usual planning permissions, the natural and urban environment is compromised. In attempting to attract wealth, Cyprus has become not so much as a country but as a commodity to be bought and sold at the expense of its citizens.
Words by Leandros Savvides