On air tonight: a Spanish Lawyer on TV

Our colleague Marina Bugallal was invited to comment on the most important TV program of her country, Spain, about the controversial and delicate issue of citizenship being granted to investors in some countries of the European Union.

A few minutes before the news on the main Spanish TV channel TVE1, a lawyer is waiting to be interviewed. “It looks frightening from the outside”, says Marina Bugallal (EJ Spain), “but once you are there it feels very easy. Soon enough, I didn’t even have the feeling that I was on television!”

Telediario is the most important news program in Spain, and when they needed a lawyer to comment on a topic, they looked towards Eurojuris. “I think they heard about me on the website of Eurojuris Spain, because we communicated a lot about our new project”.

The topic of the show was a controversy that has been widely commented across Europe. Countries such as Malta and Cyprus reportedly give their citizenship to foreigners who would invest a large amount of money in their economies. “My firm was involved in this topic because a few months ago we decided to launch a project to reach the increasing number of foreign clients who are investing in real estate in Spain. Our country decided, too, to attract foreign investors, but what Spain offers is a residency, not a full citizenship. The same model can be find in other countries like the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, or Portugal. But Cyprus and Malta are different”.

The key difference is that these last two countries offer a EU citizenship, allowing foreign investors to subsequently move freely across the Union. This is where the controversy lies. “Since the implementation of the law in Spain, only 43 visas has been issued to foreign investors. The Spanish legislation has sparkled interest in Chinese and Russian citizens. But they don’t become EU citizens this way”. Because of Marina’s expertise, Telediario mentionned Eurojuris’ role on air. Marina debated the topic alongside Monika Bertram, another lawyer, as well as someone from the European Commission. The EU has been opposing this mechanism, with Commissioner for Justice Viviane Reding criticizing how rich people can get access to the Union so easily when people whose life is endangered are kept outside. “My opinion is, it may be good for the economy of Malta and Cyprus”, says Marina, “but it is unfair for other EU countries: any nation in the world can do what they want, but when you are part of the Union, your decisions can affect the others, so it is more complex and you have to go through regulations”. Other European countries such as Monaco can offer easy access to citizenship through investments, but they are not EU countries and thus their citizenship doesn’t carry the same implications.

There is also an obvious emotional element in this issue. “Nationality should imply roots or a link with the country”, says Marina, “not simply money”. Her words were heard by a wide fringe of the Spanish population. Elsewhere in Europe, the debate will continue…


Mariscal AbogadosSpanish lawyers in Madrid, Spain

Member of Eurojuris España, international network of law firms