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The number of British entrepreneurs looking to "buy" citizenship from countries offering visa-free access to the European Union has risen sharply, investment migration firms say, as prospects of a post-Brexit trade deal between Britain and the bloc darken. Investment immigration firm Astons said it had seen a 50% and 30% year-on-year increase in interest from clients seeking Cypriot or Greek citizenship respectively this quarter, less than four months before UK passport-holders are likely to lose their rights to freedom of movement across the EU. Henley & Partners also reported a rise in requests for advice on investment migration applications to Malta, Portugal, Austria and several Caribbean islands, which offer a range of residency rights, visa-free travel to the EU and citizenship to investors in local business or property.
The EU must wean itself off its dependence on the City of London for access to capital markets and toughen up its financial regulation to prevent a race to the bottom after Brexit, the European Commission warned on Thursday. London is Europe’s biggest capital market, but Brexit means that the EU’s major source of non-bank capital will be outside the EU’s regulatory framework. Brussels fears that could pose a challenge to its abilities to set rules and regulations in the sector, and is looking to break its addiction to the City by onshoring capital markets and establishing new ones on the continent. “This is particularly important in light of Brexit, as Europe's biggest financial centre is leaving the single market,” said Valdis Dombrovskis, an executive vice-president of the European Commission. EU efforts to improve access to capital markets date back to at least 2014 but the commission hopes that Brexit, the economic hit of coronavirus and the need to finance the Green transition will give it fresh impetus.