March 25, 2008 

Spanish land law abuses once again before European Parliament


Abusos Urbanísticos NO (AUN) is gratified that the European Parliament, in particular its Petitions Committee, remains concerned about land law, environmental  and related abuses. These continue to take place and have spread to other parts of Spain in violation of its commitment to the laws and rules of the European Union to which it belongs and from which it receives generous subventions. In particular, AUN welcomes the invitation to take part once again in a further debate of these issues on April 2 at the EU Parliament in Brussels. AUN representatives will again be there together with others who have submitted petitions to the Parliament over the past year or so.

AUN President Enrique Climent stated that "the ongoing involvement of the EU Parliament, and especially the Petitions Committee, underlines the sad situation that still exists here in many parts of Spain whereby, in the guise of "urban development", the rights of small property owners and the environment suffer greatly." 

Climent added "the  European Parliament has on four occasions in the past three years condemned such violations of fundamental rights  through strong majority votes,  based on reports which arose as the result of three inspection visits to Spain, involving hundreds of meetings and interviews with those affected.  Apart from the personal hardships created, much of the property abuse process is in clear violation of this country's commitments to EU law and Spain's constitutional guarantees. Developers and local authorities continually and arbitrarily exercise the majority privileges accorded them under regional land laws prevailing in many parts of this country, misusing undefined concepts such as "public interest" and "general benefit" for their own mercantile purposes. And many have become very wealthy in the process, to the detriment of those who may have tilled the affected soil for generations or who have purchased property here in the belief they would be able to enjoy a trouble-free retirement. This has been made worse in the recent past by the retroactive application of laws and local rules as a result of which formerly "legal" properties " suddenly have become "illegal" and, in some instances, demolished with little or no compensation. Fortunately, the Parliament's decisions can give its moral force and impetus to other EU organs which can take direct corrective action, including the Commission and the Court of Justice.

Athough AUN began its campaign in Valencia, because the region was the most advanced in terms of "land grab" laws, and since these laws have been seen in other regions as a ticket to easy and quick money, the problems have spread to several other regions. As a consequence , AUN will soon propose, organise and become part of a national association that will, in essence, embrace AUN's and EU positions on property rights, land use, fair trade and the environment. The current crises related to the "property  bubble", the shortage of water and the lack of further speculative interest in property development, AUN hopes, will bring the national and regional governments around to ensuring sustainable development and to supporting only those interests and projects that fit this "golden rule". Failing to do so will no doubt have further negative consequences for the Spanish and regional economies, already suffering economic and financial problems. Climent concluded: "like all of us who were born into this society or who chose it for permanent abode, often in retirement, we hope the situation will be remedied  and as elsewhere in Europe,  that small property owners here will with this security prosper when Spain pays full respect for EU and its constitutional guarantees."  


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Media contact: 

Charles Svoboda, Vice President

34 96 649 7879  









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