Statement by Marcin Libicki and Michael Cashman
This visit is the third fact-finding mission dealing with Spanish land law and urban development projects conducted by the Petitions Committee. It was finally authorised by the Bureau of the European Parliament on February 12th 2007 having been agreed by the Petitions Committee on November 27th 2006. To emphasise the importance of the visit the two most senior members of the Committee are participating in it. Based on the large and growing number of petitions that the Committee on Petitions receives from Spain, members will be meeting with national, regional and local authorities which, each, have a responsibility for the problems faced by petitioners as well as for the solutions which must be found. Failure to find solutions cannot fail to have a negative impact on public confidence in the building of large 'urban' infrastructure projects which, in many cases, undermine the rights of European citizens - including of course Spanish citizens, to their legitimately acquired private property.
The role of the European Parliament is naturally related to defending and promoting the rights of European citizens as defined under the EU Treaty and to ensuring the proper application of EU law by member states and autonomous regions. As a result it will not be investigating allegations of corruption which, though widely reported in relation to many urbanisation projects, falls under the full competence of the Spanish authorities themselves, who are indeed acting in many areas to combat such threats. The existing infringement procedure, brought by the European Commission against Spain concerning the public procurement procedures linked to urbanisation programmes in the Valencian region, as reported on by Parliament, is an important development which is to be welcomed, but which remains the responsibility of the European Commission alone.
A report on the Valencian Land Law, and allegations of abuse, which followed the second fact-finding visit, was adopted by the European Parliament in December 2005 by 550 for, 45 against and 25 abstentions.
There is no doubt that this is a most important issue for many European citizens who are attracted by all that Spain has to offer who need to be assured that their rights to own their own property and to move freely with their families within Europe's frontiers are fully and completely respected. The protection of the fragile environment particularly though not exclusively in coastal areas, access to water and more transparent development criteria, mentioned in the above report, are also of concern to us.
This mission will meet with petitioners, national, regional and local authorities, and other interested parties in Spain. It plans to visit Madrid, Galapagar, Almeria, Albox, Orihuela, Alicante, Torrevieja, Rojales, San Miguel de Salinas, Catral, Tibi, Parcent, Benissa, Cabanes, Els Mestrets, Oropesa and Valencia. Public meetings will take place in Benissa and Valencia.
The programme may be subject to slight modifications resulting from logistic constraints.
We shall prepare a report to the Petitions Committee and to the Bureau of the European Parliament summarising the findings of the visit and making recommendations.
Marcin Libicki, Chairman Michael Cashman, lst Vice Chairman
Delegation telephone number while in Spain: 00 32 498 983 534
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