The House deeply regrets that such practices are
widespread in various autonomous regions of Spain, in particular in the
Valencia region and other parts of the Mediterranean coastal area, but
also, for instance, in the Madrid region. The resolution was adopted with
327 votes in favour, 222 against and 35 abstentions.
The European Parliament expresses its severe condemnation of, and
opposition to, massive urbanisation projects initiated by construction
companies and real-estate developers which bear no relation to the real
requirements of the towns and villages affected, are environmentally
unsustainable and have a disastrous impact on the historical and cultural
identity of the areas affected.
MEPs condemn the tacit approval by some town halls for building
developments which are subsequently declared illegal and which as a result
lead to the destruction, or threatened destruction, of property which had
been bought in good faith by European citizens through regular commercial
developers and sales agents.
MEPs recognise the Commission’s efforts to ensure the compliance of Spain
with the directives on public procurement, but considers that the
Commission should pay special attention to the documented cases of
infringements of directives on the environment, water and consumer policy
The House calls upon the Spanish authorities and regional governments, in
particular the Valencian Government, which are under an obligation to
respect and apply the provisions of the EU Treaty and EU laws, to
recognise the individual’s legitimate right to his legally acquired
property and to establish in law more precisely defined criteria regarding
the application of Article 33 of the Spanish Constitution concerning the
public interest, in order to prevent and forbid the abuse of people’s
property rights by decisions of local and regional authorities.
The House calls into question the methods of designation of, and
frequently excessive powers given in practice to, urbanisers and property
developers by certain local authorities at the expense of local
communities and the citizens who have their homes and legally acquired
MEPs strongly condemn the covert practice of certain property developers
of undermining by subterfuge the legitimate ownership of property by
European citizens by interfering with land registration, and calls upon
local authorities to establish proper legal safeguards against this
The House calls upon regional authorities to establish special
administrative commissions involving local ombudsmen, to which independent
investigation services should report, which should have powers of
arbitration in relation to disputes concerning urbanisation projects, and
which should be accessible free of charge to those directly affected by
urbanisation programmes, including those who are victims of illegal
property deals concerning unauthorised urban development.
Finally, MEPs call on the Commission to initiate an information campaign
directed at European citizens buying real estate in a Member State other
than their own.
Michael Cashman (PES, UK, Labour West Midlands) one of
the authors of the report said: "It saddens me to have to take the floor
once again on this issue. More than 18 months after the adoption of the
Fourtou Report in December 2005 by an overwhelming majority of this House,
we are still debating the same issues, and nothing has changed. The
Council is absent – that is shameful!
Citizens from many Member States, including my own, but also Spain,
Germany, Holland and Belgium, are having their legally acquired lands
taken by local authorities without due process, which I am convinced is in
breach of EU law. Moreover, they are being forced to pay large sums of
money – tens of thousands of euros – to pay for new infrastructure and new
developments that they do not want and which are on their land.
The situation I am describing sounds unimaginable in the 21st century EU
but it is a sad reality for thousands of citizens in Spain. People have
bought land or property in good faith only to see it taken away by what
can only be described as, at best, administrative incompetence or, at
worst, criminal negligence and corruption.
This issue was brought to the attention of the Committee on Petitions in
2003. Back then, 15 000 citizens wrote to us asking for help. What have we
done? Well, we have adopted the Fourtou report, which brought forward a
series of recommendations to the Valencian Government. The Valencian
Government brought forward minor changes in the LUV, which do not address
the key problems of land grab. It is worth mentioning that large numbers
of projects in Valencia were rushed through prior to the entry into force
of the new law. This is a clear sign that constructors and developers
wanted to continue to exploit the loopholes of the previous law.
We have now sent three fact-finding missions. The last came under shameful
attacks from the Partido Popular, which were attacks upon the integrity of
this House. It saddens me to say that the President of this House, Mr
Pöttering, remains indifferent to the attacks upon the integrity of this
The Partido Popular politicians say that the petitions in Valencia have
been imagined. The pain is real, the pain is desperate, and that is why
people have looked to us.
The Commission is unhappy. It believes that possible infringements of EU
law are under way. Therefore, I say this: to do nothing is not an option,
we have exhausted what we can do in this House and this will be resolved
in the Court of Justice or before the European Court of Human Rights in
Strasbourg, and it will be to the shame of the Partido Popular in Spain."