Update on Recent Events

Summary: The past week has been quite event filled. The visit of the Dutch
Ambassador here, the highly successful outcome of the Brussels vote in the
Petitions Committee
and the strong support of the European Commission in
response to our concerns, as well as the subsequent imposition of a partial
moratorium on the approval of new development projects in Valencia are now
current history. They set the stage for discussions in the Cortes in the
next week to finalise the new land law (LUV) and the vote, mid-December, in
the full EU Parliament on the report of the May/June fact Finding Mission
looking into abuses under the current land laws.


Report: The first event of this past week was the visit to Valencia and
Benissa of the Dutch Ambassador, Baron Van Heemstra, his wife and Economic
Counsellor (Andre Dreissen) on Nov. 21. The Ambassador had had a substantive
meeting that morning with Sr. Blasco, Conseller for Urbanismo and
Environment in the morning, as well as a courtesy call and discussion with
Julio De Espaņa, the President (Speaker) of the Valencian Cortes. Several
members of the local Dutch community in this area -some 25 in all met with
the Ambassador and his entourage at the "Sede Universitaria" in Benissa late
in the afternoon. He was able to brief those present on the earlier
meetings, and hear about the difficulties some of the Dutch community here
are having as a result of the "land grab" laws. The Ambassador had been
given the conventional treatment as regards promises to introduce the new
law (LUV) intended to replace the LRAU, what the new law would contain, etc.
Nothing our members will not already have heard. As a result of our
gathering the Ambassador will be seeking some clarification from Sr. Blasco
about some of his commitments. For example, just when is the new law to go
into effect, and will the LRAU govern not just those development plans
approved before the LUV is in force, or will it apply to all those that are
merely presented? (The Ambassador was to go on to Benidorm the next morning
when he would be meeting with a much larger gathering of Dutch residents,
many of whom are unhappy about new plans by the Dutch government to withhold
significantly greater amounts from pensions for medical plans. So much,
according to some, that many pensioners will be forced to return to the

For us the principal event was the vote taken in the EU Parliament's
Petitions Committee on November 23. This concerned the provisional document
emerging from the May/ June Fact Finding Mission, and a series of amendments
intended to give it more force. AUN and others had expressed the view that
the document, drafted by Mme. Fourtou, did not adequately reflect the
testimony the fact finding mission had received or the hundreds of letters
addressed to her from victims of the land laws. Fortunately amendments,
principally those presented by Michael Cashman (UK, Labour) and David
Hammerstein ( Valencia, Greens) which closely reflected our earlier
suggestions were accepted and the entire, revised document was adopted by 22
yes, 0 against, and one abstention ( EPP) out of 24 possible votes. This was
an overwhelming victory, including the positive votes of some EPP members,
the EU party most closely allied with the governing Partido Popular here.
The only element which was less than positive from our perspective was a
last minute amendment , introduced by Joan Calabuig ( Socialist, Valencia),
which reduced the effectiveness of the text. This trade off may however
have been necessary to gain the overwhelming number of votes shown in the
final result. A consolidated text has been promised within a few days.
Meanwhile our thanks go out not just to the MEPs who supported the report,
but to the Petitions Committee Secretariat and others who helped in
Brussels. Also to many of our members who contacted MEPs urging them to
support the amendments, the report and ultimately our principal objectives.

The next step in the Parliamentary process should unfold on Dec. 14 in
Strasbourg, when the full parliament is to consider the report and vote on
its adoption. It is possible that there will be further amendments proposed
and a delay due to other priorities is always possible, if not probable.
Depending on what we learn in the next week, we may ask members again to
contact MEPs to urge support for the report. Given that several hundred
MEPs, rather than those in the Petitions Committee alone will be involved
in the vote, with less familiarity with our concerns, this may be a vital
part in finalizing the Parliamentary process for the immediate future. If
approved, the Parliament will keep this matter on its agenda, and the
Rapporteur will remain involved, should we need to return to that level.
Very important too was the statement made at the Nov. 23rd meeting by a
senior member of the Internal Markets directorate of the European
Commission. Echoing what the Commissioner for Internal Markets ( McGreevy)
and her own colleague had stated prior to and at the Oct. 11 meeting, both
the current and promised land laws fall short of compliance with the
relevant EU laws, in this case Public Contracts ( procurement), meaning that
infringement proceedings against Spain would go ahead. (Separately we have
learned that other directorates in the EC , Europe's executive arm, are
examining some of the mega projects, including golf courses, openly
expressing the view that these too fall short of EU norms, and may also
result in actions before the Court of Justice, which has the authority to
levy heavy fines where EU laws are breached within a member state.)

One almost immediate consequence of the vote was the announcement, the
next day, Nov. 24 by Sr. Blasco that a partial moratorium on the approval
of new development plans would be imposed, where such plans would involve
reclassification of land from Non Urbanizabe to Urbanizable. According to
media reports that means that there will be a freeze on such approvals ,
until the proposed LUV goes into force, now "promised" within the next
two-three months ( we doubt this will be feasible) . El Mundo ( Alicante
Section, Tema del Dia , Nov. 26) reports that as a result of this decision,
revealed at the "Urbe" property show in Valencia, some 43,000 dwellings,
three golf complexes and 5 industrial parks will not get approval at least
for some months. On the same page, another report suggests that this
"moratorium lite" will affect 80 development plans and 70,000 housing units
throughout the Valencian Community. In making the basic announcement , Sr.
Blasco again promised that the new law would "fully" - if not
explicity - reflect the demands made by the EU, Parliament and Commission. He
did not refer to the current LRAU, which for many plans will continue to be
the legal framework until those plans are completed, perhaps not for a
decade or more. AUN and many MEPs had been pressing for a complete ban on
the approval of new plans, whether or not they involved reclassification of
land. The Calabuig amendment restricted the wording in the report to plans
involving such reclassifications.

The timing of the Petitions Committee vote, as well as the upcoming one in
the full Parliament is fortunate because both should have a direct impact on
the consideration of the draft LUV in the Valencian Cortes this coming week.
No doubt the results will also have a significant bearing on related
processes such as those under way in the European Court of Human Rights and
the Commission. Stay tuned. CVS

P.S. This report was delayed in part by the unfortunate problems we
encountered with one of our email services which resulted in the
uncontrolled spread of unwanted messages. We believe we now have this under
control, and extend our apologies for any inconvenience caused.


Disclaimer: The information provided on abusos-no.org is not intended to be legal advice,
but merely conveys general information related to issues commonly encountered.