EU threatens Spain over 'land grab law' again

13th October 2006, Comments 0 comments

13 October 2006, BRUSSELS — The European Union has given Spain a second ultimatum over the controversial 'land grab' law.

13 October 2006

BRUSSELS — The European Union has given Spain a second ultimatum over the controversial 'land grab' law.

Brussels gave Madrid two months to take action to remedy the law, which was introduced in Valencia, or face court action before the European Court of Justice.

It is the second warning in less than a year over the law which has forced hundreds of expats with properties in Valencia to sell up or pay huge bills for services they say they do not need.

The EU said Valencia should be subject to the European norms of public markets, something with which the regional government disputes.

It says the Ley Urbanistica de Valenciana (LUV) says though the selection process of businesses for any building project has been simplified by a new version of the this law, the end result is still against EU practices.

The EU also said at present the law means the authority which grants building contracts can alter the contract during the granting of the contract or after it has been signed.

But according to Brussels, the result creates a "judicial insecurity" for those affected.

However, Valencian territory minister, Cristina Serrano, said the EU "should take its complaint to the courts", claiming the law was "completely in line with EU policies and it is a considerable improvement over the previous laws".

She also added that the European norms over public contracts have still not been incorporated into Spanish laws, and added that the government law contradicts EU directives.

The law, which was introduced in 1994, allows developers to compulsorily purchase homes and re-designate for rural land for urban development.

Originally, it was designed to stop speculation by developers who would hold on to rural land until the price went up.

But, according the European Parliament, it has been manipulated by ruthless developers who simply ask local authorities to reclassify rural land as 'urban'.

The developers then force homeowners to pay for amenities like roads, lighting, sewage or water supplies.

Some of these homeowners, because they retired to Spain, cannot meet bills of tens of thousands of pounds, and are forced to sell up.

Some expats who have been affected by the law are taking separate cases to the European Court of Human Rights, claiming their right to property have been broken.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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