Spain given three weeks to change 'land-grab' law

15th December 2005, Comments 0 comments

15 December 2005, BRUSSELS — The European Commission has given Spain three weeks to change the controversial 'land-grab' law or it will face legal action in the European Court of Justice.

15 December 2005

BRUSSELS — The European Commission has given Spain three weeks to change the controversial 'land-grab' law or it will face legal action in the European Court of Justice.

The move follows a resounding vote against the law by the European Parliament on Tuesday.

MEPs voted by 550-45 in support of a damning report on the controversial law.

It will not mean Spain has to repeal the law, but it added weight to legal action by the EC, which has demanded the law must be modified.

The report by MEPs followed complaints from more than 15,000 property owners, mostly British, German, Belgian and  French expats, about the Urban Planning Regulatory Law (LRAU), which has been in force since 1994.

Under the law, property developers can not only effectively expropriate part of a homeowners land or home but charge them for doing so.

Last year, a highly-critical report by MEPs condemned what it called the "surreal" land-grab law.

The Petitions Committee of the European Parliament found: "The application of the law has brought a grave violation of the basic rights of many thousands of European Union citizens in numerous well-documented cases."

The report said the law, introduced in the province of Valencia and copied in other parts of Spain, has allowed developers to rob thousands of house-holders across Spain – both expats and Spaniards alike - of their properties.

The law allows land to be confiscated in order to "urbanise" rural areas by adding infrastructure like roads, lighting, water pipes and sewerage.

Threats have, on occasions, accompanied orders to hand over land, whose status is changed by town halls which lift building restrictions by reclassifying rural land as urban.

A campaign group, Abusos-Urbanisticos-No (No to Urban Abuses) is fighting the regional government in Valencia in eastern Spain, which first introduced the law.

Charles Svoboda, president of the group, said: "This is the beginning of the end of this law."

The campaign has spread as other regional authorities have introduced versions of the same legislation.

The highly-critical report by a group of MEPs to the European Parliament committee attacked "serious abuses" committed under the terms of what it called this "surreal" law.

It also condemned the way developers bribe town hall officials and siphon money into offshore banking havens.

The EC has launched legal action against Spain for contravening citizens' property rights by not compensating them if their homes or land are confiscated or with regard to public contracts.

There are also cases pending at the European Court of Human Rights, brought by individuals who claim their property rights have been denied.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

 

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