European Parliament slams Spain (again) for ‘land grab’ laws

The European Parliament (EP) today released the first draft of another damning report on Spanish ‘land grab’ laws and urban planning practises that threaten property rights and the environment.

There were also calls from the EP for a moratorium on all unsustainable new developments, compensation for victims of Valencia’s so called ‘land grab’ laws, and threats to cut off EU structural funds unless Spain puts and end to its abusive property practices.

Written by Danish MEP (Greens) Margrete Auken for the Petitions Committee, this is set to be the third report from the EP blasting urban practises in Spain in almost as many years. The draft will now be debated by the Petitions Committee, where it could change significantly, before going to a vote in the EP in the Spring of 2009.

The draft calls on the Spanish authorities to set up procedures to compensate victims of Valencia’s notorious ‘land grab’ laws, and notes that the EP can freeze payments of EU funds “when necessary to persuade a member state to stop serious infringements of the rules and principles of EU legislation.”

In a further threat to Spain’s access to EU money, the draft also points out that the European Commission can demand the return of funds if they have been used to finance projects that go against EU rules. It calls on Spain’s national and regional governments to “carefully review all the legislation concerning property rights to put an end to the abuse.”

The lack of clarity, precision, and legal security in Spain’s existing urban planning legislation is behind most urban planning abuses in Spain, argues the draft report. It also worries that Spain’s judicial system is incapable of dealing with the problem.

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