Home » The Balearic government’s proposal to exclude non-residents is really aimed at foreigns

The Balearic government’s proposal to exclude non-residents is really aimed at foreigns

The Balearic government has been making lots of noise about trying to find ways to exclude “non-residents” from the local housing market, but it’s really foreign buyers they are gunning for.

For some time now the regional government of the Balearics has been talking about excluding “non-residents” from the local housing market on the grounds that outsiders are responsible for driving up the cost of homes and making them unaffordable for local buyers. This move has garnered considerable attention from the international press.

Local politicians argue that Balearic house prices have been driven up by foreign buyers

Who’s behind this move? The main promoters of the idea are the two radical parties in the regional coalition government, Podemos and Més. I suspect the centre-left Socialists are going along with the idea just to keep their radical partners happy, though I could be wrong about that..

The sponsors of the idea have been careful to say they want to exclude all “non-residents” who haven’t lived in the region for at least five years, which would include Spaniards from other parts of Spain. They don’t want to be accused of xenophobia.

When I first heard about this idea I took the claim that it was aimed at “non-residents” at face value. However, as an increasing number of lawyers have been pointing out in recent articles on the subject, talking about “non-residents” is just a way to pull the wool over people’s eyes. This initiative is clearly intended to discriminate against foreigners.

We know this because the Spanish constitution protects the right of all Spaniards to live and buy property wherever they want in Spain. So the Spanish constitution forbids the idea of excluding Spaniards who don’t live in the Balearics from buying property there. The proposal is unconstitutional, and the sponsors of the idea in the Balearics must know that.

mallorca majorca property
Mallorca is a popular Spanish destination for foreign buyers, especially from Germany

Foreigner buyers are another story. There is nothing in the Spanish constitution that protects the right of foreigners to buy property in Spain. That’s protected by EU laws, which the sponsors of this idea argue must be changed to allow them to exclude “non-residents,” but what they really mean is foreigners. The Spanish government in Madrid has recently ruled out supporting this idea.

As some commentators in the Spanish press have pointed out, the whole idea of excluding “non-resident” buyers from the Balearics is about as illegal as it gets, both in Spanish and EU law. This hasn’t stopped the Balearic government from spending considerable time and public money on the idea, tarnishing the international reputation of the region in the process.

Housing costs and access are a hot political potato in the Balearics because demand for housing is much higher than the supply, and regional government policies discourage housing investment. Blaming foreigners is a way for local politicians to blame someone else. The next time you hear about the Balearic government’s interest in excluding “non-resident” buyers from the housing market, just remember that “non-resident” is a dog-whistle for “foreign.”

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