July 24, 2012 at 10:12 am #56944
AUAN PRESS RELEASE
Homeowners group appeals for help to continue the fight
If you unwittingly purchased an illegal house in Spain you can expect to receive little or no support from the European Union according to AUAN, an association of mainly British homeowners based in Andalucía.
“Many of us purchased property in Spain believing that membership of the European Union offered an extra safety net should things go wrong. We were very much mistaken.” said Maura Hillen, the association’s president.
“When you finally find out that you have fallen foul of complex and poorly enforced planning legislation, political corruption, a hopelessly slow judicial system, unscrupulous developers, lawyers of ill repute and other ‘professionals’ who cheerfully flout any reasonable standard of professional behaviour, you will find that the EU is utterly ineffective in terms of its support’ she continued.
“It is not as if the European Union is unaware of the problem” she stated. “It has received hundreds, if not thousands, of petitions from its citizens on this matter over the years. It has sent observers and has produced various reports and is fully aware that illegal houses are a significant problem for Spain. For example, the government of Andalucía, a popular destination for foreign home buyers, has admitted to the existence of at least 300,000 illegal properties within its territory and it is still counting”.
“Nevertheless, the European Commission continues to block all appeals for assistance on the basis that no European laws have been broken. Homeowners face an uphill and expensive legal battle to convince them that they are wrong”.
“We have appealed for help for Helen and Len Prior, whose home in Vera was demolished without compensation in 2008, under Article 17 of the EU charter of Human Rights which states that ‘No-one may be deprived of his or her possessions, except in the public interest and in the cases and under the conditions provided for by law, subject to fair compensation being paid in good time for their loss’. The European Commission replied that it has no competence to intervene in cases concerning infringement of individual fundamental rights when EU law is not involved. This notwithstanding the fact that the Charter of Human rights itself is EU law and that it has become national Spanish law as well”.
“Such intransigence on behalf of the European Commission renders the EU Charter of Human Rights meaningless for ordinary people and denies us access to the European Courts of Justice.” Mrs Hillen said. “Your only other option is to submit a case to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg when all legal remedies are exhausted in Spain. But, there are two problems with this option. One, it costs an absolute fortune to do so and is well beyond the reach of many and two, the Spanish legal system can bounce you from pillar to post with appeals and counter appeals for years. People like Len and Helen have no chance of ever getting to Strasbourg as far as we can see”.
“In addition to appeals on humanitarian grounds, we have also tried to convince the Commission that the reputational damage caused by this problem is discouraging investment in the property market in Spain and thus impeding the free movement of capital within the union, a big ’no no’ under European Law. Whilst the Commission has acknowledged that the purchase of property is covered by EU laws relating to free movement of capital, it says that we have failed to make our case. We think that we have a case but we need more help to make it properly”.
We need your help to continue
“Members of the EU Petitions Committee are very supportive but getting past the lawyers of the EU Commission requires tenacity and skill. We need the right expertise and public support to continue. So, I am appealing to other associations and those with expertise in European Law to come to our aid. We need your help to continue and we can be contacted on infoATalmanzora-auDOTorg. “
“After all, are we the only ones who find it a bit odd that the EU creates a bailout package to stabilise an economy whose problems were caused in good part by a poorly managed property market whilst ignoring our pleas to help address some fundamental issues which, if resolved, would help everyone?”.
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