Wednesday, 2 December 2009

UK MEPs responses to Urban abuse letter


Following the PDF of MEPs responses sent to the leaders of all the UK political parties prior to the recent non-vote on the Auken report, there have been many more replies from UK MEPs. It is really not necessary to plough through the list here, along with snippets from their replies, suffice it to say that according to these responses all of the UK Political Parties are sympathetic to our cause.

I am not sure whether UK MEPs are bound to toe the party line, but if they are then perhaps a better way forward would be to target the party leaders and headquarters.

Jacqueline Foster MEP Conservative MEP- North West Rest assured that all my Conservative Party colleagues will do everything possible to ensure that this miscarriage
Transport and Tourism of justice rectified as soon as possible.

ATKINS Robert ASSISTANT Sir Robert is in full support of you and the many others who find themselves in similar situations.
I have now spoken to Sir Robert about this. What he has suggested, and what I shall do, is to first find out what the Commission's response was to the Auken report. As Sir Robert is no longer a full member of the Petitions Committee, he is not as closely involved in the workings of the Committee as he was. I shall also liase with the office of Margarete Auken to find out what the current situation is and what are the options to move this forward. You will be aware that passing the Auken report in the Petitions Committee was as far as MEPs could go at that stage, and it was then up to the Commission to take a stand. If they have not taken satisfactory action, then we can ask some pertinent questions as to why. But as I say, before this can happen I need to find out what the Commission's response was to the Auken report and go from there.

NEWTON DUNN Bill “Then Bill needs to hear from them, he says” – his response to my statement: “I live in Telford, Shropshire, which is not your area. However, as there are hundreds of thousands of people across Spain affected by this scandal, there will be many members from your constituency.”

Michael Cashman Member of the European Parliament for the West Midlands Indeed it is essential we continue to fight on together to end these terrible injustices. Rest assured, my colleagues
and I in the European Parliamentary Labour Party will continue to do all we can to achieve the realisation of the measures called for in the Auken report, with the aim of ultimately securing a more hopeful future for those affected.

Jill Evans MEP Plaid Cymru Thank you for your email and for bringing this matter to
my attention. I work closely with Margrete Auken, and will support her efforts in implementating the recommendations of her report.

ROGER HELMER MEP Good news and bad news, I'm afraid. I have been in the forefront of support for the Auken report. I have voted and spoken for it repeatedly. But in the end we'll only get progress if the Commission beats up on the Spanish government. They are moving the right way, but painfully slowly. We'll keep up the pressure, but don't expect immediate results.

Geoffrey Van Orden MEP Thank you for your email. As you are aware, Conservatives in the European Parliament have been very active on this issue and helped to produce the report which calls on the Spanish authorities to act.

Glenis Willmott MEP, Leader, European Parliamentary Labour Party Thank you for getting in touch and reiterating the importance of this issue. As I said, sadly your case is one of many. Michael Cashman has been very active on this issue and Glenis and the other Labour MEPs support his work. Unfortunately the European Parliament has limited powers on this issue but we hope the Auken report will increase the pressure on Spain.

George Lyon MEP This is, unfortunately, a state of affairs I am all too aware of; the Spanish local planning authority giving building consent in breach of National Environmental Law. It is an issue all my Liberal Democrat MEP colleagues continue to take up with the Commission, and my colleague, Graham Watson MEP has raised through a number of Parliamentary Questions. However, by virtue of the EC Treaty the European Union’s involvement in property matters is limited as legislation on this issue remains the sole preserve of Member States.
Nonetheless, the EU has worked through other avenues to strengthen the position of consumers, by implementing wider consumer protection directives, such as the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive and the Unfair Contract Terms Directive which do apply to the purchase of real estate.
In addition to this, my colleagues and I continue to regularly press the Spanish Government and its representatives on this matter as we remain dissatisfied that so many problems continue to persist.

Emma McClarkin MEP Many thanks for your email informing me of the difficult times you have experienced after purchasing and building property in Spain.
We have been inundated with letters from constituents with similar problems and at this stage I can only recommend that you file a petition, which you can do here at This is a good way of getting the European Parliament to take action.

Peter Skinner MEP Thank you for writing to me regarding your situation with Spanish property and your concerns regarding the Auken report. A vote on an amendment to the 2010 EU Budget withholding structural funds from Spain, rejected earlier in Committee, is due to be voted on by the European Parliament today.
I'm happy to inform you that it has the full support of the European Parliamentary Labour Party. Last year we voted for a similar budgetary amendment and I see no reason to alter our position, especially given the intransigent response of the Spanish authorities to the recommendations contained in the Auken report. As you are no doubt aware the European Parliament called on Spain to take a number of measures to address the serious problems brought about by regional irregularities in land-law. Since the adoption of the Auken report a disappointing lack of progress has been made and many of the recommendations have so far been ignored by the Spanish authorities.
Realistically, it is unlikely in this time of economic crisis that this budgetary amendment will gain enough support to be adopted. Nonetheless, I believe it is important we support it, both to be consistent with our previous position and to put further pressure on the Spanish authorities to respect the legitimate property right of EU-citizens in Spain. I hope you will receive similar replies from other EU representatives.

Dr Caroline Lucas Green Party MEP for SE England Caroline's Green colleague, the Danish MEP Margrete Auken, has led efforts in the Parliament's Petitions Committee to secure a strong response to the many petitions on this matter. Despite attempts by other political groups to water down the Auken Report, it was adopted on March 26th by the Parliament as a whole and Caroline voted in favour along with all Green MEPs. The report tries to find a solution for the many citizens from EU countries who have become victims of abuse by unscrupulous local authorities or developers. It also reminds countries like Spain that the EU has the right to freeze EU funding if citizens rights or European directives on eg environmental protection and the protection of scarce water resources are breached. The Green Party's amendment to the 2010 Budget takes this a step further and seeks to withhold funds from Spain for serious breaches of its duties as a member state. Caroline will be voting for the amendment as will the Green Group of MEPs as a whole.

Nick Griffin I am somewhat overdue in my response but, as you may appreciate, I am a ´new boy´ here and it has taken a small while to get my feet under the table.
You have my total support in your campaign.
What, specifically, do you think I can do to assist you?

Tim Aker It is truly shameful what the Spanish authorities have done to you and your neighbours. The EU lectures countries like Turkey to abide by its 'human rights' code, but it hypocritically allows Spain to treat you and your neighbours in such an inhumane way.
The EU Parliament has already supported the Auken Report this year:
The threat of freezing Spain's EU grant has also been suggested by the parliament as a measure of how serious this is, but this seems to be the only course of action the EU can take against Spain:
Sadly, however, the vote to block EU funding to Spain has itself been blocked on procedural grounds.
I will draft a question for David Campbell Bannerman MEP to put to the Commission by either himself or by another member of the Europe of Freedom and Democracy Group.

Liz Lynne West Midlands LibDem MEP 26th Mar 2009 – West Midlands LibDem MEP Liz Lynne has today welcomed a vote in the European Parliament that seeks to finally put an end to the horrendous ordeal of people who have bought property in Spain

Diana Wallis Unfortunately MEPs were denied the right to vote on this important issue during Thursday's votes due to procedural rules, which led to the amendment falling. Mrs. Wallis, together with other Liberal Democrats, were planning to support this amendment and put pressure on the Spanish government to help the victims of Spanish land-grab laws. They were disappointed not to have the opportunity, but will continue to push for this topic to stay on the agenda. Mrs. Wallis takes a particular interest in this issue through her active membership of the Petitions Committee.

Jim Nicholson MEP Mr Nicholson is currently helping people who have been similarily affected in Spain.I can assure you that he will continue that pressure.

Malcolm Harbour Member of the European Parliament for the West Midlands, UK I would like to explain that whilst the European Parliament is fully committed to upholding resolutions passed, the issue of private property is one for national, as opposed to European, competence. The Auken report was passed by the Petitions Committee, which means that the report was in response to petitions received by European citizens. Therefore, the petitions committee can look into, and adopt, any resolutions regardless of whether it falls outside the competence of the European Union. Therefore, enforcing the provisions in the Auken report are difficult in practise, because it is ultimately a decision for the Spanish authorities to act upon.
I would also like to explain, however, that in the recent draft budget of the European Union, an amendment was tabled to allow some incentivised funding for the Spanish authorities to improve the situation of land grabs. Unfortunately this amendment did not pass, despite the support of Conservative MEPs. We will continue this kind of pressure from our end in any way possible.
I hope this answers some of your concerns and also clarifies the difficult position the Parliament is in - whilst we have every wish to protect EU citizens, we must also respect the national sovereignty of Member States.

Giles Chichester MEP I can tell you that I voted for the Auken Report. I can also tell you that MEPs have little power to intervene in the internal affairs of other Member States so please keep your hopes of what we can achieve within bounds.
In my experience the Spanish authorities are particularly difficult to engage in any dialogue. Too many of our countrymen have been beguiled by sunshine and sangria unaware of all the perils of property ownership in Spain.

Philip Bradbourn MEP As this is a matter of Spanish domestic policy, there is little I can do on a European level. May I suggest therefore, that you get in contact with the regional authorities in Spain. If you feel your case is sufficiently serious you could also contact the Spanish Ombudsman. Like Mr Chichester, both Malcolm Harbour and I voted in favour of the Auken Report.

SYED KAMALL Conservative MEP for London Will in Robert Atkins' office tells me that he has been in contact with you and previously replied with an update of the situation. He will write again soon to let him know of any developments. However, I understand that there has been little change in the situation. The Petitions Committee did as much as it could given its limited powers. The only development involved an amendment tabled by the Greens in the last Plenary to the Budget, asking the Commission to follow through with the proposals of the Auken report and effectively withhold development funds until the Spanish regional authorities do what they have been asked.
For some reason the amendment fell during the vote so it did no get through despite the efforts of the Greens, British Conservatives and other MEPs.

Claude Moraes MEP Labour Member of the European Parliament for London As a result of your email, I have today written to Europe Minister the Rt. Hon Chris Bryant MP to ask what representation the UK government is making on behalf of constituents facing similar problems as well as making him aware of your individual case. I enclose a copy of this letter here for your reference.
As a Labour MEP, I take consumer and human rights very seriously indeed. As you may be aware, my colleague in the European Parliament Michael Cashman MEP is currently working on this issue, as well as the European Parliament more widely being very aware of it. The failure of Spain to act on this issue is drawing a great deal of sharp criticism and I and my Labour colleagues are following the issue closely. As soon as I receive a reply from the Europe Minister, I will contact you with whatever information his office may supply.

Robert Sturdy MEP In your message you mentioned that you were in a similar position to those who have taken action under petition 0042-09, and I would just like to say that Conservative MEPs were, and remain, fully supportive of efforts by British citizens robbed of property by Spanish property laws to retrieve their money.
This is the situation as I currently understand it. The European Parliament's Petitions Committee accepted and sent a series of similar petitions regarding this issue to the European Commission for consideration on the 8th of June, along with a copy of a report drafted by Margrete Auken, a Danish Green MEP, calling for the law which allows property to be confiscated without compensation, to be scrapped and the victims finally compensated. The report says that if Spain does not change the unjust laws, the European Commission should freeze £32 billion of aid funds earmarked for Spain in 2007-2013.
The European Commission are now investigating the extent to which any abuses could mean that the Spanish authorities are liable under EU Directives for having failed to ensure the proper application of safeguards to consumers in this context. This reply is expected by the Committee some time in October or November, and once received shall once again be subject to consideration by the Petitions Committee, when the members will decide upon the next course of action.
I should warn you that you should not be placed under any illusions that we can ensure that all the monies owed are returned to you, but I can assure you that should the European Commission find the Spanish authorities culpable that we will be doing all we can to bring them to account.
I hope that this letter can offer you a glimmer of hope, we are doing all we can to help. Please do not hesitate to contact me again in future should you require any further information.

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