Monday, 13 September 2010

Spain's Property Laws Headed to Court

Posted by Kevin Brass


After years of complaints and political challenges, the European Union's

Court of Justice is scheduled to review Spain's notorious "land grab" laws

next week.


During the boom years, many regional governments in Spain adopted laws

allowing jurisdictions to annex land for new developments, in many cases

with little or no compensation. Many of the properties were owned by expats,

who bought in good faith, without knowing their property might be subject to

seizure.


Next Thursday the court will focus on the laws in Valencia, where the land

grabs were considered most egregious. Several protest groups were spawned by

the Valencia policies, including Abusos Urbanisticos No, which works with

protesters around the country.


The court won't address the propriety of taking land, only its

appropriateness for funding public works projects. Specifically the court

will review Spain's failure to follow EU's law on the "coordination of

procedures for the award of public works contracts, public supply contracts

and public service contracts," according to the published agenda.


"The Commission considers that the LUV [Valencia's land law] infringes the

Community public procurement directives in various aspects," and that

Spain's government has "failed to fulfill" it's obligations under EU law.


Members of European Parliament have long condemned Spain's unwillingness to

address the regional government's laws. But the ability to take action

against Spain falls to the Court of Justice, which could levy heavy fines.


"This marks an important--almost final--step in a long process that we hope

and trust will seriously erode some of the more predatory aspects of the

land laws in this region," said Charles Svoboda, vice-president of the AUN,

in a statement.

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