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
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
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.