News March, 23rd 2010 by

European Parliament attacks Spain's coastal property laws

Ley de costasThe European Parliament has launched another attack on Spain’s coastal law ‘Ley de Costas’ describing it as ‘abusive’

Labour and Conservative British MPs criticised the law on the Petitions Commission saying, in their opinion, it confiscates assets of those who purchased in good faith.

Conservative M.E.P. Roger Helmer said he was recommending his constituents not to buy property in Spain.  ‘If Spain wanted to enter the EU today, it would have many problems because of its lack of respect of the right to property.’

For Labour, Michael Cashman said, ‘There is a lot of corruption which is tarnishing the image of Spain. It is a totalitarian country’.

For Spain the General Director for Coasts, Alicia Paz, said that the Spanish Constitution defines the first line of the beach as public land, and that all Spanish Governments have applied the law since it was approved in 1988. El País considers that was an indirect comment against the Partido Popular deputy, Carlos Iturgaiz, who has said that ‘confiscating the assets of the owners converts them into squatters’.

The EU Petitions Commission has already launched a hard-hitting report on town planning in Spain, but now has moved on to the coastal law having received ‘dozens of complaints’ from Britons, Germans and Spanish residents, because the law grants a 60 year concession on occupation on the properties built on public land before 1988, after which time they will be demolished.

The author of the earlier report, Margaret Auken, Danish Green MEP, described the Ley de Costas as ‘extraordinary’ and that the problem is how it is being applied unequally, as she saw modest homes which were not protected on the one hand and large hotels being built on the other.

Many retired Europeans, most of them Britons and Germans, purchased homes on the beach in good faith, without the bank or notary advising them that, under the Ley de Costas, they were only purchasing the concession and not the freehold. Later they discovered the truth when they could not sale the properties.

Alicia Paz said there was a lot of confusion over the law, and many had commented on the demolition of properties at Cho Vito on the Canaries, but here she said the properties were actually also built illegally.

Some of the people affected by the Ley de Costas will give their evidence to the Petitions Committee in Brussels on Tuesday.

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