European Parliament criticises "extensive urbanisation" practices in Spain
"Extensive urbanisation" practices in Spain are criticised in a report adopted by the European Parliament, which suggests interrupting EU aid for the country until the problem is solved. MEPs adopted the report with 349 votes in favour, 110 against and 114 abstentions.
The report drawn up by Margrete AUKEN (Greens/EFA, DK) deals with problems associated with "extensive urbanisation" in Spain and suggests interrupting the provision of EU aid to the country until these are solved. It says Spain should "suspend and review" all the new urbanisation plans which do not respect the right to legitimate ownership "suspend and review". The report also calls for "adequate compensation" for those affected.
Interrupt structural funding?
The report notes that the Commission is empowered to interrupt the payment of structural funds, to suspend such funding to a Member State or region, and to establish corrections in relation to projects in receipt of funding. It also asserts that Parliament, as the budgetary authority, may decide to place funding set aside for cohesion policies in the reserve if it considers this necessary to persuade a Member State to end serious breaches of the rules and principles which accompany the funds.
Suspend and review plans
The European Parliament considers that the relevant Spanish regional authorities "should suspend and review all new urbanisation plans which do not take into consideration the criteria of environmental sustainability and social responsibility and which do not guarantee the respect for the rightful ownership of legitimately acquired property in compliance with the Spanish Constitution".
MEPs reiterate the conclusions of its previous resolutions by calling into question the methods by which urbanisation agents are selected and the "frequently excessive powers often given to town planners and property developers by certain local authorities" at the expense of communities and the citizens who have their homes in the area.
The text also affirms that estate agents in Member States, such as the UK, and other providers of services related to the real estate market in Spain continue to market property in new urbanisations even when they are necessarily aware that there is a clear possibility that the project in question will not be completed nor built.
According to the report, one of the main causes of this problem is the absence of supra-municipal planning or regional planning guidelines placing limits on urban growth and development.
Recourse "outrageously slow" - compensation for victims
Parliament says that procedures remain "outrageously slow" and that the sentences handed down in many cases are not enforced in a way which provides any satisfaction to the victims of such abuse.
MEPs take the view that persons who "in good faith" have bought property in Spain which has been declared illegal should have the right to appropriate compensation through the Spanish courts. Nevertheless, "developers that have entered into contracts, the unlawfulness of which they should have been aware of, ought not be entitled to compensation".
In addition, the text recalls that EU directive on unfair business-to-consumer commercial practices obliges Member States to provide "appropriate means for legal redress and remedies for consumers who have been victims of such practices" and to ensure "adequate sanctions".
The Commission, at the request of the Committee on Petitions, has launched an investigation into more than 250 urbanisation projects which have received a negative opinion from the relevant water authorities. The report maintains that these urbanisations without water resources contravene the Water Framework Directive.